A natural alternative to Coumadin
Question: My doctor really wants to put me on Coumadin. He says the supplements I take just aren't strong enough. If I take Coumadin, though, I have to stop taking the supplements for fear of excess bleeding, and then I'll be missing out on their other health benefits. I need help figuring out what to do.
Dr. Wright: Coumadin is one of the all-time worst "hangovers" from the "heyday" of patent medications: No matter how many alternatives there are for it, it just won't go away. It certainly thins the blood, but it does so by "poisoning and killing off" the vitamin K in your body. Over enough time, the near-total lack of vitamin K will (not "could" -- WILL) cause osteoporosis, arterial calcification, cognitive malfunction, and many, many other problems.
Unfortunately, clinical studies are expensive ventures, and unless there's a patented substance that has enormous profit potential on the other end of all that pricey research, no one is willing to fork over the money to conduct one. And since vitamins, minerals, and nutrients can't be patented, there just aren't any double-blind, placebo-controlled studies to "prove" how well they can work to replace patent medications (like Coumadin) -- without all the negative side effects associated with those patented substances.
But even without the clinical studies to "back it up," there is a very good alternative to Coumadin -- one I've been using in my practice for over 30 years with great success, and it just so happens to be the same supplement used with such great success for RA: Cod liver oil.
Cod liver and other fish oils work by making platelets (the very small element in your blood essential to the clotting process) so slippery that they can't stick together easily to form a clot.
There is a test (called the "platelet aggregation test") that can measure how well your blood is responding to all the natural anti-clotting measures you're already taking, and help you and your doctor determine exactly how much cod liver (or other fish) oil to take.
But, unfortunately, it's hard to find and expensive -- usually $200-$400 each time. That's why no one taking aspirin as a blood thinner is ever tested to see if the aspirin is actually doing its job. However, over the years, I've run many of these tests and have found that 2 to 3 tablespoonfuls of cod liver oil daily were always enough -- and not too much -- to do the job.
Remember: Whenever you take supplemental oils or essential fatty acids, always take extra vitamin E, as mixed tocopherols, to prevent the oils from oxidizing too rapidly in your body. Take 800-1,000 IU of vitamin E with 2 to 3 tablespoons of cod liver oil each day. And to minimize any gastrointestinal upset, split the cod liver oil into two or three doses. It's not very tasty stuff, so if necessary, you can blend it with rice or almond milk.
Of course, for those readers who may already be taking Coumadin, it's never wise to switch from Coumadin to cod liver oil without the advice of a physician skilled and knowledgeable in nutritional and natural medicine; to find one contact the American College for Advancement in Medicine at (800)532-3688 or visit their website, www.acam.org.
About the author
Jonathan V. Wright, M.D. has degrees from both Harvard University (cum laude) and the University of Michigan. More than any other doctor, he practically invented the modern science of applied nutritional biochemistry and he has advanced nutritional medicine for nearly three decades.
As of today, Dr. Wright has received over 35,000 patient visits at his now-famous Tahoma Clinic in Washington State.
To learn more about Dr. Wright, and to sign up for his free Health e-Tips eLetter, please visit www.wrightnewsletter.com.