If for any reason your blood platelet count falls below normal, the condition is called thrombocytopenia, according to the Mayo Clinic. Normally, you have anywhere from 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of circulating blood.
Because each platelet lives only about 10 days, your body continually renews your platelet supply by producing new platelets in your bone marrow.
Thrombocytopenia can be inherited, or it may be caused by a number of medications or conditions. Whatever the cause, circulating platelets are reduced by one or more of the following processes: trapping of platelets in the spleen decreased platelet production or increased destruction of platelets.
The spleen is a small organ about the size of your fist located just below your rib cage on the left side of your abdomen. Normally, your spleen works to fight infection and filter unwanted material from your blood.
An enlarged spleen — which can be caused by a number of disorders — may harbor too many platelets, causing a decrease in the number of platelets in circulation.
Reduced production of platelets
Platelets are produced in your bone marrow. If production is low, you may develop thrombocytopenia. Factors that can decrease platelet production include:
- Some types of anemia
- Viral infections, such as hepatitis C or HIV
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Heavy alcohol consumption
Increased breakdown of platelets
Some conditions can cause your body to use up or destroy platelets more rapidly than they’re produced. This leads to a shortage of platelets in your bloodstream. Examples of such conditions include:
- Pregnancy. Thrombocytopenia caused by pregnancy is usually mild and improves soon after childbirth.
- Immune thrombocytopenia. This type is caused by autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. The body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys platelets. If the exact cause of this condition isn’t known, it’s called idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. This type more often affects children.
- Bacteria in the blood. Severe bacterial infections involving the blood (bacteremia) may lead to the destruction of platelets.
- Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. This is a rare condition that occurs when small blood clots suddenly form throughout your body, using up large numbers of platelets.
- Hemolytic uremic syndrome. This rare disorder causes a sharp drop in platelets, destruction of red blood cells and impairment of kidney function. Sometimes it can occur in association with a bacterial Escherichia coli (E. coli) infection, such as may be acquired from eating raw or undercooked meat.
- Medications. Certain medications can reduce the number of platelets in your blood. Sometimes a drug confuses the immune system and causes it to destroy platelets. Examples include heparin, quinine, sulfa-containing antibiotics, and anticonvulsants.
Here are the top 10 ways to increase a low platelet count naturally.
Blood cells are made of water and protein; hence it is highly recommended to drink plenty of water throughout the day. When it comes to a low platelet count, avoid drinking cold water as it can affect your digestive tract and the body will not absorb nutrients properly.
Instead, drink filtered and purified water that is room temperature. This will help your body produce more blood cells and eventually improve the platelet count.
Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of room temperature water daily.
Both the papaya fruit and its leaves can help increase a low platelet count within just a few days. In 2009, researchers at the Asian Institute of Science and Technology in Malaysia found that papaya leaf juice can increase the platelet count of people diagnosed with dengue fever.
- Eat ripe papaya or drink a glass of papaya juice with a little lemon juice 2 or 3 times daily.
- You can also pound a few papaya leaves without the stalk using a pestle and mortar to extract the juice. Drink 2 tablespoons of this bitter juice 2 times a day.
According to a 2011 study published in International Journal of Universal Pharmacy and Life Sciences, wheatgrass can be beneficial in increasing platelet count.
In fact, it can produce significant increases in hemoglobin, red blood cell, total white blood cell and differential white blood cell counts. This happens because wheatgrass is high in chlorophyll with a molecular structure almost identical to the hemoglobin molecule in human blood.
Simply drink ½ cup of wheatgrass juice mixed with a little lemon juice daily.
Pumpkin is another important food to improve your low platelet count. It is rich in vitamin A that helps support proper platelet development. It also regulates the proteins produced in the cells, which is important to raise the platelet level.
- In ½ glass of fresh pumpkin juice, add 1 teaspoon of honey and drink it 2 or 3 times a day.
- Also, include pumpkin in your diet by adding pumpkin puree to soups, stews, smoothies and baked goods.
Spinach is a good source of vitamin K which is often used to help treat low platelet disorder. Vitamin K is required for proper blood clotting. Thus, it reduces the risk of excessive bleeding.
- Boil 4 or 5 leaves of fresh spinach in 2 cups of water for a few minutes. Allow it to cool, and mix in 1/2 glass of tomato juice. Drink it 3 times a day.
- Also, enjoy this green vegetable in salads, green smoothies, side dishes or soups.
6. Vitamin C
To increase your platelet count, you need to increase your intake of vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid. A study published in 1990 in the Japanese Journal of Hematology stated that vitamin C improves platelet count.
Being a powerful antioxidant, high doses of vitamin C also prevent free-radical mediated damage of the platelets. Your body requires 400 to 2,000 mg of vitamin C per day, depending on your age and overall health.
- Eat foods high in vitamin C like lemons, oranges, tomatoes, cantaloupes, kiwi, spinach, bell peppers and broccoli.
- You may also take vitamin C in supplement form daily, but only after consulting your doctor.
7. Sesame Oil
This cold-pressed oil is also beneficial in increasing your platelet count. Sesame oil has properties that can raise platelet level naturally. It reduces free radical damage, inflammation in the body and helps improve blood circulation.
- Drink 1 to 2 tablespoons of high-quality sesame oil twice a day.
- You can also rub some sesame oil externally on lymph node areas several times daily to help increase platelet counts.
- Also, use cold-pressed sesame oil for cooking.
Eating beetroot is another traditional dietary method of increasing the platelet count. Being high in natural antioxidant and hemostatic properties, beetroot can raise your platelet count within a few days.
- Drink 1 tablespoon of fresh beetroot juice 3 times daily.
- Another option is to mix 3 tablespoons of beetroot juice in a glass of carrot juice and drink it 2 times daily.