Supplemental Anticoagulants

            Gingko Biloba in the Latin, is commonly used for the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, for memory loss, vertigo, and tinnitus and is commonly available in tincture form and in capsules. (Weil 2013)  Dr. Weil suggests taking 120 mg daily in divided doses and to find products with a 24% standardization. Dr. Weil also states that “it may have an additive anticoagulant effect when taken at the same time as aspirin, Coumadin and other blood thinning drugs or supplements.” (2013)  According to Natural Standard, this plant is also known as an “Oriental Plum tree” so it may be found in American gardens.(2013) When Gingko is consumed as fresh seeds, it is toxic, potentially deadly and may cause seizure. (Natural Standard) The most commonly used constituent part of the plant are the leaves. (Natural Standard) Studies have shown it increases concentration, enhances memory, and helps with seasonal affective disorder and depression. (National Standard) Natural Standard cites numerous cases of subdural hematoma during use of Gingko when used in combination with Coumadin and cites cases of excessive bleeding during surgery. (2013)

            The final supplement I will discuss is Omega-3 Fatty acid, which is commonly found in fish livers, and, in lesser amounts, in flax seed. (Natural Standard) Dr. Andrew Weil states that both omega 3 and omega 6 may be found in our diet, however omega 6 is already ingested in an over-abundance in the American diet. (Fish Oil and Omega 3) Omega 3, according to Weil “may increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke” and has “been associated with nosebleed and blood in the urine.” (Fish Oil and Omega 3)  According to Natural Standard, fish oil trials suggests that supplements may reduce triglycerides, as well as the risk of heart attack, arrhythmia, and stroke, reduce the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques and lower blood pressure slightly (2013). High doses, in excess of 3 g may increase risk of bleeding, hemorrhagic stroke, and increase in fibrinolysis. It may also cause, altered blood sugar control and create a fish odor in some such as heart transplant recipients and can also lead to toxic levels of Vitamins A and D in excess levels. (Natural Standard) Extended ingestion of fish oil may cause a Vitamin E deficiency and there’s been reported cases of worsening asthma from fish oil ingestion, but also reported cases of an improvement with Rheumatoid arthritis, as well as, dysmenorrhea. (Natural Standard) The dosage in clinical trials have been 1 g capsules daily and most commercial fish oil products add Vitamin E to help prevent vitamin deficiency. (Natural Standard) As with many fish products one concern must be the presence of heavy metals which may contaminate the fish sources used to create this supplement. (Natural Standard) However, Natural Standard states that evidence for these potential risks of taking the fish oil supplements is inconclusive. (2013)

            In summation, while many supplemental remedies have been under-studied, it appears there’s enough evidence about these remedies to conclude there are some anticoagulant and antiplatelet properties, especially when taken in combination with other supplements or in combination with pharmaceuticals such as heparin and Coumadin. Risk of excessive bleeding makes it important to understand how these remedies might affect blood chemistry and to query patients’ dietary habits and supplements before any procedures.

This was a paper written to satisfy an assignment in a Phlebotomy course. My instructor now distributes it to his Phlebotomy students. Citations were not included here, but you can contact me with questions or for a list of citations by leaving a comment with a valid email address. Please indicate if you’d prefer your comment not be published.

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