Ask The Herb Lady

With Cathy Schram

What can I take to keep my heart strong?

Q: Heart disease runs in my family. I want to make sure that I do everything possible to keep my heart strong. Besides exercising and eating healthy, what else can I do?

A: You are very smart to realize that you must be proactive in your heart health. You already mentioned eating right and getting enough exercise, but there are some supplements that can also help.

  • Hawthorn is one of the oldest remedies for strengthening the heart. It helps lower blood pressure and relaxes the arteries.
  • Aged garlic extract may reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and inhibits harmful plaque formation.
  • Fiber is very important. Psyllium is an excellent source. It is a soluble fiber that forms a gel while traveling through the digestive tract. This gel interferes with LDL cholesterol absorption. Decreasing your cholesterol can reduce your risk of a heart attack.
  • Niacin helps raise the good cholesterol and lower the bad.
  • Potassium helps to lower blood pressure by dilating smaller blood vessels and making large ones more flexible.
  • Magnesium helps reduce the risk of arrhythmia.
  • Folic acid regulates homocysteine, which is a marker for heart disease in the blood.
  • Calcium helps to regulate blood pressure.

Hopefully, you don’t smoke. Nicotine narrows blood vessels, increases heart rate and raises blood pressure.

Lastly, your oral health is important. The plaque on your teeth is not related to the plaque that forms in arteries, but bacteria in your mouth can travel through the gums into the bloodstream, where they may stick to fatty plaques, contributing to blockages.

Follow these suggestions and you should really be helping your heart.

This herb information is for health education purposes only. It is not intended to replace the services of licensed health practitioners. Consult with a physician for any condition that requires professional care.

Do you have questions about herbs or vitamins? Send them to Cathy Schram, CNHP and Certified Herbalist. Write to: Herbs & More, 16021 Manchester Rd., Ellisville, MO 63011. www.morethanherbsonline.com