Platelets are responsible for blood clotting, and normal levels range between 150,000 and 400,000, but a drop is common during pregnancy. The drop is generally ignored unless it goes below 116,000. Poor testing procedures, in which there is too long of a delay between when blood is drawn and when the testing actually occurs, is a known problem that produces entirely bogus test results. It is common. Thus, it is wise to take at least two tests before making any radical medical decisions concerning the results.
An extremely low platelet count is called thrombocytopenia. It can be caused by a variety of things including A.I.D.S., pharmaceuticals, sepsis, leukemia, and lupus. However, gestational thrombocytopenia (during pregnancy) has no known cause, and it does not usually result in complications. The standard treatments vary depending upon the perceived severity of the condition. Extreme cases can mean that bleeding will not stop, so there is a threshold at which it may actually become a real problem. Hospitals will usually refuse to provide epidurals if the platelet count is below 100,000. Pregnancy-related thrombocytopenia is usually caused by malnutrition, and the recommendations below should work to remedy it. This fact is institutionally ignored, because it lends credence to competing alternative and nutritional medicine.
Natural Methods to Raise Platelet Counts
- Astragalus is a very common remedy for this condition. It has been shown in studies to reduce the platelet damage of chemotherapy, so it has a powerful protective effect. This herb also increases the amount of platelets in the blood. Astragalus can be purchased in supplement form at health food stores or online, and it should not be confused with the vegetable asparagus.
- Vitamin C has been shown to cause massive increases in platelet counts, and it is likewise beneficial for those with ITP (one of the causes of thrombocytopenia). All pregnant women should supplement with vitamin C to decrease the risk of S.I.D.S., and thrombocytopenia increases their need for it. Vitamin C explains why citrus fruits generate a rise in platelets. A pregnant woman should get, at bare minimum, double the U.S.D.A.'s recommended daily allowance of vitamin C in supplements, in addition to getting it in the diet too.
- Zinc is a mineral that all pregnant women should supplement with. Zinc deficiencies have been linked to fetal abnormalities and birth deformities. Zinc deficiencies have also been linked with low platelet counts, and zinc supplementation causes a dramatic rise in platelet aggregation. Reference the zinc article for information about the quality considerations of different zinc supplements.
- Beetroots (Beets) are frequently recommended by midwives as a dietary method of increasing the platelet count.
- Meat and Fish have been shown to increase platelet counts. It is especially important to avoid growth hormones during pregnancy, and to avoid all bottom-feeding fish, due to their heavy metal contamination (think kosher). Also beware of farm-raised fish, which do not have the health benefits that are present in those that are wild caught, and especially beware of fish from China.
- Vitamin B-12 is essential for the proper production of platelets, along with red and white blood cells. Thrombocytopenia can be caused by this deficiency alone; and therefore, thrombocytopenia is something that is much more likely to occur in vegetarians. B-12 is naturally present in meats, and it can be obtained in dietary supplements. B-12 supplementation should always be purchased in the form of methylcobalamin. Note that B-12 supplements should be crushed and held in the mouth for a minute (or two) before swallowing, so that much of the B-12 will directly absorb into the blood. This is because vitamin B-12 from supplements is almost entirely destroyed by digestion.
- Chlorophyll increases the oxygenation of cells, making it easier for the body to function properly. Chlorophyll is strongly recommended.
- Vitamin K is essential for proper blood clotting, and thus it is important. Vitamin K is best obtained from green, leafy vegetables. Our Green Drink recipe would be ideal, and supplements are also available at health food stores. Every person who does not regularly drink this, or something like it, is really missing out.
- Avoid alcohol and refined sugars, because these have been shown to reduce the platelet count.