Is Alcohol a Blood Thinner?

Alcohol as Blood Thinner

Blood viscosity refers to the measurement of the resistance of flow and relates to both the thickness and the stickiness of blood. It is determined by many factors including hematocrit, plasma viscosity and various determining characteristics of red blood cells. Blood viscosity can vary depending on many things including even race, with Caucasians being particularly susceptible to thickening of the blood.

Thick blood is problematic for many reasons. It reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients being circulated throughout the body and reduces the ability of the body to flush out waste as effectively. There are many things that can contribute to the formation of thick blood including smoking. But, while this particular bad habit may contribute to blood becoming thicker, another one may have the opposite effect, which leads many to ask is alcohol a blood thinner?

Many of the foods that are part of everyday diets can contribute to thinning the blood, and these natural blood thinners can provide a heart healthy boost to those struggling with a higher than normal level of thick and stick within the body’s circulatory system. Thanks to compounds called salicylates (which are natural vitamin K blockers) raisins, cherries and blueberries are all considered foods that thin blood. And, the benefits of grapes are the same, with naturally occurring amounts of the blood thinning salicylates being found within. But, the fruit family isn’t the only group of foods that thin blood naturally, and herring and anchovies along with other fishes high in omega 3’s are also considered to be great choices for blood thinning foods (and, their cholesterol lowering effects aren’t half bad either). But, what about alcohol? Is alcohol a blood thinner?

Recent studies have shown that the occasional adult libation may in fact be able to thin out the blood. In these studies, alcohol intake was linked to reduced platelet aggregation (the clumping together of platelets) as well as reduced stickiness in the blood. The average amount of intake that produced the positive findings was between three and six drinks daily for both males and females. Alcohol type didn’t seem to play a role. Beer was as successful in producing the thinned blood as wine was, with both proving equally effective. But, is alcohol a blood thinner that can reduce the risk of complications that occur from thickened blood? The study suggests that it can, with moderate drinkers statistically being at a reduced risk from heart attacks.

There are some obvious downsides however to leaning on booze alone to reduce heart attack risk and thin the blood. Regular drinking can have incredibly detrimental effects on the body, including irreversible damage to the liver. Other organs and systems can be equally adversely affected, and while there is some benefit to alcohol consumption, the risks of same may prove to be even more weighted. Strokes, high blood pressure and obesity can also be attributed to excess alcohol intake and therefore even the benefits potentially obtained from it can lead to long term health problems or a higher risk of them. So, is alcohol a blood thinner without risk? Absolutely not. And, the long term problems caused from the regular and excess consumption of it can be incredibly hazardous to health.

Some people choose alternative healing options in order to avoid side effects or to treat ailments more naturally. However, those with thick blood that are at increased risk for complications like strokes and heart attacks (especially when compounding risk factors are present) should always seek the care of a physician for treatment instead of wondering is alcohol a blood thinner that is effective enough to treat the condition. While blood thinner medications can have side effects that are undesirable, they are often necessary to treat and manage conditions that require them. And, although blood thinners side effects may sometimes seem worrisome, they are only prescribed when the benefit to the patient outweighs the risk of side effects, as are all medications. And, it is absolutely essential that they be taken as instructed in order to reduce the risk of serious complications.

So, is alcohol a blood thinner? Yes, it does thin the blood and can be beneficial in moderate and reasonable amounts to those with thick blood. But, it shouldn’t be considered a treatment for same. The long term damage that can be done to the body by excessive drinking can be irreversible and cause lifelong distress. In addition, it can lead to alcoholism which can cause additional anguish in the form of substance dependency. It should be enjoyed occasionally and in moderation only and never as a form of medical treatment for what can often be a very serious condition or the onset of one.

References:

http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20051013/alcohol-help-hearts
http://naturopathconnect.com/articles/thick-blood-causes/

 

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