The November 2011 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine reported that most emergency hospital visits for the elderly are caused by side effects and overdosing from taking blood thinners to prevent strokes and blood clots. Conventional doctors wait until you’re at risk of a stroke or have had your first stroke to prescribe blood thinners in hopes of preventing additional strokes. What they don’t warn you about are the serious possible side effects from these drugs including internal bleeding, stomach ulcers, muscle aches and pains, headaches with dizziness, kidney failure and a boat load of other negatives that can destroy your health. However, there are several natural substances that possess powerful anti-inflammatory properties and also help to thin the blood. These herbs can also produce their own side effects and should not be taken in combination with pharmaceutical drugs. Don’t take any unfamiliar medicinal herb unless supervised by a well-trained herbalist or natural health practitioner.
Used in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years, the richly golden spice turmeric is hailed for it’s ability to reduce pain and inflammation. Recent studies have revealed that its pain-killing properties compare with those of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs; however, turmeric does not cause the internal bleeding and digestive upset or toxicity to the liver that is found in some cases of individuals taking NSAIDs.
Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapples that also has anti-inflammatory properties and is especially helpful in reducing pain and stiffness associated with arthritis when taken on an empty stomach. Its action is enhanced when taken in combination with turmeric and ginger. Additionally, bromelain is a wonderful digestive enzyme when taken with meals and helps break down proteins, protecting against the formation of uric acid crystals, which are responsible for causing gout and certain types of kidney stones.
Ginger is one of the royal ancient spices of India, China and Japan whose action works to reduce inflammation of the joints and muscles as well as strengthening the immune system and reducing digestive upsets and vomiting. Ginger has been used medicinally for thousands of years and is most effective when used raw in a hot tea; however, it is also helpful when taken in powdered supplements.
A favorite spice for many people — and a popular healing agent around the world — garlic is not only a potent anti-inflammatory herb, but has proven antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Eating garlic raw or lightly cooked, or making garlic tea are several of the most effective methods for its medicinal use. Odorless, freeze-dried supplements are available for those who prefer to avoid the strong scent on their breath.
Simple, plain and life’s staple, water is perhaps one of the best blood thinners available. Allowing yourself to become dehydrated thickens the blood, causing it to clump together and form clots. Drinking enough clear, clean water each day helps keep the blood running smoothly through your circulatory and cardiovascular system, maintaining good health. The ideal daily intake for each individual is 1/2 ounce of water for each pound of body weight; in other words, if you weight 150 pounds, you should ideally drink 75 ounces of water daily. All of these substances have the power to thin the blood. There are other foods as well, such as vitamins B-6, D and E, omega-3 fatty acids, apple cider vinegar and strawberries that act as blood-thinning agents; and when used judiciously under the supervision of your health practitioner, may keep you healthy longer, prevent strokes and blood clots and help keep you off drugs and out of the hospital.
Sources: University of Maryland Medical Center: Turmeric
http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/turmeric-000277.htm Natural Blood Thinners: Foods that Naturally Thin the Blood http://www.ctds.info/natthinners.html Herbs 2000: Bromelain http://www.herbs2000.com/h_menu/bromelain.htm Ray Sahelian, M.D.: Bromelain http://www.raysahelian.com/bromelain.html VitaminStuff.com: Ginger http://www.vitaminstuff.com/herbs-ginger.html University of Maryland Medical Center: Ginger http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/ginger-000246.htm Kansas State Research and Extension: Herbs — Garlic http://university.uog.edu/cals/people/PUBS/Garlic/MF2380.pdf The New England Journal of Medicine: Emergency Hospitalizations for Adverse Drug Events in Older Americans http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1103053 (Photo credit: Public domain)
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