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Many Americans need or already take blood thinners, and they can be a life-saving medication. At the same time, you may wonder what natural blood thinner options are for various reasons.
Using natural blood thinner options should never be a substitute for a medicine that your doctor prescribes. You should always speak to your doctor first and foremost about your health issues.
Some natural blood thinners may not work as effectively as prescription thinners, or if you use natural blood thinners with your prescription medication, it could create adverse side effects and interactions.
With that being said if you aren’t at the point where you need a prescription blood thinner, but you’d like some related health benefits, you might consider natural blood thinners instead.
What Are Blood Thinners?
Blood thinners are medicines that allow for the smooth flow of blood through your arteries and veins. Blood thinners can prevent blood clots from forming. They can also keep blood clots from getting bigger.
If you have some types of heart defects or disease, you may be at great risk of developing dangerous or deadly clots, so your doctor might put you on blood thinners.
While blood thinners can reduce your risk of stroke or heart attack, these prescription medications do have risks. For example, if you get a cut or a wound, you may bleed more than you would typically.
Types of Blood Thinners
There are two primary categories of blood thinners—anticoagulants and antiplatelets.
Anticoagulants work by preventing blood from clotting, and these are often taken as a pill.
Brand name blood thinners that are anticoagulants include:
Antiplatelets target the particles in the blood, which are called platelets. These include:
Blood thinners don’t really thin your blood or break up clots, but they can prevent the formation of new clots.
Anticoagulants work by competing with the vitamin K that comes from your liver. Your body requires vitamin K to make clotting factors, which are a type of protein. These clotting factors help platelets and blood cells bind together.
Antiplatelets prevent platelets from sticking to one another and your blood vessel walls. Antiplatelets are a weaker version of blood thinners than anticoagulants.
An estimated two to three million Americans take blood thinners annually. They’re often prescribed for people who have a history of heart attack or stroke, to prevent a recurrence.
If you have a blood vessel or heart disease, deep vein thrombosis, or lupus you might also be prescribed to take a blood thinner.
People who are overweight or obese are at greater risk of blood clots, as are individuals who recently had surgery or people with an artificial heart valve.
Some people take blood thinners for a few months, while others take them indefinitely.
The Risks of Blood Thinners
We want our blood to be able to clot to an extent, because if you hurt yourself that clotting prevents excessive blood loss. Since blood thinners prevent clotting, you can anticipate bleeding more than usual if you hurt yourself.
People who are on blood thinners have to be careful about their activities as a result.
With some blood thinners, your doctor will do regular blood tests to make sure you’re taking the right dosage.
Covid-19 and Blood Clots
We’re learning more about Covid-19 as the pandemic continues in the U.S. and worldwide.
There is some evidence that Covid-19 can cause changes in blood platelets, and that can lead to more severe outcomes when people are infected by the virus, such as strokes and heart attacks.
There are inflammatory proteins that are produced during infection with COVID-19, which researchers say make them “hyperactive.” That hyperactivity may mean someone is more likely to develop dangerous or deadly blood clots.
What Puts You At Risk For Blood Clots?
Clots occur in the arteries or veins, which are part of your circulatory system. When an abnormal clot forms in a vein, it can cause pain, and it can restrict blood flow to the heart. There is also a situation called a pulmonary embolism where a clot can detach and travel through the heart
Some of the risk factors for developing blood clots include:
- Oral contraceptives
- Certain cancers
- Being over the age of 60
- Having a family history of blood clots
- Chronic inflammatory diseases
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
What Are the Symptoms of a Blood Clot?
Some of the symptoms of a blood clot can include chest pain or heaviness, or discomfort in the upper body, shortness of breath, sweating, light-headedness, and nausea. These symptoms may indicate a blood clot in or near the heart.
A brain blood clot can include symptoms like weakness of the face or limbs, problems speaking, vision trouble, headaches, and dizziness.
In the arm or leg you might experience pain that’s sudden or gradual, swelling, warmth, and tenderness.
In the lung, you may feel a racing heart, shortness of breath, sweating, coughing up blood, fever, or sharp pain in the chest.
Blood clots in the abdomen can create symptoms like severe pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Risks of Prescription Blood Thinners
While you should always listen to your doctor as far as any medications and let them know of side effects you may experience, some are possible with blood thinners.
Some of the most commonly experienced side effects of blood thinners include:
- Some people may experience low red blood cell counts when they’re on a blood thinner which can mean anemia. Symptoms of anemia can include weakness, fatigue, dizziness and shortness of breath.
- You have to be sure you let your doctor know about any other medicines or supplements you take along with blood thinners to avoid potentially dangerous interactions. For example, antifungal medications and some antibiotics can strengthen the potency of blood thinners and increase your risk of bleeding.
- Don’t skip a dose of your blood thinner ever, and if you forget to take it for a day, speak with your doctor about what you should do.
- Keep an eye out for signs of internal bleeding. Symptoms of internal bleeding may include pale skin, stools that look black or tarry, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
- You have to be very careful to avoid trauma such as falls or cuts when on blood thinners because you could experience significant bleeding.
- You aren’t supposed to drink alcohol with blood thinners because alcohol may impact how the medicine is processed in your liver, and it could increase the amount of medicine in your bloodstream.
The Best Natural Blood Thinners
If you want to try natural blood thinners and you’ve spoken to your doctor, the following are some good picks. It’s important to note these aren’t a replacement for medication, and you should never take a supplement with medicine without talking to your doctor.
A natural blood thinner may be a good part of your overall heart health routine, and they may reduce the risk of blood clots that potentially lead to serious events such as stroke and heart attack.
- Active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin which has blood-thinning properties
- Turmeric is also an anti-inflammatory
- A published study from 2012 found that a dose of turmeric daily may help maintain your blood’s anticoagulant status
- There’s a polyphenol in turmeric that inhibits something called thrombin, which plays a role in blood coagulant
- Turmeric has anti-platelet effects
Is turmeric a natural blood thinner? The answer is yes.
Turmeric is something you can cook with, or you can use it in supplement form to ensure you’re getting it every day. Along with blood-thinning properties, turmeric has been shown to have so many other health benefits.
Some describe turmeric as one of the most effective nutritional supplements available, in addition to the fact that it’s one of the best natural blood thinners.
As an anti-inflammatory supplement, turmeric may help prevent chronic diseases like cancer, metabolic syndrome, and Alzheimer’s, all of which are believed to be linked to ongoing, low-level inflammation in the body.
- Nattokinase is an enzyme that speeds up reactions in your body
- It comes from a Japanese food called natto
- Natto has been a folk remedy for diseases related to the heart and blood vessels for hundreds of years
- This supplement is commonly used orally for heart disease, DVT, high blood pressure, chest pain, and high cholesterol
Platexia is a top-rated Amazon supplement that contains Nattokinase NSP-2TM, which the makers of the supplement say helps your body better fight off blood clots.
It also contains something called vitamin K2, which works to reduce plaque buildup in the arteries.
According to reviews of Platexia, this supplement is very helpful as a blood thinner, and it helped some users get off prescription blood thinners.
It’s possible that along with thinning the blood, Nattokinase can help break up blood clots.
- Contains salicylate which is a chemical that may be able to prevent thrombosis
- Studies have shown ginger can induce moderate anticoagulation without bleeding complications
- Aspirin is from a synthetic derivative that is the same as salicylate
- Ginger also has anti-inflammatory effects
- Ginger has been found to lower blood sugar and reduce heart disease risk factors
Ginger is somewhat like turmeric in that it has some very powerful, beneficial properties, and you can also choose to cook with it, have it as tea, or take it as a supplement.
In addition to being one of the best natural blood thinners, ginger may also have anti-cancer properties thanks to something called 6-gingerol. There is also some evidence suggesting ginger may improve brain function and reduce the risk of age-related brain function declines, and it may protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
- Vitamin E has anticoagulant and anti-clotting effects
- Supplement with vitamin E if you can’t get it from your diet may help protect your blood vessels and heart
- Foods with natural vitamin E include avocado, spinach, mango and broccoli
- Vitamin E also has antioxidant properties
- Vitamin E deficiency can be called neuropathy (nerve pain)
There are many wonderful benefits of vitamin E, which is why it might be something you consider taking a supplement for.
Many people get enough vitamin E from their diet, but if you think that you don’t, a supplement can be beneficial.
In addition to being a natural blood thinner, according to the Mayo Clinic, vitamin E might improve symptoms of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Some research has also shown high doses of vitamin E might slow the progression of Alzheimer’s in people diagnosed with the disease.
Vitamin E plays a critical role in the health of your blood, skin and brain, reproduction, and vision.
- Studies have shown grape seed extract may reduce the risk of blood clots
- Studies have also indicated GSE can help reduce edema and leg swelling
- May reduce oxidative damage and the risk of heart disease
- Has flavonoids that are antioxidants and anti-inflammatories
- May inhibit the growth of infections
Grape seed extract (GSE) is a wonderful all-around supplement. Studies have shown that it’s beneficial as a natural blood thinner. For example, there was a study of post-menopausal women that found a 400 mg dose of GSE had blood-thinning effects and potentially reduced the risk of blood cloths.
Another study in young women looked at a dose of 400 mg of something called proanthocyanin that comes from GSE, followed by six hours of sitting. It reduced edema and leg swelling by 70%.
GSES can also support brain health and improve cognitive status and prevent memory loss. It may also reduce amyloid clusters in the brain and brain lesions.
A 12-week study in healthy older adults found taking 150 mg of GSE improved immediate and delayed memory, language and attention.
The antioxidant properties of GSE have been shown to inhibit many types of cancer cells in a lab setting, including breast, gastric, lung, liver, prostate and pancreatic.
- Garlic is known to have powerful medicinal properties
- Studies show its use as an anticoagulant
- Garlic also has antibiotic and antimicrobial properties
- May boost the immune system’s function
- Active compounds in garlic can reduce blood pressure
As with many of the natural blood thinners on this list, garlic is something you can cook with to enjoy the health benefits, or you can also take a supplement. Some people do both.
Garlic has long been revered in folk medicine for its powerful medicinal properties.
For example, along with its anticoagulant effects and its role as a natural blood thinner, garlic has been shown in human studies to help reduce blood pressure.
In one study, aged garlic extract was found as effective as the blood pressure medicine Atenolol.
Garlic can also lower LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol, which may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Garlic can prevent oxidative damage from free radicals, which may help reduce the risk of brain diseases including dementia.
- Bromelain is a natural blood thinner that prevents the ability of blood platelets to stick or clump together
- May help reduce the risk of heart-related events and reduces clot formation
- A 2010 study showed bromelain might be helpful to inhibit cell cancer growth
- May help control pathways that support cancer malignancy
- Bromelain may help treat a variety of cardiovascular diseases including high blood pressure and peripheral artery disease
Bromelain is an enzyme that comes from the pineapple. It’s been used for centuries in Central and South America as a medicine, and the U.S. FDA recognizes that as a supplement, it’s generally safe.
Bromelain can be taken in different supplement forms, including as a pill or tablet.
There have been many reviews and studies looking at the potential benefits of bromelain. For example, there was a review of clinical studies that found since bromelain has natural anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, it might be helpful in the treatment of osteoarthritis.
An animal study showed bromelain might help people with asthma or other forms of airway disease, and it’s sometimes used as a treatment for chronic rhinosinusitis.
An animal study showed that bromelain helped heal the ulcers associated with inflammatory bowel disease.
- Ginkgolide B, a compound in ginkgo Biloba, is an inhibitor of excess platelet-activating factor
- Gingko also increases blood flow through vasodilation in the tiny capillaries carrying blood to the brain, eyes, and ears
- Vasodilation is the relaxation and dilation of blood vessels that allow for healthy blood flow
- Gingko can also strengthen blood vessel walls to reduce leakage and reduce the risk of stroke
- There’s a possible fibrinolytic effect, meaning it could dissolve blood clots
Gingko Biloba is one of the more popular supplements in the U.S. overall, and it may also act as a natural blood thinner. It’s been long-used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Gingko has high antioxidant content, including flavonoids. Ginkgo can help reduce inflammation, particularly in conditions like arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), cancer, heart disease and stroke.
There was a study in people with heart disease using a ginkgo supplement. The results of that study showed an immediate increase in blood flow to different parts of the body. There has also been research showing that ginkgo has protective effects for the brain and heart.
- Medicinal herb from the daisy family often used to prevent or ease migraines
- Feverfew may be a natural blood thinner because it inhibits the activity of platelets to prevent blood clotting
- Feverfew has been used for centuries as a migraine treatment, and it may stop the production of prostaglandins, which are inflammation-promoting molecules
- Feverfew helped reduce anxiety and depression symptoms in animal studies
- Test tube studies show some feverfew compounds may inhibit cancer cells
Feverfew has a wide variety of possible health effects, based on currently available research, including its ability to act as a natural blood thinner.
Feverfew may support blood vessel tone. If you read the reviews for our pick for the best feverfew supplement you’ll see that many people find it’s better than any prescription medication they’ve ever taken, particularly for easing migraines. However, because of its effects on blood vessels and blood flow, it also makes a good natural blood thinner.
- Cayenne pepper has something called salicylates that is a powerful blood thinner
- Cayenne pepper may also reduce blood pressure and increase circulation
- Some people find that cayenne pepper helps reduce pain
- Since cayenne pepper is so spicy and many people can only tolerate it in small amounts, it may be more beneficial to take a cayenne pepper supplement if you’re looking for a natural blood thinner
Clinical Daily Blood Circulation supplement is available on Amazon and includes cayenne as well as other ingredients that help promote healthy blood circulation and heart function. It can help with veins as well.
Cayenne pepper, in particular, has potentially impressive health benefits across the board. For example, it may help improve your metabolism so you can burn more calories per day.
It may help you eat less and feel fuller for longer, and it may help lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels.
If you have digestive issues, it may help with those because it’s believed to deliver enzymes to your stomach to improve your digestion.
Cayenne may even help control cancer cell growth and may cause cancer cell death.