Simples for Heart Health
By Laurel Redmon, M.S.,
A sure boon for Oriental
medicine is its ability to address pre-clinical cardiovascular
heart conditions not yet acknowledged by Western medicine. While heart
remains a major threat, many people who perceive symptoms pass stress
stress, poor diet, inactivity and heartbreak injure slowly over many
Herbs can offset these offenses far before
they become clinically
typically employed for the heart can impose problems: people experience
range of side effects including death, especially when multiple drugs
ingested simultaneously. While pros and cons of pharmaceutical
from person to person, most patients today are expected to take these
“nutriceutical” approach uses herbs in place of drugs for specific
or clinical findings. For instance, garlic is employed to lower LDL
In China, the herb Da Suan,
dried garlic bulb, is called upon for
chest or heart Qi stagnation and to kill intestinal worms.
Its hot energetic nature is noted, making it a
suitable remedy for some
but certainly not all people. Atherosclerosis
can be thought of as a symptom of stagnation, yes, but also damp-heat,
respond better to a cool or neutral remedy.
We cannot overlook the sophistication that our
medicine possesses in
guiding us to the best course of action.
can be done to
prevent heart disharmonies and disease with simple lifestyle habits. A
precede any discussion
of remedial herbal treatment. As a daily practice for optimal heart
repair, we should try to:
eat processed food: commit to
whole, organic meals. Whole
wheat, legumes and fresh herbs have proven heart and numerous other
Fresh basil and rosemary are especially good.
deep-colored berries and
vegetables, and a few raw almonds or walnuts regularly.
whole oats, a famous nervine that
can strengthen heart muscle, the nervous system and the brain as well
cholesterol and plaque buildup. Oats can also prevent infections, and
bones and joints.
ground flax seeds and oil. This
can clean plaque from arteries, but is also a good anti-inflammatory.
and oil are also important to prevent and treat many degenerative
to slow down and manage stress in
a tangible way.
your heart and dreams, and
always include love in your life.
single herbs is a
cautious approach for laypeople and those just beginning to explore the
world of herbal medicine. The agents listed below come with
but are also quite safe.
Specific herbs that can
assist in repairing disharmonies of the heart include:
Sweet, sour, warm
Reduces blood stagnation
and activates circulation.
Assists indigestion and
breakdown of fats, also known as “meat stagnation”.
blood pressure and reduces cholesterol.
heart muscle strength and reversing cardiac ischemia.
Treats angina, high
Avoid use with digoxin
Up to 30
grams/10 qian daily in decoction
Western herbal tradition
employs the leaf in addition to the fruit for analagous functions.
Sweet, spicy, warm
liver, large intestine
Invigorates blood and
organs and facilitates digestion.
Lowers cholesterol in a
manner akin to statin drugs without undesirable side effects but
be exercised in cases with marked spleen qi deficiency.
with warfarin, coumadin and statins
Up to 12 grams/4
qian daily in decocted or powdered form.
Suan Zao Ren/ Semen
Zizyphi Spinosae/ sour date seed
Tonifies heart and calms
the spirit (shen).
agitation, anxiety, excessive dreaming, fatigue and night sweats.
grams/3-10 qian decocted or powdered before
bedtime. The dry-fried
variety is warmer, more astringent, and has a shorter shelf life.
As with all oily seeds, rancidity is an
Refrigeration is recommended.
Sample formula: Suan
Zao Ren Tang
He huan pi/ Cortex
Albizziae/silk tree bark
Calms spirit (shen)
and releases qi constraint.
problems with heart and liver involvement: insomnia, irritability and
and stress, premenstrual syndrome.
reduces swelling and promotes healing of traumatic injury, where
regulation and spirit-calming functions can assist.
Dosage: 10-15/ 3-5 qian
grams daily in decoction
This herb name
translates to “happy dancing people bark” which evokes its power to
the spirit, circulate blood and release qi stagnation.
Ginseng/Chinese ginseng root
Slightly bitter and warm
Nourishes source (yuan),
spleen and lung qi. Calms the spirit and brightens the mind.
can effectively treat insomnia, anxiety, forgetfulness and excessive
while shoring up energy and mental acuity. Worry, rumination and a lack
clarity due to deficiency are also addressed by this formidable herb.
blood-deficient individuals, especially with lung and spleen weakness
Americans) should take a second look at this long-famed medicinal.
in excess heat, yang rising or phlegm conditions.
This herb is not contraindicated for women, as
some adherents to archaic
Dosage: 5 to 10grams/1-3
qian in decoction. Some sensitive
individuals may respond well to a
significantly reduced dose.
Sample formula: Tian
Wang Bu Xin Tang
To summarize some
applications, refer to the table below.
of a good reference book will help you get to know the other functions
herb, which helps to differentiate them quite a lot.
Shen, Da Suan
Qu, Shan Zhu
Zha, Du Zhong
Zao Ren, Dan Shen, Ye Jiao Teng
Huan Pi, Suan Zao Ren, Bai Shao
Zao Ren; He Huan Pi, Ling Zhi
symptoms in Western medicine, herb formulas targeted to heart
protocols for insomnia, fatigue, edema and a wide range of
chronic diseases typically involve multiple organ systems. Kidney organ
meridian involvement is common, as the heart and kidney control the
water balance in the body. Clear and accurate diagnosis is key in
heart. Allopathic diagnostics like EKG’s and stress tests can be very
pertinent here. A licensed herbalist and acupuncturist can advise you
appropriate foods, herbs and formulas incorporating all of this
hearts, the emperor organ, deserve the utmost care and consideration.
Dan / Gamble,
Andrew. Chinese Herbal Medicine; Materia Medica. Eastland
John / Chen, Tina
Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology. Art of Medicine
Press Inc.: 2004
Practice of Chinese Medicine. Churchill Livingstone: 1994
with Whole Foods. North Atlantic Books:
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