Herbal supplements we take can interact with certain drugs. It is thus very important to know about these interactions before you start taking *any* supplements.
Warfarin is a drug taken to treat blood clots. It goes by the brand name – Coumadin and is called an anticoagulant medication or blood thinner.
Blood clots can form due to pulmonary embolus or deep vein thrombosis. Warfarin works to treat such clots and prevent further clots from forming in the body, therefore reducing the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
People who suffer from atrial fibrillation, irregular heart rhythm, have undergone surgeries for knee or hip replacement, suffered a recent heart attack or had a heart valve replacement are more at risk of developing blood clots.
Warfarin is recommended to such patients to help with the smooth flow of blood and inhibiting the production of certain clotting proteins in the blood. This drug must be prescribed by a registered medical practitioner. The dosage depends on specific medical conditions.
Always inform your doctor about other medications/health supplements you are taking. Some foods or supplements could affect the way warfarin works in the body.
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Can you take Turmeric / Curcumin with Warfarin?
Turmeric as a spice (small amounts) should be fine with warfarin, but you should avoid taking a large dosage of turmeric powder or curcumin supplements while taking warfarin.
Studies have been conducted on the possible interactions between warfarin and alternative therapies.
There is a safety concern about the possible interaction of such herbs with drugs like warfarin with a narrow therapeutic index.
The following herbs are said to increase the power of warfarin or increase bleeding – angelica root, asafetida, capsicum, turmeric, garlic, ginger, willow bark, celery, onion, parsley and more.
Most of the data available on herb-drug interactions are difficult to interpret since they are based on individual case reports, animal studies or in vitro data.
More in-depth studies are required to exactly evaluate the possible effects of herbs with warfarin.
Turmeric/curcumin and Warfarin
Curcumin is the key chemical compound in turmeric. In vitro studies have found that purified curcumin could inhibit platelet aggression. This process called coagulation is vital for blood clotting.
This increases the risk of bleeding even from minor cuts and in those taking anticoagulant medications like warfarin.
It has been suggested that anyone on warfarin must avoid a sudden increase in consumption of vitamin K rich products like green leafy vegetables, green tea, kale, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, cranberry, Brussels sprouts and some vitamin supplements.
Turmeric used as a spice in curries or other recipes will not cause excessive bleeding or interact adversely with warfarin.
Large doses of turmeric taken as health supplements are likely to have some side effects. There is no hard and fast rule about turmeric dosage but in general supplemental doses of turmeric should not exceed 12g per day.
Supplements of turmeric are available as capsules, tablets, liquid or tincture. The standard dose of curcumin powder is 400-600mg thrice daily.
For more details on turmeric dosage – read this detailed article
Always consult a doctor before taking turmeric either as a supplement or in food especially if you are on warfarin. Turmeric is usually safe when used within recommended limits by adults. Excess can cause upset stomach, nausea, and dizziness.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women, diabetic patients and those with gallbladder problems are advised to avoid turmeric supplements. Since turmeric could slow down the process of blood clotting, anyone scheduled for surgery is advised to stop these supplements two weeks before the due date.
Since turmeric has the same effect, combining both these products could cause excess bleeding or bruise. Hence, avoid turmeric supplements in such cases.