Doctors prescribe blood thinners for numerous reasons. It might be because you suffer from a heart or cardiovascular disease, an abnormal heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation or a congenital heart defect. Or perhaps you’ve had a heart valve replacement or you’re at risk of blood clots occurring after having surgery.
Blood thinners are medicines that prevent blood clots from forming and help blood flow smoothly through your veins and arteries.
As the name suggests, these prescribed medicines don’t actually make your blood thinner or break up clots. These medicines help keep your blood from getting thicker and forming new clots. They can also slow the growth of existing ones, thus reducing your risk of dangerous clots.
While blood thinners are helpful in many ways, they can also cause side effects in some people. Excessive bleeding is the most common reaction and can occur in several ways, including heavy periods, bloody or discolored urine or feces, nosebleeds, bleeding gums and prolonged bleeding from a cut.
A 2014 study published in PLOS ONE found that a blood thinner commonly prescribed to prevent blood clots after a hip or knee replacement is associated with an increased risk of post-surgery bleeding or infection .
Some other possible side effects include dizziness, muscle weakness, hair loss and skin rashes. Blood thinners should be taken as suggested by your doctor or it can lead to serious consequences.
To be on the safe side and reduce the risk of blood clots, you can always try some foods and herbs that are natural anticoagulants and can help prevent your blood from clotting.
Caution: Anticoagulant foods and herbs should not be used as a substitute for prescription anticoagulant medication.
In addition, some natural blood-thinning foods and herbs could interact with prescription medicines. Consult your doctor to determine what’s best for you.
Here are some of the best natural blood thinners to prevent blood clots.
Ginger is an herb that can effectively help reduce blood clotting. It can also prevent new clots and reduce your risk of a stroke. In addition, it promotes healthy blood circulation throughout the body.
A 2002 study published in Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes & Essential Fatty Acids suggests that ginger could be used as a cholesterol-lowering, antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory agent .
Both dry ginger and raw ginger extracts can reduce the formation of blood clots.
Turmeric is best known as a natural anti-inflammatory herb, but it also works as a natural blood thinner. This happens mainly due to its curcumin content.
Curcumin can help prevent your platelets from clumping together and forming clots.
A 2012 study published in BMB Reports suggests that curcumin and its derivative (bisdemethoxycurcumin, BDMC) possess antithrombotic activities and daily consumption of the curry spice turmeric might help maintain anticoagulant status .
Caution: If you are taking warfarin (Coumadin), do not use turmeric remedies.
Garlic is good for your heart health and is even more beneficial if you are at a higher risk of having blood clots.
Sulfur-containing compounds like adenosine, allicin and paraffinic polysulfides in garlic act as blood thinners.
Garlic can also lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which in turn can reduce the risk of plaque formation and heart attacks.
A 1991 study published in the Journal of Postgraduate Medicine found that garlic may be a useful agent in prevention of thromboembolic phenomenon .
Later, a 2011 study published in the Iranian Journal of Pediatric Hematology Oncology reported on the fibrinolytic activity of garlic extract at different concentrations and time factors, finding that the minimum concentration and the maximum time showed the best result .
Cinnamon is another effective natural anticoagulant. It contains coumarin, a chemical that acts as a powerful anticoagulant.
This sweet spice is even capable of lowering blood pressure and relieving inflammatory conditions. Cinnamon also reduces the chances of having a stroke.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research indicates that the blood clotting time significantly decreased in the presence of cinnamon distillate and the essential oil in comparison with the control group .
You can add cinnamon powder to enhance the taste and fragrance of numerous dishes and beverages.
Caution: Excess and long-term use of cinnamon may cause liver damage. Therefore, make sure you use this spice sparingly.
Cayenne pepper has a powerful blood-thinning effect on your body and also increases circulation.
It contains a chemical called capsaicin that can help clear away artery-narrowing lipid deposits, and might help dilate arteries and blood vessels to clear away clots. It also helps lower the concentration of fibrin, an insoluble protein that plays a key role in clot formation.
Plus, this spice helps lower your blood pressure and improve your overall heart health.
Vitamin E has a variety of medical benefits, including improving blood circulation and preventing blood clots.
When taken orally, vitamin E can decrease platelet aggregation by improving sensitivity to prostaglandin E1, a platelet-inhibiting fatty acid.
A 1999 study published in Atherosclerosis shows that uptake of vitamin E by the platelets was optimal at 75 IU/day, correlating with the maximal influence on platelet aggregation and platelet responsiveness to inhibition by PGE1, with increased supplemental levels exerting no greater effects .
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