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.
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:
- To see all of our herbal remedies, visit our main Herbal Remedies page.
- To learn more about treating common medical conditions yourself, go to our main Home Remedies page.
- To learn other ways you can treat the symptoms of heart disease at home, read Home Remedies for Heart Disease.
- To find out more about horsetail and how it can strengthen blood vessels, read Horsetail: Herbal Remedies.
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.