Natural Anticoagulants: What They Are & Which Are The Most Used

Natural anticoagulants are extracts of herbs and plants that benefit the circulatory system, preventing the formation of atherosclerotic plaques and blood clots or promoting their dissolution. Let’s see below how to thin the blood naturally and which extracts are most used. 

Clots And Thrombosis: What Are They? 

A clot is an aggregate of material that the body builds through the hemostatic process to block blood flow through a wound. When a clot forms, the components involved are:

  1. platelets
  2. erythrocytes (or red blood cells)
  3. coagulation factors

Once the clot has completed its action, it is no longer functional to the organism, so the body implements processes to dissolve it  ( fibrinolytic system ). In rare cases, clots may form unnecessarily inside the blood vessels, and the body cannot dissolve them. When this happens, there is a condition called thrombosis, which is potentially dangerous to your health. 

In these cases, the use of anticoagulants is necessary because the arrival of a clot in an organ causes a heart attack and death. Two kinds of apoplexy can be recognized: venous and blood vessels. As the name suggests, in the first, the clot forms inside the veins, while in the second type, the clot disseminates the arterial vessels.

The differences that distinguish these two conditions are not only the anatomical location but also the causes. Venous thrombosis is often caused by immobility, pregnancy, and surgical interventions, while arterial thrombosis is caused by atherosclerosis (favored by hypercholesterolemia, smoking, obesity, hypertriglyceridemia). Then there are subjects who, by nature, are predisposed to hypercoagulability of the blood, and generally, these are people who present:

  1. hyperhomocysteinemia mutation
  2. antithrombin deficiency
  3. protein C deficiency
  4. protein S deficiency
  5. protein Z deficiency
  6. prothrombin 20210 mutation
  7. antiphospholipid antibody syndrome
  8. hyperhomocysteinemia 

When It Is Helpful To Take Natural Blood thiTners 

In some situations, natural blood thinner alone is not enough, and ad hoc pharmacological therapy prescribed by the doctor is necessary. Typically, these are individuals who have undergone heart surgery, who have had a heart attack, or who have a proven tendency to hypercoagulation (which is usually diagnosed via thrombophilic screening).

However, there are many other situations where there is no explicit indication to undertake treatment with medicines. However, keeping the blood as fluid as possible is still recommended. In these cases, it is possible to evaluate the intake of natural blood anticoagulants, i.e., substances based on natural extracts capable of guaranteeing blood fluidity. This may be the case for subjects who:

  1. are facing or have just recovered from an infectious disease (some contagious diseases lead to an increase in blood coagulability)
  2. they are hypertensive
  3. have hypercholesterolemia
  4. suffer from diabetes
  5. are obese or overweight
  6. they lead a sedentary life
  7. they are smokers
  8. they are women taking hormone therapy

What Are The Most Used Natural Anticoagulants?

Nature offers an extensive selection of natural antithrombotic substances; let’s look at the most important ones.

Ginger

It is a precious root containing numerous nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Its anticoagulant action is such that it conflicts with and exacerbates any anticoagulant therapies based on medicines. It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and photonic properties (promotes the integrity of the vessel wall)

Ginkgo Biloba

A plant from East Asia has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine for its potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can promote the circulatory system and prevent the formation of clots. The substances that act in this sense are terpene derivatives and flavonoids, which help treat and prevent atherosclerosis.

Witch Hazel

It is a shrub native to North America with anti-inflammatory, astringent, and venotonic properties and exerts a protective effect on the cardiovascular system.

Cayenne Pepper

A phytotherapeutic used as a natural anticoagulant thanks to the active ingredient contained, i.e., piperine. You should be careful if you are already taking anticoagulant medicinal therapies because it could enhance their effect.

Turmeric

The presence of curcumin, flavonoids, tannins, and terpenes prevents and dissolves clots. Turmeric thins the blood by inhibiting the coagulation cascade. It also has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. To be best absorbed by the body, it must be taken with piperine (therefore, it is advisable to combine pepper with dishes or herbal teas containing turmeric). 

Curcumin plays a vital role in protecting humans and animals from cardiovascular dysfunction. Furthermore, its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiapoptotic properties improve cardiac hypertrophy, heart failure, cardiotoxicity, and cardiovascular dysfunction.

Rue

A European plant contains coumarin derivatives, the active ingredient of anticoagulant drug therapies such as Warfarin. Furthermore, the protective action of the circulatory system is also given by the high content of tannins and flavonoids  (rutin).  Also used as a powerful digestive and spasmolytic, it should, however, be used with caution due to the possibility of side effects (including an abortive effect if taken in massive doses).

Garlic

They were used for centuries as a remedy for various ailments (it seems that even Hippocrates, Aristotle, and Pliny have documented their therapeutic effects). Its properties are antiatherosclerotic, lipid-lowering, fibrinolytic and anti aggregating, antihypertensive, antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anthelmintic, immunostimulant and antitumor. Also, in this case, attention should be paid to the concomitant use of garlic and anticoagulant drug therapies. 

The properties of garlic derive from a combination of various biologically active substances responsible for its healing effect.  The mixtures in garlic synergistically impact each other so that they can make various impacts. Active ingredients in garlic include enzymes  (e.g., alliinase), sulfur-containing compounds such as alliin, and compounds produced enzymatically from alliin (e.g., allicin ).  

Many publications indicate garlic’s possible antibacterial, antihypertensive, and antithrombotic properties. Due to the chemical complexity of garlic and the use of different processing methods, we obtain formulations with varying degrees of effectiveness and safety.

Cinnamon

It is also rich in coumarin, the active anticoagulant ingredient used in medicines, used effectively to dissolve clots and thin the blood. It is essential to underline that, in the long run, and high doses, Cinnamon could cause liver damage. For thousands of years, Cinnamon has been a prominent component of spices and traditional Chinese medicine. 

Numerous lines of discovery have clarified that Cinnamon has beneficial effects against cardiovascular diseases in various ways, including endothelial protection, immune response regulation, blood lipid-lowering, antioxidant properties, anti-inflammatory properties, suppression of growth, and mobilization of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), repression of platelet activity and thrombosis, and inhibition of angiogenesis. 

Additionally, emerging evidence has established that Cinnamon improves diabetes, a crucial risk factor for cardiovascular disease, by increasing insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion; regulates the enzymatic activity involved in glucose; regulates glucose metabolism in the liver, adipose tissue, and muscle; improves oxidative stress and inflammation to protect islet cells and improve diabetes complications.

Dong Quai

Also known as ” Chinese Angelica, “it is a plant known and used to promote female well-being. Due to its coumarin content, it is also used as a natural anticoagulant.  Care should be taken if you are taking therapies because it could enhance their effect. Furthermore, in the literature, adverse effects have been found in consuming Dong Quai pills in men. 

The pharmacological effects of ” Dong Quai ” are likely related to the phytoestrogens it contains. The potential adverse effects associated with its consumption in males, particularly for processed “Dong Quai” pills, which may contain significantly higher levels of phytoestrogens than its original herbal product, have resulted in cases of gynecomastia.

Bromelain

A substance extracted from pineapple and papaya with proven anti-inflammatory and antitumor properties has a blood-thinning power by inhibiting platelet aggregation and breaking up fibrin masses. Several in vitro and in vivo studies indicate that Bromelain at appropriate doses can reduce or minimize symptoms associated with cardiovascular diseases. 

Because of its anticoagulant and fibrinolytic properties, Bromelain is utilized to avoid and treat thrombophlebitis. Bromelain induces thrombus rupture and reduces platelet aggregation and blood viscosity.

Auricularia Mushroom

It is a mushroom that contains a particular substance called adenosine, which protects cardiovascular health through its lipid-lowering and anti-platelet effect. It is marketed as a powdered extract. Its daily use is to prevent the formation of atherosclerotic plaques and other cardiovascular manifestations such as angina pectoris and heart attack. 

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