A Bloody Miracle by Philip Wylie

Philip Wylie, 23 February 2018

Cardiovascular disease affects half the population in older age. The good news is that there are effective ways of beating this issue which I will share with you in this article.

Since the age of thirteen I have enjoyed cross-country running and jogging. However, after the age of 50 I suffered a series of sprains, twisted ankles, ruptured ligaments and tendons in my lower calf area.

In November 2015 my medical doctor in Chiang Mai suggested that I book a course of treatments with a physiotherapist specializing in sports injuries. The treatments included ultrasound, calf stretching exercises and “ice immersion therapy”.

Ice Immersion Therapy involves filling up a large bin with slabs of frozen ice and topping up the container with cold water. Then the injured sportsman immerses the lower leg into the icy water for up to twenty minutes with breaks as necessary. Apparently psychiatrists in Nazi Germany also used to torture prisoners during WW2 by freezing them in tubs of icy water. Anyway, I survived this immersion treatment for about five weeks.

The next month, in December 2015, my medical doctor noted that my injury had not healed so he sent me to a local hospital for Doppler ultrasound of both legs. On 18 December 2015 a physician at Chiang Mai Ram Hospital reported that I had acute deep vein thrombosis on my left superficial vein down to my popliteal vein.

Due to low blood pressure, lack of exercise (due to my sports injuries) and high cholesterol, a blood clot (or embolism) had formed in my vein in the left knee. The remedy for this cardiovascular disease is blood-thinning medication.

My doctor told me that I had choice of blood-thinning (anticoagulant) medications: the aggressive approach being a drug called Warafin, or a gentler approach using the natural herb Gingko Bilboa and 81mg of Aspirin. I chose the less aggressive option.

I noticed that my lower left leg had expanded because the blood was unable to circulate upwards as it should. I was walking around with an extra couple of pints of blood in my left leg below my knee. Apparently this is dangerous because the blood clot (or embolism) could travel upwards and cause either a heart attack or a stroke.

In March 2016 I had a nasty motorbike accident which wounded my lower left leg. Apparently if I had been taking Warafin I would have lost a massive amount of blood and possibly died. Therefore I am grateful that my doctor offered me the option of taking less aggressive blood thinners.

I consulted a herbalist in Chiang Mai who advised me about the following natural medicines:

– Dang Gui (Chinese Angelica) and Safflower for activating blood circulation

– Salvia Miltiorrhiza (Danshen) and Panax Notoginseng which prevent blood clots

Another recommended treatment is to elevate the affected leg in bed by resting it on cushions. Also, it is advisable to keep body weigh down and to exercise by swimming, cycling, Tai Chi and yoga.

In December 2017 I changed my diet radically and became a vegan to reduce my cholesterol level.

In January 2017, by chance, I met a German cardiologist known as Doctor Heart at a co-working space known as CAMP in Chiang Mai. I told Dr Heart about my blood clot and that I was taking Gingko Bilboa and Aspirin as anticoagualants.  Dr Heart was not impressed by my choice of treatment … and then he scared me.

Dr Heart said that my doctor should have prescribed Warafin immediately and that now it was too late for me to start using this medicine. He told me that I would probably have a heart attack or a stroke – he wasn’t sure which – and that I should sue my doctor for giving me inappropriate treatment.  At this point in the conversation, I fainted and actually collapsed onto the floor. Dr Heart offered me a bottle of water after lifting me back onto my seat and then promptly left.

The following day, on 10 January 2017, I attended the Leg-Vein Clinic in Chiang Mai where I had another ultrasound scan. This scan revealed that my body had created new veins around the blood clot, meaning that my body had healed itself.

At the beginning of 2018 I stopped taking Aspirin, preferring to use natural medicines only. I ordered Gingko Bilboa, multivitamins and Omega 3 fish oil (from iherb.com) to complement my vegan diet.

I have also been advised to wear a compression stocking if I take any long-haul flights. People who are prone to blood clots are most vulnerable on long flights because there is minimal blood circulation during these long trips. Therefore Deep Vein Thrombosis is sometimes called ‘Economy Class Syndrome’ though upgrading to Business Class doesn’t necessary prevent the disease.


The best way to avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis is to have a low-cholesterol – ideally vegan – diet and plenty of exercise. Gingko Bilboa is an effective natural blood thinner. If you have low blood pressure you are also advised to wear compression stockings on flights of over five hours’ duration.

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