An “allium” vegetable, garlic is one of the most potent herbs around and has been tested many times to prove its ability to keep your circulatory system running smoothly. A major journal published by the American Heart Association reported that garlic can maintain the elasticity of aging blood vessels, which tend to lose their ability to stretch with time. Garlic helps widening blood vessels as a result of relaxing the muscles that surround the walls. This makes it a major herb for high blood pressure.
Garlic is said to reduce plaque build-up and hinder the production of blood clots. This helps in reducing the risk of a heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and atherosclerosis. A study of 152 people showed that the development of further arteriosclerotic plaque volume was reduced by five percent to 18% with a high-dose garlic powder supplement. Over four years, the participants aged 50 to 80 had a reduction in plaque by six percent to 13% over four years. The study concluded that garlic supplements might not only prevent, but also potentially relieve atherosclerosis.
Garlic also does a number on bad cholesterol, which leads to heart attacks and stroke. The herb is known to reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, by interfering with the liver’s manufacturing of it. One study on 46 patients with high cholesterol concluded that supplementing with garlic has an effect on lowering cholesterol.
Turmeric, the ingredient in curry that makes it yellow, may treat inflammation of the arteries. Part of the ginger family, turmeric has reduced inflammation in studies conducted on animals. It has also been used for centuries in India. It is said to inhibit production of inflammatory chemicals known as “prostaglandins.” It also helps the adrenal glands produce cortisone, in addition to lowering histamine levels (because of the curcumin in turmeric) in the body. All of these factors aid in reducing inflammation.
Platelets are prevented from clumping, thereby helping reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and improving circulation.
A supplement with 95% curcumin should do the trick, taken about three times a day, but it is best to speak to your doctor to determine an appropriate dosage.
Hawthorn is high in flavonoids, and works to help prevent heart attacks and strokes by widening your arteries and thus improving the flow of blood. This action is also called “dilation”âa term better known for describing pupils. That theory was backed up by the results of one study out of Germany. Hawthorn also helps strengthen the contractions of the heart muscle, further improving blood flow. Since then, more studies have found similar results.
Over in Europe, the herb is extremely popular and, because of its cardiovascular health benefits, hawthorn is one of the most prescribed natural remedies there. Herbalists have used it for hundreds of years to help relieve chest pain. Hawthorn is usually seen as a small shrub and, because of its thorns it is a member of the rose family. Its berries, flowers and dried leaves all show benefits to the heart. While German studies have proven its benefits on the heart, no major study has looked into the issue on North American soil.
Doctors typically prescribe between 80 mg and 300 mg of the herbal extract in capsules or tablets, two to three times daily. Not that it needs a prescription; hawthorn can be found at any health store.