Does Garlic Thin the Blood?

Blood clots are the body's defense mechanism against excessive bleeding from injuries or cuts. However, conditions such as diabetes, family history and high blood cholesterol levels can lead to formation of blood clots in the arteries of heart, brain and lungs. Blood-thinning medications are prescribed to reduce the formation of blood clots, and thereby reduce the risk heart disease and stroke. Certain natural foods and supplements such as garlic may also help prevent blood clots.

Garlic may prevent the formation of blood clots. Credit: DAJ/amana images/Getty Images

Garlic

The cloves from the compound bulbs of the garlic, or Allium sativum, plant are used as a food and flavoring agent across the world. The cloves also contain a biologically active compound known as allicin, which is responsible for its medicinal value. Garlic supplements are available as fresh or dried cloves, capsules, tablets and liquid extracts, and may help treat a variety of conditions including heart disease, common cold, infections and certain types of cancers. The dose is different in different people, depending on the person's age, health history and purported use. Your doctor may help you find a dose and form that is right for you.

Clot Prevention

Certain species of garlic such as Allium tuberosum can significantly lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and thereby, reduce the risk of plaque formation and heart disease in the laboratory animals, according to a study published in a 2008 issue of the "Pakistan Journal of Physiology." Another article published in a 2010 issue of the "International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine," reaffirms that garlic supplements can lower the blood cholesterol levels and prevent the formation of blood clots in the body. Apart from preventing blood clots, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center states that garlic supplements also exert significant antioxidant activity and protect the blood vessels and heart from the harmful effects of free oxygen radicals.

Side Effects

Garlic has been used as food for centuries and is generally considered safe. However, high doses of the supplements can lead to upset stomach, bloating, bad breath and body odor. It can also cause headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle aches and dizziness. Garlic supplements may also interfere with certain antiplatelet and blood-thinning medications.

Precautions

Garlic and its supplements are easily available at most natural food stores. However, you must talk to a doctor before using them. Also, the production of garlic supplements in the United States is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Hence, make an effort to ensure the safety and efficacy of the product. Consult a pharmacist or look for the USP logo issued by the United States Pharmacopoeial Convention to supplements that have been tested for safety.

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