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Natural blood thinners can make a critical difference in correcting a problem with clotting factors. Whether the difference they make is good or bad depends on the medications you take and your specific health conditions. Here's what you need to know.

If you have ever had a heart attack or deep vein thrombosis, or if you have had major surgery or you are pregnant or taking oral contraceptives, or if you are over 60, confined to bed or a wheelchair, suffer lupus or sickle cell disease or cancer, or if you struggle with obesity or diabetes or both, you may be at special risk for hypercoagulability, the tendency of your blood to form more clots [1].

If your doctor puts you on medication for blood clots, you really need to take it. Take every dose. Take every dose on time. Come back in for blood work on schedule.A blood clotting disorder just isn't something you should manage on your own. But you also need to know the effects of substances on a natural blood thinners list that can play a big role in the success of your treatment, for better or for worse.

Water Is Basic to Good Circulation

It's amazing how often people who have coagulation disorders forget that they need to drink water to stay hydrated. On one level, water keeps your blood from becoming sludge. Your blood is less viscous, less sticky, less prone to form clots, although just by 2 or 3 percent, when you are fully hydrated, compared to when you are dehydrated [2]. Five years ago, I learned this principle the hard way. I didn't take water for a 15-mile hike. Even though I had been told my arteries were clean as a whistle, on that hike I became severely dehydrated and keeled over from a heart attack. Simply drinking enough water gives you an edge against becoming clot-prone without becoming bleeding-prone. Even when blood clots form, full hydration makes the proteins in them more flexible [3]. But that's not all that water does for your vascular health.

Water helps your arteries make the chemicals that keep them open. What we know about dehydration in animals suggests that adequate hydration is necessary for the linings of your arteries to make chemical called nitric oxide. This is the substance that keeps them open, so they don't catch clots resulting in cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disasters. [4] You've no doubt heard of people who carry "nitro pills" in case they have sudden vascular pain. You shouldn't drink water (or anything else) once the pain starts, but keeping hydrated may help prevent it.

Adequate hydration helps your body deal with parasympathetic stress. This is the kind of stress that causes you to have to run to the bathroom as soon as you get home. Ironically, this is more likely to happen when you are less than fully hydrated. It's the kind of stress that makes you pass out when you hear bad news. Adequate hydration makes that less likely. [5]

It's a combination of dehydration and lower oxygen pressure along with prolonged immobility that increases your risk for deep vein thrombosis on long flights [6]. If your destination is also at high altitude, you need to drink more water than usual to keep your blood thinner.

You need to rehydrate when you exercise. You may need more water when it's cold that when it's hot. That's because increasing your core temperature makes your red blood cells more flexible. Working out in the heat partially compensates for dehydration, but working out in the cold does not. [7]

Your cells absorb water better if it's taken with a little carbohydrate. Juice is more hydrating than water. Water with a pinch of sugar (a few grams is enough) is more hydrating than pure water. Water with electrolytes, even just a pinch of salt, is more hydrating than pure water. You only need trace amounts of sugar or electrolytes to absorb water better and become more hydrated with less fluid [8].

Other Natural Blood Thinners

The most important natural blood thinner is, water, the one we most often neglect, but there are many other candidates for a natural blood thinners list that having varying degrees of usefulness (and harmfulness).

  • A large number of traditional Chinese herbs, especially dan shen (Salvia miltiorhiaza), have a blood thinning effect [9]. Always get herbs you don't know well from someone who does, and let your herb provider and your primary care provider know you are using them.
  • Chamomile contains natural blood thinning Coumadins, although bleeding has only been reported in people who use large amounts of chamomile tea and chamomile body products [10]. It won't hurt, but it won't help a lot, either.
  • Fenugreek measurably raises partial thromboplastin time (PTT) [11]. However, using fenugreek as a spice won't have this effect. It takes a dose of about 25 grams (two or three tablespoons) every day, preferably more, to affect blood clotting in this way.
  • St. John's wort isn't really a natural anticoagulant. But if you are taking warfarin (Coumadin), it can slow down the liver's processing of your anticoagulant so that you bleed more easily. [12]

Some of the Chinese herbs are potent enough that you really could use them as your anticoagulant therapy. However, the problem is that you would have to use them consistently, and you would still need blood tests to verify that they are providing enough protection against blood clots but not increasing your risk of bleeding.

Don't worry about scary headlines you may see about onions, garlic, ginger, ginseng, and ginkgo. These plants have a modest ability to change blood clotting factors, but not enough to cause you harm, or do you real good, either.

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