Iron Disorder Hemochromatosis Treatment

Hemochromatosis treatments focus on reducing ferritin to safe levels. The serum ferritin test determines the amount of iron stored in the body’s tissues. A phlebotomy, the standard hemochromatosis treatment, is the most effective method of ferritin control. If phlebotomy is counter-indicated, chelation therapy can rid the body of toxic ferritin levels. Both the phlebotomy and chelation therapy are enhanced by a careful hemochromatosis diet.

Phlebotomy and Hemochromatosis Treatment

A phlebotomy removes excess serum ferritin by drawing blood in exactly the same way that blood is drawn from blood donors. Despite advances in alternative hemochromatosis treatment, including chelation therapy, phlebotomy remains the standard hemochromatosis treatment.

A phlebotomy controls serum ferritin levels by drawing a pint of blood once or twice a week, depending on the results of the serum ferritin test. Treatment may last several months to over a year.

The goal of phlebotomy treatment is to attain a serum ferritin level of 25 to 50 milligrams, an amount at the lower end of normal serum ferritin levels, and to keep blood iron at this level. During hemochromatosis treatment, serum ferritin levels are checked regularly to ensure that the goal of normal serum ferritin levels is both met and maintained.

Once the phlebotomy treatment yields a safe level of ferritin, maintenan ce therapy begins. The individual donates a pint of blood every two to four months to prevent serum ferritin from rising to dangerous levels. A yearly blood test determines th e frequency of maintenance treatments.

Phlebotomy Cycle for Hemochromatosis

Chelation Therapy and Hemochromatosis Treatment

Chelation therapy uses chemical compounds and body proteins to remove toxic metal molecules from the blood. Chelation therapy compounds are delivered int ravenously. Once in the blood, chelation therapy substances bind to metal molecules, a llowing the body to excrete the metal through urine and fecal matter.

Chelation therapy is often used to treat lead poisoning, and is now also u sed as a hemochromatosis treatment. Chelation therapy is not as effective a hemo chromatosis treatment as phlebotomy, but it may be useful in special cases where patients have bleeding disorders that make phlebotomy an unsuitable treatment.

The chelation therapy ingredient Desferal (deferoxamine) is used for hemochromatosis treatment. Although Desferal chelation therapy is chiefly used for non-genetic cases of iron overload, the treatment has met with some success as a hemochromatosis treatment.

Chelation therapy is usually reserved for cases in which serum ferritin levels are exceptionally high. When used as hemochromatosis treatment, chelation therapy is administered by intramuscular or subcutaneous injection.

Hemochromatosis Treatment and Blood Donation

Many people undergoing phlebotomy treatment wonder if blood drawn during hemochromatosis treatment can be donated. The answer is yes. The FDA approves the use of hemochromatosis blood for blood donation. Not all blood banks, however, agree to use phlebotomy blood.

Medical Professionals and Hemochromatosis Treatment

Hemochromatosis treatment requires specialized medical knowledge. Phlebotomy and chelation therapy are usually supervised by a hematologist (a specialist in blood disease treatment), a hepatologist (a liver disease specialist) or a gastroenterologist (a specialist in the treatment of intestinal diseases).

Hemochromatosis Treatment and Diet

A proper diet during chelation therapy or phlebotomy helps to control serum ferritin levels. Diet alone, however, cannot prevent hemochromatosis, nor can it cure the disease without treatment.

Certain foods should be avoided during hemochromatosis treatments. Both alcohol and vitamin C increase intestinal iron absorption and are best avoided. Other iron rich foods that raise serum ferritin levels include:

  • 100% iron breakfast cereals
  • blackstrap molasses
  • food cooked in cast iron cookware
  • iron fortified foods
  • iron supplements
  • raw seafood
  • vitamin supplements.

People requiring hemochromatosis treatment should also limit their consumption of red meat and eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.


American Hemochromatosis Society. (nd). FAQs about hemochromatosis.

Dr. Joseph F. Smith Medical Library. (nd). Chelation therapy.

Heeney, M. M.,