Can You Take 'Relief Factor' Supplements With Blood Thinners?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses the safety concerns of combining the supplement 'Relief Factor' with blood thinners.

Question

My dad is currently on blood thinners for Afib. He is in excruciating pain from inflammation (hips, shoulder, back, leg, neck). Can he take Relief Factor since he is on blood thinners? Is there some sort of interaction between these two things? I know he can't take regular anti-inflammatory meds like ibuprofen....but, would 'Relief Factor' be an option?

Asked by ddmn On Sep 02, 2022

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By HelloPharmacist Staff

Published Sep 02, 2022
Last updated Sep 02, 2022

Key points

  • The dietary supplement 'Relief Factor' contains turmeric (curcumin), which studies show may have blood thinning effects.
  • Some studies show that turmeric-containing supplements can increase the risk of bleeding if taken with blood thinners (i.e. anticoagulants and antiplatelets).
  • Turmeric supplements should only be used with blood thinners if recommended by your doctor and while under medical supervision.
  • 'Relief Factor' also contains epimedium, another name for horny goat weed. It too may have blood thinning effects.

Answer

Thanks so much for reaching out to us!

You don't mention in your question which blood thinner your father is taking, but the answer is still the same. In general, dietary supplements containing turmeric or curcumin (the active constituent of turmeric) should not be used if you are taking a blood thinner. The supplement 'Relief Factor' contains turmeric, as shown in the supplement facts label.

'Relief Factor' Supplement Facts Label Shows It Contains Turmeric

Relief Factor Dietary Supplement Facts

What Do The Studies Say About Turmeric And Blood Thinners?

Although more data is needed to fully understand how turmeric works, a number of studies have shown that curcumin, a constituent of turmeric, has antiplatelet effects (i.e. blood thinning effects). Due to this, it should not be used with other drugs that thin the blood as this could increase the risk of dangerous bleeding, like gastrointestinal bleeding. Blood thinners include:

  • Eliquis
  • Coumadin (Warfarin)
  • Plavix (Clopidogrel)
  • Pradaxa
  • Xarelto
  • Aggrenox

I couldn't find studies that have evaluated turmeric with all of the above blood thinners, so this interaction is theoretical to some degree. However, there have been several studies that show turmeric given along with warfarin can result in an increased INR (which indicates longer blood coagulation times).

It is important to note that not all studies show turmeric/curcumin thins the blood. One such study tested a patented form of curcumin (Meriva) and found that it had no impact on bleeding times in individuals after 10 days of use.

It's clear that more large-scale studies are needed, but, to be safe, it would be prudent to not take turmeric supplements if you are also on a blood thinner unless directed by your doctor. At the very least, you should be under medical supervision if you do combine turmeric with blood thinners.

Other Ingredients In 'Relief Factor' May Be A Concern As Well

'Relief Factor' also contains epimedium, which is another name for 'horny goat weed', a very commonly used ingredient in dietary supplements.

Horny goat weed, like turmeric, has been linked to having blood thinning effects and generally should not be used with blood thinners due to the increased risk of bleeding.

Alternative Pain Relief Options

You're right that NSAIDs, like Advil and Aleve, generally shouldn't be used with blood thinners either. Tylenol (acetaminophen) is typically a better choice as it doesn't thin the blood. Other options include a variety of topical pain relievers and there are some prescription drugs could be used as well, but it's tough to give a specific recommendation without having a complete medical profile as your doctor does.

Final Words

Thanks again for reaching out! Please feel free to write us again if anything else comes up.

References

  • Relief Factor Website, Relief Factor
  • Anticoagulant activities of curcumin and its derivative, PubMed
  • Curcumin, hemostasis, thrombosis, and coagulation, PubMed
  • Interaction study between antiplatelet agents, anticoagulants, thyroid replacement therapy and a bioavailable formulation of curcumin (Meriva┬«), PubMed
  • Turmeric and Its Major Compound Curcumin on Health: Bioactive Effects and Safety Profiles for Food, Pharmaceutical, Biotechnological and Medicinal Applications, PubMed
  • Antiplatelet and Antithrombotic Effects of Epimedium koreanum Nakai, PubMed

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Dr. Brian has been practicing pharmacy for over 13 years and has wide-ranging experiences in many different areas of the profession. From retail, clinical, program development, and administrative responsibilities, he's your knowledgeable and go-to source for all your pharmacy and medication-related questions! Dr. Brian Staiger also has herbalist training and educational certificates in the field of medical ethnobotany. Feel free to send him an email at Hello@HelloPharmacist.com! You can also connect with Dr. Brian Staiger on LinkedIn.

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