How to heal issues with low iron or anemia naturally without resorting to iron supplements which can harm health more than they help.
When a doctor diagnoses a patient with anemia, usually during a routine physical, iron pills are the typical recommendation.
This is the most frequent suggestion for resolving low iron in pregnancy as well, a common concern, especially during the third trimester.
Unfortunately, this type of supplementation doesn’t work very well for healing anemia. In fact, it has the very real possibility of aggravating existing inflammatory conditions.
Inorganic vs Organic Iron
Many practitioners who recommend iron pills do not know that the intestinal tract processes organic iron (from food) and inorganic iron (from supplements or non-enameled cast iron cookware) very differently.
Organic sources of iron require additional digestion facilitated by the liver before being fully metabolized.
The truth is that inorganic iron is not very bioavailable.
An increasing amount of research suggests that this form of difficult-to-digest iron can contribute to a cascade of inflammatory conditions and feed gut pathogens. (1)
Dangers of Iron Supplements
Dr. Lawrence Wilson MD discusses the dangers of inorganic iron and the toxicity of iron added to processed foods and supplements extensively on his website. (2)
The bottom line is that you can faithfully take iron pills or other supplements containing iron and still remain anemic due to the lack of bio-availability.
Not only are they ineffective, iron pills frequently cause uncomfortable side effects such as constipation, diarrhea, leg cramps, and/or nausea.
In addition, black stools are a frequent side effect. This is one very clear indication of how indigestible they are!
For adult men and menopausal women, taking inorganic iron is flat-out dangerous. It can contribute to “iron overload disease” in those who are genetically susceptible. Hemochromatosis can cause heart and organ damage.
For these reasons, if your healthcare provider ever suggests iron pills to resolve anemia, you might want to take a hard pass.
5 Ways to Resolve Anemia Naturally
Now that we’ve discussed why iron supplements are not healthy to use, let’s discuss a few very effective ways to resolve anemia with no side effects….naturally!
Eat Liver Once a Week Like Grandma Did
Liver is very high in organic, easily absorbed iron. Unfortunately, this ancestral food has been unfairly demonized in modern nutritional circles.
Consider that our forebears consumed liver regularly…typically once a week. It was considered a superfood, even sacred by traditional cultures. Back then, anemia was virtually nonexistent!
Liver also contains plentiful natural Vitamin A which is necessary for the proper absorption of iron.
If you don’t enjoy eating liver, a high-quality desiccated liver supplement is an excellent alternative.
My family and I use this brand of raw, freeze-dried liver capsules which is certified organic from cows grazing on grasslands. The liver is independently tested to be glyphosate-free.
Be wary of some desiccated liver brands that remove the fat which denatures the product.
For those that enjoy eating liver, this delicious liver and bacon pate recipe is one of my favorites to spread on crackers as an appetizer to the main meal.
Eat More Red Meat
If you want to heal anemia naturally, it’s very important to not be scared of red meat!
There is nothing more effective at improving iron levels (and energy) quickly than a juicy grassfed steak. (3)
Note that synthetic meat with plant-based heme (iron) will not help the situation at all.
I am convinced that a big reason for the epidemic of anemia today is because a good portion of the public avoids red meat falsely believing it will harm their health.
Avoid Foods that Feed Iron-Loving Gut Pathogens
When the gut becomes imbalanced due to a diet high in refined carbs and sugar or via antibiotic use (without a reparative probiotic regimen afterward), intestinal pathogens are given free reign to grow and become dominant.
According to Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, an unbalanced gut can frequently thwart efforts to resolve anemia naturally because a particular group of pathogenic bacteria that thrive in this type of intestinal environment love iron!
The pathogenic strains Actinomyces spp., Mycobacterium spp., Corynebacterium spp. (and others) consume whatever iron a person gets from the diet leaving them deficient and sometimes anemic!
Iron pills actually make the problem worse as they provide food for these pathogenic strains making their hold in the gut ever stronger with no resolution of the anemia and sometimes worsening of the condition.
Another very important strategy is to avoid ALL avoid fortified foods, especially boxed breakfast cereals. They frequently contain inorganic iron in excessive amounts, which does nothing but feed gut pathogens.
DIY Anemia Tonic
According to the book The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Childcare, an easy way to get more bioavailable iron in the diet is to blend 1-2 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses each day in a mug of hot water.
Add a tablespoon of coconut oil and 1/2 teaspoon of ground or fresh ginger if you are in need of an energy boost too.
This easy beverage also makes a healthy coffee substitute if you are trying to avoid caffeine.
It is not recommended to take the blackstrap in a glass of milk.
While I used the milk/molasses approach to resolve anemia during my three pregnancies with great success, some research suggests that the calcium in milk may block the maximum absorption of iron.
Please note that only organic blackstrap molasses (I suggest this brand) is safe, in my view, as cane sugar is a high spray crop.
If the blackstrap molasses tonic above doesn’t appeal to you, try a liquid herbal supplement that contains organic, bioavailable iron. I suggest this brand as one of excellent quality and safety.
As a bonus, this type of herbal tonic also serves as a digestive aid.
The dosage is .34 ounces (10 mL) twice each day. It can also be used as an anemia preventative too.
(1, 2) Iron Overload
(2) The Truth About Red Meat
(3) Gut and Psychology Syndrome
(4) Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Childcare
Excellent content as always.
I have been making my own liposomal vitamin C for the past 2 years. Funny thing is, I started going to a doctor for gut issues and hashimotos and through lots of blood tests, my iron was too high. I would give blood but then it would go back up. It came down to that we think it was the liposomal vitamin C. After consulting another doctor, he is now recommending to patients with low iron to take it. His receptionist is one of them and I have been making it for her. We will see in a month or so, if her anemia will go away.
Could you, please, share your recipe for the liposomal vitamin C (there are many and not all that are “working”).
Hello Sarah, thank you for this article, as iron deficiency/anemia is so common, and too many doctors (even functional/integrative specialists) are erroneously prescribing iron supplements. I was having IV iron infusions for my chronically low iron (arghhh!), until I came across The Root Cause Protocol by Morley Robbins who explains that low ferritin is really code for needing more copper and magnesium. I would implore anyone who is struggling with iron deficiency to read his important work.
…also the brand of raw, freeze dried liver you mentioned isn’t showing up on that link
but I’d love to see it??
Mmmm. Working ok for me. Try again? https://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/go/perfect-supplement-desiccated-liver/
I’d love the herbal supplements recommendation. The link isn’t working
Hi Dianna, when I checked this link … Amazon gives a message that “direct linking to this product isn’t allowed”. That is VERY odd. Never seen anything like this before. I changed it now and it seems to be working. Please try again. Thanks for the heads up!