10 Natural Blood Thinners Backed by Research

Medically Reviewed By Dominique Fontaine, BSN, RN, HNB-BC, HWNC-BC

Some herbs, foods, and supplements can have blood-thinning effects. Examples include melatonin, curcumin, and garlic. While they may help some cardiovascular conditions, always talk with your doctor before relying on natural blood thinners. Some conditions and factors may make a person’s blood more prone to clotting. These can include atrial fibrillation, extensive rest after recent surgery, and thrombophilia.

Having blood that may clot more easily can increase the risk of further cardiovascular diseases (CVD), such as stroke.

Medications and clinical treatments can help improve your cardiovascular health. In addition to these, your doctor may also recommend natural blood thinners. However, always check with your doctor before using these remedies.

This article discusses natural blood thinners supported by research as well as safety precautions and concerns.

1. Garlic

A close-up of someone chopping fresh garlic on their countertop.
Photography by Alex Potemkin/Getty Images

Garlic contains many medicinal properties.

For example, a 2020 literature review Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source suggests that garlic may reduce blood clotting by modifying platelet function. Platelets are blood cells in the bone marrow that help the blood to clot.

The review also suggests that Kyolic garlic may have potential benefits for cardiovascular health, including:

  • reducing blood pressure
  • reducing stiffness of the arteries
  • reducing elevated cholesterol levels 
  • reducing blood stickiness
  • promoting the growth of healthy microorganisms in the digestive tract

However, more research is needed to confirm the effects of garlic on clot formation and heart health.

See more health benefits of garlic.

2. Curcumin

Curcumin is a substance found in turmeric, a flowering plant belonging to the ginger family.

A 2017 review Trusted Source Wiley Peer reviewed journal Go to source suggests that curcumin may have anticlotting and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help protect the heart. This is because high levels of inflammation in the body can contribute Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source to the development and worsening of CVD. As a result, lowering inflammation may benefit cardiovascular health.

The review adds that curcumin may also promote fibrinolysis — a process that prevents blood clots from growing larger.

A more recent, 2022 review suggests that curcumin can help prevent atherothrombosis and thromboembolism. These conditions occur when a blood clot within an artery becomes dislodged, blocking blood flow somewhere else in the blood vessels.

More research is necessary before relying on natural supplements

Using natural approaches can be important for improving cardiovascular health.

However, further research is necessary to confirm the safety and effectiveness of many of these potential natural blood thinners.

Some current studies only show clear results in animals or human cells, but not in people. Also, in many cases, natural approaches aren’t a replacement for medical care.

In addition, even natural substances and foods can carry a risk of side effects. This is especially true when using them alongside other supplements, medications, or with underlying health conditions.

Talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian about ways to support your cardiovascular health naturally.

3. Ginger

A 2021 review Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source suggests ginger may provide cardioprotective as well as anti-platelet effects. As platelets help the blood to clot, these effects may make ginger a natural blood thinner.

Ginger may also inhibit Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source platelet aggregation. This is the process whereby platelets stick together to form clots around injured parts of the blood vessels. However, this effect only occurred with relatively high doses of ginger. As a result, researchers suggest using caution when taking ginger for CVD.

Read more about the potential benefits of ginger.

4. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant present in nuts, seeds, and other plant-based food sources. Antioxidants may benefit cardiovascular health as they help protect Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source cells from damage and reduce inflammation.

A 2022 review Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source suggests that vitamin E may have anticlotting effects. These include helping to prevent platelets from attaching and forming clots.

The study also suggests that vitamin E may help improve cardiovascular health by:

  • protecting the arteries from atherosclerosis, whereby cholesterol and other debris blocks the blood vessels
  • helping keep blood cholesterol levels in a healthy range 
  • increasing the breakdown of fats
  • regulating muscle contractions of the blood vessels
  • reducing the risk of high blood pressure

5. Cinnamon

A 2016 review Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source suggests that certain components of cinnamon may promote blood thinning by reducing platelet aggregation. Reviewers added that cinnamon may also act as an agent to prevent or counteract atherosclerosis.

A review from 2021 Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source indicates that cinnamon has antioxidant properties and may reduce blood sugar levels. As a result, it may help protect the blood vessels against damage.

6. Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba is a herbal supplement that comes from the ginkgo tree.

According to a 2019 study, ginkgo biloba extract may decrease blood clot formation and improve circulation.

A 2022 study Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source also indicates that certain properties of ginkgo biloba may benefit heart health, including:

  • antioxidant properties
  • antiplatelet properties
  • anti-inflammatory properties
  • properties that help prevent high blood pressure

7. Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone the body produces naturally to coordinate sleep.

A 2020 study Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source looked at the effects of melatonin on diabetes and CVD. It suggests that melatonin supplements may help prevent blood clotting by preventing platelet aggregation.

Read more about the recommended doses, safety, and risks of melatonin.

8. Grape seed extract

Grape seed extract is made from dried and pulverized grape seeds. 

A 2019 review Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source suggests that grape seed extract may act as a natural blood thinner  due to its anticlotting and antiplatelet properties. The review also suggests that grape seed extract may offer cardioprotective effects.

Other studies Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source indicate that grape seed extract can have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on the body.

9. Bromelain

Bromelain is a group of enzymes found in pineapple.

One 2021 review Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source implies that bromelain may promote blood thinning by preventing the production of blood-clotting proteins. The review also suggests that bromelain may help blood clots disintegrate and reduce red blood cell clumping.

Another review Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source suggests that bromelain may help dissolve plaque in the arteries, which may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.

10. Aloe vera

Aloe is a plant species that provides several health benefits.

A 2016 review Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source suggests that aloe vera may impair the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormones that promote clot formation. This action may encourage blood thinning.

However, the review also examined the safety of aloe vera when used for clinical treatments. Reviewers note that aloe vera supplementation can lead to toxicity and other serious side effects.

Other possible blood thinners 

Other herbs and supplements that may promote blood thinning include Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source :

  • evening primrose
  • dong quai
  • feverfew

However, more data is needed to confirm the benefits and safety of using these substances as natural blood thinners.

Possible side effects of natural blood thinners

In general, natural blood thinners may not lead to serious side effects.

However, inappropriate or high-level use may cause Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source negative effects. These can include making the blood too thin or over-impairing the body’s ability to form blood clots. 

Using supplements with high doses or natural blood thinners alongside medication may increase the risk of negative side effects.

Side effects of thin blood may include:

Always talk with your doctor before incorporating natural blood thinners into your healthcare routine.

Summary

Research suggests that many foods, herbs, and supplements may naturally inhibit blood clotting. This may make them effective natural blood thinners, which can help reduce CVD risk. Examples include grape seed extract, melatonin, and ginkgo biloba.

However, as with all supplements and substances, high doses or inappropriate use may cause negative side effects.

Always talk with a doctor or registered dietitian before starting a new supplement or consuming any ingredient at high doses.

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Medical Reviewer: Dominique Fontaine, BSN, RN, HNB-BC, HWNC-BC
Last Review Date: 2023 Aug 8
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