Blood clot pills, natural blood thinners, herbs, supplements, vitamins by Ray Sahelian, M.D.

April 12 2014

A blood clot is a basic physiological defense mechanism that occurs in all vertebrates to prevent blood loss following vascular injury. In all species the basic mechanism of clot formation is similar; when endothelium is damaged a complex sequence of enzymatic reactions occurs that is localized to the site of trauma and involves both activated cells and plasma proteins. The reaction sequence is initiated by the expression of tissue factor on the surface of activated cells and results in the generation of thrombin, the most important enzyme in blood clot formation. Thrombin converts soluble fibrinogen, via soluble fibrin monomers, into the insoluble fibrin that forms the matrix of a blood clot as well as exerting positive-feedback regulation that effectively promotes additional thrombin generation that facilitates the rapid development of a thrombus.

Natural Supplements and blood clots, how natural herbs can help
Certain supplements have blood thinning potential and should be considered by doctors as a way to reduce the risk for blood clots. These natural supplements include:

Fish oils thin the blood and have many other benefits. Fortunately more doctors are recognizing the benefits of omega-3 oils. An alternative to fish oils is krill oil. Caution is advised when used with Coumadin.

Fish oil interaction with warfarin.
Shawnee Mission, KS of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. Ann Pharmacotherapy. 2004.
A 67-year-old white woman had been taking warfarin for over a year due to recurrent transient ischemic attacks. Her medical history included hypothyroidism, hyperlipidemia, osteopenia, hypertension, and coronary artery disease. She also experienced an inferior myocardial infarction requiring angioplasty, surgical repair of her femoral artery, and hernia repair. Prior to the interaction, her INR was therapeutic for 5 months while she was taking warfarin 1.5 mg/d. The patient admitted to doubling her fish oil dose from 1000 to 2000 mg/d. Without dietary, lifestyle, or medication changes, the INR increased from 2.8 to 4.3 within 1 month. The INR decreased to 1.6 one week after subsequent fish oil reduction, necessitating a return to the original warfarin dosing regimen. Fish oil supplementation could have provided additional anticoagulation with warfarin therapy. Fish oil, an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, consists of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. This fatty acid may affect platelet aggregation and/or vitamin K-dependent coagulation factors. Omega-3 fatty acids may lower thromboxane A(2) supplies within the platelet as well as decrease factor VII levels.

Bee pollen could thin the blood.

Chamomile herb is mild to moderate in terms of its effect on blood clots and as an anti platelet herb.
Cranberry juice, sauce or cranberry supplements thin the blood.
EGCG, the extract from green tea, may prevent platelet aggregation almost as potently as aspirin.
Garlic could be helpful.
Ginger is a very healthy herb to eat daily and has mild anti platelet activity along with the ability to break down fibrin. Ginger supplements are available for sale and they can improve blood flow through veins and arteries.
Ginkgo biloba herbal extract may have blood thinning potential although the research in this area is not always consistent.
Pine bark extract is a good option
Nattokinase enzyme has potent fibrinolytic activity. Only use nattokinase enzyme supplement under medical supervision.
Onions, similar to garlic, have anti platelet activity.
N acetylcysteine has anticoagulant and platelet-inhibiting properties.
Nettle herb has anti platelet activity.
Vitamin E may reduce the risk of blood clots in women. Supplementation with vitamin E may reduce the risk of venous thromboembolism in women, and those with a prior history or genetic predisposition may particularly benefit. However, there may be a slight increase in hemorrhagic stroke.
     This is a partial list.

Q. I have no illness but I take many herbal blood thinners such as ginkgo biloba, green tea extract, grape seed extract, lutein, fish oil and a few others. I wanted to know if taking a lot of blood thinners can thin my blood too much and be a great risk. How can I tell the potency of any herbal blood thinner so that if I know the strength.
   A. Research regarding the potency of different herbs and supplements in terms of blood thinning potential has not been extensive. The blood thinning potential of supplements also depends on the dosage used. One good way to tell how all of these blood thinning supplements are working is to get a blood test to measure your overall blood clotting ability. The effect of some may only last a few hours while others may have an effect that lasts several days. As a practical matter, though, it is rare to have a serious bleeding problem with the use of natural supplements.

My husband is 47 years old, not overweight, eats healthy whole foods, no high blood pressure, no problems with cholesterol, is not sedentary, and has been in overall good health. He has used juice plus, turmeric, and prostate 5LX, Sam-e, and 5 HTP on a regular basis. He had the flu over the weekend. Then on Monday morning he woke up and could not walk! The Drs at first thought it was a ruptured tendon. However an ultrasound revealed a DVT from mid-thigh to mid- calf. While it was recommended he be admitted to the hospital, we elected to treat at home (no insurance). Because of the seriousness we succumbed to 6 shots of Heparin. He has since been on Coumadin 7 mg. We are told he should take this for 6 months and the clot may or may not go away! We would really prefer a more natural route. Taking a prescription drug that may or may not help for 6 months goes against all we have been attempting to do to have a healthier lifestyle.

I am taking 12.5 mg of warfarin daily because I have recurring blood clots. I cannot get my INR into a therapeutic range 2 to 3 . It is presently at 1.2 and fluctuates between 1.2 and 1.6 on average. However, at times it has shot to 4.6. Too much info I know, but finally to my question, Do you know if black licorice might be my problem? I eat natural black licorice frequently but not daily. I never thought about it, but my husband mentioned it this morning.
   We did a Medline search and could not find any mention of any studies regarding the influence of black licorice on clotting factors. It is possible that certain herbs influence blood clotting but we don't know the effect of black licorice. One way to tell, if your doctor approves, is to stop the black licorice for a period of time, check the INR, and then resume the black licorice consumption and test the INR again.

I should tell you that I have been pretty accurate in the past at spotting anti-coagulants / blood thinners. I noticed a little more anticoagulation with Passion Rx. I ran into the same problem with Green Tea, Bilberry, high-gamma vitamin E, and Pycnogenol and when I looked them up on the internet, all four were labeled as anti-coagulants. Before I started on supplements, my blood was very thick. When I went to donate blood, they couldn't even get the full pint (or whatever amount they take) because my blood clotted up right away. But then I started taking supplements and noticed the need to monitor the potential blood thinning effects. I pay very close attention to it when I take my injection daily. I wouldn't have even mentioned the Passion Rx except that it appeared very clear and obvious. I still take alpha vitamin E, and 1200mg of Alpha Lipoic acid a day, and both of those can thin the blood so I think I am susceptible to start, and I think that is why I may spot blood thinners easily. It's not a downside to Passion Rx; perhaps older gentleman may take it as an alternative to taking an aspirin a day!

Common causes
Obesity and smoking each raise a person's risk of potentially dangerous blood clots in the veins. Circulation, 2010.
Too much sitting increases the risk.

Air Travel and Blood Clots
Cramped conditions on aircraft can increase the odds of developing potentially fatal blood clots but other factors may be involved. Low pressure and low oxygen levels in aircraft may also contribute in some people to the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT, often called "economy class syndrome," usually develops in the legs and can be fatal if the clot dislodges and moves to the brain or lungs. Activation of coagulation (clotting) occurs in some individuals after an 8-hour flight, indicating an additional mechanism to immobilization underlying air travel related to thrombosis. Concentrations of clotting markers are higher in people after a long flight than they are after sitting in the cinema for the same time or doing daily activities, particularly in patients who had other risk factors for DVT. Travelers to avoid taking sedatives or drinking too much alcohol during flights to reduce the risk of DVT. Compressive stockings that improve blood flow could also help.
   The chances of developing a blood clot or deep vein thrombosis double after traveling for four hours or more. Tall people whose legs are jammed in economy class and the very short whose feet do not touch the ground are particularly vulnerable to potentially dangerous blood clots linked to immobility during travel.
   The risk of getting a blood clot while sitting in a cramped airline seat is about one in 4000 people. The risk of a blood clot increases as people make more flights within a short time -- especially long-haul flights. People aged under 30, women who use birth control pills and people who are particularly short, tall or overweight have a higher risk.

Use of hormone replacement therapy
A study of African American women shows that use of birth control pills and other forms of hormonal contraception, and possibly the presence of the sickle cell trait, increase the risk of venous thromboembolism -- blood clots that form in the veins. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2009.

Blood clots after hospital discharge
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is more common in the first few weeks following hospital discharge than during the hospital stay itself.

Blood clot in heart
A blood clot in a coronary artery supplying blood to heart tissue leads to a condition known as myocardial infarction or heart attack. 

Blood clot in leg
A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot (thrombus) that develops in a deep vein, usually in the leg. This can happen if the vein is damaged or if the flow of blood slows down or stops. Deep vein thrombosis can cause pain in the leg, and can lead to complications if it breaks off and travels in the bloodstream to the lungs.

Blood clot in lung
When a blood clot travels to the lung, a patient may have no blood clot symptoms, or may complain of sharp chest pain, rapid heart rate, blood-tinged coughing, shortness of breath and low grade fever. Pulmonary embolism is a serious condition that requires hospital admission.

Height influence
Men who are six feet tall or taller may have a higher risk of blood clots in their veins than do their shorter counterparts, while height does not seem to have an impact on women's risk. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2010.

Oral and patch contraceptives and blood clot
Women who use a contraceptive patch appear to be more likely to develop a dangerous blood clot in their veins as those who use an oral contraceptive. For more information on birth control pills.

Blood Clot drugs that prevent
Plavix is commonly used to prevent blood clots, but is aspirin a cheaper way to prevent a blood clot? Is Plavix being used by doctors mostly because of a major marketing push?

Risk of bleeding with the use of multiple drug combinations
Heart patients are often given two or three different drugs to prevent life-threatening blood clots but these combinations can significantly increase the risk of stomach or intestinal bleeding. Clot-preventing drugs such as aspirin, warfarin or Coumadin and clopidogrel or Plavix sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis are increasingly being given to heart patients in combinations. Dr. Neena Abraham of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, used national pharmacy data and medical records from the Veterans Affairs Department to identify people aged 60 to 99 who had been given four combinations of clot-preventing drugs. Some got aspirin and an antiplatelet drug like Plavix that keeps blood platelets from forming clots. Others got an antiplatelet drug and an anticoagulant such as warfarin, which keeps the liver from making certain clotting factors. Some got aspirin and warfarin. And a few were prescribed all three. Of the more than 78,000 patients studied, 30 percent were prescribed some combination of anticlotting drugs, and 1,061 of these had bleeding events that needed immediate medical attention within the first year. The combination of an anticoagulant and antiplatelet drug, which proved to be least harmful, raised the risk of a serious bleeding problem within one year by 70 percent. A combination of an aspirin and antiplatelet drug doubled the risk, while an aspirin-anticoagulant combination tripled the one-year bleeding risk. And patients who got all three drugs had a four-fold increase in the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding within one year, according to Dr. Neena Abraham.

How long can a patient take Plavix and aspirin? I have been on this combination for about 6 years. Any danger? Please advise.
   There is no answer that would apply to everyone since each person has a different medical history, blood clotting activity, and the dosages of the medications, diet, other supplements used, etc., make a major difference.

Hemophilia is an inherited bleeding disorder.