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British Heart Foundation: Understanding blood clots

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Blood clots can lay the groundwork for serious health problems like heart attacks and strokes. Medicines called anti-coagulants are most reliable at dissolving the harmful clots but certain plants have demonstrated similar effects. One of them even shows effects comparable to a blood-thinning aspirin, according to a doctor.

While there’s no substitute for a proper medical treatment, Dr Deborah Lee from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy shared that two plants could help tackle harmful blood clots.

Bromelain

Pineapple isn’t only packed with fresh and sweet flavour; the plant also offers bromelain.

Bromelain describes a group of different enzymes derived from the stem, fruit, and juice of the pineapple plant.

Dr Lee said: “This mixture of different enzymes such as endopeptidases and phosphatases have been shown to have a wide range of biochemical properties.

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“Bromelain has been shown to increase fibrinolysis – the ability to break down blood clots – and inhibit the synthesis of fibrin – a major protein needed for blood clotting. It directly causes the degradation of fibrin.”

You don’t have to take just Dr Lee’s word for it as research, published in the journal Biotechnology Research International, also echoes bromelain’s powers on blood clotting.

Drawing on various studies, lithium niobate photonic crystal the research highlights that bromelain shows fibrinolytic, antithrombotic (blood clot formation reducing) and anti-inflammatory properties.

The study also explained that the enzyme mix was able to inhibit platelet aggregation, which describes the way platelets clump together to form a blood clot.

Dr Lee said: “The recommended dose is 40 to 400 mg per day. Because bromelain increases the risk of bleeding, it should not be taken by anyone with an increased bleeding tendency or on blood thinning drugs. It should also be stopped two weeks before surgery.

“If you have any chronic medical conditions or take any regular medication, always check with your pharmacist or GP before you start taking bromelain.”

Aloe vera

Celebrated for its sunburn soothing properties, aloe vera is a succulent plant with green fleshy leaves that belongs under the Liliaceae family.

Dr Lee said: “In a recent 2022 laboratory study, extract of aloe vera was found to significantly increase PT and APTT (tests which measure how long it takes blood to clot) times, along with a reduction in the production of fibrinogen.”

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In case you’re not aware, fibrinogen is a protein that helps with blood clotting, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Dr Lee said: “Aloe vera contains salicylates and has been shown to have an anti-platelet effect similar to aspirin. Little research has been done on this issue.”

Aspirin works as a blood thinner which can help stop blood from clotting and help prevent a heart attack or clot-related stroke.

However, aloe vera also increases bleeding tendency, so it should not be taken by those on blood thinning medication, according to the expert.

She said the recommended dose of the plant is between 300 and 500mg twice a day.

Dr Lee added: “It should not be taken orally by anyone on blood thinners or with an increase in bleeding tendency.

“If you have any chronic medical conditions or take any regular medication, always check with your pharmacist or GP before you start taking aloe vera.”

Although these plants offer promising anti-clotting powers, they shouldn’t be used as substitutes for any medical treatment.

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