Purpose: Herbs with "blood-activating" properties by traditional medicine theory often raise concerns for their possible anti-platelet or anticoagulation effects based on reports from in vitro studies. Such herbs have been implicated for bleeding manifestations based on only anecdotal reports. In particular, the combination of such herbs with anti-platelet agents is often empirically advised against despite lack of good clinical evidence. Here we studied 3 commonly used herbal preparations Curcuma longa, Angelica sinensis and Panax ginseng on their respective anti-platelet and anticoagulation effect, alone and in combination with aspirin.
Study design: This is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 25 healthy volunteers for each herbal preparation.
Methods: Each subject underwent 3 phases comprising of herbal product alone, aspirin alone and aspirin with herbal product, where each phase lasted for 3 weeks with 2 weeks of washout between phases. PT/APTT, platelet function by light transmission aggregometry and thrombin generation assay by calibrated automated thrombogram were measured at baseline and after each phase. Information on adverse reaction including bleeding manifestations was collected after each phase.
Results: On the whole there was no clinically relevant impact on platelet and coagulation function. With the exception of 5 of 24 subjects in the Curcuma longa group, 2 of 24 subjects in the Angelica sinensis group and 1 of 23 subjects in the Panax ginseng group who had an inhibition in arachidonic-acid induced platelet aggregation, there was no effect of these 3 herbals products on platelet aggregation by other agonists. Combination of these herbal products with aspirin respectively did not further aggravate platelet inhibition caused by aspirin. None of the herbs impaired PT/APTT or thrombin generation. There was no significant bleeding manifestation.
Conclusions: This study on healthy volunteers provides good evidence on the lack of bleeding risks of Curcuma longa, Angelica sinensis and Panax ginseng either used alone or in combination with aspirin.
Keywords: Anti-haemostatic effect; Aspirin; Herbal products; Platelet function; Randomized controlled trial; Thrombin generation.
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