Heart disease refers to numerous problems that affect the structure and functions of the heart. It is most often related to atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup in arterial walls, that causes narrowing of the arteries, thereby inhibiting blood flow and increasing the risk for a heart attack or stroke.
Heart disease can include issues like coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease, irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), heart failure, heart valve problems and others.
The causes and symptoms vary depending on the type of heart disease. Yet, some common symptoms are shortness of breath, chest pain, slow or racing heartbeat, lightheadedness, fatigue and fainting.
The risk of developing and worsening of heart disease increases with factors like heart defects, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, smoking, excessive alcohol or caffeine intake, stress, drug abuse, a sedentary lifestyle, aging and a family history of heart disease.
When dealing with heart disease, it is essential to consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. Plus, you can use some home remedies and make healthy lifestyle changes to improve your heart health.
Some of these remedies though may interfere with certain prescription drug or may not be suitable for some cases. So, seek the advice of a healthcare professional before taking these herbs and remedies.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for heart disease.
Several studies have found garlic to be beneficial for conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and coronary heart disease. It helps slow the development of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. Plus, garlic improves circulation and has antithrombotic and antiplatelet aggregatory effects.
- Eat one or two freshly crushed garlic cloves daily. If you find the taste too strong, drink a glass of milk after eating the garlic.
- Alternatively, you can take garlic supplements. The general recommendation is 600 to 1,200 mg of garlic extract divided into three equal doses per day.
Note: Garlic may interfere with certain medications due to its blood-thinning properties. Consult your doctor before taking this herb.
In western herbalism, hawthorn is a well-known herb for heart conditions because it is excellent for the cardiovascular system. It helps increase blood flow to the heart and improves cardiac muscle contractions, thus leading to a stronger pumping action.
It also helps increase cardiac performance and output, and reduces the heart’s workload. Plus, it has an anti-arrhythmic effect that helps steady the heartbeat.
You can take this herb in supplement form by way of an extract standardized to contain about 2 to 3 percent flavonoids. The general dosage is 300 to 600 mg three times daily. Follow this natural treatment for several weeks to a few months.
Note: Though this herb is safe to use, consult your doctor before taking this or any other herbal remedy.
Terminalia arjuna is an important Ayurvedic herb for heart conditions. It is considered a natural cardio-tonic and cardiac restorative. The herb strengthens the cardiac muscle, reduces arterial congestion and lowers blood pressure.
A study by researchers at Kasturba Medical College in India found that this herb helped reduce angina attacks by 30 percent. Moreover, prolonged use of this herb did not have any adverse effects.
- Add one-half teaspoon of arjuna tree bark powder and a little honey to a glass of warm water. Drink this three times daily for a few months.
- Alternatively, you can take this herb in supplement form in doses of 500 mg every eight hours daily. Continue this natural treatment for three months.
4. Chinese Hibiscus
Researchers from Taiwan found that an extract of hibiscus flowers had anti-atherosclerosis activity. They believe that hibiscus contains antioxidant compounds that help prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, that contributes to atherosclerosis and heart disease. An infusion prepared from this herb is also believed to help regulate high blood pressure.
- Boil two petals of a hibiscus flower in one cup of water.
- Strain and add one teaspoon of raw honey.
- Drink this once daily for a few weeks.
Studies indicate that turmeric can help prevent atherosclerosis. Turmeric has an active ingredient called curcumin that helps maintain heart health by reducing cholesterol oxidation, plaque buildup and clot formation.
Plus, it helps lower LDL and provides anti-inflammatory benefits. Being a potent antioxidant, it also neutralizes free radicals that contribute to aging and several chronic diseases.
- Use turmeric regularly in your cooking.
- You can also boil one teaspoon of turmeric powder in one cup of water or milk. Drink it once or twice daily for several weeks to a few months.
- Another option is to take this herb in supplement form. The general dosage is 400 to 600 mg of standardized curcumin powder supplement three times daily. Consult your doctor for the proper dosage suitable for your case.
Cayenne pepper contains a compound called capsaicin that is beneficial for treating heart and circulatory problems. It also helps reduce the risk of irregular heart rhythms and lowers cholesterol levels. The phytochemicals present in this spice also purify the blood and enhance immunity.
- Add one-half to one teaspoon of cayenne pepper to a cup of hot water. Stir well and drink it. Repeat two or three times daily for a few weeks. You can follow up with a cup of hibiscus tea to heal the burning sensation and promote heart health.
- Another option is to take cayenne supplements like cayenne capsules. Consult your doctor for the proper dosage and suitability for your case.
Alfalfa has been found to be beneficial in preventing cardiovascular problems as it helps reduce cholesterol levels and plaque buildup. According to a study published in the Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, alfalfa may have the potential to limit the development and progression of atherosclerosis.
- Drink alfalfa tea or juice extracted from its leaves a few times a day for a few months.
- Alternatively, you can take supplements prepared from alfalfa leaves. Seek your doctor’s advice before taking this herb and for proper dosage.
Fenugreek has antioxidant and cardio-protective benefits. It is excellent for reducing the risk of atherosclerosis, thanks to its strong modulating effect on blood lipid levels.
It also reduces platelet aggregation, thus decreasing the risk of abnormal blood clotting associated with heart attacks and strokes. Plus, it helps lower cholesterol, blood sugar and excess fat.
- Soak one teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in water overnight.
- The next morning, eat the soaked seeds on an empty stomach.
- Do this daily for a few months.
9. Green Tea
Green tea contains powerful antioxidants that improve the health of cells that form the innermost lining of the heart and blood vessels. It helps reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Plus, green tea helps control blood sugar and boosts metabolism.
In a 2008 Japanese study, researchers found that drinking more than five cups of green tea per day lowered the risk of death from heart attack or stroke by 26 percent.
- Drink three to four cups of green tea (preferably caffeine-free) daily.
- Alternatively, you can take 100 to750 mg standardized green tea extract per day.
Regular exercise paired with a healthy diet and lifestyle can help prevent and manage heart disease. Aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, bicycling, jumping rope, aerobics and cardio exercises are particularly beneficial for strengthening your heart and cardiovascular system, improving circulation and lowering blood pressure.
Plus, exercising helps maintain a healthy body weight and reduces stress, which are linked to heart and several other diseases. In addition to physical exercise, do deep breathing exercises to help you feel more relaxed and rested.
The American Heart Association suggests exercising 30 minutes per day five days a week to improve heart health and reduce your risk of heart disease. Seek your doctor’s advice to prepare a proper exercise regimen for you.
- Limit fat, cholesterol and salt in your diet.
- Replace saturated fats in your diet with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. For instance, use olive oil instead of butter, margarine and other animal fats. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that just two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in your daily diet can significantly help cut your risk of heart disease.
- Stop smoking and limit your alcohol intake.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Reduce stress and practice regular relaxation techniques.
- Keep diabetes under control.
- Take supplements such as omega-3 supplements, coenzyme Q-10, vitamin D and L-carnitine after consulting your doctor. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, slow the progression of atherosclerosis and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in those suffering from cardiovascular disease.
- Get proper sleep. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that every extra hour of sleep decreased the risk of developing coronary artery calcification by 33 percent.
- Visit your doctor regularly to keep a check on your condition.