Your body has a way of protecting you from bleeding. Most of the time your blood’s ability to clot is a good thing. There are times when blood clots can be dangerous.

If you have certain conditions such as an irregular heart rhythm or a congenital heart defect, or if you’ve had certain procedures such as heart valve surgery, your doctor may prescribe a blood thinner.

These conditions and heart valve replacement surgery increase the chance of developing life-threatening blood clots that may cause a heart attack or stroke. Blood thinners lower your risk for heart attack and stroke by decreasing the chance that blood clots form.

There are also some ingredients found in nature that some believe help reduce the risk of clotting. However, they haven’t been tested and compared against prescription blood thinners.

You may want to talk to your doctor about the following natural remedies that have been reported to help thin the blood.

Never take these natural remedies instead of or with your prescription blood thinning medication without first talking to your doctor.

Read more for additional information on some natural blood thinners.

Turmeric is a spice that gives curry dishes a yellow color, and it’s long been used as a folk medicine. According to a 2012 study, one of its main active ingredients, curcumin, acts as an anticoagulant.

It works to inhibit coagulation cascade components, or clotting factors, to prevent clots from forming.

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Ginger is in the same family as turmeric and contains salicylate, a natural chemical found in many plants. Salicylates are found in plants. They are derived from salicylic acid.

Acetylsalicylic acid, synthetically derived from salicylate and usually called aspirin, can help prevent stroke and heart attack.

Foods with salicylate, such as avocados, some berries, chilies, and cherries, may also keep blood from clotting. More studies are needed to see if they’re as effective as prescription medicines.

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Cinnamon and its close cousin, cassia, are both widely available and contain coumarin, a chemical that, in certain drugs, acts as a powerful anticoagulant.

Cinnamon and cassia may also lower blood pressure and relieve inflammation caused by arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. However, studies done in humans don’t provide evidence cinnamon is of use for any health-related condition.

Use caution when using cinnamon as a blood thinner. A 2012 risk assessment showed long-term cinnamon consumption in foods, including cinnamon-based breads and teas, can cause liver damage.

Cayenne peppers can have a powerful blood-thinning effect on your body because of their high levels of salicylates. They can be taken in capsule form or easily ground up as a spice for food.

Cayenne peppers can also lower your blood pressure and increase circulation.

Shop for cayenne peppers.

If you have cardiovascular, or heart and blood vessel, disease, or if you want to help prevent it, your doctor may recommend a heart-healthy diet.

A heart-healthy diet includes fresh fruits and vegetables, 100 percent whole grains, healthy oils, low- or no-fat milk products, and healthy proteins.

A heart healthy diet limits high-fat, high-cholesterol, and high-sugar foods. This best diet for your overall health.

If you do take Coumadin (warfarin), it’s very important to eat about the same amount of vitamin K-containing foods every day.

Too much vitamin K in your diet may lessen the effectiveness of Coumadin. Green leafy vegetables, such lettuce and spinach, and other vegetables such as broccoli and brussels sprouts are high in vitamin K.

There are many natural remedies to reduce blood clotting. It’s important you don’t them instead of or with your prescription blood thinner and other medications without first talking to your doctor.

Natural products and some foods can interfere with your prescription medication. They may make your blood too thin, which increases your chance of bleeding. Natural remedies may also decrease the effectiveness of your prescription medication, increasing the chance of clot formation.

Always speak to your doctor before starting any medications, home remedies, or treatments that could have an effect on your health.

Q:

I add a sprinkle of cinnamon to my coffee every day. Should I be concerned?

A:

If it is just a small sprinkle of cinnamon for light flavoring, this will likely be of no major concern. It is larger doses over time that would likely have the most potential to lead to health problems, which one would want to avoid. Moderation is best with most things, and same goes for this particular spice.

Dr. Mark LaFlammeAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.