Bleeding disorders and natural/herbal medicines

Supplements that may put you at higher risk of bleeding

  • Angelica
  • Aniseed
  • Black cohosh
  • Bromelain
  • Butcher’s broom root
  • Cat’s claw
  • Chamomile*
  • Curcuma/turmeric
  • Fenugreek
  • Feverfew
  • Fish oil
  • Ganoderma
  • Garlic*
  • Ginger*
  • Horse chestnut
  • Licorice*
  • Omega 3*
  • Pau D'Arco
  • Red clover
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Vitamin E
  • Willow
  • Wintergreen
  • Zinc

*These are safe to eat and drink as food. They can be dangerous if they are concentrated and taken in a supplement, such as a tablet or liquid.

Essential oils

Essential oils have natural chemicals that give plants their odor and flavor. They are often used in aroma therapy to help cope with pain and anxiety. They can also be used by putting them on your skin or taking them by mouth.

Essential oils that are taken by mouth, inhaled, or put on skin are dietary supplements.Wintergreen often has methyl salicylate which affects vitamin K and bleeding.

Dietary supplements

Herbal medicines and natural products are meant to add to your diet, and are sometimes called dietary supplements.

Some products are 

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Herbs 
  • Botanicals 
  • Amino acids
  • Enzymes 
  • Organ tissues 
  • Other animal products

Regulation

Dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA does not test them for safety and effectiveness before they are on the market. They cannot claim to treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure diseases. There is no guarantee they will be safe or effective for you.

There are organizations, not linked to the manufacturer, that test products to show they:

  • Have the amount of ingredient stated on the label
  • Are not contaminated with a dangerous substance, such as lead or bacteria

The manufacturer pays to have their supplements tested and certified. These seals do not mean a product works or that each batch is tested. The seal only shows the product has the active ingredient.

Look for these seals from: USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia), NSF International, and ConsumerLab.com.

Safety

The word natural does not always mean safe. Supplements can have side effects, and affect diseases and other medicines.

Bleeding disorders

If you have hemophilia, von Willebrand Disease, or other bleeding disorders, some dietary supplements can make bleeding worse. Many of them affect clotting. Talk with your health care team before starting any dietary supplement.

For example, garlic supplements can stop platelets from sticking and forming a clot . This leads to longer bleeding time, and more bleeding after surgery.

Tell your doctor

Tell your bleeding disorder doctor about all the medicines and dietary supplements you take. They need to know the brand name and all active ingredients in them. Many products have more than one ingredient or may have unknown ingredients, such as a proprietary blend. So, take the bottle or a picture of the Supplement Facts panel with you.

Last reviewed: 
November 2018

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