In Chinese traditional culture, there are many herbal foods that are considered to be especially advantageous for health, in Chinese bu, meaning they are supplements for what you need with an extra oomph. It turns out that many of these special foods contain anticoagulants (anti-clotting effect). It might be something analogous to the taking of aspirin in the prevention of heart attacks. Aspirin also has an anticoagulant effect, which could be considered somewhat beneficial for certain people, if taken regularly (like herbal practice).
However, this practice is often extended to the situation when a person is going to surgery, when Chinese feel that it is really important to be well supplemented and “strengthened.”
Indeed, my wife was quietly given special bu herbal food by friends with all good intentions, prior to having a serious ovarian cancer surgery. At the operation, bleeding became very profuse, to the astonishment of the operating surgeon, who could not understand why this was happening. He quickly gave a transfusion of 4 units of blood to make up for the blood loss! Then the surgeon checked the blood and found that there was some kind of anticoagulant in it. And only later did we figure out the connection with the generous herbal food gift.
I was recently shocked when I visited a Chinese friend in the intensive care unit to discover that during a relatively common surgery, he had begun to bleed extensively. The surgeon was also quite astonished and could not understand why it was continuing to bleed even after the wounds were stitched.
He had to furiously give 37 units of blood in order to save his life, since his heart, brain and kidneys were already being shocked by the severe bleeding. Remember that we only have 10 units of blood in the body, so this meant that it was nearly 4 times the amount of blood in the entire body! We then found out that indeed the family had been preparing very nutritious herbal food before surgery in order to boost up, bu his nutrition!
If one looks into herbal foods that are anticoagulants, you will find a very long list of herbal foods (try Google: herbal medicine and anticoagulants). Nearly all of these are routinely used by Chinese populations, without any understanding that there could be serious side effects.
如果你们要了解那些含有抗凝剂成分的药物滋补品的话，那么你们尽可以找到一份长长的列表，将各种各样的药膳囊括其中（试着浏览谷歌网去搜索一下吧：读一读中草药和抗凝剂的内容吧herbal medicine and anticoagulants）。中国人使用几乎所有的这些内容，这种做法几乎已成惯例。然而我们丝毫不懂得其中的种种严重的副作用。
There’s even a joke that Cantonese people especially consider “food as medicines” and “medicines as food.” But it’s not just Cantonese people. Most Chinese, and many Asians, have some kind of thinking like that.
It’s just that most people do not understand that just like any medicines, herbal foods come with side effects, except that they are not listed as side effects when you buy herbals. And frankly, there are very few modern good scientific studies of herbal foods, so its use is all based on “tradition.”
In past traditions, very few people went to surgery, especially for any major operations, so this connection would not be even apparent, even if people were very observant.
The biggest anti-coagulant problem herbals include mu-er fungus, dong quai, gingko, garlic, ginseng etc, but in reality one should just simply NOT take any herbals for likely 2 weeks before and after surgery to prevent this or other unknown kinds of problem, during such a non-traditional treatment time.
I write this article as a medical doctor who has done many nutrition studies in humans, and as a former president of an American nutrition college, because I’m really concerned about this potentially dangerous practice. Many western trained doctors would not even think of this connection, because it is so foreign to them. Eating can truly kill you.