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Flaxseed & Coumadin

by
author image Linda Tarr Kent
Linda Tarr Kent is a reporter and editor with more than 20 years experience at Gannett Company Inc., The McClatchy Company, Sound Publishing Inc., Mach Publishing, MomFit The Movement and other companies. Her area of expertise is health and fitness. She is a Bosu fitness and stand-up paddle surfing instructor. Kent holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Washington State University.
Flaxseed & Coumadin
A close-up of whole flaxseeds. Photo Credit ksena32/iStock/Getty Images

Your doctor may prescribe Coumadin to prevent blood-clot formation. Flaxseed is commonly used to lower cholesterol, improve gastrointestinal health and improve heart health. However, if you use Coumadin it’s important to watch for interactions with other medications, foods and supplements, advise the experts at Health Canada. Flaxseed can interact with this medication. Consult your doctor before you combine the two.

Significance

Coumadin is the brand name for the blood-thinning drug warfarin. This drug has what’s known as a "narrow therapeutic margin." This means changes in the amount of Coumadin in your bloodstream can alter the way this medication affects you. Too much Coumadin in your bloodstream can lead to excessive bleeding. Meanwhile, too little may affect Coumadin’s ability to prevent clots, which in turn may lead to serious health effects, including heart attack or stroke. Flaxseed may affect the Coumadin levels in your body.

Effect

Flaxseed may slow blood clotting, so taking it along with Coumadin can cause an additive effect that raises your risk for bleeding or bruising. This effect is due to the omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center.

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Expert Insight

The combination of omega-3 fatty acids such as those in flaxseed and blood thinners such as Coumadin may be beneficial in treating heart disease, according to UMMC. However, such a combination requires strict medical monitoring and should be used only under the supervision of a health care provider.

Considerations

Other substances can affect your bleeding or blood-clotting risk when taken with Coumadin and/or flaxseed. These include coenzyme Q10, chondroitin plus glucosamine, devil’s claw, danshen, dong quai, fish oil supplements, ginseng, bilberry, cayenne, green tea, horse chestnut, papaya extract, horse chestnut, vitamins A and K, garlic, ginger, German chamomile, red clover, cranberry juice, avocado, soy protein products and seaweed. Always consult a health care provider before trying a new supplement if you take medication. Also ask your health care provider for guidance on foods that can produce interactions with your medicine.

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