There are a few different methods of reducing your chances of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in America and Australia, and the second leading cause of death in Canada [1, 2 ,8].
By consuming the following herbs regularly over a long period of time, along with a healthy diet, and exercise, you will be able to significantly reduce your chances of developing this deadly disease.
1. Pu-erh Tea
Pu-erh tea is made from the same plant as green tea, and goes through the same process, except it also goes through an added process of fermentation at the end.
While it is fermented, various strains of bacteria and fungi change the chemistry of the plant into a unique set of chemicals not found in any of the other forms of tea. As a result, you are left with a very earthy, and dark brew, similar in look and taste to coffee, and unique to any other tea.
The chemicals change as well and pu-erh tea has been found to contain natural forms of statin drugs, as well as an increased antioxidant capacity .
Statin drugs are currently used in pharmaceutical medicine to lower cholesterol, and combat heart disease, but can have a lot of negative side effects such as hormone imbalances, muscular dysfunction, neurological damage, and liver and kidney damage.
Pu-erh, on the other hand, has actually been found to improve the health of liver and kidney function, while maintaining its anti-cholesterol actions [5, 10].
2. Hawthorn Berry
Hawthorn berry (Crataegus oxycantha) is a premier heart tonic in traditional Chinese medicine. It tones the heart, and is used to treat angina, early stages of heart disease, and reduces arrhythmias.
It has also been used to treat high cholesterol, hyperlipidemia, and high blood pressure which are all directly related to the development of cardiovascular disease .
This is one of the best all around heart tonics available, and should be considered by anybody at risk for heart disease.
Find Hawthorn extract here.
3. Cha De Bugre
Cha De Bugre (Cordia salicifolia) is a Brazilian herb whose name actually means “coffee of the woods”. This is because of Cha De bugre's stimulating properties.
It is most commonly used as a weight loss herb and is very popular as such. This in itself has a direct benefit to the heart through the maintenance of a healthy fat content.
It does this in a few ways;
- Increases satiety with meals (meaning you feel full sooner) which helps to promote smaller portion sizes
- Stimulates metabolism to "burn" fat quicker. These stimulating effects are gentle however and will not cause the same sort of “buzz” as with coffee or other stimulants.
On top of this, Cha de bugre has a tonic action on the heart which has been suggested to be through reducing the contraction of each heartbeat, which is a common method of combatting congestive heart failure, and arrhythmias [7, 11].
Find Cha De Bugre Here.
Chronic stress plays a major role in the development of cardiovascular disease. It has been linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, as well as indirect causes such as inactivity, smoking, and poor nutrition.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is one of the best herbs for managing stress, through muscle relaxant, nervine, and antioxidant activity in specific areas of the brain known to be associated with chronic stress.
By using passionflower in the form of a tea, or extract daily, along with other stress-reducing activities such as positive lifestyle choices, good diet, meditation, and exploring various hobbies and activities that you find enjoyable, you will simultaneously lower your chances of developing deadly cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis. (source).
Find Passionflower extract here.
5. Dan Shen
Dan Shen (Salvia miltiorrhiza) is a commonly used Chinese herb for a variety of heart conditions and is said to correct the rhythm and protect the heart.
A study investigating the effects of Dan Shen on heart failure discovered that it can increase the ability for the heart to recover from oxygen starved states such as in the case of a heart attack .
This finding backs up Dan Shen’s use as a preventative for angina and other coronary heart diseases.
6. Yerba Maté
Yerba maté (Ilex paraguariensis) is an Amazonian tree, whose leaves are used as a tea.
This tea is very popular in daily life in South America, and has been suggested as an adaptogen due to its wide range of benefits and extremely low toxicity.
Among weight loss and stimulating effects, it has also been shown to combat atherosclerosis through both direct means and direct gene modulation (Source).
Atherosclerosis is a hardening of the arteries and is closely linked to the development of cardiovascular disease.
Yerba maté's beneficial effects against obesity is also highly beneficial in the prevention of heart disease.
Find Yerba Maté tea here.
In traditional Chinese medicine, reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is known as “the herb of good fortune”. It has been used by emperors and Taoist monks for thousands of years to increase longevity.
Reishi is used to tone what is called the “Shen” in Chinese medicine, which can be found in the heart.
Reishi contains a wealth of phytochemicals which offer antioxidant support, anticholesterol actions, as well as offer the ability to reduce stress and tension.
After prolonged use it has been found to lower blood pressure and correct heart arrhythmias. In this way, reishi is considered one of the best shen, and heart tonics available .
Find reishi extracts here.
8. Globe Artichoke
Globe artichokes (Cynara scolymus) are Mediterranean in origin.
It is becoming very well known that the Mediterranean diet is a great diet to choose for lowering your risk for developing various cardiovascular diseases, as discussed further here.
Globe artichoke is a healthful and delicious food included in this diet, and it comes to no surprise that it has incredible cholesterol lowering ability.
Both the unopened flower, and the leaves contain high amounts of a chemical called cynarin, which improves liver function, and stimulate the gallbladder to release bile.
This bile is made from cholesterol, and as it is pushed out into the digestive tract (bile is used to digest food) this cholesterol is expelled from the body. Globe artichoke has been confirmed in multiple studies worldwide to exhibit significant cholesterol lowering effects. (source).
Globe artichokes should be considered a staple in the diet of those wishing to lower cholesterol in order to reduce their risk of heart disease. It can be eaten as a vegetable or in the form of a tincture from its leaves for much the same effect.
Find Globe Artichoke extract here.
Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) contains chemicals referred to as glycosides, which are reportedly up to 200 times sweeter than table sugar while delivering almost no calories.
This is beginning to make stevia a popular choice for those who wish to improve the flavor of their foods and beverages without increasing their risk of developing diabetes, or obesity.
Diabetes and obesity are both factors that significantly increase your chances of developing heart disease.
By replacing sugar with stevia, you will receive the enjoyment of its sweet flavor profile while eliminating the negative side effects sugar has after long-term consumption on heart health.
Not only does stevia allow you to avoid saturating your body with sugar, it also contains separate chemicals that have known anti-diabetic actions, as well as direct blood pressure lowering actions.
This herb is perfect for those with a sweet tooth who wish to reduce their risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Long term usage of stevia has shown no indication of toxicity and actually offers a toning action if consumed daily. (Source).
Find Stevia leaves here which can easily be added to other teas.
10. Arjun Tree
The Arjun tree (Terminalia arjuna) is an Indian tree, whose bark is most commonly used in the Ayurvedic medical system for treating heart conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, angina, and congestive heart failure. It is held in similar respect here as the Chinese hold Hawthorn in the treatment and prevention of all forms of heart disease.
Terminalia arjuna has been shown to produce powerful cardioprotective and antioxidant effects in lab studies. Some of these effects include the ability to increase the contractility of the heart, increase coronary artery blood flow, lower the heart rate and decrease blood pressure.
On top of this, Terminalia arjuna contains a rich supply of antioxidants, which have been shown to prevent the damage caused by ischemia and reperfusion as in the case of a heart attack or angina. Terminalia arjuna is likely one of the best all around heart tonics, useful for both treatment of heart disease, as well as its prevention. .
The Sunlight Experiment
- Australian Institute of health and Wellfare. (2013). Leading causes of death (AIHW). Retrieved from http://www.aihw.gov.au/deaths/leading-causes-of-death
- Centers for disease control and prevention. (2016, April). FastStats - Leading Causes of Death. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm
- Chang, P. N., Mao, J. C., Huang, S. H., Ning, L., Wang, Z. J., On, T., … Zhu, Y. Z. (2006). Analysis of Cardioprotective Effects Using Purified Salvia miltiorrhiza Extract on Isolated Rat Hearts. J Pharmacol Sci, 101(3), 245-249. doi:10.1254/jphs.fpj05034x
- Dwivedi, S., & Chopra, D. (2014). Revisiting Terminalia arjuna- An Ancient Cardiovascular Drug. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, 4(4), 224. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA392473518&v=2.1&u=think&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=c1e30018b6b32349c74364786175f5eb
- Huang, H., & Lin, J. (2012). Pu-erh tea, green tea, and black tea suppresses hyperlipidemia, hyperleptinemia and fatty acid synthase through activating AMPK in rats fed a high-fructose diet. Food Funct, 3(2), 170-177. doi:10.1039/c1fo10157a
- Jeng, K., Chen, C., Fang, Y., Hou, R. C., & Chen, Y. (2007). Effect of Microbial Fermentation on Content of Statin, GABA, and Polyphenols in Pu-Erh Tea. J. Agric. Food Chem,55(21), 8787-8792. doi:10.1021/jf071629p
- Matsunaga K, Sasaki S, and Ohizumi Y. (1997). Excitatory and Inhibitory Effects of Paraguayan Medicinal Plants Equisetum giganteum, Acanthospermum aecstrale, Attophylus edutis and Cordia salicifolia on Contraction of Rabbit Aorta and Guinea-Pig Left Atrium. The Japanese Society of Pharmocognosy. 51. 5. 478-481.
- Statistics Canada. (2015, December). CANSIM - 102-0561 - Leading causes of death, total population, by age group and sex, Canada. Retrieved from http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a26?lang=eng&id=1020561
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- Yan, S., Wang, L., Li, Z., Zhu, D., Guo, S., Xin, W., … Zhang, W. (2012). Inhibition of Advanced Glycation End Product Formation by Pu-erh Tea Ameliorates Progression of Experimental Diabetic Nephropathy. J. Agric. Food Chem, 60(16), 4102-4110. doi:10.1021/jf300347p
- Taylor, L. (2005). The healing power of rainforest herbs: A guide to understanding and using herbal medicinals. Garden City Park, NY: Square One Publishers.