World Sickle Cell Day is June 19th, however September is National Sickle Cell Month. Sickle Cell Trait are mainly found in people of African decent in which the red blood cells take on the shape of a sickle which can produce an enzyme that helps the body to fight Malaria. The sickle mutation may have been naturally selected in sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria is endemic and one of the major causes of death. You can have the Sickle Cell trait and not have Sickle Cell Disease. When a person with Sickle Cell Disease suffers a “crisis” they report excruciating pain to the affected area(s). Some have become addicted to the medications which have been used to control their pain, and require higher amounts over time as the disease progresses.
During slavery there wasn’t any dilaudid, morphine, Demerol, or any of the other drugs that are used for the tx of pain in people with the disease, so how did our ancestors deal with symptoms you ask…well the climate played a vital role in controlling the symptoms. For one they were more active, direct sunlight also helps to prevent symptoms and most importantly diet. As we know I encourage the use of natural means to control whatever ailments you might face. The key to controlling these symptoms, are attributed largely to the foods that are consumed. Adequate hydration is a must… In addition, folic acid, L – Arginine, Nitric Oxide, and Vitamin C play very important roles. Sickle cell have a shorter life span than regular cells so intake of folic acid is essential. Folic acid helps to produce new red blood cells (RBC’s). L-Arginine is an amino acid that is brought into the body by the foods we consume, found primarily in dairy product (most Blacks are lactose intolerant, but there are many alternate ways to get this essential vitamin. L -Arginine is essential because it controls vessel wall elasticity and helps with the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide allows the muscles of vessel walls to relax and keeps cells from sticking together which helps prevent the blockage (sickle cell build up in the vessels) that causes the pain. Vitamin C protects your nitric oxide within the body from being destroyed.
Yes your doctor knows this, but wouldn’t inform you, because that’s money out of their and these drug companies pockets. I hope this information has helped in giving understanding of this disease more. I do teach my patients that have SCD this necessary information and they have reported less attacks and are now working on the opioid dependency they have developed. If you know someone that is afflicted with SCD please do share this info with them, and let them know that it does get better!