The more I learn about the human body, the more I understand that we can’t address the physical without considering how emotions and external influences impact it. As a naturopathic and functional medicine doctor practicing BreakFree medicine, I view heart health as more than just supplying the cardiovascular system with nutrients and providing energy for the heart’s “pumping power.”
To truly support the heart, and the whole body, it is important to account for the mind-body connection and to take an integrated viewpoint of all the many interacting factors. This is an individualized approach that includes assessing one’s lifestyle, genetics, epigenetics, environmental exposures, stressors, emotions, social connections, and more.
I have already addressed the topic of cardiovascular health from a whole-body, comprehensive perspective in several previous blogs. I have listed them below in the resource section for your skimming pleasure. In one article, I highlight how I use essential oils as a favorite modality to beneficially effect one’s mood and the mind-body-social connection for optimal heart function.
Recently, nutritional support for cardiovascular health came up with some of my clients. For this reason, I wanted to provide some education on what you may find in nutritional supplements and how these ingredients of herbal and nourishing infusions may aid the circulatory system.
Supplements for the Heart- A Brief Review
Below is some information on some of the key ingredients you may find in a heart or cardiovascular supporting supplement.
CoQ10 has many heart benefits, from decreasing blood pressure to cardiovascular risk prevention. It is an antioxidant and necessary for cellular and mitochondrial energy. You can get a summary from the Cleveland Clinic here and this monograph.
As you can tell from the references, there are enough clinical trials supporting its benefits for the heart, neurological diseases, endocrine dysfunctions, and other body systems to deem this supplement as a “must-have” for many. It is often recommended by both integrative and conventional physicians.
Hawthorn Berry (Crataegus oxycantha)
Hawthorn is one of the most known herbs for cardiovascular support. As this monograph explains, it contains flavonoids that assist with cellular protection and improved blood flow. Crataegus has clinical trials that support its use for healthy blood pressure and improving heart function. Although some studies are inclusive, overall it is deemed safe and generally helpful. (Natural Medicines– database for physicians)
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiac)
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiac) is another common herb used for heart health and is also indicated for menstrual issues. It contains alkaloids, which often act on calming the nervous system. It has many properties and has some studies for heart health. (Natural Medicines, Green MedInfo Database)
Other herbs such as Angelica root (photosensitizing) and adaptogens can also be used to calm the heart.
I have listed several essential oils in the link and in the resource section below which may be beneficial for supporting the heart.
Key Nutritional Components
This article is one of the most thorough reviews on all the biophysical factors involved in heart dysfunction. It includes all the mechanisms of action and research findings of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and supplements for cardiovascular support.
Dr. Houston is a top leading integrative cardiologist. In this article, he explores:
- amino acids and compounds
- fatty acids (including the benefits of omega-3 fish oil, despite the misleading studies)
- beverages (coffee, tea)
- and more!
This blog is also a good overview of green foods for your heart and basic nutrients.
Pause here for an important note on diet.
I want you to take the next paragraph in fully.
You want to avoid moralizing food choices, this is healthism, and it can lead to harm. Focus on nourishing your body and optimizing it through self-care. Avoid judgement and fear.
The Importance of Individualizing: Do You Need to Supplement and What About Those Conflicting Studies?
How do you know which nutrients to use and if you even need to supplement your diet?
Well, the first question is a bit more complicated, but the fact is most people do need to supplement.
This is based on the fact that our soil quality is very poor, we have nutrient-deprived diets, stress and lifestyle choices rob our bodies of important nutrients, and many other important factors that are reviewed here.
What about all those confusing studies that seem to support opposing viewpoints!?
I discussed here why studies can be misleading. In brief, they aren’t accounting for the individual’s needs and specific requirements at the time. There are also many biases in how they are done, the supplement quality, and the measurements and methods used.
The bottom line is it’s best to individualize your protocol and supplements. This is especially true if you are seeking healing from a chronic condition. Everyone has different needs and a unique biochemical makeup. This is where naturopathic, functional, and integrative medicine doctors shine!
You can learn more about how I individualize my client’s wellness support and about my practice here.
Safety & Precautions
It’s important to know that if you are on medications, you should always inform your doctor of any changes to your healthcare regime. You will also want to check with someone knowledgeable in assessing potential interactions with herbals. Most often, with essential oils, there is little concern, but there are factors to consider. I have reviewed them here.
I hope you found this information useful and that you can implement it to decide which nutrients you need, along with your empowering health team! Please see the additional resources below.
To a happy, healthy life filled with heartfelt gratitude!
From my heart to yours, my best always!
Heart Healthy Resources
Learn more about all the aspects of heart care, including essential oils in my series on heart health. This series is available for FREE:
- Redefining “Health” in American Heart Month- A Holistic, Broader, Integrative Approach
- Essential Oils for the Heart- Addressing Infinite Triggers and Calming the Negative Results
- Could Isolation or Toxic Relationships Be Harming Your Heart and Health?
- The Heart’s Mysteries Explored and Why It May Be More Than a Pump: Integrative Medicine for Heart Health- Epigenetics, Essential Oils, and Beyond
- Essential Oils- A Remedy for Stressed Out Brains and Broken Hearts During the Holidays
- The Medicine of Love: There is a Santa Clause, and Love Really is Medicine
- Coming Soon! For Members Only: Using Essential Oils for Balancing the Heart-Brain: Combining HeartMath Institute’s Inner-Ease™ and Appreciation™ Tools for Stress Relief and Heart and Whole-body Resiliency
You can access my new Wellevate account to browse through heart healthy supplements that are pharmaceutical grade that you and your doctor can review before implementing. Please read above on individualizing protocols and click on this link to understand the importance of supplement standards and quality. There is no pill panacea.
Announcing Exciting Upcoming Changes to the Website
I am currently in the process of updating of my website and finishing up a few projects for the summer months. If you’ve been checking-in, you may have noticed that certain posts require a password to view. This is part of the transformation of my site that will include online training materials on naturopathic medicine, functional medicine, and essential oils topics… coming in the near future!
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. ( Affiliation link.)
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
Please note that the studies from PubMed aren’t specific for any essential oils company.