By Beverly Yates, ND
Overall health and wellness depends, in part, on a strong, efficient heart and healthy blood vessels. When looking to maintain or improve heart health, there are some key herbs that effectively support the heart, blood vessels, and cardiovascular system, as shown through research.
Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha)
The herb at the top of this list is hawthorn. It has been used for centuries in Europe and, more recently, hawthorn has gained exposure in North America as a tonic for the heart and blood vessels. It is also used to help lower blood pressure or to help keep normal blood pressure within a healthy range. In addition, this herb helps improve cardiovascular stamina?for both people in a weakened state and athletes.
In particular, research has shown positive healing benefits for people with congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart is in a weakened condition and is likely to continue to decline if no effective treatment is implemented. Exhaustion can be an issue for people with congestive heart failure and other serious diseases, but herbs like hawthorn may help fight this symptom; the herb can improve the ability to exercise (including aerobic performance) as well as a positive sense of well-being and decreased feelings of profound fatigue. These kinds of results are important for increasing the chance of recovery from illnesses like congestive heart failure.
Hawthorn has also been shown to help improve cholesterol profiles in people with high levels of the ?bad? kind of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein, or LDL. High cholesterol can cause illness, including increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, if the person has high levels of inflammation. Despite common thinking, high cholesterol alone is not the issue?the issue is whether the cholesterol is inflamed. Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion about cholesterol and its role in both health and disease. Hawthorn promotes an improved cholesterol profile, including increasing the good kind of cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL) that is shown to be protective of the heart and blood vessels.
Hawthorn has benefits for other folks, too. Whether you?re an avid athlete, more of a couch potato, or returning to regular exercise after some time off, hawthorn can help improve recovery after exercise so you can keep up a regular exercise routine. For some people, improving recovery time lets them get back in the gym or on the road so they stay on their exercise plan and continue to feel well.
The berries, flowers, and leaves of hawthorn are all shown to have medicinal benefits. These parts of the hawthorn plant contain a number of nutrients, such as flavonoids, quercitin, and proanthocyanidins, which have positive effects on the heart and cardiovascular system. Hawthorn not only helps repair a weakened heart and cardiovascular system, but also helps to fortify an already healthy heart and cardiovascular system.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Turmeric is another notable herb that promotes a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. This medicinal herb contains strong anti-inflammatory nutrients. It is a potent antioxidant and a free radical scavenger, helping to repair the damage done by inflammation. It is also used as a culinary herb for its flavor and vibrant color and is a key part of the daily cuisine in many parts of the world. It?s a great example of the old saying, ?Let your food be your medicine and let your medicine be your food.?
Turmeric is rich in healing compounds called curcuminoids, and these nutrients help to quench inflammation that either causes illness or is associated with illness, such as the inflammation that leads to blocked blood vessels, joint pain, atherosclerosis, and a long list of diseases in which inflammation plays a leading role in the destruction of health and wellness.
Another well-researched nutrient, resveratrol, offers strong antioxidant protection of the heart and blood vessels. It improves energy at the cellular level and helps to optimize aging. Resveratrol can be found in a plant called Japanese knotweed and in the grapes used to make red wine. Your best and most concentrated source, however, is in the form of a supplement.
About the Author:
Beverly Yates, ND, is a California-licensed doctor of naturopathic medicine and the author of Heart Health for Black Women: A Natural Approach to Healing and Preventing Heart Disease. Learn more at drbeverlyyates