An article in the January 14, 2011 edition of the Globe & Mail (Toronto) notes that Health Canada is urging doctors to monitor patient’s use of natural health products and report side effects. The article says that “research has shown that fish oil could lower blood pressure too much in patients taking blood pressure medication. Fish oil may also slow clotting and increase bleeding risk in people who are taking other natural health products such as garlic, ginger or Panax ginseng.”
While the article presents these side effects as concerns, the article also indirectly suggests that some people taking fish oil may be potentially able to reduce the amount of blood pressure medication required, which seems like a beneficial side effect. The article is very vague about the extent of risk regarding increased bleeding, and of course, generally speaking, slower clotting can help reduce strokes and heart attacks.
The article does focus on patient education and identification of health products that are “safe”. However, I believe that doctors generally tend to ignore evidence that fish oil supplements have been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks, lower triglycerides and blood pressure, and may well be a safer alternative to more potent prescription medications which have their own side effects.