They do so by shapeshifting into "sticky rice" balls clumping together within fibrin fishnets at wound sites. Additionally, they also serve in our immune system by patrolling pathogenic invaders to help fight infections.
Now, platelets are produced in our bone marrow by megakaryocytes and normally number between approximately 150,000-350,000 per microliter (mcL) of blood. Healthy blood flow requires an optimum amount of platelets within this range that become sticky and coagulative only when needed.
But, if there are too many platelets (over 450,000/mcL) and/or that are too sticky, this effectively thickens the blood, much like ketchup. Clinically, this is known as thrombocytosis and increases the risk of heart attacks, unwanted clots, and stroke. Thrombocyte is medicalese for platelet.
Conversely, if we have too few thrombocytes (under 130,000/mcL), this then thins the blood too much. This opposing condition is known as thrombocytopenia and can lead to excessive bleeding and bruising. Acutely in children, this may typically follow viral infection (or possibly vaccines), as platelet ranks temporarily get depleted fighting pathogens. But in adults, it is more often chronic and ultimately idiopathic (of indeterminate cause).
Albeit we do at least know that many of these long-term cases are autoimmune-related, due to antibodies becoming autoantibodies. When this happens, such autoantibodies mistake platelets as foreign and proceed to destroy both them and inhibit their production by megakaryocytes. Thus, this condition has been (re)designated immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). Purpura refers to the symptomatic, purplish bruising due to bleeding under the skin.
Consequently, treatment protocols for ITP usually involve detoxing and dietary and/or immune response modifications.
Diet for Blood Health
Eliminating inflammatory, autoimmune triggers and blood thinners from one's diet may be the simplest, first-line step towards re-normalizing platelet counts and mitigating symptoms. This is a very low-investment, low-risk strategy that nonetheless sometimes pays surprising dividends, alone.
For example, there are a number of foods or environmental toxins that may decrease platelets or activity through ingestion or exposure. Of these, 5 common foods or ingredients to avoid eating include aspartame (NutraSweet), quinine (tonic water bitter used to fight malaria), glyphosate-contaminated ingredients (like non-organic wheat, sugar cane, etc) and blood thinners like alcohol and alliums (garlic, onions, leeks, etc).
On the other hand, there are also foods that can work to boost platelets. First and foremost, papaya (pawpaw) is proven to have a therapeutic effect in significantly increasing platelet counts. And while just the fruit itself exhibits such action, Carica papaya leaves juice (CPLJ) are what is typically used medicinally for this purpose. Simply 2 tablespoons of fresh juice or prepared extracts (CPLE) daily may do the trick here!
Numerous other nutritious foods that support increasing platelets also include pomegranate, pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes, oranges, raisins, beans, wheat grass, spinach, Swiss chard, kale, lettuce, parsley, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, seaweed, guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), olives, eggs, and dairy.
Of course, these menu lists are all endless, but the gist here is to subtract foods or substances that reduce platelets or functional activity while adding those that increase them.
Alternative Therapies for Platelets
Or alternatively, from a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) perspective, one should also concurrently be helping to bolster healthy spleen/pancreas qi (life energy) by reducing cooling, damp foods, while increasing warming, motivational, sweet, pungent, and bitter ones!
This is because ITP has loosely been attributed to blood stasis and spleen deficiency per TCM, among other possible correlations. Which may all also be addressed in any number of ways in addition to the diet (including lifestyle, cupping, guasha, therapeutic bodywork, acupuncture, herbs, qigong, etc).
Of these, wet cupping (baguan) most directly detoxes the blood itself. This is an ancient bloodletting technique used to literally suck out “stagnant” toxins. Despite sounding like an archaic form of medieval torture, it is actually quite painless. As the bleeding is induced by heavy vacuum suction through tiny pinpricks, which subsequently don’t need much closure afterward.
Wet cupping is still quite popular in the Far East and known as hijamah in the Mid East, today. Not to mention, cupping has also been finding new converts among high-profile, American celebrities and Olympic athletes, of late! As the bloody proof is in the pudding, or perhaps cranberry Jell-o in this case!
That all said, intentional bleeding may certainly not sound like the best prescription for easily-excessive bleeding. However, in one systematic study at the Al-Ghufran Hijamah Center, medical teams found that platelet counts in all cases of thrombocytopenia normalized after wet cupping.
And in another at the University of Damascus, a 50% success rate at re-normalizing platelet counts was documented. So like leeches and maggots, this powerfully-primitive practice may now slowly be worming its way back into modern medicine and popular favor! Nonetheless, be sure to check with your physician or experienced cupper before attempting a session yourself.
So, there you have it, folks. By properly managing diet, lifestyle, environmental exposures, and trying out a few unorthodox therapies, one can easily build a strong case towards effectively treating ITP naturally without steroids, blood transfusions, or much less a surgical splenectomy!