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Autumn 2005 issue #6

The Mystery of Anaemia and the Abuse of Iron

Part One
By Cornelis van Dalen ND DipHom

‘A study of iron convinces us that this is a highly significant substance.’[1] This significance is the essence of this article as a cure of anaemia is sought. Cure in itself is a concept fraught with danger – for no man can cure another, as no man can save another; we can only appeal to the inner dynamic for self healing, or appeal to the higher judgement of the individual, so he can save himself.

Consider these statements: ‘Iron as carrier of personality forces’. ‘A deficiency as it were takes the ground out from under a person’. ‘Iron has the function of making blood out of protein’. And ‘ Blood is the substance that carries body, soul and spirit. It is the substance that carries the individual rhythms of each human organism.’ [2]

The central question to be asked is whether anaemic states are natural or unnatural. Blood needs iron yet supplying iron through remedies most often does not change iron content. Anaemic states arise without blood loss. This we need to explore. 

Defining Anaemia
Anaemia seems to be increasingly common, or more symptoms are attributed to an anaemic state. Female patient after patient has some identified blood disorder and more often than not has suffered the iron supplementation. Some can attribute their worsening symptoms to the time of taking iron, or having had their spleen removed in an attempt to remedy the blood disorder, others have life long anaemia, and to contradict all of this, some show no deviation from normal blood parameters, yet show conditions that might be viewed as anaemic or ought to have anaemia.

Ever since the advancement of the science of haematology and the physical constituents of blood being known, the metal iron was identified with the red corpuscles. Physicians have sought the use of iron to rectify blood disorders.

However, homoeopathic practice sees the use of iron in another light and in the annals of the Art of Homoeopathy come the words ‘the abuse of iron’. Today this continues. Iron supplements are the most frequent prescription (and self-prescription) for the disorder called anaemia. They are not without consequences. In some cases it may cure; in vast numbers it worsens. It is these that the homoeopathic physician has to deal with.

Modernity (as in Mosby’s Medical Dictionary) says anaemia is a “decrease in haemoglobin, may cause decrease in red blood cell production, an increase in red cell destruction, or a loss of blood. Signs: fatigue, exertional dyspnoea, dizziness, headache, insomnia, and pallor. Confusion, disorientation; anorexia, dyspepsia, palpitations, tachycardia, cardiac dilatation, and systolic murmurs. Iron deficiency is the most common causative factor”. The last statement is here being challenged as to whether iron is the deficiency and (crude) iron therapy its cure.

Blood and formation
In a sense we cannot come to terms with anaemia or any of the disorders of the blood if we do not understand the role and formation of blood and why iron is necessary.

There is a constant ‘battle’ in the body between the forces of building up (anabolic) and breaking down (catabolic). In this the role of iron in blood formation becomes important. Without iron the blood remains ‘diseased.’ Yet why has the metal iron entered the human sphere, whereas all other metals remain as processes rather than being materially present in the human blood organism?
The anomalies in Anaemia
The question is why are the anaemic states so extant and most preponderant in women. We are often faced with the biomedical diagnosis of anaemia, which may well match the patient’s symptoms in the accepted definition of anaemia. Yet these can contradict. Fatigue and headaches, can make the GP order blood tests and show a deficiency of haemoglobin and prescribe Iron Sulphate, or similar compounds of iron. And, as mentioned, the condition frequently worsens after this is taken. The tests may also reveal nothing untoward, leaving the patient and the doctor none the wiser. A low iron count may not respond to any treatment, not even blood transfusions. What then is its cure?

It must be noted that chlorophyll in plants is similar to haemoglobin in blood. They each have corresponding metals – magnesium in plants and iron in blood. They are both the metals of respiration. The difference is that man has internalised iron whereas in plants iron, as required for leaf pigment, is outside the chlorophyll, external to the plant.

Let us look at some of the anomalies and intriguing aspects of iron in the blood:
Haemoglobin content increases until puberty, then continues to rise in men but reaches a plateau in women. The intriguing aspect is that we would therefore expect a rise in iron up the to value of men in amenorrhoeic and postmenopausal women. The opposite in fact is true. In old age the iron level in men falls to that of women.

Menstruation is not the cause of anaemia, though it is often believed to be so. ‘That the lower haemoglobin and serum iron values among women arise not just from anaemia from blood loss has been shown by the fact that no increase in the red cell count or serum iron level can be induced with iron treatment; this speaks against iron deficiency. [3]

The man and the woman
Central to this discussion is the need to view the differences between man and woman, their respective essential nature. It can be said that men are more earth bound, women more ‘cosmic’.  The female’s more ‘cosmic’ nature allows for reproduction of human life: gestation and birth. It accords women natural intuitive abilities and nurturing qualities of selfless love. Another way of describing this difference is that men are more incarnated, meaning more bound to the body and women less so. In modern terms, we may say that men are more grounded and women more ‘flighty’.

Anaemic states in pregnancy are another anomaly. Studies show 35% of women as being iron deficient in the first trimester, rising to 86% in the third trimester. [4] We must ask why? Anaemia may simply be required, a natural process! For gestation to occur, the female seen clairvoyantly is less bound to the body. Iron, as stated earlier, is the metal of incarnation and the ‘looseness’ of incarnation is what naturally occurs in pregnant women. Being too bound to the body prevents pregnancy. Thus, the forcing of iron supplementation for pregnant women may well be working against the natural propensity, with limited success rate anyway, save the burden of constipation.

The process of incarnation also changes during the 24-hour circadian cycle. During sleep we excarnate; the soul (astral & ego) leaves the physical & etheric (life body). Sleep for this reason is described as a daily death-like event. This has a mirror in iron serum levels.  ‘The higher serum iron levels of the morning fall toward the end of the afternoon, expressing the daily renewal of the incarnation process.’ This has implications on blood test results, depending on the time of day the blood specimen is taken. The quality of one’s sleep has a bearing on the soul life – being too bound or too loosely bound to the body. Sleep quality is a very important rubric to consider in Homoeopathic case taking.

The annual change of the seasons also has a mirror in the iron process. ‘Autumn is the iron time of year. This begins with the meteor showers in August, when cosmic iron actually streams to earth.  If iron is lacking with or without anaemia, the patient feels best in the autumn and worse in spring. It should be clear that iron deficiency does not only consist in the lack of a substance but it is the expression of a general disease.’ [5]

Another important factor is iron’s connection with light. Some forms of anaemia appear predominantly in winter and certainly are related to insufficiency of light. Related to this is the striking fact that anaemic people do not get suntanned; this reveals the absence of light transmission through iron. Certainly this applies in the case of redheads, ‘who by no means must be anaemic but often are.’

It has further been observed that children who have a tendency to anaemia have difficulties in remembering yet are more easily able to form concepts and ideas.

The use of light in the treatment of disease associated with iron disorders is today no longer considered. Previously sunlight was extensively used in TB therapy, this being based on the knowledge that anaemia is especially familiar in pulmonary tuberculosis. ‘TB is not just an infection; it is a specific disease, characterised by ‘fleeing the earth’, the insufficient connection with the earth. Here again anaemia is the expression of too weak an incarnation process.’ This has natural relevance in disease states considered terminal.

In the therapy for anaemia exposure to sunlight is an essential component, and it may well disappear after treatment with light. Anaemia resistant to therapy has been shown to respond to medication after the application of light. Natural sunlight is best, otherwise a source approximating to sunlight.

Modern investigations reveal that almost every second woman between the ages of sixteen and forty-five suffers from iron deficiency. This fact alone should instigate serious study. An earlier form of anaemia as in chlorosis (greening), a severe syndrome of earlier times, has disappeared. This indicates the changing consciousness and connection women have to their bodies. Human beings, especially the women of today, are better incarnated; the connection of the spirit and soul with the body has, if anything, gone beyond the healthy state. This will be explained later.

A further observation worth our deep consideration is that, especially in the light of the widespread anaemic conditions, it is not an illness but an individual constitutional condition; an essential expression of personality. Some individuals have higher blood pressure, or high cholesterol values as part of their essential character. Thus we should not take deviating values of haemoglobin, etc. as pathological. This has immense significance in practice.

Interestingly, the voice indicates how a person handles iron and how s/he works actively with it. A man with a large chest and a bass voice is certainly not in danger of iron deficiency. A person who can hold his own in his or her environment does not have anaemia.

The mystery of anaemia and iron can be summarised as follows: ‘Iron is the instrument with which the higher members of being (soul and ego the -I-) penetrate the organism, permeating it with light, even to the metabolic level; here they form and control the purely vegetative, hence, undifferentiated and proliferating, life, transforming it to a higher stage of life, that of ensouled and spirit permeated life substance.’ [6]

Another way of expressing this is that iron binds the -I- to the body and also into the metabolism. It is this -I- through the function of iron that allows spirit to permeate substance – to have soul incarnate in the body and transform this into higher and nobler humanness.

Homoeopathic perspective
Modern times have provided a greater understanding of the physical/mechanical aspects of the body. The knowledge of nutritional substances has further been greatly enhanced, yet in a backward way. It will eventually be acknowledged that the matter of crude substances in food (and in medicine) is not necessarily ‘digested’ (in the accepted meaning) to form the body. Food we eat is etherealised, and the body builds from the universal forces streaming into the body, and not from the crude food. Material substance, of food for example, may be thus described as an analogue. This may be a difficult concept at this time. A study of the alchemical understanding of the planetary processes ruling various aspects of the human form will enhance this concept.

We must put aside the material description of anaemia as being a deficiency of ‘iron in the blood’. The homoeopathic physician objectively views the symptoms, listen to the patient’s account of their inner perceptions in order to build a picture of the patient and hence the remedy. The similar remedy – the similimum – addresses the consciousness states and so provides a cure for the anaemia.

This will be discussed further in part two of the ‘Mystery of Anaemia and The Abuse of Iron’ in the next issue of NewPhysis.

Cornelis van Dalen 2003-2005 (revised)

1. Rudolf Hauschka Nutrition A Holistic Approach Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press 2002 p41
2. ibid p41
3. Husemann/Wolff Anthroposophical Approach to Medicine The Anthroposophical Press USA Volume I P75
4. Quoted in Health Matters, Journal of the UK Food Manufacturers Association. July/Aug 2003
5. ibid Husemann/Wolff P80
6. ibid Pp80-81

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