Reduced numbers of white blood cells, also known as leukopenia, means that you have fewer disease-fighting cells circulating throughout your body. Fewer than 3,500 white blood cells, or leukocytes, per microliter of blood is considered a low white blood cell count, although this number varies based on age and sex. Certain dietary supplements may help boost your white blood cell counts, although you should only use supplements under the care and supervision of a health care professional.
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Low White Blood Cell Count
There are five principle types of white blood cells, states MedlinePlus, including eosinophils, basophils, monocytes, lymphocytes and neutrophils. Certain prescription drugs, such as antibiotics, antihistamines and chemotherapy drugs, may lower your white blood cell count. Other possible causes of reduced white blood cell counts include viral infections, congenital disorders, cancer and autoimmune disorders. Specific causes of low white blood cells counts include hyperthyroidism, vitamin deficiencies, myelofibrosis and HIV/AIDS. A simple blood test can assess your white blood cell count.
Commonly Used Supplements
Certain supplements, especially herbal supplements, are commonly used to boost or maintain white blood cell counts. Dr. Sharol Tilgner, a naturopathic physician and author of "Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth," reports that astragalus, ligustrum, schisandra, licorice, atractylodes, Siberian ginseng and codonopsis may be particularly effective in raising your white blood cell count and supporting your immune system. Not all supplements used in treating leukopenia have been subjected to extensive clinical trials.
Ligustrum is a frequently prescribed supplement to help increase your white blood cell count. Tilgner notes that ligustrum may be able to help elevate your leukocyte numbers following radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Ligustrum, states the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, helps stimulate your immune function and may aid in treating insomnia, fever and dizziness. Ligustrum is a type of tree native to certain parts of China. The tree's fruit is used medicinally.
A low white blood cell count may be cause for concern. If a blood test reveals below normal levels of white blood cells, meet with your physician to discuss possible underlying factors and treatment methods to address your health problem. Dietary supplements, though intended to help elevate your leukocyte levels, should not be used in place of other therapies recommended by your health care provider. In most cases, dietary supplements should be used as an adjunct therapy in the treatment of low white blood cell counts.
- MedlinePlus: WBC Count
- "Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth"; Sharol Tilgner, N.D.; 1999
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Ligustrum Lucidum