Iron Replacement

Menstrua cogunt Ferrum – Menstruation necessitates iron replacement. Menstruation has been taking place for as long as people have existed. Women have been affected by iron deficiency ever since, too. Doctors have been trying for hundreds of years to give (back) to women the iron they are lacking, whether in the form of special juices containing iron, courses of treatment involving drinking blood, or tablets containing iron. Unfortunately, these efforts seldom achieved success because the body is only able to absorb trace amounts of iron ingested orally, with the majority being discharged again through the intestine. Only around a tenth is absorbed, which is far too little to achieve sustainable compensation of the iron lost through menstruation.

After thousands of years of mostly unsuccessful iron therapy, the crucial step was finally taken. Around 100 years ago, it became possible to produce iron preparations in liquid form for intravenous administration for the first time. This is perhaps the greatest breakthrough ever made in the history of medicine. Finally, there was the possibility of eradicating the “iron deficiency pandemic” once and for all. This is because it could clearly be proven that intravenous iron therapy is significantly more effective and better tolerated by patients than oral iron preparations, and that it is usually beneficial to health. This finding was published in 1957 at the Medical University of Innsbruck, where iron deficiency syndrome was described for the first time. This refers to the early stage of iron deficiency and its typical symptoms. However, at that time, neither the concept of iron deficiency syndrome nor successful intravenous therapy succeeded in gaining acceptance. The exact same thing happened in 1971 at the Charité University Hospital Berlin, where doctors unequivocally confirmed the results of the Innsbruck study. A Berlin textbook on the subject was even published at that time. Despite this, early and effective intravenous iron therapy went on to be systematically treated as a taboo subject by academic medicine with the result that, for decades, patients with an iron deficiency were given no iron and therefore had to suffer unnecessarily, which they continue to do today – except in Switzerland. In global terms, this affects almost half of humanity. This gave rise to the iron movement.

In 1998, iron deficiency syndrome and effective intravenous iron therapy were rediscovered in Basel. After dedicating seven years to developing the concept for diagnosis, therapy and prevention of iron deficiency (Swiss Iron System, SIS), in 2005 a network of iron centres run by trained physicians was set up, followed by the founding of the Swiss Iron Health Organisation (SIHO) in 2007. Growing multi-centre data gathering on the correlation between iron and health allowed groundbreaking findings to be made and shared. The most important discovery by SIHO is: Women and children showing symptoms of iron deficiency need the same amount of iron as adult males to enable to live without suffering from these symptoms. However, women and children naturally have around eight times less iron in their body than adult males. This is why they are the main sufferers of iron deficiency.

As an advocate for iron, SIHO does not think it is right that women should have suffer to from iron deficiency due to menstruation. This is why intravenous iron replacement has been introduced in Switzerland. Swiss doctors and patients have come to realise the significance of menstruation and have learned to take it seriously, along with all the associated consequences. They are aware that the womb has to repeatedly discharge mucous membrane, blood and iron in line with the phases of the moon. The body can regrow its mucous membranes and replenish blood. But it is unable to restore its iron levels. Although doctors do not know the reason behind this, they acknowledge this fact and in the first instance give the women who are suffering from the symptoms of iron deficiency the iron they are lacking. Most women with an iron deficiency return to good health and iron replacement “gives them their life back”. This results in active women and healthier people for lower costs

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