Natural Blood Thinners

By Deborrah Cooper

Platelets can collect in blood vessels and major arteries like a small dam. Blocking blood flow to the heart or brain can result in a heart attack or stroke. Prescription blood thinners include aspirin, warfarin (brand name Coumadin), heparin and clopidogrel bisulfate (Plavix) which help keep blood flowing smoothly. There are also many foods, herbs and spices which act as natural, non-chemical blood thinners.

The Facts

The medical term for sticky blood is "platelet aggregation." Platelets are irregularly-shaped, clear cells present in blood. When a wound occurs, platelets attach to one another and block further loss of blood by creating a clot or scab. If you lack the ability to clot (as in hemophilia), even the slightest injury could mean your bleeding to death. Should you have a medical history of blood clots and/or heart attack, your doctor may prescribe blood thinning medication.

Significance of Sticky Blood

Dr. Paul Gurbel, director of the Sinai Center for Thrombosis Research, says the primary cause of heart attacks, and a contributing factor to death from heart disease, is sticky blood. A diet high in saturated fat is associated with elevated cholesterol levels and narrowing of the arteries due to a buildup of plaque.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Found primarily in fish, Omega-3 fats are associated with lower cholesterol levels and possess compounds which help make blood less sticky. Anchovies, albacore tuna, trout, salmon, anchovies, mackerel and herring, fish oil and flaxseed oil capsules are all high in Omega-3s.

Salicylates

Salicylates is a natural plant-based chemical which blocks the blood clotting activity of Vitamin K. Salicylates are also synthetically manufactured and used in commercial pain killing products, mouthwash, topical painkilling creams, acne products, bubble baths and shampoos.

Foods and Herbs High in Salicylates

Herbs high in salicylates include cayenne pepper, cinnamon, peppermint, ginger, curry powder, paprika and licorice. Apple cider vinegar, almonds, peanuts, green peppers, garlic, apricots, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, prunes and grapes are also on the list. Red wine, onions, ginkgo biloba, olive oil, Vitamin E, feverfew, white willow bark, St. John's wort, papaya enzyme, rosemary, quinine, alfalfa, dong quai, devil's claw, mushrooms, and large amounts of dark green leafy vegetables round out the list of foods and nutritional supplements and herbs high in salicylates that assist with thinning blood.

Warning

If you are currently taking prescription medications, herbs or have a tendency to bruise or bleed easily, consult your physician before beginning a self-treatment plan. The speed at which your blood clots should fall within a specified range for safety; your physician can make an accurate assessment of your blood cholesterol and platelet stickiness after reviewing laboratory test results.

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