Blood has a seemingly impossible job: It must flow continuously and smoothly throughout your body for an entire lifetime, but quickly shut off to prevent hemorrhage when you get a cut or injury.
Blood clots are healthy and lifesaving when they stop bleeding. But they can also form when they aren’t needed and cause a heart attack, stroke, or other serious medical problems.
How Does Blood Clot?
The life cycle of a normal blood clot depends on a series of chemical interactions.
1. Platelets form a plug. Tiny bits in your blood called platelets get “turned on” by triggers released when a blood vessel is damaged. They stick to the walls in the area and each other, changing shape to form a plug that fills in the broken part to stop blood from leaking out.
When activated, platelets also release chemicals to attract more platelets and other cells, and to set off the next step.
2. The clot grows. Proteins in your blood called clotting factors signal each other to cause a rapid chain reaction. It ends with a dissolved substance in your blood turning into long strands of fibrin. These get tangled up with the platelets in the plug to create a net that traps even more platelets and cells. The clot becomes much tougher and more durable.
3. Reactions stop its growth. Other proteins offset extra clotting factor proteins so the clot doesn’t spread farther than it needs to.
4. Your body slowly breaks it down. As the damaged tissue heals, you don’t need the clot any more. The tough fibrin strands dissolve, and your blood takes back the platelets and cells of the clot.
What Causes Blood Clots?
The process begins whenever flowing blood comes into contact with specific substances in your skin or in blood vessel walls. When they touch, it usually means the skin or blood vessel wall is broken. Blood clots can also form when your blood doesn’t flow properly. If it pools in your blood vessels or heart, the platelets are more likely to stick together. Atrial fibrillation and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) are two conditions where slowly moving blood can cause clotting problems.
Most Common Preventable Causes Of Blood Clots
- Sedentary Lifestyle
- Birth Control Pills
Medications Affect the Clotting Process
Some drugs stop platelets from signaling each other so they won’t stick together.
- Clopidogrel (Plavix)
- Dipyridamole (Persantine)
- Prasugrel (Effient)
- Ticagrelor (Brilinta)
- Ticlopidine (Ticlid)
Medicines called blood thinners make it hard for your body to make clotting factors, or they prevent proteins in the clot-forming process from working.
- Apixaban (Eliquis)
- Dabigatran (Pradaxa)
- Edoxaban (Savaysa)
- Heparin (naturally made in the healthy liver)
- Rivaroxaban (Xarelto)
- Warfarin (Coumadin)
A clot-dissolving drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) activates the protein that breaks down the fibrin strands.Although it has some unpredictable side effects, sometimes doctors prescribe it as a treatment for heart attack or stroke. A more natural and preferable approach to preventing and or dissolving blood clots is a Japanese fermented soy enzyme called Nattokinase. I have used this in a tablet form with dozens of patients who either had side effects from drugs or simply wanted a more natural way to prevent the recurrence of blood clots.
Medical Conditions That Cause Blood-Clotting Problems
You’re more likely to get clots you don’t need when you don’t have the right balance between the kinds of proteins that cause and stop clotting in your blood.
People with hemophilia have a problem with their genes. Their bodies don’t make some clotting factors correctly, so their blood doesn’t clot well and they can bleed a lot.
A relatively common condition called von Willebrand factor deficiency makes blood clots form slowly because your body doesn’t have enough of a specific protein to trigger the clotting process. It’s usually mild.
Foods and Herbs That Naturally Help Stabilize Blood Clotting
This may not sound like a blood thinner but it absolutely works, and is free! Dehydration can lead to thickening of your blood, which increases your risk of developing a blood clot, along with other medical concerns related to dehydration. Make sure that you drink plenty of water throughout the day, every day, to keep your cardiovascular system healthy.
Eating raw garlic can significantly lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and thereby, reduce the risk of plaque formation and heart disease and prevent the formation of blood clots in the body. Apart from preventing blood clots, garlic has significant antioxidant activity and protect the blood vessels and heart from the harmful effects of free oxygen radicals.Read more about the full benefits of garlic and how you can eat it raw.
- Some research reports that dried odorless garlic demonstrates blood thinning activities.
- Another review of several studies on garlic suggests that it may thin the blood, although the effects are small and short-lived. Take it often through out the day to gain its benefits.
If you have spent any time researching natural remedies for various ailments, you have probably come across turmeric before.
This spice is commonly used in curry dishes and Indian cuisine, along with providing a wide assortment of medical benefits. For over a thousand years, turmeric has been used for medicinal purposes.
Turmeric can help prevent blood clotting, acting as an antiplatelet. You can add freshly ground turmeric powder to tea, curry, salads, and other meals. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22531131/
Ginger is almost as powerful as turmeric and is often used for the same medicinal purposes.
As with turmeric, you can use ginger to reduce blood clotting. It can also prevent further clotting and reduce your risk of stroke.
Add ginger in any of your juices, teas, broths or cooking to enjoy its immense health benefits. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665023/
5. Vitamin B3
There are over twenty different B vitamins, including vitamin B3—also referred to as niacin. The B vitamins are responsible for converting carbohydrates into glucose, which your body uses for energy. These vitamins help your body use protein, and fats are needed to maintain healthy skin, hair, liver, and nervous system function.
Niacin has been used to lower bad cholesterol for over fifty years and could help reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke. If you decide to take niacin to prevent blood clotting, start with a very low amount of about 50mg. Read up about vitamin B3 and understand the flushing effect before you start on it.
6. Vitamin E
Vitamin E has a variety of medical benefits, from helping to heal wounds to promoting better skin.
While these are great reasons to consume more vitamin E, it can also be used to prevent blood clots and the hardening of arteries.
Vitamin E dissolves in fat and is found in eggs, meat, cereal and various fresh fruits and vegetables. Vitamin E capsules are also a good option to ensure you get your daily supply.
Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain. This enzyme helps to protect against the formation of uric acid crystals. These crystals are known to cause gout and kidney stones. Bromelain is also a natural blood thinner, as it can help reduce the excessive adhesiveness of blood platelets. These benefits are increased if you combine pineapple with turmeric and ginger. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25517253/
8. Cayenne Pepper
Last on this list of natural blood thinners is cayenne pepper. This actually may be one of the fastest-acting blood thinners in this list.
Consuming large amounts of cayenne pepper can help break apart blood clots and provide some blood thinning benefits. But, a word of caution, this is spicy hot and not for the faint hearted!
Add a small amount of cayenne pepper to your tea, and your meals throughout the day, helps promote better heart health.