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Secret Superheroes: 12 Herbs for Heart Health

In our quest to promote heart health, we unveil the secret society of 12 remarkable medicinal herbs. Prioritizing the well-being of this organ is important because heart problems kills more adults in the United States than any other cause, even though 80 percent of heart disease is preventable. The heart is crucial to overall health as it's responsible for pumping nutrient-rich blood, removing toxins, and supplying oxygen throughout your body. Among the vast array of medicinal herbs, several stand out for their cardioprotective properties, offering benefits in improving blood circulation, lowering cholesterol levels, and promoting overall cardiac well-being. Let's uncover the superpowers these herbs for heart health possess, and discover how they can make our circulatory system sing with joy!

anatomy of a heart

1. Hawthorn Berry (Crataegus pinnatifida)

A traditional remedy in European medicine, Hawthorn Berry has garnered significant attention for its benefits to heart health. This small, red berry is rich in flavonoids, particularly oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs), which are potent antioxidants. Research shows this fruit can improve blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart muscle, while also helping to regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It also possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which is beneficial in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Hawthorn berries contain compounds that exhibit adaptogenic properties, helping the body adapt to stressors and maintain balance for overall well-being.

DID YOU KNOW:
  • In China, Hawthorn Berries are often used to make "haw flakes," a popular sweet treat.

  • The genus name "Crataegus" derives from the Greek word "kratos," referring to the hardness of the wood.

or the dried fruit...


2. Astragalus Root (Astragalus membranaceous)

Renowned for its ability to enhance immune function, Astragalus Root has been a staple in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for centuries. Recent studies, however, have shed light on its cardioprotective benefits as well. This herb contains various bioactive compounds, including saponins, polysaccharides, and flavonoids, which contribute to its heart-healthy properties. The potent root helps improve blood circulation, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Astragalus root is sometimes referred to as a "longevity herb" due to its potential anti-aging effects. It helps protect cells from oxidative damage and supports cellular regeneration, which can slow the aging process to promote longevity.

DID YOU KNOW:
  • The genus name "Astragalus" is derived from the Greek word "astragalos," which means anklebone, referring to the shape of the plant's roots.

  • Astragalus Root is also known as Huang Qi (in TCM) and Milk Vetch.


3. Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)

Motherwort, a member of the mint family, has been utilized in traditional medicine for its benefits in promoting heart health. This herb contains various compounds, including flavonoids, alkaloids, and glycosides, which contribute to its cardioprotective effects. The plant has a calming effect on the heart, helping to regulate heart rhythm and reduce palpitations. It strengthens the heart muscles and improves circulation, making the herb beneficial for individuals with conditions like hypertension and arrhythmia. Motherwort also possesses mild diuretic properties, which further aid in reducing blood pressure and improving overall cardiovascular function.

DID YOU KNOW:
  • The leaves are deeply lobed and toothed, resembling the shape of a lion's heart, which is the origin of its scientific name "Leonurus" (lion's tail).

  • The name "Motherwort" reflects its historical use as a remedy for women's health, including menstrual discomfort and menopausal symptoms.

motherwort plant - leonurus cardiaca

4. Ashwagandha Root (Withania somnifera)

The root of Ashwagandha has long been revered in Ayurvedic medicine for its adaptogenic properties, helping the body cope with stress. Chronic stress can contribute to various cardiovascular issues, including high blood pressure, inflammation, and increased risk of heart disease. This herb contains withanolides, powerful antioxidants that help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which are linked to heart disease. Additionally, research shows that Ashwagandha has a positive impact on cholesterol levels, lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.

DID YOU KNOW:
  • Ashwagandha is a small shrub with ovate leaves and small greenish-yellow flowers that mature into orange-red berries.

  • The plant is native to India, North Africa, and the Middle East. It is also known as Indian Ginseng or Winter Cherry.


5. Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)

A fragrant and citrus-scented herb, Lemongrass has emerged as a promising natural remedy for managing cholesterol levels. This herb contains compounds like citral, geraniol, and limonene, which contribute to its cholesterol-lowering effects. Citral is known for its vasodilatory effects, leading to improved blood flow and lowering blood pressure. Components in this herb, such as polyphenols, help regulate blood glucose levels by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing glucose absorption in the intestines. Additionally, Lemongrass has been found to possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which are important in maintaining cardiovascular health.

DID YOU KNOW:
  • The genus name "Cymbopogon" comes from the Greek "kymbe" (boat) and "pogon" (beard), and refers to the shape of the inflorescence, resembling a boat's beard.

  • Lemongrass is used in various culinary cuisines, essential oils, and as insect repellent.


6. Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum cassia)

Cinnamon, a warm and aromatic spice, has long been prized not only for its culinary versatility but also for its health benefits. This beloved bark contains compounds like cinnamaldehyde and procyanidins, which possess potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Research shows that Cinnamon helps improve blood sugar control, which is crucial for maintaining cardiovascular health, as uncontrolled sugar levels can contribute to the development of heart disease. This herb has a modest blood pressure-lowering effect, by improving insulin sensitivity and promoting vasodilation. Studies indicate that Cinnamon also has a positive impact on cholesterol levels, by reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.

DID YOU KNOW:
  • Cinnamon was once more valuable than gold and was a significant driver of ancient trade routes. It has been used for thousands of years and mentioned in ancient texts, including the Bible.

  • As an evergreen tree, it can reach up to 15 meters in height. The inner bark, harvested for culinary and medicinal uses, curls into quills as it dries.

cinnamon quills and powder

7. Ginger Root (Zingiber officinale)

Ginger, a pungent and flavorful root that has been a staple in traditional medicine systems for centuries, has garnered increasing attention for its benefits in heart health. This versatile herb contains a variety of bioactive compounds, including gingerols and shogaols, which possess potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The root improves blood circulation by inhibiting the formation of clots and reducing inflammation in blood vessels. By promoting healthy blood flow and preventing clot formation, Ginger contributes to the prevention of heart attacks and strokes. Studies also indicate this herb has a positive impact on cholesterol levels, further supporting cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of heart disease.

DID YOU KNOW:
  • Ginger has been used historically to alleviate motion sickness and nausea, and modern research has came forth to support these ancient remedies.

  • A key ingredient in Asian cuisines, Ginger has been used in India and China for centuries and was traded along the Silk Road.


8. Pomegranate Peel (Punica granatum)

While Pomegranate fruit is widely recognized for its nutritional value, the often-discarded peel has emerged as a potent source of cardioprotective compounds. Pomegranate Peel is rich in polyphenols, including ellagic acid and punicalagin, which are antioxidants that protect against oxidative stress. Studies show that the herb has cholesterol-lowering properties and improves the overall lipid profile. The peel exhibits powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce swelling throughout the body. Chronic inflammation is linked to various health conditions, including heart disease, arthritis, and cancer, making Pomegranate Peel a contributor to overall health and well-being.

DID YOU KNOW:
  • In Greek mythology, the consumption of Pomegranate seeds by Persephone in the underworld led to the changing of seasons.

  • In some cultures, it's associated with fertility, prosperity, and abundance.


9. Roselle Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa)

Roselle Hibiscus is highly prized for its ability to lower blood pressure levels. This is due to its high content of anthocyanins and polyphenols, which help relax blood vessels and improve circulation. Several studies have shown that consuming tea or extracts made from this striking red flower significantly reduces systolic and diastolic blood pressure in those with mild to moderate hypertension. In addition to being rich in bioactive compounds, Roselle Hibiscus also boasts an impressive array of antioxidants, including vitamin C and flavonoids, which protect the heart from oxidative stress, reduce the risk of heart disease, and improve overall physical health.

DID YOU KNOW:
  • The deep red color of Roselle calyces is used as a natural dye and vibrant food coloring.

  • Roselle is known by other common names such as Red Sorrel, Florida Cranberry, and Jamaica Sorrel.

or the dried flowers...

roselle hibiscus plant

10. Turmeric Root (Curcuma longa)

A vibrant yellow spice, Turmeric has garnered significant attention for its cardioprotective properties. The active compound in this root, curcumin, is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that helps protect the heart and blood vessels from inflammation. Curcumin improves endothelial function, which is crucial for maintaining healthy blood flow and preventing the build-up of plaque in the arteries. Turmeric's favorable effect on lipid profiles can help mitigate the risk of heart disease and promote overall cardiovascular well-being. Furthermore, Turmeric is rich in antioxidants, which help neutralize free radicals and play a crucial role in protecting against chronic diseases, aging, and oxidative stress-related conditions.

DID YOU KNOW:
  • Essential in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisines, Turmeric also plays a central role in religious and cultural practices.

  • Turmeric is used in rituals for purification, protection, and as a symbol of spirituality and fertility.


11. Ginkgo Leaf (Ginkgo biloba)

One of the oldest living tree species on Earth, Ginkgo has been revered for its medicinal properties for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. The leaves of this ancient tree are rich in unique compounds called ginkgolides and bilobalides, which have been the subject of extensive research for their health benefits, including their effects on the cardiovascular system. Ginkgo Leaf enhances blood flow and circulation, ensuring that vital nutrients and oxygen reach the heart and other organs, thereby supporting cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of heart disease. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties protect the heart and blood vessels from oxidative stress damage. Research has also indicated that Ginkgo Leaf helps improve cognitive function, which is important for maintaining overall mental health.


DID YOU KNOW:
  • Ginkgo trees survived the Hiroshima atomic bomb blast and continue to thrive. Ginkgo trees are considered "living fossils" as they have remained virtually unchanged for millions of years.

  • The tree is also known as Maidenhair Tree. "Ginkgo" is a corruption of the Japanese word "gin kyo," meaning "silver apricot."


12. Red Sage Root (Salvia miltiorrhiza)

Red Sage Root, also known as Dan Shen, has been a cornerstone of Traditional Chinese Medicin, renowned for its benefits in supporting heart health. This potent herb contains a wealth of bioactive compounds, including tanshinones and salvianolic acids, which possess powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These components land the root a crucial role in improving blood circulation and reducing the risk of blood clots. Classified as an adaptogen, the herb also helps the body's ability to cope with mental, physical, and emotional stress, thereby reducing feelings of anxiety and tension. Red Sage Root has been used for generations as an ancient remedy for the prevention of heart attacks and strokes.

DID YOU KNOW:
  • Due to its popularity and overharvesting, Red Sage Root is under pressure in the wild and efforts are being made to promote sustainable harvesting practices.

  • The plant has lobed leaves with a distinctive reddish tint, and it produces small, tubular flowers that can range in color from purple to blue.

Find dried Red Sage Root here...


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In the symphony of life, our hearts play the lead role, orchestrating the rhythm of our existence. By incorporating medicinal herbs with cardioprotective properties into our daily routines, we can harmonize this vital organ's melody. The 12 herbs listed above are helpful in promoting cardiovascular health, improving blood circulation, and managing cholesterol levels. From the calming embrace of Ashwagandha to the zesty support of Lemongrass, each herb offers a unique pathway to nurturing our heart's well-being—a testament to the enduring power of nature's healing touch. Let us appreciate these botanical allies and embark on a journey toward a heart that resonates with vitality!

medicinal herbs in the shape of a heart

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