“As serious as a heart attack.” That’s what they say. A cliché, but so true. Hopefully you will never have one, but statistics are not in your favor. Cardiovascular disease is the leading global cause of death, accounting for well over 17 million deaths per year, a grim figure predicted to grow to more than 23.6 million by 2030. About one in three deaths in the United States is attributed to cardiovascular disease. It claims more lives than all forms of cancer combined.
Modern medicine often helps people survive a heart attack, but once a patient has been stabilized, it’s critical to commit to some serious recovery. Think exercise, of course, but three outstanding heart herbs may speed the healing.
1 - Hawthorn
Hawthorn is the European Swiss Army knife of herbs for safe and effective treatment of heart and circulatory disorders. The plant contains an assortment of bioflavonoid complexes; traditionally, the berries have been used, but modern research has confirmed the content of active ingredients in other parts of the plant.
Hawthorn improves flow in arteries and improves circulation to the heart. Several studies have shown that hawthorn extracts lower blood pressure.One British study successfully used hawthorn to lower blood pressure in diabetics. A meta-analysis of 14 randomized, placebo-controlled clinical studies found that a combination of herbs including hawthorn leaf improved heart function in patients with chronic heart failure. Several recent studies have found hawthorn to reduce heart damage during or after a heart attack.
A common dose is 80–300 mg of a standardized extract two to three times per day. If you are taking hawthorn berry in capsules, or using it as a tea or jelly, the recommended dose is at least 4–5 gm per day. Allow at least 2–4 weeks for the herb to take effect, and remember that it is a long-term therapy, so the effectiveness of hawthorn may still increase even after one to two months.
2 - Turmeric
Turmeric might be just what the doctor ordered for heart healing. More than 200 studies have confirmed the efficacy of turmeric and its active constituent, curcumin, in various heart conditions. It does about everything you would want to rejuvenate heart tissue, including having antioxidant properties, promoting heart circulation, healing the arterial lining, and reducing blood clots. A compelling study in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism showed that a daily dose of curcumin significantly improved the functional state of the blood vessels of healthy adults within two months. The study involved 59 healthy adults, who were assigned to either a placebo or 50 mg or 200 mg curcumin, for 8 weeks. The study looked at a primary underlying cause of cardiovascular disease, the inability of the inner lining of blood vessels to dilate fully. The 200 mg curcumin dose resulted in a “clinically substantial” 3 percent increase in dilation. The lower 50 mg dose resulted in a 1.7 percent increase. Other research shows that curcuminoids reduce the frequency of heart attack after coronary artery bypass.
To heal a heart, blood pressure has to come down and stay down. Research shows that garlic reduces blood pressure by about 5 to 10 percent.Garlic in higher doses may result in even greater declines.
One study looked at 47 people with mild hypertension. For 12 weeks, the patients received a daily dose of 600 mg of garlic powder, standardized to 1.3 percent alliin. The results? Systolic blood pressure was reduced by 6 percent, and diastolic pressure by 9 percent. Another study found garlic to be effective at reducing blood pressure in men with mild and moderate arterial hypertension. Numerous other studies show similar results. Garlic may also reduces heart tissue injury by way of its sulfur compounds, according to recent research.
Garlic powder extract standardized to contain 1.3 percent alliin is typically given in a dosage of 900 mg daily. Larger doses are safe, and you will likely have better results if you include more in your diet or use a higher dose.
Hawthorn for Heart Health
Your heart loves to feel calm and relaxed. Help your heart by taking a few deep, calming breaths throughout the day. Hawthorn is a great way to support heart health. FLORA CARDIO•ESSENCE is my favorite heart-healthy tonic. Hawthorn, passionflower, and hibiscus work synergistically to increase blood flow and support the entire circulatory system. Enjoy 1 tablespoon twice each day. Check with your doctor if you’re on medication or if you’re pregnant or nursing.
MEET THE EXPERT: Lisa Kilgour is a registered holistic nutritionist (RHN) and a faculty member at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.