Have you or a loved one been prescribed 1 aspirin a day for blood thinning? Are you concerned about the well established fact of occult stomach bleeding as a result of continued aspirin use? There is a better, much safer way: Fish oil as a blood thinner!
Aspirin is commonly prescribed and recommended by most conventional physicians as a blood thinner for those at risk for heart attack, stroke, or aneurysms. This is due to the anti-coagulant property of aspirin. The typical recommendation is an 81 mg baby aspirin per day to keep platelets from clumping together in the blood (aka, platelet aggregation). Overactive platelet aggregation leads to blood clots, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke and aneurysms.
However, for many years, multiple research studies have shown that aspirin damages the stomach lining (the gastric mucosa) resulting in a constant small amount of slow bleeding. This is referred to as “occult stomach bleeding” because it is often hidden and not readily apparent. One indication this is occurring is through the red blood cell indices from routine blood tests. The red blood cell parameters are typically in the low normal range. Many doctors overlook this because the parameters are still within normal range.
Aspirin use, and other salicylate containing products, have also been associated with the development of Reye’s syndrome, an illness in children that can prove fatal, causing damage to the major organs of the body. In particular, the brain and liver suffer significant damage in Reye’s syndrome. Many recent studies indicate that the risk of Reye’s syndrome increases with the amount of aspirin taken, especially when taken during or after having a cold, flu or chicken pox. Children recovering from a cold, flu or chickenpox should never be given aspirin, according to the vast majority of doctors. Parents with children on aspirin for blood thinning purposes should be advised by the prescribing physician to carefully watch for particular symptoms of Reye’s syndrome. The symptoms of Reye’s syndrome occur in stages. The stages and symptoms are:
- Persistent or continuous vomiting
- Signs of brain dysfunction:
- Loss of pep and energy
- Personality changes:
- Aggressive behavior
- Irrational behavior
- Delirium, convulsions, coma
The much safer and healthier alternative for decreasing platelet aggragation is the essential fatty acids (EFA) present in fish oil. It decreases platelet aggregation 1 2 3 without damaging the gastric mucosal lining, and increasing susceptibility to Reye’s syndrome. Numerous research studies indicate the fatty acids high in fish oil, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) give the desired anti-coagulant effect without the side effects of aspirin.
So why are many doctors not recommending fish oil for blood thinning? There are many reasons, but the primary reason is many are not aware of this.
Besides fish oil’s anti-coagulant property, it is safe and highly beneficial.4 It should be a considered option for blood thinning. Being aware of this fact could save you or loved one from further health problems from the side effects of aspirin. It may even be a life-saver.
Dr Husbands is a Chiropractor, a Certified Clinical Nutritionist, an Anti-Aging Healthcare Practitioner and a Functional Medicine Doctor. For more information, visit http://www.holistichealthbayarea.com.
- Comparison of the absorption and effect on platelet function of a single dose of n-3 fatty acids given as fish or fish oil. Am J Clin Nutr 1991;53:1165-70. ↩
- Prolonged inhibition of platelet aggregation after n-3 fatty acid ethyl ester ingestion by healthy volunteers. Am J Clin Nutr 1995;61:607-13. ↩
- Fish oil: a potent inhibitor of platelet adhesiveness. Blood 1990;76:938-45. ↩
- Reducing pain and inflammation naturally, Part II: New insights into fatty acid supplementation and it’s effect on eicosanoid production and genetic expression. Nutrit Perspectives 2005;28:1-16. ↩