Through the years, I have not cared for very many children with SS (the most severe form of sickle cell anemia) Disease but enough to appreciate that current mainstream treatment typically results in multiple transfusions (often to the point of needing chelation for iron overload), many hospital stays, and painful crises.

Earlier this month, I saw a new patient with a history of SS Disease, a boy in his early teens, who had never been transfused. His dad reported that his hemoglobin level runs around 11. He had two short admissions for fever in early childhood. He was a few pounds lighter than a younger sibling, but had no need for narcotics / never had painful crises.

What was different? This lad had been on a potassium thiocyanate supplement (brand name Dioscovite) through childhood. His dad was also quite nutrition conscious. Back in 1986, a doctor from Little Rock, AR summarized observations that diets that included thiocyanate-rich foods like yam and cassava seemed to ameliorate the severity of sickle cell disease. See:

Years ago, I recall briefly hearing about this but shrugged it off -- assuming that if it really made a difference, it would be in widespread use by pediatric hematologists. Perhaps it would have been cited here on NoBlood as well. Now, after seeing this patient, I would encourage others looking at alternatives to transfusion in sickle cell, to give this supplement (or the dietary strategy) some serious consideration.