There isn’t a month that goes by that a customer or patients tells us that they can’t take fish oil for their arthritis, or their blood pressure, or their (insert reason here), because they’re taking a blood thinning medication such as Coumadin, warfarin or aspirin. You see, fish oil contains long chain omega 3 fatty acids that regulate blood pressure partly by reducing the stickiness and clotting ability of blood as it flows through the body . The standard theory was that if someone combined both fish oil and prescription blood thinners that they would either bruise more easily, not heal properly, bleed indefinitely or even haemorrhage. For years fish oil supplements were strewn with theoretical warnings and medical doctors cautioned their patients about mixing a deadly combination of the two. Ultimately in these cases, the profound benefits of omega 3 oils including mood support, anti-inflammatory properties, and cardiovascular benefits are lost on those individuals who have been unjustly scared away.

     However, after decades of research there hasn’t been a shred of reputable evidence to justify these concerns. As is routinely the case, a lack of information combined with a dash of speculation left health practitioners to draw their own conclusions and fill in the gaps of missing knowledge; albeit wholly incorrectly.

It is now due to an overwhelming lack of evidence that typical dosages of fish oil and blood thinners produce statistically significant harmful interactions combined with large observational studies that such causes for concern appear to be needless. Ironically, with the help of a naturopath or nutritionist, many patients are able to achieve normal blood pressure through the use of omega 3 fatty acid supplementation alone – as suggested by a groundswell of supporting evidence.

Sadly, these myths perpetuate like silly superstition and I’m not afraid to say that despite Health Canada’s official stance that no side-effects, contraindications or adverse reactions are to be reported on fish oil labels, a number of people in the healthcare field who haven’t remained current in their continuing education are largely to blame. Furthermore, when discussing these conflicting safety issues with our customers and clients, much of our conversation is typically prefaced with “my doctor told me” (not judging, just observing). As frontline health-care practitioners, patients often regard the wisdom of medical doctors as absolute doctrine, and if such wisdom remains out-of-date, these myths will continue to perpetuate and further compound what errors have already been circulated.

Much of this comes from the need for medical schools to accommodate dietary supplements into their curriculum in more than a merely superficial manner. But I digress; this is a topic that we shall leave to another time.