There are a number of dietary and herbal methods of improving blood flow but few can actually be said to dissolve blood clots. However, the proteolytic enzyme Bromelain has been shown to do this. In doing so it also reduces blood cell clumping and improves the circulation through the blood vessels. Bromelain is found in pineapples and in many food enzyme supplements.
Some studies have been done on an enzyme called Nattokinase, a potent fibrinolytic enzyme that reduces the build up of fibrin and actively aids in the break up or dissolution of fibrin clots. It is extracted and purified from natto, which is a traditional Japanese fermented soybean food. The enzyme is produced during the natural fermentation process when the beneficial bacteria ‘bacillus natto’ acts on the boiled soybean. Some of the studies show encouraging results.
Circulatory herbs such as cayenne, garlic, onions, ginger, paprika and turmeric can help prevent platelet aggregation (i.e. clumping) which causes clots to form. These can be added to the diet or taken as supplements.
Antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, Quercetin, Zinc and Grapeseed also have this effect.
Another way to improve blood flow and to help prevent unwanted blood clotting is to use Flaxseed oil, or fish oils which contain Omega-3. Although fish oils and flaxseed oil have been shown to modify blood coagulation factors they do not generally do so at levels achieved by normal dietary intake. Flaxseed oil needs to be taken at a rate of 1-2 tbsp daily. Mix with cottage cheese, yoghurt, salad dressings, smoothies etc or pour over stir fries or porridge. Alternatively, use 8 – 9, 1000mg capsules daily. Some people like to use ground linseeds (flaxseed) as a source of Omega-3, this is fine as long as the seeds are freshly ground. About 3tbsps of ground seeds are needed to get the equivalent of 1tbsp of flaxseed oil.
Evening Primrose Oil is also thought to support circulation throughout the body and to help prevent unwanted clots.
For oily fish intake it is best to use oily fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, herrings and sardines at least 3-4 times weekly.
Other herbs that have an effect on circulation are Ginkgo Biloba, White Willow Bark, Dong Quai and Dan Shen. Studies have shown that Ginkgo Biloba, even when taken in very high doses does not cause any alteration of platelet function or coagulation, it can however improve blood flow through the capillaries. Similar studies have been done with White Willow Bark.
All these herbs and regimes should be used very carefully and under supervision if the patient is already on blood thinning drugs. Be sure to tell your GP, so that regular checks can be made on platelet aggregation.