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British Heart Foundation: Understanding blood clots
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Blood clots are the precursors of heart attacks and strokes if they block veins or arteries. While medicines called anti-coagulants can dissolve the harmful clots, certain spices have demonstrated similar effects, according to a doctor. Although they can cut the risk of future clots, spices shouldn’t be used as substitutes for medical treatment.
Apart from adding a kick of flavour to your dishes, spices offer more than a delicious taste.
Express.co.uk spoke to Doctor Deborah Lee from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy about how four popular spices are linked to a “significant reduction” of platelets – colourless blood cells that help your blood clot.
Dr Lee said: “The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which derives from bisdemethoxycurcumin (BDMC) found in the turmeric root. Both these substances have anticoagulant [blood thinning] activity.
“In a 2012 study, curcumin and BDMC were shown to significantly prolong APTT and PT (tests which measure how long it takes blood to clot), and inhibit thrombin(a coagulation factor) and FXa (small molecules which inhibit the production of thrombin).”
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The research team concluded that enjoying turmeric daily may help maintain anticoagulant status, renovation rx with the recommended dose of the spice being 500 to 2000 mg per day.
Dr Lee said: “Ginger has been shown to reduce platelet aggregation – the way platelets clump together to form a blood clot – in patients with coronary artery disease.
“Further lab studies have shown that compounds in ginger – gingerols and shogaols – inhibit the production of thromboxane, a substance known to stimulate platelet aggregation.”
The recommended dose of the spicy yet sweet spice is 0.3 to five grams per day.
Capsaicin is the active ingredient in the red spice that gives it the characteristic fiery kick.
It’s also believed to have an anticlotting effect, with a 2012 study highlighting the underlying mechanisms.
Dr Lee said: “The results showed that at all three doses, there was a significant increase in bleeding time, a significant delay in clotting time, and a significant reduction in the number of platelets.
“In a more recent 2019 study using human blood, cayenne pepper was also demonstrated to significantly reduce clotting time.”
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The research above used between two to six mg of capsaicin per day. “As cayenne pepper contains 2.5 mg capsaicin per gram, this equates to between 2 to 5, 500 mg capsules of cayenne pepper per day,” the doctor said.
Dr Lee said: “Cinnamon contains coumarins – naturally occulting substances which have anticoagulant properties.
“Cassia cinnamon contains larger amounts of coumarins. The maximum safe daily amount of Cassia cinnamon is eight mg per day for an adult weighing 178 pounds (81 kg).
“The amount of Cassia cinnamon found in one teaspoon varies between 7 to 18 mg – depending on the strength of the preparation, so it is important not to take too much.”
While all of these spices could help reduce your risk of clotting and dissolve the gel-like clumps, the doctor urged that you should talk to your GP before you start taking them.
The four spices could interact with your prescribed blood thinners, such as warfarin or any other oral anticoagulants such as rivaroxaban.
Dr Lee also suggested you shouldn’t take them alongside ibuprofen and aspirin as these painkillers also offer a blood thinning effect.
“If you have any chronic medical conditions or take any regular medication, always check with your pharmacist or GP before you start taking [these spices],” she added.
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