Having blood that clots easily can be problematic, as can having blood that doesn’t clot enough.
Blood clots can become lodged in important arteries supplying essential organs like your brain and heart, potentially causing a stroke or heart attack.
On the other hand, blood that doesn’t clot enough can cause excessive bleeding and anemia.
Ideally, your body will regulate the coagulation rate (forming blood clots) to keep you in balance without extreme issues.
Certain risk factors can predispose you to form potentially dangerous blood clots, such as having:
- Atherosclerosis (plaque forming in your arteries)
- Vasculitis (inflamed blood vessels)
- Heart failure
- Atrial fibrillation (the most common type of arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat)
- Overweight and obesity
- Metabolic syndrome (a group of risk factors that increases your chance of having heart disease and other health problems, including an increased risk of forming blood clots)
Other risk factors that can cause problematic blood clotting include:
- Increased homocysteine levels
- Prolonged bed rest
- Use of birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
- HIV and HIV treatments
- Organ transplants and implanted devices
If you’re at high risk of developing blood clots, your healthcare provider will likely prescribe a blood-thinning medication. The most common blood thinner medication is warfarin (Coumadin). Warfarin works by blocking vitamin K’s blood clotting effects.
There are natural blood thinners that might also help prevent blood clots. Some foods, herbs, and spices have properties that act as natural blood thinners.
9 natural blood thinners
When the platelets in your blood stick together, they can form a clot. Garlic has antiplatelet properties, which may help it act as a natural blood thinner.
Garlic supplements are more concentrated in ajoene, the compound in garlic extracts that helps prevent your platelets from sticking together. Ajoene might intensify the effects of blood thinners when taken in supplements. Eating garlic in smaller amounts is a safer option if you’re already taking a prescription blood thinner.
2) High-salicylate foods
Derivatives of salicylates, such as salicylic acid, are used to make aspirin, a pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory medication.
Some foods and drinks particularly high in salicylates include:
- Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, mushrooms, radishes, spinach, and zucchini
- Fruit juice (apple, grape, orange, and grapefruit juices)
- Fruits like apples, avocado, berries, cherries, grapes, peaches, and plums
- Spices like thyme, rosemary, curry powder, paprika, and garam masala
- Black, green, and herbal teas
3) Vitamin D
Vitamin D has an anticoagulant effect, which means it can act as a blood thinner. Low vitamin D levels are associated with an increased prevalence of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is when a blood clot forms in a vein in your legs.
DVTs are dangerous because they can become dislodged and end up in your lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism (PE).
There aren’t many foods that are naturally rich in vitamin D.
Some foods that contain vitamin D include:
- Cod liver oil
- Tuna fish
- Orange juice fortified with vitamin D
- Dairy and plant milk fortified with vitamin D
- Beef liver
- Egg yolk
- Fortified cereals
If you can’t get enough vitamin D from your diet, you should consider taking a vitamin D supplement.
Choose a vitamin D dietary supplement with at least 600 IU of vitamin D per serving or 800 IU if you’re 70 or older. If you have a history of vitamin D deficiency, your healthcare provider may recommend a higher dose, such as 5,000 IU per day.
Vitamin D3 is preferred over vitamin D2 since it raises vitamin D levels significantly more than vitamin D2.
4) Vitamin E
Vitamin E may protect you against forming potentially life-threatening blood clots, especially if you aren’t already taking a prescription blood thinner. According to a study, vitamin E may lower your risk of blood clots even more significantly if you have a history of blood clots.
Taking too much vitamin E can cause excessive bleeding, so be sure to follow the recommended dosages on vitamin and supplement labels. The risk of bleeding from vitamin E toxicity is more prevalent with doses above 1,000 milligrams per day.
Choose foods rich in vitamin E, such as:
- Wheat germ oil
- Sunflower, safflower, and soybean oil
- Sunflower seeds
- Peanuts, peanut butter
- Beet greens, collard greens, spinach
- Red bell pepper
5) Willow bark
Willow bark contains salicin, a derivative of salicylates, which explains its blood-thinning properties.
Willow bark is commonly used to treat conditions like headache, lower back pain, and arthritis, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Curcumin, the active compound in the spice turmeric, might act as a natural blood thinner.
According to a 2012 study, curcumin has anticoagulant properties and may help act as a natural blood thinner.
7) Ginkgo biloba
Ginkgo biloba, often just called ginkgo, is a species of tree native to China. The majority of ginkgo biloba products are extracted from the leaves of the Ginkgo tree.
Ginkgo biloba is most commonly used to support brain health and memory function, but it also has the ability to thin blood and dissolve blood clots.
Taking Ginkgo biloba with prescription blood thinners like coumadin (Warfarin), clopidogrel (Plavix), and aspirin can increase your risk of bleeding, so you should avoid it with blood-thinning medications.
8) Leafy green vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are rich in vitamin K, which helps form blood clots, so you might be wondering why they’re on this list.
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens are rich in nitrates, which are then converted to nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide acts as a vasodilator and dilates your blood vessels to allow better blood flow.
Healthy blood flow can promote good circulation, which may reduce your risk of forming a blood clot.
If you take blood-thinning prescription medication, you should aim to keep your intake of vitamin K-rich foods like leafy greens consistent from day to day, so they don’t interfere with the effectiveness of your medication.
Staying sedentary increases your risk of blood clots. When blood flow is slowed, the risk of developing a blood clot increases. That’s the reason taking long flights increases your risk of developing a thrombosis (blood clot blocking a vein or artery) by two- to four-fold.
Staying active helps promote blood flow to your limbs and organs. Break up prolonged periods of sitting – for instance, make sure to get up and walk around after sitting for more than 1-2 hours.
Being physically active can help promote healthy blood pressure levels and heart health. Practicing heart-healthy habits cuts the risk of developing atherosclerosis, which is when fatty plaque builds up in your arteries.
Atherosclerosis is a risk factor for developing blood clots since it slows blood flow, allowing more time for blood to coagulate and potentially form a clot.
There are several natural blood thinners including foods, drinks, herbs, and spices, as well as staying active. These natural blood thinners may help prevent dangerous blood clots that can form a DVT, PE, or cause a heart attack or stroke.
You should always consult with your healthcare provider about what dietary restrictions you might have if you’re already taking blood-thinning medications since some things interfere with the effectiveness of your blood-thinning medications. You should also follow the guidance of your healthcare provider if you have any blood clotting disorders.