Iron-rich waters from the Welsh hills can help your blood to sparkle
When the Roman Tenth Legion was stationed in Trefriw, near Conwy in North Wales, its soldiers went prospecting in the local hills. Sometime in the first two hundred years of the first millennium a Roman stumbled upon a spring trickling out of the Snowdonian hills behind Trefriw.
Both the stalactites and stalagmites, which grew from the dripping walls of the grotto into which the spring flowed, glistened like other stalactites in the torchlight, but they were brown and the water had a metallic taste.
Trefriw soon became a popular Roman bath and a centre for jollity and relaxation.
Like most spas, Trefriw had a resurgence in the Georgian era, and later Victorians dug out the grotto before resurrecting the baths and installing a bathhouse fully equipped with a monstrously ugly tub, footbath and bidet. They realised that the water contained ferrous sulphate, the standard treatment for iron-deficiency anaemia then and now.
Fortunately, those with this condition who are helped by drinking Trefriw waters no longer have to brave the dank, dark spidery walls of the grotto. The Victorians dispatched elegant bottles of the water to all corners of the world. Now anaemic members of the family can nip into Nelsons pharmacies to buy sachets of Spatone, Trefriw water. Spatone is still totally natural and as rich in iron, in the form of ferrous sulphate, as when it came out of the mountains. However, it has been checked and bottled in a modern laboratory.
Although Nelsons is famed for homeopathic medicines, its Trefriw water gives a traditionally medicinal rather than a homeopathic dose of iron. Many people have an iron deficiency without being aware of it. Iron is an essential component of the haemoglobin, the compound in the red blood cells that gives blood its bright red colour and transmits oxygen around the body. Every cell of the body needs oxygen to survive. If someone has an iron deficiency the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is reduced so that the patient is breathless and the heart and lungs have to work harder to compensate for the blood’s poor performance – the heart pumps more blood and the cells suffer from a lack of oxygen.
Anaemia is not a disease, but the name given to any condition in which there are either not enough red blood cells to carry adequate supplies of blood around the body, or the blood cells are deficient in the iron-based haemoglobin.
Anaemia is always secondary to some other disorder that can either be caused by blood loss, blood destruction or impaired blood production, such as when there is a deficiency of iron.
It is always essential to discover the cause of anaemia before treatment is started. Anaemia may first become apparent because of pallor, breathlessness and a faster heart-beat than usual, but its early symptoms also include dizziness and increasing tiredness.