When heart abnormalities are confronted the first point of call is always the doctor and if required, a pharmaceutical medication is always prescribed. Currently when a patient presents with a health problem such as abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, angina (heart pain), tremors etc., they’re treated with pharmaceutical drugs known as Beta Blockers and Calcium Channel Blockers.
Beta Blockers act by blocking adrenaline receptors (norepinephrine and epinephrine) from attaching to the beta receptors located on the nerves. Their actions primarily reduce blood pressure by dilating blood vessels however, they also may constrict air passages by stimulating the muscles that surround the air passages to contract (which is considered an adverse side effect of the drug).
Yet, there are some really wonderful herbs that can also be of benefit to help strengthen and normalize the action of the heart when used under strict naturopathic practitioner supervision.
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) – This herb has been quite well researched with its main medicinal benefit due to its bioflavanoid content. These help to relax and dilate the coronary arteries which increases the blood flow to the heart muscles and reduces the symptoms of angina, heart failure or weakness and also in cases of palpitations. Being strongly antioxidant due to the bioflavonoid content, it helps to prevent or reduce the degeneration of the blood vessels. It is a valuable remedy for high blood pressure, and is able to reduce the blood pressure. Like many herbs, Hawthorn works in tune with the body’s own processes to effect change. Along with Gingko, Hawthorn can also enhance memory by stimulating the circulation of blood within the head. It is contraindicated where common cardiac preparations are being used except under strict practitioner supervision.
Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna) – Being a popular Indian medicinal plant, it has been used as a cardiotonic agent throughout history. It is successfully used for strengthening the muscles of the heart and the subsequent improved pumping activity. Arjuna is inoptropic (which means it changes the force of the heart contractions), cardio-protective, anti-inflammatory and a tonic. It is especially beneficial in chronic cardio-vascular diseases, including chronic and stable angina, weakness of the heart, low blood pressure, metabolic syndrome and high cholesterol.
Lime Flowers (Tilia spp.) – Lime Flowers can be used over the long term to treat high systolic blood pressure associated with arteriosclerosis due to the actions of its volatile oils containing (0.01%) farnesol, eugenol and geraniol. It also contains flavonoids, mucilage and saponins. Along with the beneficial cardiac effects, it is an excellent remedy for stress and panic, and is used specifically to treat nervous palpitations. This treatment can safely be used in children and the elderly. Lowering high blood pressure particularly where there are emotional factors involved, is a favourable benefit of this incredibly useful hebal treatment.
Motherwort (Leonorus cardiaca) – The latin name of this plant indicates its wide range of uses. It is a remedy for the heart and nerves and is often prescribed for palpitations. It strengthens the heart function, especially when it is weak. It is also an antispasmodic and sedative however, the herb actually helps to promote relaxation rather than drowsiness. As in all cases of using herbs for medicinal purposes. Motherwort should be used with caution and only under strict supervision of a qualified naturopath.
** It should be noted that in cardiac conditions with prescription and herbal medications, you should always seek the advice of your registered naturopath to discuss your suitability for the available herbal treatments. Never discontinue any medication without professional supervision.