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Don't Combine Cranberries with Coumadin

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Q. I am having trouble leveling out my Coumadin. Many foods are not included on the list the dietitian gave me. Cranberries are a puzzle, for instance. The nurse says eat them; the doctor says don’t. Can I eat cranberries or not?

A. Trying to maintain a steady anticoagulant effect from Coumadin (warfarin) can be a little like walking a tightrope. Too much medicine can lead to bleeding, while too little may permit blood clots to form. Coumadin interacts with many foods.

Several cases in Great Britain led the health authorities there to warn against combining cranberries or cranberry juice with the anticoagulant Coumadin (warfarin). Some people who had been on a stable dose of Coumadin had serious bleeding problems after drinking cranberry juice or eating cranberries.

Australian scientists have reported that cranberry significantly increases warfarin’s anticoagulant effect (British Journal of Pharmacology, Aug. 2008). We suggest you follow your doctor’s recommendation and avoid cranberries and cranberry juice while you are taking Coumadin.

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I'm on coumadin for life (I had an almost fatal pulmonary embolism 7 yrs. ago). This is the first time I've ever heard of any interaction of cranberries vs. coumadin. I know that too much of anything is not good but I'd imagine it would be OK to have some cranberry products while on anticoagulants. Unless a person is on a high dose of warfarin (coumadin) for current treatment of heart or circulatory conditions, I believe that the healing and health benefits of cranberries would outweigh the risks of a serious drug interaction with blood thinners. I know there are other foods that one should monitor or avoid - like anything with a high amount of vitamin K, which decreases the effectiveness of anticoagulants. May the "experts" correct me if I am wrong! My advice - check with your personal physician, pharmacist or anticoagulation therapist, to find out what is good for you as a patient.

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: THE CRANBERRY INTERACTION WAS REPORTED IN ENGLAND A FEW YEARS AGO. WE CERTAINLY ENDORSE CHECKING WITH YOUR OWN HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS BEFORE CHANGING YOUR DIET IF YOU ARE ON COUMADIN!

Ginger will also thin your blood if you're on coumadin.
Call Bristol-Meyers Squibb
1-800-321-1335 for a booklet
& written information.

My Mother in Law is on Coumadin for blood clots. What other foods does she need to stay away from?

My mom is also on Counadin for blood clots recently. She almost died Jan. 3rd due to a pe near her heart. She's doing good now! I would also like to know what food she should stay away from. Can you tell us? The Dr. didn't mention any but cranberries. Thank you.

I was put on warfarin last spring after having a blood clot in my leg. I was taken off last fall, after discussing the pros and cons with my doctor. While I was taking warfarin, I was given a long list of foods to avoid (cranberries, spinach, broccoli, asparagus... all the stuff I like!). My question is: How do these foods affect blood thinning/clotting when one is NOT taking warfarin? I know that cranberries are a natural blood thinner... do those other foods thin the blood as well, or do they increase clotting risk, or do they only pose a problem in conjunction with warfarin?

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: THEY SEEM TO HAVE A SIGNIFICANT EFFECT ONLY IN COMBINATION WITH WARFARIN. A RECENT REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH (AMERICAN JOURNAL OF MEDICINE, MAY 2010) CONCLUDED THAT CRANBERRIES DO NOT INTERACT WITH WARFARIN, HOWEVER.

I too am on Warfarin for life following a pulmonary PE in 2007. The instructions in the box of Warfarin tablets warns to stay away from cranberries and cranberry juice, but I have also been told to avoid eating too much of foods with a high iron content, such as spinach, broccoli, lettuce (I was surprised at that one) and liver. There were also some others that I can't remember now.

Unfortunately, many other medicines interact with Warfarin, such as Omeprazole, which I have to take for damage to my oesophagus by acid reflux. Others such as aspirin and ibuprofen also interact and may cause severe bleeding if taken at the same time as warfarin. Many antioxidants also interact with Warfarin causing various problems of instability of the INR level.

I've been on warfarin for 10 yrs and was told that spinach and other dark green colored vegetables will thicken the blood more than iceberg lettuce, and other lighter green colored vegetables. I love cranberries and missed them but was glad to read that they lifted the ban on cranberries and warfarin.

We'll see when I go for my INR check.
I seem to be one of these people that have trouble staying within range careful as I am with my food and medications.

Excedrin migraine is a product that is hard to beat. I can take Tylenol and aspirin in low doses (like 1/2 the dose) and just alter my green intake by eating a little more green that eve. Hope this helps someone out there!

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