The heart is arguably the most important organ in the human body and so we should care for it accordingly. Things like a high-quality, healthy diet with a sufficient amount of fruit, vegetables, whole-grain foods, and fiber, as well as regular exercise and time spent out in fresh air go without saying. But there’s more we can do to improve our heart health naturally – we can support it with the right herbs and herbal teas.
MISTLETOE CAN HELP REGULATE BLOOD PRESSURE
We usually think of mistletoe as being the symbol of Christmas, but not everyone knows that it has healing properties as well. The white berries are harmful, but the leaves and stems are useful to us. They can mitigate tachycardia (rapid heart rate) and regulate both high and low blood pressure.
CAYENNE PEPPER STRENGTHENS THE HEART
Cayenne pepper is a common Indian spice. The capsaicin it contains helps to clear the arteries and keep the heart as healthy as possible to pump blood through the body. The best way to start with cayenne is to add about a third of a teaspoon of it (in ground form) to juice or tea.
GARLIC WATCHES OVER OUR CHOLESTEROL LEVEL
The healing properties of garlic are well known. One clove alone can help to raise our HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) levels and lower LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) levels, protecting us from heart attacks and strokes, both of which can be caused by high LDL cholesterol levels. Garlic also boosts the immune system and has antioxidant effects. A good way to eat garlic is to add it to spreads, soups, or roasted meat.
HAWTHORN FOR PREVENTION
Hawthorn is probably the best-known herb for the heart in western herbalism. It dilates the arteries that supply the heart with blood and can help steady the heartbeat due to its mild sedative activity. There are no known side effects, but it shouldn’t be combined with strong cardiac medications.
GINKGO OPENS UP BLOOD VESSELS
Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest trees on the planet, and is found in fossils dating back millions of years. The plant compounds it contains dilate both large arteries and thin capillaries, enabling blood to flow better and supply all parts of the body with oxygen and nutrients. Ginkgo’s antioxidant effects help to purify the body from the inside and thus counter the effects of aging. It also helps to lower excessive blood coagulation, in turn lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke while also improving brain function. However, it shouldn’t be used by pregnant women or taken alongside antidepressants or blood thinners.
MOTHERWORT RELIEVES STRESS AND ANXIETY
Due to its relatively high nutritional and hydration demands, motherwort grows best in garden soil, but we can find it growing in nature as well. It’s traditionally used to help reduce a rapid or irregular heart rate caused by stress or anxiety. However, it can have significant effects on lowering blood pressure as well.
ROSEMARY HELPS WITH LOW BLOOD PRESSURE
Rosemary is a commonly used culinary spice that balances blood pressure levels to healthy values. During heart problems associated with low blood pressure, it can be helpful to massage the heart area on the chest with a salve containing rosemary essential oil.
DIURETIC FOODS POSITIVELY AFFECT THE HEART
When the heart doesn’t work properly, the body gets over-hydrated and that puts the organs, including the heart itself, under undue stress. Including celery, onions, apples, and parsley in your everyday diet is a good prevention against this. Adding lovage to your soups and potatoes can help too, as can birch leaves and nettles.