Genetic Haemochromatosis (GH) is thought to be the most common genetic disorder in the United Kingdom.
In fact, 1 in 8 people in the UK are carriers of the gene for haemochromatosis, making it more likely than most other populations to be at risk for GH.
All told, estimates suggest 250,000 people have the genetic predisposition… yet roughly only 5,000 individuals have been clinically diagnosed with haemochromatosis. Many people are affected with this condition of iron overload yet have no idea.
Holistic Help for Genetic Haemochromatosis
Hello, my name is Eric Lewis. I am a Naturopathic Doctor residing in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina in the United States. Asheville is a small city in the Western part of North Carolina, surrounded by the idyllic Blue Ridge Mountains. We are fortunate to have a very fit and active population, with a strong emphasis on health and well being.
As a Naturopathic Doctor, I have a very holistic approach to health care. And as an individual with haemochromatosis, I bring a unique perspective on how to address our condition of iron overload.
I count myself fortunate to have connected with many fine people from the UK.
I have also been proud to be apart of a haemochromatosis awareness campaign sponsored by the Leeds Ladies Football Club.
Awareness is essential, and I’m glad to help out… even from all the way across the pond! 🙂
Let’s cover some of the basics of iron overload, and later on in this article I will detail how I can best be of service to you.
Haemochromatosis Diagnosis and Treatment
Getting tested for haemochromatosis is less commonplace than it should be, in my opinion. Like here in the States, UK physicians do not always routinely run an iron panel on patients. Especially if you have a family member with high iron, be sure to inquire about testing.
An iron panel will evaluate your serum iron and your TIBC (Total Iron Binding Capacity), as well as the two tests I find most useful: Ferritin and Transferrin Saturation %.
Ferritin is a measurement of stored iron within the cells. Iron within our cells is the most damaging to our long term health, thus ferritin is of extreme importance to understand. Suspicion rises with a ferritin over 300 in men and over 200 in women.
When ferritin levels rise above 1,000 a consideration for liver biopsy is made since the liver is the most vulnerable organ to the affects of GH.
Transferrin Saturation (TS%) is a ratio of serum iron to total iron binding capacity (multiplied by 100), and this value represents how much iron is in a bound form. When the percentage of bound iron increases dramatically, it represents a system overloaded with iron.
Once a TS% is greater than 50% in men and greater than 45% in women (on 2 occasions), this finding is suggestive of GH.
First and foremost, the key treatment for haemochromatosis is venesection, or the therapeutic removal of blood. Many people are prescribed iron chelating medications. Especially if started early, these therapies help to reduce symptoms and save lives.
Therapeutic venesection will be carried out upon your physician’s directions, which may be weekly at first if the iron levels are high enough. This can be an exhausting process, but it is important. Getting the ferritin level down (goal is to get under 20, then to maintain around 50) is the goal. TS% hopefully will be under 50%.
A wonderful organisation is the Haemochromatosis Society of the UK. Rightfully so, they suggest iron removal by venesection even if the symptom picture is not clearly indicative of GH. They state:
The need for treatment to remove excess iron does not depend upon the presence of clinical symptoms. The risk of developing a serious complaint such as cirrhosis is much too great to be overlooked.
Well said! I have communicated with numerous individuals with haemochromaosis, and I find it quite common for one person’s symptom picture to look entirely different than another’s. Haemochromatosis Symptoms are often confusing and they can be attributed to other conditions.
The earlier an individual can receive the correct diagnosis and begin treatment, the greater chance for success they will have.
A few other UK laboratory resources for me to share with you include:
- Lab Tests Online UK: “A public resource on clinical lab testing”
- UK Genetic Testing Network: “Supporting Genetic Testing in the NHS”
Holistic Help for Haemochromatosis
My area of expertise is to provide educational information regarding a complementary and integrative approach to haemochromatosis. Diet and supplementation can play a very positive role in your overall health care plan.
I spend a great deal of time researching natural remedies that complement your medical care. Fortunately, I have found a number of nutrients and herbal remedies that are generally regarded as safe, all while having clinical research to back up their effectiveness to support your health.
Follow your physician’s advice, and if ever in doubt, ask questions about any dietary or supplemental changes you would like to incorporate.
I have received great interest and requests for our unique turmeric cream and thus I’ve worked to find a reliable and affordable way to ship supplements to the UK.
Fortunately, we are now able to ship items to you! Brilliant!
Our store shopping cart is now enabled with this functionality, so if you are interested in our supplements, please feel free to read more about Natural Remedies for Hemochromatosis.
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share information with you and listen to so many stories from you all. It gives me a smile, and inspires me to help you face haemochromatosis together.
I have recently begun a new section on my site entitled, “Your Story“. My goal is to share the stories of real people and their perspective on haemochromatosis. Truly powerful reading.
In the meantime, here’s a photo I took of the Blue Ridge Mountains near my home of Asheville so I can show off how beautiful Western North Carolina is. I’m very fortunate to call Asheville home! 🙂