Can Benadryl prevent deadly blood clots in your legs?

Volume 7    |    Issue 68

If you're reading this on Saturday morning, August 19, I'm sitting in a medical conference hosted by my friend and colleague Frank Shallenberger, MD. I hope to gain some pearls of wisdom to share with you in the coming weeks. The conference is in Las Vegas, and the flight out here reminded me of a very common problem that long plane flights can cause. It's called DVT.

DVT or deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that develops within a deep vein in the body. The most common place for these clots to occur – especially on long flights – is in the leg. It causes swelling, aching, and difficulty walking. Worse, the clot can break off and lodge in the lungs where it can cause a pulmonary embolism. And about 30% of these cause sudden death. So DVT is serious business.

Most doctors treat DVT by prescribing the blood thinners heparin or warfarin. These drugs carry a significant risk of bleeding, so they're not something you want to take unless you absolutely have to take them. Fortunately, most people can avoid DVT. But not by taking what a new study suggests they should take.

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In this study, the researchers found that they could “turn off” a certain gene that produces mast cells. And when they turned off these genes, the mast-cell deficiency protected the mice from DVT. Mast cells are responsible for releasing histamines and other chemical mediators that cause allergy symptoms. This discovery caused the researchers to look into allergy medicine as a possible preventive for DVT. But first they have to see if this model works in humans as well.

But there's no need to wait for them to see if this works for people. Some people have already decided to try allergy medicines like Benadryl when they fly. They figure it can put them to sleep and prevent the DVT. Well, it might. We don't know yet.

Those taking the two-drug combination did have lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and saw a rise in good cholesterol. However, it didn't help prevent strokes, heart attacks, or chest pain. The drug combination also caused "adverse events involving the gastrointestinal system, musculoskeletal system, skin, and increased risk of infection and bleeding."

In fact, those taking the drugs were more likely to suffer bleeding, stomach ulcers, heartburn, diarrhea, and infections than those on the placebo. But it gets worse. The authors of the study indicated that patients taking Niaspan were 9% more likely to die. And it increased their risk of diabetes by 32%. (By the way, laropiprant was so dangerous, they had to take it off the market.)

What we do know is that other natural products, such as nattokinase, can prevent these blood clots. So if you're concerned about DVT, make sure you're taking a natto product, such as Circutol. It keeps your entire cardiovascular system in great shape. And it's a great way to prevent blood clots.

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