Preventing Blood Clots: Top 10 Blood-Thinning Herbs, Foods, and Supplements
Blood clots are very much in the news these days but the mainstream media has not carried any information about their prevention. Many of my patients have been asking me to detail what they can do if they are confronted with a greater risk of blood clots that lead to circulation blockages and death from strokes, heart attacks, and respiratory failure.
This article discusses the numerous ways of preventing blood clots and is intended only for people who are not already on anticoagulant drugs (“blood thinners”). If you are on prescription medications check with your doctor before using any of the natural remedies mentioned here.
The very first thing you should know is your blood type. The reason for this is because certain blood types (A, B and AB) are more likely to have cardiovascular disease or blood clots than people with blood type O. Blood type Os are more likely to have a bleeding condition but less likely to get infections. Severe trauma will cause more bleeding and blood loss in type O’s than any other blood type – so know your type.
I have always been amazed that 80% of the new patients I see in my practice do not know their blood type. If you do not know, ask your family doctor to do a simple blood test to inform you. Don’t let him/her talk you out of it because it’s very important to know, especially with regards to blood clotting risk.
Some medications can increase the risk of blood clots in both men and women. Synthetic hormones used as hormone replacement drugs, as well as birth control pills and some anti-hypertensive and anti-cancer drugs can increase the risk of blood clots. With your doctor’s permission, keep doses as low as possible or use natural alternatives like bioidentical hormones that do not have that particular side effect.
Conventional sources will tell you that there are no natural remedies for preventing blood clots, but this is completely untrue.
What is true is the good advice to stay active, get regular exercise to keep your circulation optimal, and lose weight if you are overweight. Sedentary behavior can slow your blood circulation, and long periods of time sitting (like on an airplane flight) increases your blood clotting risk.
Most adults would also benefit from drinking more water, especially when sitting for long periods of time. If you are prone to poor circulation, elevate your legs while sleeping to enhance circulation.
Smoking either regular or electronic cigarettes can also increase blood clotting risks so quitting is a good idea.
There are some foods that are best avoided because they increase the chances of creating more blood clots. These include diet sodas, artificial sweeteners, trans fats (in baked goods), refined carbohydrates, and sugar. Alcohol is also something that should be avoided, but many still argue for the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.
“While medicine bases some of its practices on scientifically derived data, the practice of medicine is not, itself, a science. Medicine is a discipline of opinion where accepted standards of practice are determined by a consensus of the majority, not by the scientific method.” ~ Dr. David Stewart, Chemistry of Essential Oils
Blood-Thinning, Herbs, Foods, and Supplements
Certain foods and common nutritional supplements may act as natural blood thinners. What follows are the most common ones that healthy adults can use to prevent blood clots.
1) TURMERIC is a spice used for both culinary and medicinal reasons. It has anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant effects. Its major active ingredient is curcumin which has also been used in large dosages to treat cancer, arthritis, and multiple inflammatory conditions. Dose depends on tolerance and the purpose for using this spice.
2) GINGER: has long been known as an anti-inflammatory spice that can prevent blood clots. This herb has also been used to alleviate nausea and morning sickness in pregnant women, and to reduce the pain of arthritis.
3) CAYENNE PEPPERS: are high in natural salicylates (as in aspirin and white willow from which aspirin is derived). These peppers can also act as powerful blood thinning agents. The only drawback to eating these peppers is possibly aggravating your stomach lining. Some sensitive individuals experience heartburn so there are limitations with the amounts used. Cayenne is also available in capsules and has been used therapeutically to lower blood pressure, increase circulation, and reduce pain just about anywhere.
4) VITAMIN E: is well known for reducing blood clotting and is contraindicated for those on prescription blood thinners. The usual effective dose for most adults is between 400 – 800 IU daily. Make sure you get the mixed tocopherol vitamin E complex that contains the alpha, beta, gamma and delta tocopherols and tocotrienols. Using only the d-alpha tocopherol will not give you the full vitamin E benefits. Good food sources of vitamin E include almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, avocado, mango, broccoli, spinach, kiwi, tomato, wheat germ oil and whole grains.
5) GARLIC: especially garlic oil, has strong blood thinning effects. It’s also a natural antibiotic, blood pressure lowering agent, and can help reduce high cholesterol levels. Its antithrombotic effect reduces blood clot formation. Avoid using it prior to surgery or if you’re taking a prescription blood thinner. Studies show that raw garlic reverses plaque build-up and prevents new plaque formation in arteries.
6) CINNAMON: is a powerful blood thinning agent. It contains coumarin (from which Warfarin, a commonly used blood thinner is derived). When using other blood thinners, it’s recommended to only use cinnamon in small quantities to prevent excessive bleeding. Cinnamon also has a blood sugar lowering effect so diabetics need to be careful using it to avoid low blood sugar reactions.
7) GINKGO BILOBA EXTRACT: is mostly known for its memory enhancing effects. As one of my sons once pointed out: “no ginkgo, no thinko.” Ginkgo has also been used by many for low energy and blood clotting disorders. It accomplishes its effects by dissolving fibrin, a protein that tends to make the blood sticky and create a sluggish circulation. Ginkgo is strong enough to dissolve existing blood clots but its best role is as a preventive. It’s high in antioxidants and prevents damage to blood vessels thereby staving off high blood pressure. By the way, you can tell if fibrin is excessive in your blood by getting a livecell microscopy test done. It will show up on the blood film if in large amounts as will the stickiness of the blood. Routine blood tests can tell you the amount of fibrin in the blood relative to a normal range. That blood test is called fibrinogen and anyone can get it done if interested in their blood clot risk.
8) OMEGA-3: from fish oils has strong anti-inflammatory, blood thinning and cardiovascular disease preventive effects. No wonder it remains one of the top best selling supplements in health food stores and pharmacies. The usual adult effective dose to prevent blood clots is 4,000 mg of combined DHA and EPA daily. Furthermore, DHA in particular is now being recommended to help prevent and treat age related macular degeneration. Buy Canadian omega-3 products because they have had the mercury and other toxins removed from the fish oil. For those with an objection to using animal products, the alternatives are flaxseed oil and sea buckthorn, both of which are vegan sources.
9) NATTOKINASE: is a powerful fibrinolytic enzyme that has been used for centuries as a tool for reversing cardiovascular disease. Up until a few years ago, Health Canada refused to authorize its use (probably because it had been touted as an alternative to prescription anticoagulants). I wrote an article in Vitality on the politics behind banning this valuable supplement. In any event, nattokinase is now legally available in Canada. Combining this enzyme with omega-3 supplementation yields best results. The usual effective dose is 100 mg, twice daily, on an empty stomach. It should never be used in combination with prescription anticoagulants.
10) ENZYMES: like bromelain from pineapples, serrapeptase derived from the silkworm, and other pancreatic digestive enzymes can also dissolve fibrin and reduce the risks of blood clots. For blood clot prevention and treatment they work best when taken on an empty stomach. If the enzymes are taken to digest foods better, they can all be taken with food.
As can be seen, one has many choices that can be used naturally to prevent blood clots. Since everyone is biochemically unique, there is not a one-size-fits-all as far as diet and supplement recommendations are concerned. For a personalized program see a natural health care practitioner.
- Blood Clots in the News – Global News report:
- Blood thinning Foods, Drinks and Supplements: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322384
- How to Naturally Prevent Blood Clots: https://www.veinclinics.com/blog/how-to-naturally-prevent-blood-clots/
- Blood clot prevention: https://draxe.com/health/blood-clots/
- Blood Types and Blood Clots: https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210427/New-insights-on-how-certain-blood-types-may-predispose-to-diseases.aspx
- Blood Types and the Risk of Venous Thrombosis: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3626477/
- Anticoagulant Activities of Curcumin: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22531131/
- Fibrinolytic Effects of Ginkgo Biloba: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716226/
- Nattokinase is Back: https://vitalitymagazine.com/article/nattokinase-is-back-powerful-blood-thinning-enzyme-approved-for-sale-in-canada/
- Herbs that Interact with Anticoagulants: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6459456/
- Nattokinase study: https://www.nature.com/articles/srep11601