Things to know about blood thinners

Medically prescribed blood thinners may be either anticoagulants that slow down the body's process of clot-making, or antiplatelets that prevent platelets from clumping into clots. The most common anticoagulant is warfarin (aka coumadin). Aspirin is an antiplatelet.

Blood clots can cause heart attacks or strokes, so if you form clots too easily, your doctor is likely to prescribe a blood thinner. Too much of a blood thinner may cause serious bleeding so you will be monitored by your physician.

There can be side effects of using blood-thinning medication such as:

  • bloody urine and/or feces
  • bleeding gums
  • nosebleeds
  • excessive bleeding from a cut

There are a number of foods that may interfere with your use of anticoagulants; foods with high levels of Vitamin K for instance.  There are also many herbs and medications that might interfere with your blood-thinning medication. Some of these are listed below.

There are natural blood thinners that may assist in preventing excessive clotting, but knowing how much is safe to take would require an expert’s knowledge and monitoring.

Foods High in Vitamin K (in descending order)

  • Avocado
  • Beef liver
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Chicken
  • Goose liver pate
  • Green peas
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Natto
  • Pork chops
  • Prunes
  • Soft cheese
  • Soybean oil
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard

Herbs than can interfere with blood-thinning medications either by thinning the blood or

  • Arnica
  • Bilberry
  • Chamomile
  • Cinchona
  • Clove oil
  • Evening primrose
  • Feverfew
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Ginkgo
  • Ginseng
  • Glucosamine
  • Green tea
  • Kava
  • Lyceum tea
  • Meadowsweet
  • Melatonin
  • Motherwort
  • Papaya
  • Pumpkin seed
  • Red clover
  • Saw palmetto
  • Soy products
  • St. john’s wort

Natural blood thinners

  • Cassia cinnamon
  • Cayenne peppers
  • Dong quai
  • Fish oil EPA
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Grape seed extract
  • Turmeric
  • Vitamin E

CAUTIONS

  • Be sure to tell any new doctor or emergency doctor if you are taking a blood-thinning medication.
  • It is usually safe to have a tooth extraction when you are taking blood thinners but it is wise to tell your dentist and alert your doctor.
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