Till early eighties, it was widely believed that heart disease was virtually irreversible. This meant that once developed, the disease ran a progressive course until the coronary arteries were completely blocked. But recent studies have proven beyond doubt that not only it is possible to stall the process of artery blockage but also the blockage can be really reversed. This implies that through measures other than angioplasty (ballooning) or bypass surgery, it is quite possible to increase the blood flow to the areas of the heart that receive less than adequate blood supply due to clogging of the coronary arteries.
It is quite disheartening that the highly technological approach of the modern medicine literally bypasses the underlying causes of the heart disease. Ayurveda, on the other hand, aims at striking at the very root of the disease. A real cure for this disease is only possible if we adopt a holistic approach as the one advocated in Ayurveda and address the problem at its very root. Shunning the age-old principles of healing described in the Vedas- the great Indian heritage, as unscientific only just because they are old, is most unfortunate. However, due to the intensive research work of some doctors in the west, people now have come to believe that Heart Disease can be reversed.
There are some very effective natural treatments for regulating and strengthening the heart. Here are some of the recommendations that Ayurveda makes:
Nourishment: Use of Amla fruit as an excellent anti-oxidant that can help to prevent arterial damage from free radicals as well as nourishing the heart tissue. Amla can help boost the immune system and nourish the heart. Chywanaprash is a delicious nutritive herbal jam that contains Amla and is a real boost to the strength of the heart.
Increase circulation: A major cause of heart problems is due to hardening, inflammation or congestion of the arteries which can restrict blood flow as well as putting pressure on the heart muscle and tissue. Arjuna is one of Ayurveda's wonder herbs for strengthening the cardiac muscle, reducing arterial congestion and lowering blood pressure.
Reduce Blood fats and high cholesterol: If you suffer from high cholesterol try Triphala Guggul which combines a range of herbs known to tackle the causative problems of high cholesterol as well as reduce high levels of blood fats.
Relaxation: If you suffer from excess tension try using Ashwagandha . It is a wonder herb for helping reduce tension in the body and mind as well as strengthen the heart muscle.
Dietary suggestions: Eat a nourishing diet that removes all processed foods, poor quality dairy, poor quality oils, hydrogenated oils. Increase foods that are excellent for the heart. Use garlic, turmeric, ginger and saffron. Include whole grains, pulses and foods high in essential fatty acids such as hemp seed oil. EFAs are renowned for helping to keep arteries clean and the heart strong.
Avoid over-eating and eating frequently. Eat a light breakfast and dinner. Lunch should be the main meal. Milk products, fried foods, cold foods and acidic foods should be taken in small quantities. White flour products and foods that contain chemical preservatives and additives should be avoided. Animal products, especially red meat, are not good as they take a long time to be digested, and create a lot of toxins in the stomach.
Seasonal fruits and fresh vegetables (steamed or cooked), Brown bread or Chapatti, salad, sprouts, vegetable soup, buttermilk, cottage cheese (paneer), a little quantity of fresh milk and ghee (clarified butter) prepared from cow's milk, make up an ideal list of food items to choose from. Anything sweet should be taken in moderation. Honey and jaggery are healthier than purified sugar.
Fried things, pulses and their preparations, and groundnut oil are prohibited. Ayurvedic physicians allow butter or ghee, and not groundnut oil. Cow's ghee, cow's milk and cows' butter are useful for the patient. Buffalo ghee and buffalo milk are not recommended. Stimulants like tea, coffee and alcoholic drinks are very harmful for such patients.
In addition to maintaining a healthy eating pattern, specific foods are often recognized as particularly heart-healthy. One of the most popular of these healthful foods is fatty fish with its high omega-3 fatty acid content. A recent study determined that women who consumed more omega-3 fatty acid laden fish (two servings weekly) had a reduced rate of death due to heart disease. These researchers found that this was independent of cardiovascular risk factors or other dietary sources that may influence the development of heart disease. Good sources of omega-3's besides fish are: flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, canola oil, olive oil, sesame oil, peanut butter and oil, sunflower seeds and oil, avocado, soybean oil, and safflower oil. Additionally, flavonoids found in tea and cocoa have been recognized for their antioxidant benefit. By blocking oxidative damage to LDL cholesterol and reducing platelet clumping, flavonoids may help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. An inverse association between dietary fiber intake and cardiovascular disease risk has also been proposed. This underscores the recommendation for increased consumption of fiber-rich whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
Lifestyle suggestions for Heart Diseases:
Your heart needs a regular supply of oxygen and it also must not be overstressed. Practice light aerobic exercise and regular relaxation. Ayurveda would recommend some nourishing yoga practices, such as the dynamic 'Sun Salutation' as well as daily breathing practices (Pranayama). Ayurveda suggests exercising within your own limitations and does not encourage excessive exercise that leaves you tired. Yoga is exercise that leaves you energised and fitter.
A very common cause of heart diseases is mental stress. Regular practice of yoga and Pranayama (breathing exercises) reduces stress levels. Also, meditation has been scientifically proven to prevent as well as cure heart diseases.
Ayurveda considers the functions of heart and mind inter-linked. Disturbance in one affects the other. Therefore, patients having heart disease are advised to refrain from anxiety, worry, excessive sexual intercourse and wrathful disposition. All efforts should be made for the patient to have good sleep at night. Even rest during the day is essential. He should never be permitted to remain awake at night for long.
The patient's bowels should move regularly. If there is constipation, he is advised to take a glass of water early morning and go for a walk every day. A gentle laxative like Triphala choorna may be used if required
Panchakarma: A gentle head massage with or without oil several times a week is very beneficial. A full-body self-massage with oil once a week is also good.
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