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Herbal Remedies for Arteriosclerosis

©2007 Publications International, Ltd. If left untreated, arteriosclerosis can raise blood pressure and put excess strain on the heart.

Commonly called hardening of the arteries, arteriosclerosis is a group of diseases characterized by thickened and hardened artery walls. This condition can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.  Fortunately, there are some simple herbal remedies that you can employ to keep this condition under control.

About Arteriosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a common type of arteriosclerosis in which fatty deposits partially clog or totally block blood flow in large, important vessels of the body such as the aorta and the blood vessels to the heart and head. As arteries throughout the body are affected, the heart has to pump harder than ever to circulate blood. This creates added stress on the heart, and the stage is set for heart disease. But many other diseases are associated with arteriosclerosis; the type of disease depends upon the artery that is clogged. If atherosclerosis affects the head, for instance, it can cause vision problems, dizziness, and stroke.

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Herbal Treatments for Areteriosclerosis

Your garden can help you reverse this health-robbing process. Tending your garden will ensure you get at least some physical activity, and just about every fruit, vegetable, and bean you grow contributes to good health. Rich in antioxidants, soluble fiber, flavonoids, potassium, and the B-vitamin folate, they also contain substances that improve blood flow, strengthen blood vessels, lower blood pressure, and relax the involuntary muscles inside the arteries that would otherwise cause arteries to go into spasm.

The more fruits and vegetables you eat, the fewer animal foods and processed foods you'll consume. Animal foods, typically high in saturated fat, should be eaten in small amounts, if at all. The body turns saturated fat into the type of cholesterol that thickens the blood and contributes to clogged arteries. Processed foods usually contain hydrogenated fat, which has caused even more severe damage than saturated fat in many studies. Complement your garden's bounty with whole grains.

The allium family is a star when it comes to fighting arteriosclerosis. Garlic and even onions have been clinically proved to reduce the "bad" LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and increase the "good" HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Only raw or cooked garlic, not garlic oil, appears to have this effect. Press or chop the garlic so that its beneficial allicin is released. The key is breaking up the cells of the garlic.

Most produce from the garden is rich in soluble fiber and potassium. Soluble fiber is the type that helps lower blood cholesterol levels. Good sources include apples, carrots, cruciferous and nightshade vegetables (see food profiles), melons, sweet potatoes, and squash. Nearly all fresh fruits and vegetables contain potassium, which normalizes blood pressure and helps maintain a regular heartbeat.

We've only scratched the surface of our herbal remedies for arteriosclerosis. In the next section, you will find even more natural cures for this condition.

For more information about the subjects covered in this article, try the following links:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

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©2007 F. A. Ecker Horsetail contains an abundance of  minerals that can help strengthen blood vessel walls.

If you are worried about the complications of arteriosclerosis, here are some more herbal remedies you can try.

Bioflavonoids are another important substance you can glean from the garden. These compounds strengthen the integrity of the blood vessels and help them retain their elasticity. This enables the heart to pump blood more easily. Flavonoids also have antioxidant abilities, preventing destroyer compounds called free radicals from damaging cells. In the case of heart disease, free radicals oxidize LDL cholesterol and fats in the bloodstream.

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Foods rich in these protective flavonoids include those that are particularly colorful, such as apricots, asparagus, beet greens, beets, all edible berries, citrus fruits, parsley, plums, dark-green salad greens, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and Swiss chard. Some of the garden's herbs and edible flowers, such as fennel, nettle, nasturtium, milk thistle, Oregon grape, rosemary, and skullcap, are rich in flavonoids, too.

Free radicals manifest from many sources, such as polluted air, ultraviolet light, rancid foods, and oil heated to high temperatures. Luckily, the body knows how to use antioxidants to get rid of these rascals. Vitamins A, C, and E and the carotenes and flavonoids all help protect cells from damage.

Horsetail's abundant supply of minerals may also strengthen vessel walls. Additionally, it may guard against fatty deposits in the arteries. Many fresh fruits and vegetables are also rich in folate, another nutrient recognized for helping to prevent heart disease. Along with vitamins B6 and B12, folate helps reduce levels of homocysteine, a compound associated with a higher risk of heart attack.

Good sources of folate include dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, watercress, and hot peppers. The other B vitamins, B6 and B12, are found primarily in protein foods; sunflower seeds are rich in B6.

Some herbs help increase blood flow, reduce blood "stickiness," and improve circulation.

Researchers have found that Ginkgo biloba is one such herb that reduces the risk of heart attacks, although it is not grown in most gardens because it is a slow-growing tree. However, you can plant it and collect your own leaves in a few years. Angelica, cayenne, juniper, nettle, and rosemary also jump-start circulation. All clovers contain coumarin, a compound that protects blood vessels.

Skullcap has been studied in Russia, where it was found to stabilize heart disease that is linked to stress factors. American researchers recently discovered that psychological stress activates a certain part of the brain in some people that can then trigger heart attacks. Perhaps skullcap's calming abilities interfere with this reaction. In Japan, scientists have verified that this herb increases "good" HDL cholesterol levels.

Valerian is also known for its ability to reduce elevated blood pressure when caused by stress, and it relaxes blood vessel walls, preventing spasm and ultimately enhancing blood flow. Lemon balm is another calming herb that has similar actions.

For more information about the subjects covered in this article, try the following links:

Eric Yarnell, N.D., R.H. (A.H.G.) is a naturopathic physician and registered herbalist in private practice specializing in men's health and urology.  He is an assistant professor in the botanical medicine department at Bastyr University in Seattle and is president or the Botanical Medicine Academy.  He is the author of several textbooks including Naturopathic Gastroenterology, Naturopathic Urology and Men's Health, and Clinical Botanical Medicine; He writes a regular column on herbal medicine for Alternative and Complementary Therapies.  This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

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