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Heart disease begins early in life and it’s easier to reverse or minimize the effects of heart disease in these early stages when blood vessel walls are still resilient and pliable, unblocked and non-sclerotic. Preventing problems or reversing some already begun can be accomplished through foods, herbs and supplements, and other alternative medical strategies.You may want to consider some of them.

The heart depends on arteries transporting blood and other valuable substances. Arteries need to be able to expand and contract, but over years, arteries become narrowed with deposits known as plaques. In a lifetime, the arteries will have secreted volumes of sticky harmful chemicals trapping fats, minerals, and other debris in a hardened matrix called coronary calcification. This plaque debris can account for the obstruction of 30 to 95% of the body’s entire blood flow. This plaque also has a high probability of rupturing, forming a dangerous clot where it may burst open the vessel or it may travel meeting up with more plaque and becoming larger and more dangerous.

Accompanying plaque is inflammation; these two factors go hand in hand, changing the healthy nature of cells, tissue, entire organs and their chemistry. The entire system -the heart, the blood, and blood vessels - are extraordinarily capable of uninterrupted service under some very trying circumstances. True prevention is using some the proposed foods, herbal cardio-tonics, and supplements. Adopting these measures will stop premature and unnecessary degradation of the system and will extend the number of healthy years in a life.

The goals are to have the heart muscle pump efficiently, keep the pressures in the arteries normal, levels of fats and sugars in the blood low, maintain vessel elasticity and reduce hardening in vessels, have good blood clotting factors but low platelet stickiness, and minimize inflammation everywhere.


There is no better place to start than to look at the herbs and supplements which support and regenerate all parts of the system. At the top of the list is Hawthorne berry or Crataegus oxyacantha. This one plant can do several things. Hawthorne berry dilates peripheral blood vessels (those in the arms and legs); increases the amount of energy available to the actual heart muscle; and opens coronary vessels improving blood supply to the heart. There has been some research that suggest Hawthorne can help stabilize cardiac activity which may show up as a rapid ( tachycardia) beat or an irregular beat ( arythmia). Research shows the plant to be safer than digitalis. It normalizes blood pressure regardless of its being high or low. By improving coronary blood supply, the herb helps hearts already impaired. Any heart that has suffered some mechanical or metabolic problem secondary to another disease such as diabetes, needs Hawthorne.

In a healthy heart, Hawthorne berry increases cardiac activity and measurable improvement in muscle tone; these effects can be observed as you or your pet will subjectively feel better. The herb needs to be used for long periods of times and shows no accumulation of toxicity.

Hawthorne berry also appears to be synergistic to digitalis. Heart tissue pre-treated with either one becomes sensitized to the over; over a short amount of time, the amount of daily digitalis can be reduced by half to maintain normalcy. Remember caution should be exercised in using multi-cardiac tonics. Seeking the help of a practitioner is a good idea.

Butcher's Broom

The herb Butcher’s broom - Ruscus aculeatis L. - tones up a sluggish venous system and reduces capillary fragility, breakage, and bleeding. The herb has very potent inflammatory properties and is very effective in the treatment of inflammation in veins particularly from insufficient circulation, peripheral edema, postoperative venous disorders and collapsed veins. Butcher’s broom can be taken over long periods of time with no toxic buildup.

Kelp or Seaweed

Kelp or seaweed - Laminaria -is a general nutritious tonic used by people all over the world. Its ability to reduce high blood pressure has been know for years. It is available dried, granulated, or as a powder. Kelp is a rich source of vitamins, especially the B vitamins, valuable minerals and trace elements - all very beneficial to brain tissue, the membranes surrounding the brain, the sensory nerves, the spinal cord, nails, and blood vessels. It is sometimes incorporated into herbal medicine formulas to shrink growths, benign or malignant. Because it’s so rich in minerals and trace elements, it’s value as a tonic puts it high on a list for inclusion in treating nutritional deficiencies.


Rosemary - Rosmarinus officinalis - is an herb that breaks down to a high concentration of minerals: calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium which all help to maintain or replenish proper electrolyte balance of fluids surrounding cardiac tissue. It is often employed during convalesence, getting the patient back to normal quickly.

These herbal products cover a wide spectrum. Hawthorne berry will help any circulatory problem or irregular heart beat; in a normal heart, the herb is a great tonic for the heart muscle. Butcher’s broom can help peripheral circulatory problems and inflammation. Rosemary will provide a steady supply of minerals for electrolyte balance. And kelp can reduce hypertension.

We’ve all heard that cholesterol-lowering drugs - the statins- stop heart attacks. What we haven’t heard is that omega-3 fish oil is far more life- saving than statin drugs. In a review of 97 studies looking at the effectiveness of statins, and other drugs, niacin, diet, and fish oil in preventing cardiac deaths, fish oil reduced heart attack deaths by 32% compared to 22 % for statins. But life saving benefits didn’t stop there. Fish oil was superior at warding off death from any cause, cutting overall deaths by 23%; statins effect was 13%.

Researchers speculate that fish oil reduces inflammation, stabilizes heart rhythms, thwarts clots, and normalizes vascular functions. It does help reduce cholesterol somewhat. It’s unclear whether eating omega-3 fatty fish or taking fish oil supplements is the better strategy. And the best dose is unclear too. One study points out that a daily capsule of 900 to 1,000 mgs. of omega-3 containing DHA and EPA cut cardiac deaths in heart patients by 28%. You would have to eat 2.5 ounces of Alaskan salmon daily to meet the same dosage. Probably the best strategy is to combine omega-3 in your food with supplemental doses. Two recipes follow that mix the benefits of multiple heart helpers.


Tuna Salad (You can substitute salmon or sardines or mackerel for the tuna)

2 tablespoons fresh, not from concentrate, orange juice
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole wheat couscous
1 3/4 cups water
1 cup cooked white beans (drain and rinse well if canned)
1 medium tomato
1 can tuna packed in water, drained and flaked

Start by making a dressing whisking orange juice with olive oil, adding a few drops of oil at a time. Stir in garlic and set aside. Bring the water to a boil in a heavy sauce pan. Remove from the heat and stir in couscous. Cover and let stand for about 5 minutes. The couscous should absorb the liquid. Then fluff the couscous and let cool. In a bowl toss the couscous with the beans, tuna, and tomato. Add the dressing and toss again.

This recipe includes citrus and tomato -flavonoids and carotenoids- which contribute to keeping capillaries and veins strong, preventing bruising, leaking, and prolapses; essential fatty acids omega 3, 6, and 9 from the fish, couscous, and olive oil, all contributing to reduced inflammation; fiber from the beans to pull out fats, plaque, and debris.


Broccoli and Brussel Sprouts

8 ounces of small broccoli florets
6 ounces of small Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons of clear honey
3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 ounces almonds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium size piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and cut into strips

Steam the broccoli florets and Brussels sprouts for about 5 minutes so that they remain fairly crisp. Set aside. Mix honey, soy sauce, and lemon or lime juice together. Set aside. Heat a wok and dry-fry the almonds for 1 minute, then remove from the wok and set aside. Heat the oil in the wok, add the ginger and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Add the sauce and simmer for another 2 minutes. Add the steamed vegetables and toss. Add the almonds and serve.

The vegetables, rich in vitamins A and C, preserve the integrity of capillaries, arteries and veins. Fresh ginger and lime or lemon juice strengthen the cardiovascular system. Soy and green vegetables are rich in minerals and flavonoids which keep the risk of free radical damage to the system minimal. Almonds, high in dietary fiber are good for cholesterol control, rich in minerals, and a great source of vitamin E, the cardiovascular vitamin.

The damage of chronic clinical nutrient deficiency of E causes serious damage to the heart, nerves, and muscles. A vitamin E deficiency may be undetected for a very long time but the damage while slow, is largely irreversible. It’s important that vitamin E be included in both the optimum dose and early in life.


A veggie drink is a optimum way to introduce good nutrition to a young dog.

1 cup shredded carrots
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 quart water
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)

In a large pot, combine carrots, parsley, and water. Cover and cook slowly for 30 minutes. Add tomatoes, honey, and yeast. Let the mix cook for 5 minutes more. Puree the whole mix in a food processor to make a thick broth drink. Cool and serve.

Carrots, tomatoes, and parsley give the heart and cardiovascular system the flavonoids and nutrients its needs while at the same time enhancing the immune system. Yeast provides a source of B vitamins and the enzymes in honey activate a number actions associated with digestion. The drink can be served as part of the daily liquid intake, especially for an older person or pet, an ailing person or pet, a person or pet with a heart condition. It can be given to a young pet on a weekly basis whose breed has genetic tendencies toward cardiovascular disease (Boxers, Papillons, etc.)


For supplies and further information consult Marie Cargill.


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Marie Cargill - Holistic Medicine for People and Pets.