Natural blood thinners are substances that reduce the blood’s ability to form clots. Ingredients in a range of spices and supplements — such as ginger and Gingko biloba — may have this effect.

Blood thinners work in two ways. Antiplatelets keep blood cells from sticking together to become a clot. Anticoagulants cause clotting to occur more slowly.

Some people with certain medical conditions, such as congenital heart defects, need blood-thinning medications to reduce their risk of heart attack or stroke. Some natural remedies may have a similar function.

It is essential to speak with a doctor before trying natural remedies, as they may not work as well as medication and may interfere with some prescription drugs.

Here, we look at some foods and other substances that may act as natural blood thinners.

People have long used turmeric for culinary and medicinal purposes. Curcumin is an active ingredient in turmeric and appears to have anti-inflammatory and blood-thinning or anticoagulant properties.

A 2019 review indicates that turmeric may help block blood clotting. However, it advises caution when combining turmeric with blood-thinning drugs.

How to use:

  • in savory dishes and soups
  • mixed with hot water to make a tea
  • in capsule form after checking with a doctor

Ginger is another anti-inflammatory spice that may help prevent blood clotting.

A 2015 literature review notes that it may do this by reducing thromboxane, a hormone that causes platelets to aggregate, or stick together. Ginger also contains salicylates, the same substances that give aspirin its blood-thinning properties.

More research is needed to fully understand the potential blood-thinning properties of ginger.

How to use:

  • fresh or dried in sweet or savory dishes and baked goods
  • chopped, bruised, and steeped in water to make ginger tea
  • in juices and smoothies
  • in capsule form after checking with a doctor

Cayenne pepper also contains salicylates, and some people say including it in food can help with blood-thinning. However, reliable scientific evidence has not shown it has blood-thinning qualities.

How to use:

  • added to stews and soups for a spicy flavor
  • sprinkled sparingly on hard-boiled eggs
  • using a pinch to spice up cocoa or other chocolate goodies
  • in capsule form after checking with a doctor

Vitamin E may reduce blood clotting in various ways, depending on how much a person takes.

The National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements suggests that people taking blood-thinning drugs should avoid large doses of vitamin E.

It is unclear how much vitamin E thins the blood, although it is likely that people would need to take more than 400 international units (IU) per day to have a blood-thinning effect.

However, long-term use of high doses — for instance above 1,500 IU daily — may have negative effects.

How to take:

While supplements are available, foods that contain vitamin E include:

  • almonds
  • safflower oil
  • sunflower oil
  • sunflower seeds
  • peanut butter
  • whole grains

Is it better to get nutrients from food or supplements?

A 2018 rodent study found evidence of antithrombotic activity in garlic, which means it may help prevent blood clots.

A 2020 review found that garlic supplements helped reduce blood pressure and had mild antithrombotic effects in people with hypertension.

A review from 2015 notes that some dietary supplements, including garlic, may affect platelet function and coagulation. The authors recommend avoiding them before surgery.

How to use:

  • fresh or dried in savory dishes
  • by adding freshly chopped garlic and olives to bread dough before baking
  • as supplements if a doctor recommends

Cinnamon contains coumarin, a blood-thinning agent. Warfarin, a commonly used blood-thinning drug, is derived from coumarin.

Consuming small amounts of cinnamon in the diet may help support the action of other natural blood thinners. However, research in humans is needed.

Taking large doses of coumarin-rich cinnamon on a long-term basis can cause liver damage.

How to use:

  • in powder form in cakes, baked goods, and drinks
  • by combining whole or powdered cinnamon with other spices in savory dishes, such as Moroccan harira
  • as capsules if a doctor advises

Ginkgo biloba is a popular herbal supplement that people take for blood disorders and memory problems.

One laboratory study found that Ginkgo biloba contains compounds that may block thrombin, an enzyme that causes blood clotting.

However, more research is necessary to see if ginkgo affects blood clotting in the human body.

How to use:

The extract of Gingko biloba leaves is available in supplements as tablets or capsules, but check first with a doctor.

Some evidence suggests that grape seed extract may benefit people with various heart and blood conditions, including high blood pressure.

One test tube study also found evidence that grape seed extract can stop platelets sticking together. The authors concluded that grape seed extract may help prevent blood clots, but research in humans is needed.

How to use:

Grape seed extract is available as liquid, capsules, or tablets, but it is essential to check with a doctor before using it.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health suggests avoiding grape seed extract if a person:

  • has a blood disorder
  • takes blood-thinning medications
  • is about to have surgery

Dong quai, also known as “female ginseng,” is another traditional Chinese herb that may reduce blood clotting.

This may be because dong quai contains coumarin, also present in cinnamon.

However, a small 2015 study found that taking 1,000 milligrams (mg) of dong quai daily did not significantly affect blood clotting. More research is needed.

How to use:

Feverfew is a medicinal herb that comes from the same family as daisies, or the Asteraceae family.

According to one case report, one person who was taking very high doses of feverfew (800 mg, three times daily) experienced vaginal bleeding and a longer menstrual cycle.

After stopping feverfew, their blood coagulation returned to normal. The authors cautioned against taking feverfew before surgery or with blood-thinning drugs.

More research is needed to confirm the effects of feverfew on blood clotting.

How to use:

  • by steeping the flowers and leaves in hot water to make a tea
  • in savory pastries for a slightly bitter taste
  • as supplements in capsule or liquid form if a doctor advises

Typical doses are 100–300 mg per day.

Bromelain is an enzyme present in pineapples. It may have anti-inflammatory properties and it might help manage cardiovascular diseases.

A 2016 laboratory study found that bromelain added to blood samples increased the time the blood took to clot. However, injecting bromelain into a small number of mice did not show this effect, and more research is needed.

How to consume:

Bromelain is present in pineapple or as a supplement, if a doctor advises.

Like ginger and cayenne pepper, aloe contains salicylates, which may have blood-thinning effects.

One 2020 laboratory study found that adding aloe vera gel to blood produced an antiplatelet effect similar to aspirin. However, more research is needed on aloe as a dietary supplement in humans.

How to take:

  • as a gel, mashed into avocado, banana, and other foods
  • as a juice either alone or combined with other juices or smoothies
  • as a capsule or other supplement form if a doctor advises

Because of its potential effects on bleeding, people should stop taking aloe at least 2 weeks before having surgery.

Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) oil may reduce blood clotting.

A 2020 case study reported that one person’s thrombocytopenia — a low number of platelets in the blood — likely worsened due to the use of black seed oil and evening primrose oil.

Rodent research has also indicated that taking evening primrose oil may help prevent drug-induced thrombosis, a dangerous condition in which blood clots form within blood vessels when using certain medications.

However, more research is needed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of evening primrose oil in humans.

How to take:

Evening primrose oil is available as capsules if a doctor advises.

The body produces the hormone melatonin to regulate circadian rhythms, also known as the body clock.

One 2020 research review indicates that melatonin may also block the clumping of platelets to form clots.

Another study found that melatonin inhibited platelet activation, a process that leads to clots.

How to take:

Melatonin is available as a supplement, but check first with a doctor as it may interact with other medications and have other adverse effects.

Taken alongside warfarin (Coumadin), for instance, it may increase the risk of bleeding.

Here are some questions people often ask about natural blood thinners, or anticoagulants.

How can I thin my blood naturally?

Some substances in food and supplements — such as ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon — may help prevent blood clots from forming. However, natural remedies are not a substitute for prescription medication and may not be safe for some people.

How can I thin my blood clots at home?

It is not possible to dissolve a blood clot with natural remedies, nor can natural remedies effectively treat or lower the risk of blood clots in those at risk. Anyone with a blood clot or a risk of a blood clot needs prompt medical attention.

What foods can act as blood thinners?

Some foods and spices, such as cinnamon, cayenne pepper, garlic, ginger, and pineapple may contain substances that have anticoagulant properties.

Is vitamin D a blood thinner?

Some research suggests vitamin D may affect how a person’s body reacts to warfarin, an anticoagulant drug, and there may be a link between low vitamin D levels and various cardiovascular diseases. However, there is not enough evidence to show that taking vitamin D can help prevent blood clots.

Some natural substances in foods and supplements may help reduce the risk of clotting, but they are unlikely to be as effective as prescription medication, and they will not “bust” or dissolve a blood clot.

Natural remedies for blood clotting are not a substitute prescription medications. It is essential to speak with a doctor before taking them to ensure they are safe to use and will not interact with existing drugs.

Moreover, government authorities do not monitor herbs and supplements as closely as food and drugs. People should research different brands carefully before buying to ensure that the products are of high quality.

Read this article in Spanish.