Dear Dr. D.,
My doctor says my blood is too thick. He tried to put me on some drug with a long funny name—and when I asked about the risks, he handed me a brochure with so much fine print that I need a magnifying glass to read it.
When I asked if there was anything safer, he gave me more brochures and told me to study up and pick one.
Seems like my choice is between what he called the “old standard” warfarin and a bunch of newer drugs he thinks are better.
Which one’s safest?
—Cyrus L. Chillicothe, Ohio
Anyone who is looking for a safe pharmaceutical blood thinner, shouldn’t even bother pulling out a magnifying glass to wade through all the fine print—because it doesn’t exist.
Dabigatran, aka Pradaxa, was rushed through the approval process and released with great fanfare as a drug that’s supposedly safer than the “old standard,” warfarin.
By 2011, the drug was linked to more than triple the number of serious adverse events and more than seven times the number of deaths as warfarin, according to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.
Yes, seven times deadlier than warfarin—quite a feat when you consider that the “old standard” is also used as rat poison!
While it might be tempting to just go ahead and try one of these drugs, and simply switch to a different one if there are problems, it’s not a good idea.
These drugs are so dangerous that stopping, starting and switching ALL come with risks. The instructions for switching between the drugs are so convoluted they look like they were written by Congress.
The truth is there’s no 100 percent safe blood thinner. Any of them could cause you to start bleeding like a stuck pig, turning a simple nosebleed into a crisis fashioned for the ER.
But external bleeding from the nose is trivial compared to the serious and even deadly bleeds that can strike from within your head, chest or belly.
But now it’s time for the good news. In many cases, you can avoid pharmaceutical blood thinners if you know what to do, and I’m living proof: Nearly a quarter of a century ago my doctor tried to put me on rat poison for my chronic fibrillation.
I did the only thing I could with the stuff. I put it in the garage for the rats, and then formulated my own plan. So let me share with you my...
TOP FIVE NATURAL BLOOD THINNERS
Cod Liver Oil: Instead of blood thinning drugs I take cod liver oil. Two to three tablespoons a day will often thin the blood without all those other risks.
Nattokinase: This is an enzyme pulled out of a fermented soy product called natto that’s been used in Japan as a natural anticoagulant. Many people report having been able to avoid medications by using nattokinase supplements.
Garlic: This savory spice isn’t just a great addition to any meal; it’s also a natural blood thinner used medicinally for centuries. Garlic can help reduce the “stickiness” of platelets so they don’t bunch up and form clots.
Hawthorne Berry: In studies on mice, this plant extract used in traditional herbal medicine was able to prevent clots for up to 72 hours after taking it.
Salicylates: Salicylates are aspirin-like compounds found naturally in some plants. A diet rich in salicylates from natural sources such as coffee and tea, berries, some peppers, ginger, cinnamon, oregano and more can help thin the blood and prevent clots.
Whatever you do, don’t go it alone and DO NOT start taking these natural blood thinners alongside pharmaceuticals such as warfarin. This is serious business, since blood that’s too thin can kill you just as surely as the clot you’re trying to avoid.
Your doc is in the best position to help you figure out which alternatives may work best for you and how much you should take, so don’t do a thing without speaking to him first.
Since most mainstream docs know little about natural therapies, your best bet is to work closely with a skilled integrative medicine/naturopathic medical doctor. I recommend an experienced member of the American College for Advancement in Medicine. Visit their website at www.acam.org and try using their Physician+Link tool to locate a doctor near you.