Medicinal herbs for the heart exert notable actions on this all-important organ. Those herbs which augment the strength of the heart contractions (called cardiotonic herbs), the foxglove plant being the most important, are especially appreciated.
Besides strengthening, herbs for the heart contribute in a decisive way to the prevention of severe heart conditions, such as angina pectoris and heart attacks.
Cardiotonic herbs are divided into two groups:
- Of the foxglove type: Those whose active components are glycosides similar to those of the actual foxglove plant. They have an intense cardiotonic action and must be administered with extreme caution because the toxic dose is quite close to the therapeutic dose.
- Non-foxglove type: These herbs improve heart functions, though they do not contain glycosides similar to those of foxglove. They may be administered without as much caution as with those of the former group. Cardiotonic herbs and diuretic ones are the basis for the phytotherapeutic treatment of heart insufficiency (inability of the heart to fulfill its role of blood pumping).
Top Herbs for The Heart
|Cactus||Camphor tree||Digitalis foxglove|
|Foxglove||Foxglove of large flowers||Hawthorn|
|Hedge hyssop||Lily of the valley||May lily|
|Motherwort||Queen of the night||Scotch broom|
|Wolly foxglove||Yellow Adonis||Yellow foxglove|
Cardiotonic Herbs are those which increase the heart contraction strength and improve its functioning. Foxglove is the model for all cardiotonic plants.
|Lily of the valley||Hawthorn|
Heart affections – These herbs are recommended for people suffering from any heart disease due to their gentle heart invigorating effect, their low sodium content (which increases blood pressure), and their diuretic effect, which has no risks.
Tachycardia – An increase in the heartbeat rate. It should be treated when it occurs at rest, with no physical cause to explain it. Usually, all cardiotonic herbs, which increase heart contraction strength and thus its effectiveness, also reduce its frequency. Herbs with sedative and balancing properties on the autonomic nervous system can also stop tachycardia.
Palpitations – This is the disagreeable perception of your heartbeat due to a sudden change. Palpitations may be caused by states of anxiety, certain medicines, the consumption of toxic products such as coffee, tobacco, and alcohol, and more seldom, by specific heart dysfunctions. On an electrocardiogram, they are shown as extrasystoles.
Besides the antispasmodic, sedative, and heart-invigorating herbs we indicate, profound treatment of the underlying anxiety is required and giving up the consumption of coffee, tobacco, alcohol, or other toxic substances.
Arrhythmia – An alteration of the heartbeat rate, be it irregular, too slow (bradycardia), or too fast (tachycardia). Arrhythmia may be a consequence of anxiety, certain medicines, and the consumption of toxic products such as coffee, tobacco, and alcohol. In these cases, it is seldom severe and disappears when the cause is corrected. However, there are other cases in which arrhythmia may be a symptom of heart dysfunctions that demand an accurate diagnosis by a professional.
Angina pectoris – An affliction whose symptoms are sudden pain in the chest, occasionally passing to the left arm, with a sensation of imminent death. This affliction is caused by a spasm or narrowing of the heart arteries that feed the heart muscle. Phytotherapeutic treatment is based on antispasmodic (which alleviates the spasm of heart arteries), vasodilating (which dilates these arteries), and sedative herbs.
When the arterial spasm is due to arteriosclerosis (thickening and narrowing) of the heart arteries, the herbs recommended for this arterial affliction are also helpful.
Myocardial infarction – The complete obstruction of coronary arteries, which produces the death of part of the heart muscle. Besides the recommended herbs for angina pectoris, phytotherapy advises using plants to prevent heart attacks and arteriosclerosis. This ailment obstructs coronary arteries and for the rehabilitation of people who have suffered those ailments. The blood-thinning herbs also exert a preventive action.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. Vols. 1 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 212, 213, 214. Print. [herbs for the heart]