In Southeast Asia, the leaves of the bamboo (Phyllostachys pubescens) and the fruit of the Japanese apricot (Prunus mume) are traditionally used for food and medicinal purposes. A study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine has provided scientific evidence on one of these plants’ health benefits – blood clot prevention.
In the study, a team of researchers at Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon University, and Dankook University used a 2:1 mixture of bamboo leaf extracts and Japanese apricot fruit extracts to confirm its effectiveness in blood clot prevention. The research team also looked into the mixture’s potential as an herbal remedy to prevent and/or treat diseases caused by the clumping of platelets and formation of blood clots. In an earlier study, the same team explored the antiplatelet effects of bamboo leaf and Japanese apricot fruit extracts.
To start, they prepared washed platelets and induced platelet clumping by adding 5 micrograms per milliliter (μg/mL) of collagen. They used different doses of the mixture (75 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg), 150 mg/kg, and 300 mg/kg) for the ex vivo and in vivo assays to assess the solution’s anti-platelet effects; and doses 50 μg/mL, 100 μg/mL, and 200 μg/mL for in vitro assays.
They orally administered the mixture to mice for three days and collected the animals’ blood an hour after the final treatment. To assess in vivo antithrombotic effects of the mixture, they used a mouse tail thrombosis model induced by carrageenan.
Based on the results, the researchers saw that the mixture of bamboo leaf extracts and Japanese apricot fruit extracts prevented platelet clumping and blood clotting. It also increased intracellular cAMP level and decreased adenosine triphosphate (ATP), thromboxane A2, serotonin, and calcium ion. Moreover, it prevented fibrinogen binding to integrin αIIbβ3 and inhibited the activation of ERK2, p38, Phospholipase Cγ2 (PLCγ2) and Phosphoinositide 3 kinases (PI3 K).
The researchers concluded that the simple herbal mixture of bamboo leaf and Japanese apricot fruit extracts can prevent the clumping of platelets and the formation of blood clots.
The dangers of blood clotting
Blood clotting typically occurs when you get injured, like when you scrape your knees, in order to prevent losing too much blood. However, there are cases when a blood clot forms even without an injury, causing complications. A blood clot can form in any blood vessel in the body and it can go to the heart, lungs, brain, or other areas if it breaks away and travels through the blood. If this happens, serious complications, such as heart attack and stroke, may occur because the clot can disrupt the flow of blood to important organs. Other possible complications include the following:
- Pulmonary embolism – Pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot forms in a pulmonary artery within one of the lungs. In turn, this can deplete blood oxygen levels and impair the lungs, heart, and other organs.
- Kidney failure – Blood clots that occur in the kidneys can cause damage and eventually lead to kidney failure. In addition, fluids and waste can accumulate in the kidney, leading to other complications like high blood pressure.
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – This occurs when a clot forms in a deep vein in an arm or leg, causing symptoms in the site. However, it can also result in more serious complications if the clot breaks apart and travels to the lungs.
- Pregnancy complications – During pregnancy, blood clots usually form in the veins of the pelvis or lower extremities, creating a risk for pulmonary emboli and associated complications, premature labor, miscarriage, and maternal death.
Before blood clot forms, it is best to take preventive measures. You can prevent abnormal blood clot formation by maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding cigarette smoke, eating omega-3-rich foods, vitamin E-rich foods, fruits, and vegetables, and being physically active. (Related: Inactivity doubles your risk of blood clots: New study says sitting around, like when watching TV, raises risk even in those who exercise.)