advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Is There a Natural Alternative to Coumadin?

Are there natural alternatives to blood thinners like Coumadin and Plavix? I had a stroke about five years ago, and I don't like the thought of taking Coumadin for the rest of my life.

A
Answer (Published 2/1/2002)

Updated on 1/24/2005, Reviewed on 4/26/2010

There are natural substances that have anticoagulant (blood thinning) activity, but I don't know that I would rely on them if I were you. Drugs like Coumadin (warfarin) and Plavix (clopidogrel) and others are prescribed to "thin" the blood in order to prevent the formation of blood clots that can restrict blood flow, leading to a stroke or heart attack. If you're taking prescribed drugs to prevent these very serious, potentially fatal, conditions, I urge you not to go off them suddenly. If you want to try the natural products I describe below together with anticoagulant drugs, do so only under the supervision of your physician.

A number of natural substances have been shown to act as blood thinners: Garlic, ginger, ginkgo, dong quai, feverfew, fish oil, vitamin E, and tree ear mushrooms (available in a dried form in Chinese grocery stores) all appear to have anticoagulant activity. But although these products may thin the blood, that alone doesn't make then suitable substitutes for prescription blood thinners. No studies have compared their effectiveness to pharmaceutical blood thinners, and there's no available information on the dosages required to reproduce the effects of Coumadin or Plavix. Supplements are also unregulated products, so unlike drugs, there's no assurance that identical doses of different brands will give you the same effect, or that the effects will be the same from bottle to bottle.

That said, if you do decide to use one of these substances in conjunction with anticoagulant drugs - to possibly lower your dose of that medication - you have to be extremely careful that you're not getting too much blood-thinning activity. A major side effect of Coumadin and other anticoagulant medications is an increased risk of bleeding (often signaled by blood in the stool or urine, bleeding gums, or easy bruising). Because natural substances with blood-thinning activity may also carry this side effect, taking them together with anticoagulant drugs may further increase the risk of bleeding. For these reasons, if you're taking an anticoagulant drug along with a natural blood thinner, do so only under the supervision of your physician, who can monitor your bleeding and clotting times.

My advice? If you're not having significant side effects from Coumadin and seem to be doing well on the drug, stay with it.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here