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Thursday, November 9, 2006

How Rasputin treated Tsarevich Alexei's Hemophilia

The background information

Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich Romanov was Tsesarevich - the heir apparent - of Russia, being the youngest child and the only son of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Alexandra Fyodorovna.

Alexei is presumed to have died on July 17, 1918, but as his body has never been found this is impossible to definitively confirm.

He inherited haemophilia from his mother Alexandra, a condition which could be traced back to her maternal grandmother Queen Victoria. His haemophilia led to controversy, on the grounds that it was believed that his mother was having an affair with the Russian starets, Grigori Rasputin. Rasputin claimed to be able to 'heal' Alexei when he was on the brink of death after spells of haemophilia-related complications.

Rasputin was wandering as a pilgrim in Siberia when he heard reports of Tsarevich Alexei's haemophilia in 1904. The disease had been inherited from his great-grandmother (Queen Victoria). When the young Tsarevich got a bruise after he fell off of a horse, he suffered from internal bleeding for days while vacationing with his family. The Tsaritsa, looking everywhere for help, asked her best friend Anna Vyrubova to secure the help of the charismatic peasant healer in 1905. He was said to possess the ability to heal through prayer, and he was indeed able to give the boy some relief. Skeptics have claimed that he did so by hypnosis, though during a particularly grave crisis, Rasputin, from his home in Siberia, was believed to have eased the suffering of the tsarevich (in Saint Petersburg) through prayer. His practical advice, such as "Don't let the doctors bother him too much, let him rest," may also have been of great assistance in allowing Alexei and his worried mother to relax, so that the child's own natural healing process might take place. Others believe he used leeches to stop the boy's bleeding for the moment; however, this is unlikely to have been successful, as leech saliva contains hirudin and other natural anticoagulants. Every time the boy had an injury causing internal or external bleeding, the Tsaritsa contacted Rasputin, whereupon the Tsarevich subsequently got better, and this made it seem as if Rasputin was effectively healing him.

Now coming to one interesting theory
The medical treatment which was halted due to Rasputin's intervention included aspirin, then a newly-available (1910) "wonder drug" for treatment of pain. Because the poor (poor in terms of life and not money) boy had joint pain, some doctor would have given aspirin. Since aspirin is an anticoagulant (the anticoagulant property was only discovered in 1971), this would have increased the bleeing into joints which was causing Alexei's joint swelling and pain. So Aspirin was infact increasing the pain (by causing more hemorrhage into the joints) rather than decreasing it. When Aspirin was stopped, the boy became better

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