Sometimes there could a reduction in blood supply to the brain due to a blood vessel or heart disease. This could increase the risk of a stroke or heart attack since the poor blood supply can lead to blood clots in the veins or arteries. Blood thinners may then be prescribed by a doctor to reduce the formation of such clots and therefore reduce the risk of a stroke or heart attack. Blood thinners are also prescribed before a person requires a heart valve surgery or for people suffering from abnormal heart rhythm or congenital heart defects.
There are two types of blood thinners. Anti-platelet drugs prevent aggregation of blood platelets in the blood cells which could cause clots. Aspirin is a type of anti-platelet drug. The other type of blood thinners are anticoagulants that can increase the time that it takes a clot to form by working on chemical reactions. Warfarin or Coumadin comes under this category. Anyone who needs to take a blood thinner must inform their doctor about all the supplements and medicines they are taking for there could be adverse reactions.
Cinnamon interaction with Blood Thinners
Cinnamon is got from the dried bark of the Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) or Cinnamomum cassia (Chinese cinnamon) tree. Cinnamon contains chemical compounds like cinnamaldehyde, which is also used as an essential oil and eugenol. Cinnamon has been used for centuries in traditional medicine. It is gaining popularity in recent times in treating various health problems like diabetes, arthritis, lowering cholesterol, stomach problems, various skin ailments and more.
Cassia cinnamon contains high levels (0.45%0 of natural chemicals called coumarin – a phytochemical. Ceylon cinnamon contains trace amounts of coumarin. Coumarin has anti-tumor, anti-fungicidal and blood thinning properties. It increases the flow of blood to our veins and reduces capillary permeability. Taken in high doses, coumarin could be toxic. When taking anti-coagulants, we must avoid any products with coumarin. This interacts with blood thinners – especially warfarin (Coumadin) and increases the risk of bleeding.
According to studies conducted on the effects of coumarin in cinnamon and blood thinners like warfarin, it was found that our daily intake of cassia cinnamon must not exceed 0.1mg / kg body weight. However, regular intake of cassia cinnamon could exceed these levels very easily.
The main concern is that we do not know the type of cinnamon we purchase in the market – especially powdered cinnamon. When 47 market samples in Germany were studied it was found there were large amounts of Cassia cinnamon. During the same study, cinnamon bark samples were studied from 5 Cassia cinnamon trees from Indonesia. It was found that there was significant variation in coumarin content in bark samples from one tree while in two other trees, there was no coumarin content at all.
Since cassia cinnamon contains high levels of coumarin, those taking blood thinners must be very careful. Unfortunately when you buy cassia cinnamon, usually the labels do not indicate how much coumarin it contains. High coumarin content in cassia cinnamon could worsen liver disease. Cinnamon taken with Coumadin can also cause nausea, bruising, indigestion, dizziness and more.
Anyone with severe kidney disease, gastrointestinal bleeding, blood cell disorder or severe heart disease must be careful when combining anticoagulant drugs like warfarin (Coumadin) for it increases the risk of uncontrolled bleeding. When your health care provider prescribes warfarin for you, you must indicate to them all medications, foods and supplements you take. Your doctor may recommend changes in your prescription and over-the-counter medications and general lifestyle changes.
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