Chinese Medicine texts dating back hundreds of years B.C. define the heart as the “ruler of the human body, the seat of consciousness and intelligence”. The heart contains the “shen” or spirit operating beyond the physical form. Today, this connection between the heart and the spirit is pervasive in cultures world wide. Coupled with the great responsibility the heart has for driving our life force, I cannot think of any better reasons to nourish this precious organ.
There are many things we have come to believe as they pertain to our heart health; that cholesterol and fat are bad, that an aspirin a day keeps the doctor away, and that many cardiac conditions are irreversible. Current research is changing these preconceived notions about our hearts and how we treat them.
The following are the top 5 naturopathic therapies that must be considered when promoting heart health and treating cardiovascular conditions.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is probably my favorite supplement. I would venture to say that the majority of my patients take it in one form or another for a whole host of reasons. When it comes to heart health, it can be powerful to decrease high blood pressure. It has a positive effect on HDL cholesterol and can lower triglycerides and inflammation.
- Taurine: Taurine is an abundant amino acid found in our cells. While the body can make it if it has the right ingredients, we get the majority of this nutrient from our consumption of foods, largely eggs, seafood, and meats. Because of its effects on intracellular sodium and calcium, it can be helpful with fluid regulation and symptoms of congestive heart failure. It also improves vascular smooth muscle aiding in blood pressure, and circulation as well as cardiac performance.
- Beet Root Powder: While man are discouraged by the fact that beets can, well, “taste like dirt”, the health benefits might make them suddenly more appetizing. The best ways to get the greatest benefit from your beets is to consume them raw, fermented, or boiled. Supplements are an option if your palate isn’t ready for this earthy jewel! Beets are a powerful antioxidant and help to decrease free radical damage. They improve blood vessel function and inflammation, can decrease blood pressure, thin the blood naturally.
- Selenium: Selenium is most often associated with thyroid health. While the research is limited on this great nutrient as a stand alone, we do know that selenium deficiencies when coupled with external stressors can be detrimental to heart health. And since I have never had a patient who does not experience external stress, I would say that is important. Additionally, Selenium when taken with Vit E can decrease LDL or “bad” cholesterol. A great source of selenium is the Brazil nut. 1 ounce of Brazil nuts has 544 micrograms of selenium!
- Hawthorne Berry: The delicious little berry can decrease LDLs and triglycerides, improve blood pressure, is helpful with fluid retention, and can improve contractility of the heart. As it is important to nurture the heart on both an energetic and physical level, Hawthorne berry is known to provide protection and healing of the heart, open the heart, and aid in the expressing, giving and receiving love.
The treatment of the heart can be a complicated and scary thing for many. It is important to take a multi-faceted approach including diet, lifestyle changes, management of stress, exercise, sleep, nourishing the spirit, as well as powerful supplements. If you are experiencing high blood pressure, have been told you have high cholesterol, have any other cardiac condition, naturopathic medicine may be a great option for you. While medication reduction or elimination may be possible, if you are currently taking cardiac medications, do not attempt to replace those medications with any supplement without consulting a doctor.
Dr. Katy Firisin is a naturopathic doctor at The Center for Natural Healing. If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment please do not hesitate to contact her.