What are Blood Thinners?
Natural Medicine Alternatives
Ask A Healer Natural Supplements Series
This information courtesy of Native Remedies
What are Blood Thinners?
The term "blood thinners" refers to a group of allopathic medications known as
anticoagulants. They are used to prevent the cells in the blood from clotting
too readily and forming blood clots within the vessels.
Although they are referred to as blood thinners, they do not actually thin the
blood. They work by decreasing the blood"s ability to clot so that blood vessels
Who Should Use Blood Thinners?
Blood thinners are administered to those who are most at risk of a heart
attack, stroke, or aneurysm. They may also be used for the prevention of
thromboembolic disorders, while some are used to treat thromboembolism.
What Blood Thinners are Available?
The most common blood thinner used is aspirin, which significantly
inhibits platelet activity-- one of the first steps in the clotting process. Sometimes,
a small daily dose of aspirin is all that is required to treat heart conditions.
Aspirin Use With Children
The use of aspirin as a blood thinner for children must be monitored. If a child
has a fever or certain viral infections such as influenza, gastric flu, or chicken pox,
aspirin must be stopped immediately. The use of aspirin has been associated with
Reye"s syndrome, a life-threatening disease that causes major damage to the body"s
When aspirin is not strong enough to stop blood platelets from forming clots, the
second most common blood thinners used are oral anticoagulants. They should be
used only under close medical supervision, as they do have adverse side
effects, such as severe bleeding after bruising or cutting the skin.
More powerful blood thinners can be injected intravenously with a needle
directly into the bloodstream, where they work to rapidly dissolve clots.
Natural and holistic treatments such as herbal and homeopathic remedies
can also effectively support the overall functioning of the heart, arteries, and
cardiovascular system by promoting healthy circulation. Under medical
supervision, natural alternatives to the prescription blood thinners can be very effective and may avoid the side effects experienced when using
Herbs Effective in Aiding Healthy Bodily Functioning
Herbs such as Crataegus oxyacantha (Hawthorn) have well-known
cardiovascular properties, while Passiflora incarnata relaxes blood vessels and
reduces blood pressure. In addition, Viburnum opulus (Guelder Rose bark) is a
very effective cardiac tonic and muscle relaxant, while Ginkgo biloba improves
blood flow throughout the body.
Note: Remember to source your natural medicines from a reputable company in
order to ensure maximum safety and efficacy. If you are already using a
prescription blood thinner, it is important to consult your doctor before adding
any natural remedies to your treatment regimen.
How to Use Blood Thinners
There are various kinds of blood thinners, and it is advisable to consult with your
doctor regarding proper dosage. Other medicines that you may be taking can
increase or decrease the effect of the blood thinners. Be sure to inform your
doctor about any other medication, even if it is just a vitamin supplement.
Your doctor should also be aware of your medical history, as well as any
physical symptoms that you may be experiencing before taking blood thinners.
It is also recommended that you follow a healthy diet. In particular, you may
need to limit your intake of vitamin K, generally found in liver, fish, cabbage,
spinach, brussel sprouts and other green, leafy vegetables.
Avoid smoking and refrain from drinking large quantities of alcohol.
The Natural Approach
While Western medicine has become the norm in many cultures, it is not the only
treatment option. Conventional western medicine, often called allopathic
medicine, is the system of medicine taught at most medical schools and most
pharmaceutical and synthetic medicines are manufactured and marketed
according to the principles of allopathic medicine. Allopathic medicine is also
sometimes called orthodox medicine.
Because most of us in the Western world have grown up in a society in which
allopathic medicine is the prevailing norm, we forget that only a few decades ago,
homeopathic, herbal and other natural medicines were commonly
available and freely used, even by conventional doctors. While there are often
heated debates about which system of medicine is "better" than the other, many
responsible doctors (whether they are allopathic or not) recognize that both have a
role to play in the treatment program.
Natural medicine has often been frowned upon by conventional doctors, especially
by those who did not have sufficient knowledge of these medicines. However, it is
encouraging to note that some medical schools are now beginning to re-introduce
it into their course work, thereby providing doctors with a wider range of
treatment options from which to choose. In many countries, especially in Europe,
India and China, natural and homeopathic medicines are commonly
prescribed by conventional doctors, and represent a significant part of the total
annual drug sales.
Naturopathy is a branch of medicine (just as allopathy is a branch of medicine)
which operates according to the underlying philosophy that the body has an
innate capacity to heal itself. While natural medicines are often called
"alternative" or "complimentary" medicines, they are, in fact, a unique and
independent form of medicine in their own right, well able to treat a variety of
conditions. Perhaps the term "holistic" medicine is more apt, given the broad
range of treatment options and approaches that are to be found within the
practice of natural medicine. Holistic medicine encompasses many different
disciplines, including herbalism, homeopathy, iridology, osteopathy, chiropractic,
therapeutic massage techniques, aromatherapy, acupuncture and many, many
Most naturopaths will use a variety of treatment modalities in order to treat their
patients in a holistic way to support health, relieve symptoms, and prevent
future disease. In fact, even the World Health Organization defines health as
being "...more than simply the absence of illness. It is the active state of physical,
emotional, mental, and social well-being." This is a wonderfully clear description
of holistic or natural medicine, which strives to support health (thereby relieving
or preventing symptoms), rather than simply eliminating disease.
Although allopathic medicine certainly has a role to play and has made a
tremendous contribution to medical science during the past century, there is a
growing perception that it is not the only answer. In many cases, holistic
medicine can accomplish just as much, if not more, without the risk of side
effects, addiction, and sacrifice to health so commonly associated with
Contrary to common perception-- and provided that they are manufactured in the
correct way-- natural medicines can work quickly and safely to promote
healing. In many cases, they can succeed where pharmaceutical drugs have failed.
Despite frequent reports that they are "unproven" and "untested", the opposite is
true. Natural medicines have a long history of usage and there is a wealth of
empirical evidence to support their effectiveness and safety. In addition,
active clinical research is carried out by many academic hospitals and universities
to support the extensive traditional and empirical evidence behind natural
It is also important to know that like any medicine, herbal and homeopathic
medicines must be manufactured in the correct way, following acceptable
procedures and manufacturing methods to ensure maximum effectiveness and
safety. Due to the recent rise in popularity of natural remedies, many companies
have sprung up to take advantage of the market. Unfortunately, not all of them are
equipped to manufacture to the correct standards, often resulting in a flood of
inferior (and sometimes even unsafe) remedies onto the market and giving
natural remedies a bad name.
Even some pharmaceutical companies have rushed to claim their market share by
producing so-called "standardized" extracts of herbs and offering these as superior
to the tried and tested methods of naturopathic manufacturing. Nothing could be
further from the truth. While "standardized" extracts may offer the benefit of easy
consistency of dosage (and cheaper production lines), they have grave
disadvantages, including an increase in side effects, as the medicines
produced in this manner lose the natural protective properties of the
herbs. In some cases, these side effects have proved fatal as was seen in the liver
toxicity associated with standardized extracts of kava kava, an herb previously safely
used for generations without any known side effects.
Most naturopaths recommend what is called the Full Spectrum Method of
extraction, which retains the benefits of ALL the active ingredients within the
herb as opposed to isolating only one, thereby providing a more complete
treatment as well as superior protection against side effects.
Whatever your choice, always choose wisely. Research what is best for you. If
you have a chronic or life-threatening condition, don"t make changes without first
discussing them with your doctor in order that your condition may be monitored.
Well informed and supportive practitioners will support patients who want to take
responsibility for their own health.
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