Today aspirin is no longer used as widely for pain and fever, as more people now reach for acetomenophin (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). But in the 1990s, aspirin found a new use as a preventative treatment for heart attack and stroke prevention. But because of the risks associated with even low-dose aspirin, today this preventative measure is only recommended in certain scenarios when directed by a physician . Fortunately, several natural substances confer similar, and sometimes superior protective effects without the risks associated with aspirin!
Risks of aspirin use
Even relatively short-term daily use of aspirin has been demonstrated to result in negative side effects. One 2009 study administered either low-dose aspirin or a placebo daily for 14 days to a group of healthy volunteers and found that 80% of the aspirin group developed small bowel pathology, compared to 20% in the control. The authors specify that the difference between the two groups was not significant but conclude that low-dose aspirin was associated with mild inflammation of the small intestine .
Natural alternatives to aspirin
Fortunately, several natural alternatives are readily available that provide comparable, and in some cases superior cardiovascular protection, without the risks associated with aspirin. Most of these substances work by reducing platelet aggregation, or the clumping together of platelets in blood to form a blood clot.
Platelet aggregation can lead to stroke, infarction, or other cardiovascular event and is of particular concern in individuals with atherosclerosis. When atherosclerotic plaque narrows blood vessels, platelet aggregation becomes a larger concern, as narrow blood vessels can more easily become blocked by aggregated platelets.
In the following sections we will present research about specific natural substances that have been demonstrated to reduce risk of cardiovascular events by reducing platelet aggregation and supporting the vascular endothelium.
Pycnogenol is a standardized extract of maritime French pine bark that has antioxidative and antiinflammatory effects. It is high in phenolic acids, catechin and taxifolin . It is hard to spell but quite effective at reducing cardiovascular risk factors.