Heart warming herbs for heart health and reducing hypertension
Perhaps it is because we are having a very cold winter that some customers coming into Bodywise have presented with heart disease and in particular heart arrythmias and hypertension. Here are some of our thoughts on the classification of hypertension and complimentary herbal, nutritional and lifestyle options. We do not intend to offer this information as a prescription and certainly not in place of your GP’s recommendation. A consult with our Naturopath Bridget would be the best option to compliment a GP’s guidance
Let’s start with a little about the cardio vascular system that consists of 2 complementary systems
- Blood circulation, consisting of the heart that pumps blood out to the whole body through the arteries and eventually into tiny capillaries, while the veins return blood to the heart
- Lymphatic circulation; lymph vessels and nodes remove waste from our tissues.
* Also see our post Nutrition for a happy heart: Its not really a great mystery
What could possibly go wrong? Lots really and sometimes slowly
Most cardio-vascular symptoms develop silently and slowly as people age and are aggravated by stress & anxiety, thyroid disease, mineral deficiencies (such as magnesium and potassium), in some people excess sodium from salt, alcohol and drugs, caffeine, lack of exercise, obesity, diabetes, severe trauma and virus’s, a variety of chronic ailments, and even a heart broken from grief. Sometimes no cause is found.
Some of the common symptoms of cardiovascular disease may include:
Irregularities in the heart beat felt as a palpitation, racing heart beats or just simply an awareness within the region of the heart that may include pain extending down the left arm, tightness in the chest and indigestion.
Free radical damage causing inflammation, often associated with diet, lifestyle and illness, elevated LDL Cholesterol, and homocysteine levels that may also be associated with nutritional deficiency
Hypertension: Narrowing or hardening of the arteries due to inflammation leads to the placement of plaque and eventually results in hypertension, stokes, aneurysms, kidney disease and some would research suggests dementia
Blood pressure is the measurement of pressure (mmHg) in your arteries during the active pumping of the heart muscle and resting phases after each heartbeat and is recorded using a blood pressure monitor.
Normal blood pressure levels have been revised over the last few years and a more holistic approach is now advised by GPs. Blood pressure varies throughout the day depending on body position, breathing rhythm, stress levels, fitness and activity, infections, medications, what you eat and drink, and time of day. Blood pressure is usually lowest at night and rises sharply on waking alongside cortisol levels that get us up and going. Young adults are more likely to have elevated blood pressure levels due to the prevalence of high BMI, obesity, high alcohol consumptions, poor diet choices and stress. Pregnant women are also more likely to have complications such as pre-eclampsia due to the same drivers of ill health
Hypertension or high blood pressure (BP) is often a silent problem until picked up by a reading usually taken by your GP and is a potentially dangerous problem if left untreated. Complications include kidney disease and may lead to strokes, aneurysms and heart disease as described above.
Systolic pressure: The top number in a blood pressure reading is the amount of pressure your heart generates when pumping blood through your arteries to the rest of your body. SBP is greatly influenced by stress.
Diastolic pressure: The bottom number in a blood pressure reading refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries when your heart is at rest between beats.
The cardiovascular risk associated with increasing blood pressure increases with every 2 mmHg in the systolic blood pressure, with the risk of death from ischaemic heart disease and stroke rising between 7% and 10%. The line between normal blood pressure and hypertension varies when the patients clinical picture is taken into consideration. At any level above normal, patients need to make lifestyle adjustments to control or reduce their blood pressure.
Hypertension is diagnosed and classified in the same way in all adults, however, treatment targets are individualised on the basis of age and other health problems.
An intermediate blood pressure level is described as a blood measurement of 120-139/80-89 mmHg.
Stage one (mild) hypertension is defined as a clinic blood pressure measurement of ≥140/90 mmHg, or an average daytime ambulatory blood pressure measurement of ≥135/85 mmHg.1
Stage two (moderate) hypertension is defined as a clinic blood pressure measurement of ≥160/100 mmHg, or an average daytime ambulatory blood pressure measurement of ≥150/95 mmHg1
Severe hypertension is defined as a systolic pressure of ≥180 mmHg, or a diastolic pressure of ≥110 mmHg.
Isolated systolic hypertension is defined as a clinic systolic blood pressure of ≥160 mmHg and diastolic < 90 mmHg.
Isolated diastolic hypertension is defined as a clinic diastolic blood pressure of 90 mmHg or higher and a clinic systolic pressure of less than 140 mmHg.
For a comprehensive review and complimentary therapies see the following:
Often undiagnosed and ignored, blood pressure can be lower than 120/80 or with a pressure difference of less than 40mm Hg. Hypotension can lead to feelings of not coping, lethargy and tiredness, dizziness, fuzzy head/poor memory, needing to get up at night for the loo, swelling in the veins and ankles. Hypotension reduces blood flow and oxygenation so very low blood pressure is potentially as dangerous as very high blood pressure. Herbal medicine and supplements to treat underlying fatigue and cardiac function.
Herbal combinations can cover multiple aspects of health problems, all in one bottle. Here are a few of the herbs that may be used.
Hawthorn: is a powerful herbal aid healthy contraction of heart muscle and therefor useful for arrhythmias, coronary flow and arterial health
Garlic: promotes arterial health and may reduce BP, blood sugar lipids; while acting as an anti-oxidant and may help prevent clots that may lead to deep vein thrombosis and strokes, use aged garlic or add raw fresh garlic to the end of your cooking so that its potency will remain intact
Dandelion leaf: high in potassium, dandelion leaf reduces the blood volume by promoting the excretion of excess fluid in the body. For those with kidney disease, this herb may not be used.
Horse Chestnut: valuable for varicose veins, thromboses and haemorrhoids by reducing inflammation and promoting healing
Motherwort: otherwise known as Leonarus Cardiaca is a bitter from the mint family with an ability to decrease blood clotting, relax smooth muscle, strengthen electrical activity in the heart and lower blood pressure when accoumpanied by stress and anxiety. As a result its calming actions can slow heart palpitations and rapid heartbeat.
Motherwort or Leonurus Cardiaca
otherwort or Leonurus Cardiaca
Milk Thistle: provides antioxidant action that enable healthy liver function and tissue integrity aid in the elimination of toxins from the liver and supports the normal processing of hormones in the body. Ultimately this aides synthesis of cholesterol in turn healthy circulation.
Ginger and Cayenne – has a warming, vaso-dilating and anti-inflammatory effect.
Valerian, Holy Basil, Baical Skullcap and more: These are just a few of the herbs that calm a wired and tired nervous system. There are too many options to include.
The science of blending herbs to meet the needs of every individual makes for a multisystem approach to health care and improving cardio-vascular health.
Visit Bodywise and we will blend your own unique heart tonic.
For those who want to read more:
https://academic.oup.com/ajh/article/28/3/362/2743418 a French study on hypertension
Go to Dr Weil who has fascinating info, check out his comments of avocado and coconut
Capillary problems such a Chilblains and Raynauds Syndrome
Raynauds and Chilblains have a familial history are the most likely problem due to dysfunction of the fine capillaries and while not life threatening are painful and are difficult to manage! The surface of skin may swell or crack when the capillaries constrict with cold temperatures. The herbs used for cardio vascular health can promote healthy circulation from the inside, and herbal creams alongside a warm pair of gloves and can help protect and heal.
Varicose veins mostly occur in leg veins while haemorrhoids occur in the rectum. Mostly of a hereditary origin, these venous problems are aggravated by a bad inflammatory diet and constipation, standing for long periods, obesity, lack of exercise and pregnancy. Veins become stretched and look knotty/dark, may cause swelling with discomfort and can lead to inflammation, enlargement, clot formation and leg ulcers. Alongside a healthy diet and lifestyle, there are a variety of herbs and supplements that promote venous return, and over time will restore strength to lax venous tissue. Conventional treatments include Injections, surgery, laser treatment to shut down veins or stockings to support them. These options are not for everybody so using diet, supplementation and herbs can make life a loss more comfortable and these options can be used in pregnancy when guided by a naturopath.