What is Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP) and How to Treat it?

Treatment of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura
Acharaya Sushrut in his Ayurvedic text has described the importance of blood by quoting “tasmaat yatnen sanrakshaya raktam jeevam iti sthit.” This means that blood is life and its loss must be prevented by utmost priority basis. Various bleeding disorders result in heavy blood loss and can be life-threatening as well. One such bleeding disorder is Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP).

What is Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura?

As the name suggests, Idiopathic means whose cause is unknown, Thrombo means platelets, cytopenic means decrease, and purpura means spots. In modern science, the cause of ITP is unknown so they called it idiopathic.

Abnormal bleeding happens when the platelet count is less than 10000. If the platelet count is above 20000-25000, then a person is able to perform routine tasks but not able to perform those works where strength is required. But, still, 20000 – 25000 platelets are considered to be safe.

What are the Types of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura?

There are two types of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura. These are:

  1. Acute: It is the most common type of ITP. It occurs mostly in children of the age group 2-6 years.
  2. Chronic: Adults suffer from chronic ITP more often than children but it also affects adolescents.

What are the Causes of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura?

There are numerous causes of ITP. It is mainly caused due to the low levels of platelets in the body and when the antibodies whose function is to protect the body by fighting against the infections, start destroying their own platelets. Sometimes, medical history can also be the reason for this disease.

In Ayurveda, ITP can be correlated to Raktapitta as in ITP, bleeding occurs from different parts of the body. In ITP patients, the main cause is the increase in Pitta dosha. The vitiated Pitta dosha causes Raktapitta.

According to Ayurveda, Yakrit (liver) and Pliha (spleen) are known as mool (main organs) of Rakta (blood). In ITP, there is a vitiation of Pitta dosha especially Ranjak Pitta.

In Ayurveda, the relationship between Rakta Dhatu (blood) and Pitta dosha has been documented and well elaborated. The main cause of Raktapitta mentioned in Ayurveda is the consumption of more amal (acidic), lavan (salty) and katu (pungent) ras (tastes).  Pitta dosha gets aggravated by the intake of spicy foods, sour foods and consumption of Virudh Ahara (wrong food combination). Due to this, there is the formation of ama visha (toxins) in the body which vitiates Pitta dosha and this vitiated Pitta dosha causes Raktapitta.

What are the Symptoms of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura?

  1. Bruises: The person suffering from ITP has large areas of bleeding under the skin that will not turn white when it is pressed.
  2. Bleeding: Bleeding can occur from any part of the body in the person suffering from ITP. Patients can see blood in their urine as well as in stools. They also experience bleeding from the gums and nose. In females, they may have long and heavier menstrual bleeding than normal menstrual bleeding.
  3. Excessive Fatigue: Persons can feel tiredness throughout the day despite getting good sleep at night. They feel a lack of energy for day-to-day activities.

What is the Treatment of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura?

Ayurvedic treatment of ITP includes herbs having Tikta Ras (blood purifying and Pitta pacifying in nature), herbs having Madhur Vipak (rasa and rakta nourishing, dhatavagni stimulant and having pitta pacifying action), Kashaya rasa (astringent action which results in arresting bleeding and wound healing) and sheet veerya (cold in potency for pacifying Pitta dosha).

Herbs that are Useful in the Treatment of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura

1. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

  • Ashwagandha herb is known as an immuno-modulator in Ayurveda. It helps in raising the platelet count by improving the functioning of the immune Ashwagandha is known as the Rasayana herb in Ayurveda.
  • It inhibits the immunosuppressive activity of the body.
  • Ashwagandha is also helpful in reducing stress, provides strength, and provides relief in fatigue associated with ITP.
  • It gives strength to the bone marrow as well.

2. Giloy (Tinospora cordifolia)

  • Giloy is widely used in the treatment of ITP as it acts as an immune stimulant that helps in increasing the number of platelets in the blood.
  • It is one of the few herbs in Ayurveda that balances all three doshas.
  • It increases the ability of the body to combat foreign bodies and increase platelet count.
  • Therefore, Giloy is considered an effective herb for ITP.

3. Arjun (Terminalia arjuna)

  • Arjuna, being an astringent herb, is helpful in treating Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura.
  • The bark of the Arjun tree is cooling, soothing, and nutritive in nature thus helps in pacifying Pitta dosha in the body.
  • It is anti-inflammatory in nature and helps in enhancing immunity.
  • Being astringent in nature, it arrests heavy bleeding associated with ITP.

4. Papaya Leaves

  • Papaya leaves contain a unique phytochemical known as acetogenin which is proven to increase platelet count.
  • Other natural compounds of papaya leave such as flavonoids and carotenes have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  • Thus, consuming papaya leaves is a natural remedy for increasing the platelet count in ITP patients.

5. Pomegranate

  • The benefits of pomegranate fruit are innumerable. It has been used for its health benefits for thousands of years.
  • It is light to digest, undergoes sweet taste conversion after digestion, and is astringent in nature.
  • Due to its astringent taste, it reduces heavy bleeding. It increases hemoglobin levels and reduces fatigue associated with ITP.
  • It balances all the three doshas Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.

6. Durva (Cynodon dactylon)

  • Durva grass assists in maintaining the alkalinity of the body and acts as a natural blood purifier as well.
  • Being alkaline in nature, it pacifies Pitta dosha and reduces bleeding.
  • It increases hemoglobin levels in the blood as well.

Dietary Guidelines

  • Avoid the intake of hot and spicy food.
  • Dairy products such as curd, buttermilk, and milk products should be avoided.
  • Sour fruits such as oranges, lemon, and sweet lime should not be consumed.
  • Avoid consumption of alcohol as it can affect platelet functioning.
  • Light and easily digestible food should be preferred.
  • Vegetables such as bottle gourd, pumpkin, radish, and carrots should be taken.

Conclusion

Thus, Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP) can be successfully managed with Ayurvedic treatment along with changes in diet. For Ayurvedic consultation, book an appointment now.