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Naturally Thinning the Blood

Overview
There are a number of foods and supplements that are known to thin the blood.
These include foods with high amounts of aspirin like substances called
salicylates, omega-3 fatty acids, foods with natural antibiotic properties and
vitamin E supplements.
It is important to note that while many Americans have problems with blood clots,
it is true that blood thinning foods are desirable for everyone in the population.
People taking prescription anticoagulant drugs however, need to be careful not to
consume too many foods with natural blood thinning compounds in addition to
their regular medication. Some people on a prescription anticoagulant drug for
blood clots have gotten eye hemorrhages from ingesting too many blood thinning
foods in conjunction with these prescription medication. Encouraging the blood
thinning foods instead of the drugs would have been a much wiser long term
solution while reducing the medication.
Interestingly, patients are given a list of foods high in vitamin K so they would
know what foods to limit so as not to reduce the effectiveness of the medication.
However they are not given a list of foods that have their own anticoagulant
properties, which if taken in conjunction with this medication could cause
bleeding problems.
Blood coagulation should fall within a desirable range. If blood coagulates too
easily, clots can form which in turn can lead to adverse health conditions such as
heart attacks. However, if blood doesn't clot enough, conditions such as
hematuria (blood in the urine), nosebleeds, hemorrhages, heavy periods in
women, nosebleeds and bleeding strokes may occur. If a person's blood isn't
clotting enough and he has surgery or a traumatic event like a car accident, he
could have a serious problem by losing too much blood from wounds or surgical
incisions failing to clot properly. This has come to the attention of emergency
room physicians who note the rising incidence of people on blood thinners
coming to the ER due to internal bleeding from simple household falls or seat belt
damage following a minor fender-bender accident.
Some of the foods that are generally thought to have natural blood thinning
compounds are listed below. Please note that this is a hodge podge list based on
information collected over the years based on our own experiences, Internet
research and an assortment of alternative health books. See your natural doctor
before you implement any diet, supplement or exercise changes, especially if you
are taking any prescription medications or have any health concerns related to
coagulation.
Provided in the public interest by Dr. Richard Brouse (503)654-3225
Salicylates
One type of natural blood thinners are substances that block vitamin K. These
include salicylates. The most well known of these is aspirin, but many foods,
such as preservatives and flavorings, also contain salicylates or aspirin like
substances. Some individuals are known to be aspirin or salicylate sensitive.
Many are salicylate sensitive types, but they find that they can eat more
salicylates as long as they eat a balanced amount of vitamin K foods, too.
(Vitamin K plays an important role in the body's in blood clotting processes. The
"K" in vitamin K gets its name from the Danish word for coagulation.)
Foods that are generally high in salicylates include many spices, most fruit,
especially dried fruits, nuts, and also some flavorings and preservatives.
Herbs and spices high in salicylates include:
Curry powder
Cayenne pepper
Ginger
Paprika
Thyme
Cinnamon
Dill
Oregano
Turmeric
Licorice
Peppermint
In Ayurvedic (traditional Indian medicine) many of the above spices are known as
"warming spices". I think this is because by thinning the blood they increase a
person's blood circulation, which in turn speeds up the metabolism and makes a
person feel warmer. Foods made with cinnamon, a spice high in blood thinning
compounds is known as a warming spice in Ayurvedic medicine.
One of my patients had trouble with night sweats, so we put him on a diet that
among other changes limited the amount of salicylates he consumed. That
seemed to help him stay much cooler at night.
Fruits high in salicylates include
Raisins
Prunes
Cherries
Cranberries
Blueberries
Grapes
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Provided in the public interest by Dr. Richard Brouse (503)654-3225
Strawberries
Tangerines
Oranges
Other substance high in salicylates:
Chewing gum
Honey
Peppermints
Vinegar
Wine
Cider
Though there are some exceptions, in general most meat, fish, dairy, grains and
vegetable foods are not high in salicylates. Many types of fish do however have
blood thinning properties due to their omega-3 fatty acid content, as noted below.
Chinese food is often prepared with many warming spices, such as ginger and
garlic.
I have heard from a number of patients who developed bleeding problems after
trying to consume large amounts of ripened berries from their gardens. They
were trying to use up a bumper crop of a fruit like blueberries or strawberries and
inadvertently thinned their blood from the unusually high berry consumption.
Vitamin E
Vitamin E is an antagonist to vitamin K. Some foods and topical substances
these days are preserved with vitamin E, so it pays to read labels carefully.
Foods high in vitamin E may not necessarily thin the blood, as many foods high
in vitamin E, such as spinach and broccoli also contain significant amounts of
vitamin K, which tend to clot the blood.
Some people are prescribed vitamin E supplements by doctors for severe night
sweats and fibrocystic breasts. Afterwards, they developed an increased number
of bleeding and bruising problems, including menorrhagia . Most medical journal
studies found that people have to take relatively large doses of vitamin E in order
for it to have an effect on coagulation. However, I don't think that is true for
everyone. For some people who are easy bleeders amounts of vitamin E above
800 to 1,000 IU per day can cause bleeding issues. Shaklee Vita E Complex
and the Vita E 400 Tablets are an excellent source of all 8 of the naturally
occurring forms of vitamin E. The tablet form is absorbed more efficiently by
people who have had their gall bladder removed.
Vitamin B6?
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Provided in the public interest by Dr. Richard Brouse (503)654-3225
Interestingly, some studies found that vitamin B6 lowers estrogen levels, and it is
well established through medical studies that increased estrogen levels are
linked to blood clots. As such, vitamin B6 may lower estrogen levels, then it
makes sense how it can also thin the blood. However, I have never found any
studies noting this association, so at this time the link between vitamin B6 and
thinner blood is just a hypothesis in my part based on information from my
experience and logical deduction. Shaklee B Complex is a very effectively
absorbed source of all of the B vitamins in the proper order.
Omega- 3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have received a lot of press lately because of their ability to
lower cholesterol levels and make the blood less prone to clotting. Fish oil is
usually high in omega-3s and can be ingested either by taking capsules or by
eating fatty fish. Fish with high amounts of omega-3s include:
Mackerel
Anchovies
Salmon
Albacore tuna
Mackerel
Lake Trout
Herring
When eating fish, one danger is that many fish have high mercury levels, so
experts often have mixed recommendations on exactly just how healthy eating a
lot of seafood is for most people. Mercury is observed to increase blood clotting.
The chart in this link to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency web site
contains a table of mercury levels in commercial fish and shellfish. Fish is still
thought to be a great food for people who are at risk for blood clots regardless of
mercury levels. Taking Shaklee Omega Guard is a safe way of getting all seven
of the omega-3s.
Additional Selected Foods With Compounds That Thin the Blood
Tree Ear
J icama
Garlic
Onions
Olive Oil
Garlic and onions are natural antibiotics that can kill the intestinal bacteria that
manufacture vitamin K. Many studies have found that long term prescription
antibiotic use can cause bleeding problems due to a vitamin K deficiency.
However, for people who are low on vitamin K, even small amounts of foods with
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Provided in the public interest by Dr. Richard Brouse (503)654-3225
natural antibiotics properties, like garlic and onions, are problematic. Avoid over-
eating at Italian restaurants because of their liberal use of garlic.
J ames A. Duke, author of several books on herbal medicine, notes that garlic has
nine different compounds that are antiaggregants (compounds that prevent the
blood platelets from sticking together).
Alcohol
A study that appeared in the October, 2005 issue of the journal Alcoholism:
Clinical & Experimental Research found that "Alcohol consumption is inversely
associated with both platelet activation and aggregation." Another study,
published in 1986 in the same journal, found signs of subclinical vitamin K
deficiency in a study of 20 male alcoholics. Perhaps not coincidentally, the signs
of fetal alcohol syndrome closely resemble the symptoms of vitamin K deficiency
in newborns.
Research has reported that red wine is an especially potent as a blood thinner.
More recent studies have shown that the proanthcyanadins and polyphenols in
the dark pigment of the purple grapes are potent antioxidants that prevent
premature blood clotting. The alcohol has long term damage to the livers ability
to regulate heparin and should be avoided. Eat the graps, drink the jucie and
take Shaklee Flavomax.
Exercise
Based on studies of athletes, vigorous exercise seems to lower vitamin K levels.
Those who are elite athletes, i.e. those who train and compete or compulsively
over exercise, instead of being healthy actually are at risk for cardiac damage,
osteoporosis and vitamin K deficiency. Vitamin K is necessary to clot the blood,
so by logical deduction then it may be prudent to consider the possibility that over
exercising may thin the blood since it is known to lower levels of vitamin K.
At the other end of the spectrum, we know that people who remain stationary for
long periods, such as people on bed rest, in car trips or travelers on long plane
flights, are at risk for blood clots. Long airline flights (more than 2 hours) cause
some travelers to develop blood clots in their legs. The stress of travel has roots
in vascular restriction and low blood oxygen levels. Both of these factors are
known to induce premature blood clotting.
By logical deduction then, the table below may illustrate the links between the
conditions associated with remaining stationary and the conditions with over
exercising, two conditions at the opposite end of the spectrum.
Remaining stationary <=> Vigorous Exercising
Low oxygen High oxygen
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Provided in the public interest by Dr. Richard Brouse (503)654-3225
Blood Clots <=>
Vitamin K deficiency
Thinner blood

Higher estrogen levels <=> Low estrogen levels

Increased cancer risk <=> Decreased cancer risk

Table showing known links between exercise, estrogen levels, vitamin K, cancer
and blood clotting.
Interestingly, a 2003 study from the University of Colorado Health Sciences
Center found that blood clots in obese people could be dissolved with regular
exercise.

Sunshine / Vitamin D?
In Ayurvedic medicine, sunshine is supposed to be good for a person's
circulation, which I've found usually means it also thins the blood. As noted
above, other Ayurvedic remedies for improving circulation, such as cinnamon
and ginger, have actually been proven in modern medical studies to be natural
blood thinners. As such, it would be logical to consider the possibility that if
Ayurvedic medicine was correct about the spices thinning the blood, they may
have been right about sunshine, too.
Interestingly, a recent medical study found that a "clinical trial of a biologically
active metabolite of Vitamin D3 demonstrated an unanticipated reduction of
thrombosis in cancer patients." Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that we can
obtain in two ways: 1) through food; 2) supplementation or 3) it can be
synthesized by the body after exposure to sunshine. Many people are suffering
from vitamin D deficiency due to applying sun blockers because of the threat of
developing sun-induced skin cancer. If sunshine is found to be a blood thinner, it
would confirm what Ayurvedic practitioners have thought to be true for thousands
of years.
Cancer and Blood Clots
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) cancer is often viewed as a symptom of a
circulation problem. In modern, Western medicine, the common assumption is
that cancer causes blood clots. But what if the TCM version is really the most
accurate view, and the reality was that blood clots, or a lack of circulation from
blood clots, caused cancer? Perhaps not coincidentally, many factors that
studies show may decrease the risk of cancer also thin the blood. These include
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Provided in the public interest by Dr. Richard Brouse (503)654-3225
sunshine, exercise, aspirin, heparin, antibiotics, olive oil, fish oil, turmeric, vitamin
E and garlic. For more on this topic, see my article on breast cancer, blood clots
and excess vitamin K levels.
Summary
It is well known that foods that elevate vitamin K levels, such as dark green
lettuce and broccoli, may clot the blood. People who are taking anticoagulants
are often warned to limit these types of foods so they don't counteract the
effectiveness of their medicine. Substituting the food for the medicine should be
the long term goal of the practitioner and the patient.
However, it is often overlooked that many foods and environmental factors,
especially those that lower vitamin K levels, may thin the blood. This information
may be important for people on anticoagulants to be aware of in order to prevent
their blood from becoming too thin while they are getting regular testing done for
1) pulse oximeter oxygen saturation in the blood, 2) antioxidants in the blood, 3)
clotting studies on the blood (ie, live blood cell analysis, INR or total clotting
time), 4) circulatory measurements (ie. Doppler, plethysmograph, distal pulse
measurements) or 5) platelet blood counts, .
Some people have genetic disorders that make them easy bleeders. However I
have found that by controlling diet by monitoring how much of the foods listed
above I consume, exercising, avoiding environmental chemicals (xenobiotics)
they can usually reverse bleeding problems.

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