Sickle Cell Awareness Month 2019


September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month, and in honor of the patients affected by the disease, we would like to share some information and bring awareness to this  qualifying condition.

Sickle cell disease (SCD) refers to a group of hereditary disorders which affect red blood cells. Patients who have SCD inherit abnormal hemoglobin genes (the protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body), from each parent. In all forms of this disease, at least one of the two genes causes the affected person to make hemoglobin S. When a person has two hemoglobin S genes, they have sickle cell anemia, the most common and, quite often, the most severe type of SCD.

Fig 1: Normal Red Blood Cell and Sickled Red Blood Cell

Fig 1: Normal Red Blood Cell and Sickled Red Blood Cell

Around 100,000 Americans in the US suffer from SCD; more commonly this is found in certain ethnic groups, including:

  • People of African descent, including African-Americans (among whom 1 in 12 carries a sickle cell gene)

  • Hispanic-Americans from Central and South America

  • People of Middle Eastern, Asian, Indian, and Mediterranean descent

The signs and symptoms of sickle cell anemia vary from person to person and are mostly related to the complications that occur from the disease. Some complications that can arise include, but are not limited to, acute and chronic pain, severe anemia, strokes, heart disease, all of which can lead to emotional health issues such as depression and anxiety.

Like many conditions, treatment for sickle cell anemia focuses on controlling symptoms. Cannabinoids are increasingly being considered for the management of various painful conditions, and could be considered as an option for treating acute pain from SCD.

Many believe that medical marijuana could be a versatile, safe medicine for those looking for natural alternatives to popular synthetic drugs such as opioids. For many patients, marijuana not only assists in uplifting their moods, but the cannabinoids found in the plan interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system to potentially ease their symptoms, with its anti-inflammatory and pain-relief properties. This may reduce further tissue damage caused by the complications of SCD. With all of its effects, medical marijuana could help improve the quality of life for most patients.

One patient described her experience of mitigating her symptoms with, “[Medical marijuana] has not, by any means, cured my sickle cell. But It has greatly improved my quality of life by leaps and bounds. I spent a good part of my 30s in and out of the hospital, including undergoing three blood transfusions and periods of limited mobility. I still have what I call my “mini-moments.” What was once a monthly crisis back then is a rare occurrence now. Ironically, these moments come when I go without medicating for lengthy periods. So I literally now treat cannabis as anyone else with a prescription.”

*Always consult with your physician before beginning any medical marijuana program. TerraVida cannot guarantee any definitive results from medical marijuana products.

During the month of September, TerraVida will be raising money for Sickle Cell Disease Association: Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter. Be sure to donate or just pick up an awareness ribbon the next time you are at any TerraVida Holistic Centers location. 

LifestyleCatherine A.Comment