A Squeeze of Hope: Lime Juice Shines Light for Sickle Cell Patients

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250,000 Americans battle daily against the agonizing attacks of sickle cell anemia. But relief may be as close as the fruit bowl.

The annual healthcare price tag for just one sickle cell patient can exceed $125,000 when factoring in hospitalizations, interventions, tests, and potent medications.1 Yet a recent Nigerian study found regular lime juice worked as well as leading therapies in reducing crises, hospital stays, infections, and anemia in children with the disorder.2


Lime juice is rich in antioxidants and compounds that improve blood flow and potentially inhibit sickling.3 While larger trials are needed, these early findings reveal the power of simple, natural substances to match modern pharmaceuticals that cost over $100,000 per year.1


The randomized study included 113 Nigerian children with sickle cell anemia.4 Participants were given either routine medications of folic acid, vitamin B complex and the antimalarial proguanil alone or those routine medications plus lime juice daily for 6 months. The lime juice doses were 5mL twice daily for children under 10kg, 10mL twice daily from 11-20kg, and 15mL twice daily over 20kg.5  



Remarkably, the lime juice group had significantly fewer pain crises requiring medical care over the 6 months - 0.64 events per child compared to 1.51 in the control group.6 Fewer children taking lime juice experienced crises overall (50% vs. 93%), febrile illness (47% vs. 87%) or hospitalization (3% vs. 35%).7 Lime juice patients also maintained higher average hematocrit levels, indicating less severe anemia.8 No significant side effects occurred.8


While the exact mechanisms need further study, lime's antioxidant vitamin C and blood flow-enhancing flavonoids likely played a role.3 Alkalinization of the body from the high potassium content may also help ameliorate acidosis that can trigger sickling and pain attacks.5 Nonetheless, this rigorous clinical trial highlights simple lime juice's  vast potential for managing this devastating disease. 


Rather than reaching for the latest expensive drug, we must reexamine time-tested botanical wisdom. Integrative protocols combining lime, nutrition, hydration, and select medications tailored to the individual may optimize outcomes for sickle cell patients while avoiding astronomical expenses.  


This Nigerian study sounds a clarion call - we cannot ignore natural, accessible options when so many suffer physically and financially from this illness. Lime and other food-as-medicine therapies warrant earnest scientific inquiry. We owe it to sickle cell patients to leave no stone unturned in alleviating their agony.


To learn more about natural approaches to sickle cell anemia, view our database on the subject here



To learn more about the health benefits of lime, read our article on its life-saving potential here.





1. Kauf, Terence L., et al. "The cost of health care for children and adults with sickle cell disease." American journal of hematology 84.6 (2009): 323-327.

2. Adegoke, Samuel Ademola, et al. "Influence of lime juice on the severity of sickle cell anemia." The journal of alternative and complementary medicine 19.1 (2013): 29-32. 

3. Nwaoguikpe, R. N. "The phytochemical, proximate and amino acid compositions of the extracts of two varieties of Tiger nut (Cyperus esculentus) and their effects on sickle cell haemoglobin polymerisation." Journal of Medicinal Plants Research 4.5 (2010): 453-459.

4. Adegoke, Samuel Ademola, et al. "Influence of lime juice on the severity of sickle cell anemia." The journal of alternative and complementary medicine 19.1 (2013): 29-32.

5. Adegoke, Samuel Ademola, et al (2013). 

6. Adegoke, Samuel Ademola, et al (2013).  

7. Adegoke, Samuel Ademola, et al (2013).

8. Adegoke, Samuel Ademola, et al (2013).

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