Herbs For The Heart

Herbs For The Heart
Herbs For The Heart image to repin / share
Heart pic – Ties van Brussel – lic. under CC 3.0
Herbs background pic © Elena Moiseeva – Fotolia.com
The National Center for Health Statistics estimated that over 68 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from one or more forms of cardiovascular disease. [1] Being that this is the number one killer in the country today, various remedies and preventive measures to heart disease deserve urgent attention.
Some herbs are thought to be beneficial for fighting heart disease due to their naturally occurring alkaloids and terpenoids. [2] Further research must be done before this understanding can be considered conclusive; however, we have compiled a list of herbs and natural foods for which encouraging results have been found. Please note that this article, (as always on this site), is not medical advice nor a recommendation to self-medicate. Please consult your physician before using herbs, especially if you are already using medication or have a heart condition.

10 Herbs For The Heart

Garlic
Many studies have already demonstrated how a clove of garlic a day can lower unwanted cholesterol while raising the good kind. Small clinical trials have found garlic to be capable of regulating blood pressure, improving circulation and inhibiting platelet aggregation that can result in strokes. [3] Another study concluded that garlic extract exhibited cardioprotective effects against cardiac and mitochondrial dysfunction. [11]
Cacao
Cacao aids the heart through its natural source of theobromine, and epicatechin (a flavonol that boosts the healthy functioning of blood vessels). [3] In one randomized controlled trial in Switzerland, flavanol-rich chocolate was shown to benefit vascular and platelet function among patients with congestive heart failure on a long and short term basis by increasing nitric oxide bioavailability and decreasing oxidative stress. This effect was sustained through daily cacao consumption over a 4-week period. [4
 
Hawthorn
Evidence links hawthorn to the dilation of blood vessels, strengthening of the heart and the lowering of blood pressure, cholesterol and fatty deposits. This is due to its active phytochemicals including bioflavinoids which possess antioxidant properties that gobble up free radicals. Likewise, hawthorn has been found to help distribute and use vitamin C to fortify capillaries. [1] However, some studies have found that hawthorn has no significant effect on those suffering from heart failure. [12]
Motherwort
This herb is traditionally used to alleviate a racing heart resulting from nervous tension, but with long term usage, this herb has also been found to reduce blood clot formation, cholesterol, triglycerides and to strengthen the heart muscles. [3] Compounds like phenylpropanoids, flavonoids and phenolic acids, as well as volatile oils, sterols and tannins, have been identified in motherwort. Pharmacological studies also confirm its antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity as well as its sedative and hypotensive properties. [5]
Bilberry
Bilberry is commonly known to improve microcirculatory health, strengthen vascular walls and stimulate the formation of new capillaries. [1] Thus, a study in 2011 found that there are potential protective effects of bilberry extract against cardiotoxicity due to its antioxidant properties. [6]
Ginseng
While the roots of ginseng have been used to treat various other disorders, more and more studies are discovering this herb’s clinical value in treating heart disease. Though more studies are needed to further investigate the complex mechanisms by which ginseng protects the heart, multiple trials have displayed promising results for ginseng’s role in fighting coronary artery disease, cardiac hypertrophy, heart failure, cardiac energy metabolism, cardiac contractility, and arrhythmia. This medicinal properties are due to the herb’s anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, antioxidative, antidiabetic and antihypertensive activities. [7]
Ginkgo Biloba
Leaf extracts of ginkgo have been demonstrated in numerous studies to cause dilation and increase blood flow through arteries, capillaries and veins. Moreover, they also inhibit platelet aggregation, blood clotting and work using anti-oxidants to protect vascular walls from free-radicals. [1]
While herbs are definitely not meant to substitute a good diet, exercise and healthy lifestyle, they can, with proper usage and appropriate expert advice, boost the effects of these in protecting your heart.
Cayenne
Noted for its ability to prevent heart attacks, cayenne is a potent herb packed with over 26 healthy nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, selenium, zinc and dietary fiber. Research shows that this herb contains powerful compounds that play a vital role in optimizing heart health. It is thought to work by removing plaque from arteries, providing nourishment to the heart, improving circulation, emulsifying triglycerides, removing harmful toxins from the bloodstream, re-building blood cells and lowering cholesterol levels. [8] One study found that not only does cayenne prevent blood clots, but this herb can work as a pain reducer. [13]
Butcher’s Broom
Butcher’s broom is a wonderful lesser-known herb that is thought to help reduce one’s risk for cardiovascular diseases. Its main components, which include sterols and fatty acids are considered to be beneficial for improving blood vessel health as well as reducing one’s susceptibility to atherosclerosis.
Keep in mind that unlike many herbs that are considered to be good for the heart, butcher’s broom is only advised to people diagnosed with low blood pressure or hypotension. It helps to increase diastolic blood pressure, therefore, people with hypertension should avoid it. [9]
Grapes
The regular consumption of grapes is thought to be beneficial for the heart. Research shows that grapes are good sources of flavonoids that help fight high blood pressure and reduce risk for cardiovascular disease and heart muscle damage.

In a study conducted at the University of Michigan Health System, it was found that grapes contain high levels of antioxidants that improve the diastolic pressure of the heart, and reduce the occurrence of fibrosis, heart muscle enlargement and hypertensive heart failure. [10]
mproved functioning of the heart depends highly on the quality of blood and blood flow. This can be achieved by proper intake of quality food, a healthy exercise regime, and a general diet and lifestyle that are both healthy and balanced.
In addition to all this, however, natural supplements that support the nourishment of your body and help provide it the right amount of additional energy, never hurt. These supplements can be found in several herbs that enhance efforts to maintain a healthy, beneficial-for-heart lifestyle.
Several herbs have become famously known over centuries for their healing and supportive properties in favor of the heart.
Below are eight of the most effective herbs for a healthy heart.
Oregano.  Known for its ability to prevent and cure several ailments to a great extent, oregano is a rich source for controlling cholesterol& fighting dietary fiber, as well as antioxidants such as vitamin-C.  (To store fresh oregano, snip off its tips and keep the stalks upright in some water, just like flowers.)
Antioxidants fight against free radicals (which are basically charged molecules capable of causing undesired chemical reactions) and thus help prevent heart disease, among other health issues. Oregano helps fight off inflammation inducing free radicals, and protect the heart against ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL).
Green Tea.  Green tea is becoming increasingly known for its benefits to the heart. Cells that line the blood vessels in and around the heart are delicate, and consumption of green tea briskly improves their health, condition and performance. The 2008 issue of European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation reported that researchers have found green tea to improve blood vessel function within 30 minutes of consumption! Green tea has a high concentration of the antioxidant/flavonoid called ECGC (EpiGalloCatechinGallate).
Garlic (Allium sativum).  There is a reason that most cultures include garlic as an ingredient in their culinary preparations: the Egyptians are known to have found more than 195 medical uses for the herb! The Chinese too, value the herb to such an extent that one of their everyday teas is Garlic-based. Furthermore, several studies have shown that a single clove of garlic a day (which roughly translates into 500 – 1000 mg in powder form) is good for healthy cholesterol levels. Similar studies have also proven garlic to be a blood pressure normalizer.
Regular consumption of this herb treats Atherosclerosis as it softens arteries by breaking the cholesterol and fat that cling to their inner walls, improving their flexibility.
Hawthorn (CrataegusOxycanthus).  Scientific research provides evidence for positive correlation between hawthorn and blood vessel dilation, which lowers blood pressure. It thus leads to an overall stronger heart that can then function better, providing improved blood circulation and oxygen reach to the rest of the body. The component of hawthorn responsible for this chain of benefits is the pigment found in hawthorn berries, flowers and even its leaves, which contain strong antioxidant properties.
Hawthorn is also known for ensuring even distribution and effective use of Vitamin C reserves, protecting and improving the functioning of smaller capillaries and vessels.
Lavender.  Lavender oil is known for its abundant antiseptic, antibacterial and sedative properties. Its balancing effects help strengthen the heart’s cardiac muscles, which improves contraction and relaxation of the heart’s arteries and ventricles. Its sedative properties also help reduce palpitations and general hypertension.
Chokeberry.  More formally known as Aronia berries and rich in vitamins A, C and K, chokeberries were found by researchers in 2010 to be beneficial for people with metabolic syndrome, patients of which suffer from several health problems that increase the risk of heart disease. A rich source of antioxidants, it is known to significantly decrease blood pressure and LDL.
Ginseng.  Ginseng is essentially an immune system booster. Studies have provided promising correlations between ginseng and reduced blood pressure as well as reduced heart disease risk. Slight precaution is advised as ginseng increases blood pressure in some people.
Ginkgo (Gingko Biloba).  Gingko is more famous for its memory improving effects, but it is a powerful natural medicine for cerebrovascular disease. Ginkgo leaf extracts have been proven by studies to dilate vessels, thus leading to increased blood flow. It is also known to prevent and reduce congealing of blood platelets. Improved blood circulation to all major organs help reduce the risk of strokes.
The easiest and most effective way to consume these herbs is in their tea form – just brew these herbs in water, add a bit of lemon or cinnamon here and a bit of honey there for additional taste, and you’re good to go.
Of course, these should be used as per your doctor’s consultation, especially if you are already on other medication or prone to allergic reactions.

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