Heart Health and Herbal Medicine

Melanie Thomassian Health Pro September 25, 2008
  • Hippocrates said, "Let food be your medicine," much wisdom from someone writing over 2,000 years ago! These days it seems our medical profession are more in favor of what we now call "conventional" medicine, namely pharmaceutical products.

     

    Don't get me wrong I'm completely in favor of qualified medics being the first line of advice when we feel unwell. However, to assume that only medicine available on prescription can cure, or alleviate, ailments is to ignore the fact that "alternative" medicines have been used successfully for years.


    Herbal medicine has its origins in ancient cultures including those of the Egyptians, American Indians, and Chinese. It involves the medicinal use of plants to treat disease, thought to enhance general health and well being.

     

    Herbal medicine is used to treat a range of disorders, including:

    • Anxiety
    • Arthritis
    • Depression
    • High blood pressure
    • Hormonal imbalances, such as premenstrual tension
    • Insomnia
    • Migraines
    • Nausea
    • Poor blood circulation
    • Skin problems, such as eczema

    Natural supplements are, however, virtually ignored by medical schools, and unfortunately the government's regulation of them is very poor, therefore extra caution should be taken.

     

    A few safety points:

    • The industry is unregulated, so choose products made by large, reputable companies.
    • Never exceed the manufacturer's recommended dosage.
    • If you experience side effects, stop taking immediately.
    • Seek medical advice if adverse symptoms persist.
    • Do not take herbal medicine if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
    • If you have been prescribed conventional medicine, consult your doctor first before starting to take herbal medicine.
    • Be aware that when some herbal products were analyzed, they contained few, or no, active constituents.

    There are a number of herbal medicines thought to be beneficial for heart health. These include:

     

    (Please note I am not promoting these products, merely seeking to inform.)

     

    #1 Garlic

     

    • Natural antibiotic.
    • May help to stimulate the immune system.
    • May help to prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol and reducing blood stickiness.

     

    Fresh garlic is thought to be the best source; commercial preparations may be less effective.

     

    #2 Alfalfa

     

    Alfalfa is a food supplement, rich in beta-carotene, vitamins C, D, E, K and several B vitamins. It is also a rich source of iron, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.

     

    • May help to reduce risk of heart disease.
    • Prevents fluid retention.
    • May protect against tumours and viral infection.

     

    Alfalfa is available in tablet form, or as sprouts.

     

    #3 Ginger

     

    • Aids digestion by stimulating appetite.
    • Relieves nausea and travel sickness.
    • May help to reduce the risk of heart disease, and make blood less sticky.

     

    #4 Ginseng

     

    • May be helpful in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels (however overuse has been associated with raised blood pressure).
    • May help to boost immunity.

  • • May help to improve mental functioning.

     

    #5 Cayenne chilli

     

    May protect against heart attack and stroke by:

     

    • Stimulating the circulation.
    • Making blood less likely to clot.
    • Reducing cholesterol levels in the blood.

     

    Please consult your doctor before taking medicinal doses of cayenne chilli.

     

    A note of caution

     

    It's always a good idea to check with your doctor regarding herbal remedies; this is essential if you've been diagnosed with a serious illness, and important if you're already taking prescription medications.

     

    If your doctor is not responsive, you may want to seek help from a qualified herbalist. Remember, some herbs are particularly potent, and should be treated with the same respect as pharmaceutical drugs.

     

    Related posts:

    Garlic: Is it Good for Cholesterol?

    Prevent Iron Deficiency with Healthy Eating

    Get a Healthy Dose of Minerals into Your Diet

     

    Melanie Thomassian is a registered dietitian, and author of the award winning Dietriffic.com.