One of the most common problems these days are anticoagulant drugs. Doctors use these drugs to keep the blood thin and prevent clotting. And although they undoubtedly save lives, they also cause many deaths.
In a study published in the American Journal of Medicine in 2011, the investigators found that 48.8% of all adverse drug events involved anticoagulant medications. And while these drugs do decrease the risk of the most common kind of stroke called ischemic stroke, they increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke. And here's why that's important.
Hemorrhagic stroke is more serious than ischemic stroke. People are three times more likely to die from a hemorrhagic stroke than they are from an ischemic stroke. The drugs also increase the chance of dying from intracranial hemorrhages, such as subdural and epidural bleeds.
So, here's the question. Is there a better way to keep the blood thin and lower the chance of abnormal clotting than medications? I think there is. As with many natural therapies the evidence is less than perfect. But it's not insignificant.
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Researchers looked at the effects of a fish oil supplement on blood thinning. To do the study, they enlisted the help of 60 men. They gave some of them 10-16 milliliters (2-3 tsp) of MaxEPA concentrated liquid fish oil every day. They gave the others a placebo. The study went on for three to six weeks. On average, the fish oil men had their triglyceride levels cut in half and their blood pressures drop an average of 7%. Not bad for only three to six weeks. Both of these findings decreased their risk for strokes independent of blood thinning. You will not see that with any of the blood thinning drugs. But what about blood thinning?
The fish oil had a positive effect there as well. It thinned the blood an average of 12% and increased the clotting time to 14%. To put it in the authors' words, "A beneficial effect of fish oil on the cardiovascular risk profile was confirmed in this study." While fish oil can definitely help thin the blood, there's another supplement that might help even more.
This is a very important supplement that I like to prescribe when patients are looking to find an alternative to their anticoagulant medications. It's nattokinase.
I have written about nattokinase before. Nattokinase is an enzyme found in natto, a traditional Japanese fermented soybean food. Nattokinase is important because it dissolves clots. So, while fish oil acts to stop blood clots from forming, nattokinase insures the job by working to dissolve any clots that might slip by despite the fish oil. But that's not all. Like fish oil, it can also lower blood pressure. And it does all of this at doses that pose none of the risks that we see with anticoagulant medications. The formula I prescribe is Advanced Natto Formula. The dose for blood thinning is two capsules (100 mg), two times daily. And for the MaxEPA liquid fish oil, you can get that online and at many health food stores.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Rogers S, James KS, et al. Effects of a fish oil supplement on serum lipids, blood pressure, bleeding time, haemostatic and rheological variables. A double blind randomized controlled trial in healthy volunteers. Atherosclerosis. 1987 Feb;63(2-3):137-43.