Low White Blood Cell Count

Low white cell count is known medically as leukopenia, which refers to a decrease in white blood cells that are in your blood. The threshold for a healthy white blood cell count can vary from practice to practice. It is possible for people to be healthy with white blood cell counts that are lower than what would normally be considered safe. But a blood cell count below 400 white blood cells for every microliter of blood is generally considered leukopenia.

Causes of Low White Blood Cell Count

Low white blood cell counts are commonly caused by:

  • Cancer or diseases that damage the bone marrow
  • Viral infections that interrupt bone marrow function
  • Autoimmune disorders that destroy the bone marrow or white blood cells
  • Congenital disorders that diminish the function of bone marrow
  • Drugs that damage the bone marrow or destroy white blood cells

Treatments for Low White Blood Cell Count

1. Watch Your Diet

The table below shows foods should and should not be eaten by patients with low white blood count. Children with low WBC should be taken strictly to avoid foods containing germs which could lead to infection.

Food Category

Recommended Things

Avoided Things

Meat, Tofu and Nuts


Make sure all meats, fish or poultry are cooked through by using a food thermometer to check the cooking temperature.

Nuts that are stored in a vacuum seal or nut butters are ideal.

When using refrigerated tofu, cut it into cubes that are an inch or smaller, boil them for 5 minutes before using it in recipes. This should not be necessary for shelf-stable tofu.

Raw nuts or fresh nut butter

Raw or lightly cooked lox, shellfish, sushi fish or sashimi



Pasteurized eggnog

Cooked eggs with solid, not runny, yolks

Egg custard or eggs that have been pasteurized

Foods that contain raw eggs such as homemade eggnog, Caesar salad dressing, raw cookie dough, smoothies, homemade mayonnaise or hollandaise sauce

Raw or soft cooked eggs such as soft-boiled, poached or sunny side up eggs

Dairy Products and Milk


Pasteurized dairy products including milk, cheese or yogurt.

Mexican style cheese such as queso fresco, queso blanco or other varieties made with unpasteurized milk

Mold-ripened soft chesses or any blue veined cheeses such as Roquefort, brie, camembert, gorgonzola, stilton or blue cheese

Grains and Cereals


Muffins, breads, bagels, cereals, rolls, noodles, potatoes, pasta, or rice are all safe as long as they are bought wrapped or prepackaged instead of in self-service bins

Bulk bin grains, cereals or similar foods

Veggies and Fruits


Raw fruits, vegetables and herbs so long as they have been washed under running water and scrubbed lightly with a vegetable brush

Stick with shelf stable options instead of refrigerated section

Any raw sprouts such as radish, mung bean, alfalfa or broccoli sprouts

Fresh salad dressings or salsas that are from a refrigerated section of the store

Desserts and Sweets


Cakes, fruit pies, flavored gelatin, cookies, sherbet, commercial ice cream, commercially prepared and pasteurized jam, popsicles, sugar, jelly, preserves, molasses and syrup

Stick with heat-treated grade A honey

Raw honeycomb or honey

Any cream filled pastries that are not refrigerated



Pasteurized vegetable or fruit juices, coffee, soda or tea

City or municipal water or commercially bottled water

Make tea by boiling water with commercially purchased tea bags

Check all sources of water with your doctor first

Water straight from streams, rivers, lakes or springs

Unpasteurized vegetable or fruit juices

Vitamin or herbal supplement waters as these provide little to no health benefit

Sun tea

2. Take Supplements

Many supplements can boost your immune system and raise your white blood count. These include:



Oleander Extract

Herbal oleander supplements used in clinical trials have been found to be 100 percent effective in raising white blood cell counts in those that had extremely compromised immune systems from HIV/AIDS.

Astragalus Root

This supplement can help to protect the body from invading organisms while stimulating white blood cells and enhancing the production of interferon, a natural compound that fights viruses.


Zinc is a catalyst for the immune system, encouraging its ability to fight foreign bodies.

Selenium is used to encourage movement and development of white blood cells.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C enhances the immune system by helping white blood cells meet their peak functioning power. It also helps to quicken the immune system’s response to threats.

More Herbs

Siberian ginseng and Asian ginseng help to support the immune system. Echinacea helps stimulate white blood cell production and immune system function. Green tea can also encourage white blood cell production.

3. Change Lifestyle Habits

  • Avoid Sugar. Sugar prevents white blood cells from reaching their full strength.
  • Cut Off Unhealthy Fats. Polyunsaturated fats from safflower, corn or sunflower oils are deterrents to your immune system.
  • Lose Weight. Those that are obese or overweight have been found to be less able to fight infections due to the negative impact this has on the immune system.
  • Drink Water. Drinking plenty of water can flush away toxins while boosting the immune system.
  • Exercise Regularly. Exercising in moderation can boost the immune system. However, over exercising can put strain on the immune system, leading to more immune problems.
  • Manage Stress. Stress is considered a “silent killer” because it will slowly lower your immune system function over time.
  • Get Enough Rest. Make sure you are resting enough to allow your weakened immune system to work effectively and allowing your body to heal. Those with a lower amount of white blood cells will need to be particularly cautious about this.