Herbal Medicine for Heart Disease
Herbs can be used to relieve chest pain and possibly prevent heart attacks with little or no side effects. Hawthorn berries, for example, can reduce or eliminate chest pain by widening coronary arteries (which boosts blood circulation to the heart) and regulating abnormal heartbeats. Several European studies have confirmed these actions. The berries are available in several forms: as a tincture, extract, or capsule or in dried form (to make teas with or add to foods).
Other helpful herbs include:
- garlic to lower cholesterol, reduce blood clotting in blood vessels, and widen blood vessels
- ginger to reduce cholesterol and limit blood clotting
- ginkgo to facilitate blood flow and lower blood pressure
Nutritional Therapy for Heart Disease
The right diet combined with nutritional supplements can be part of the recipe to prevent or reverse heart disease. Nutritional therapists assert that conventional medicine's dietary suggestions for heart disease do not go far enough. Instead of striving for a diet that derives up to 30 percent of daily calories from fat (as the American Heart Association recommends), nutritional therapy often calls for a diet that derives no more than 15 percent of daily calories from fat.
For example, Dean Ornish's heart disease-reversing program includes a vegetarian diet that receives 10 percent or less of its calories from fat, severely reducing dietary cholesterol (the body also produces cholesterol) and saturated fat. Ornish's clinical studies of people with heart disease have shown that a complete treatment program that includes this very-low-fat vegetarian diet can lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol level and boost blood flow to the heart.