K is for klotting – which doesn’t really start with a ‘k’, but it’s what I want to write about. Many people take an aspirin a day to prevent stroke and heart attack based on aspirin’s ability to thin the blood and prevent blood clots.
Most alternative doctors have been against aspirin for a long time because it damages the stomach lining and causes kidney and liver damage. Aspirin is responsible for a significant number of emergency room visits because it causes gastrointestinal bleeding.
New studies are now showing that an aspirin a day actually increases risk of stroke and heart attack in 40 percent of the people who take it. Research is also showing that long term use of aspirin increases your risk of macular degeneration and cataracts by as much as 44 percent.
Aspirin is recommended because it thins the blood and keeps dangerous clots from forming. However, there are much safer things to take than aspirin that perform as well or better without the negative side effects.
The first of these is nattokinase – a fibrinolytic enzyme that breaks down fibrin. Fibrin is a blood protein that forms long sticky strands and clots that is normally inhibited by the enzyme plasmin. As we age, the body’s production of plasmin decreases and we become more prone to thick, sticky blood that has a tendency to clot.
Nattokinase closely resembles plasmin in its ability to dissolve clots. It has performed well in both animal and human studies. Natto has a prolonged action that works in 2 ways. The first is to prevent abnormal blood coagulation and the second is to dissolve existing clots. Research is showing that it is as effective as some of the prescription drugs, but lasts significantly longer without any tendency to over thin the blood. Other good side effects of nattokinase include some ability to inhibit atherosclerosis, reduce blood pressure and also to strengthen bones due to its vitamin K content.
The second substance that works as well or better than aspirin is natural vitamin E. There are several research studies showing that 100 IU of natural vitamin E is 4 times as effective as aspirin without the negative side effects. Please note that synthetic vitamin E should not be used and may even be harmful.
The third substance that works to prevent clotting is fish oil. High quality omega 3 oils from fish have great cardiovascular benefits that include being anti-inflammatory, reducing cholesterol and preventing blood clots.
The fourth substance is ginkgo biloba, which is an herb that inhibits the clotting action of blood and improves circulation to the extremities and to the brain. Ginkgo also improves the action of neurotransmitters in the brain and is known for helping restore memory.
These are all good options for thinning blood and preventing clotting. They can be used separately or together depending on your needs without the negative side effects of aspirin.
Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas.