Can 21st century cardiac care become more holistic? Today heart patients are required to take modern drugs like beta blockers, statins, blood thinners and diuretics for life. These drugs do have side effects. Can a new treatment regime be developed that uses modern drugs only in limited cases, but for the majority diet, exercise, yoga, and simple herbs that improve metabolism be prescribed? Given the scale of the problem large scale, multi centric clinical research to develop holistic management appears to be the need of the hour!
There are many medicinal plants that play a vital role as tonic to heart and circulatory system. They nourish the heart muscles and helps in vasoconstriction and vasodilatation, which in turn helps in proper functioning of circulatory system
Arjuna(Terminalia arjuna) - The bark contains glycosides which possess tonic effect to heart functioning. It is also high in co-enzyme Q-10, which improves heart functioning and lowering blood pressure, helps in decreasing angina attacks, and enhances prostaglandin which lowers risk of coronary heart troubles.
Lashuna(Allium sativum) - It slows down atherosclerosis and blood pressure slightly between 7% and 8%. It also seem to be an anticoagulant with allin and allicin as health promoting sulfur thereby acting as a blood thinner which may help prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Dadima(Punica granatum) - It contains antioxidants like soluble polyphenols, tannins and anthocyanins possessing anti-athero sclerotic properties.
Tulsi(Ocimum sanctum) - Tulsi which is present in several formulations is mainly used to enhance immunity and metabolic functions. It has a positive effect over blood pressure and also it is detoxicant. Apart from these, researchers have shown that it is very effective in reducing blood sugar and blood cholesterol.
Haridra(Curcuma longa) - It is one among the cordial herbs that strengthens the heart and circulatory system. It is beneficial to the heart in many ways including lowering cholesterol. By thinning down blood clotting, it reduces risk of stroke and heart attack.
Punarnava(Boerhavia diffusa) - Punarnava means to make new again, hence it helps in restoring the vigor and vitality of youth. Punarnava has blood cleanser, cardiotonic, diuretic and hypotensive properties and it has multiple benefits with patient with cardiac diseases.
Ashwagandha(Withania somnifera) - Alkaloids in ashwagandha had a prolonged hypotensive, bradycardiac and respiratory stimulant action. It helps to induce sleep, uplift mood and reduce anxiety.
Panchagavyaghritha is used as single or in combination with herbal drugs to formulate different formulations .Recent studies and research has shown its efficacy in heart blockage where it prevents the clogging of arteries and opens up the clogged vessels by dissolving the clots. It prevents heart failure by increasing the efficiency of the cardiac muscular contractions. It also normalizes blood pressure and strengthens the heart muscle. So milk, curd, ghee and takra can be included as daily dietary supplements as a part of preventive cardiology.
In a recent research, Prabhakaravati and Lekhanabasti can be used separately or in combination together effectively in the management of C.A.D to prevent/delay/reverse the progress of atherosclerosis leading to Coronary heart disease (Hridroga).Through the clinical experiments, various other herbs like karaveera, puinarnava and minerals or metals like mandura have also been noted for their good cardiovascular effects.
Cardiovascular morbidities are becoming the largest cause of morbidities to human population. Extent is supposed to be among second only to cancer. In light of concurrently observed epidemiological shift of diseases in a global perspective, where lifestyle, degenerative and mutagenic pathologies are outreaching infective pathologies, conventional practices of medicine are largely found in adequate need of a pragmatic, human, natural and close to real life situation approach of medicine is directly felt. Ayurveda having a potential to comply for this emerging gap in the practice of medicine needs to be tested rigorously for its thoughtful, rationale, potential and evidence based uses to serve what it really can.
Dr. Gayathri H Nair