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Common Diseases > Heart Disease

Due to the stress and strain associated with modern life, the number of patients suffering from heart problems is increasing all over the world. Heart disease includes heart attacks, stroke, angina, arteriosclerosis as well as problems related to hypertension.

Causes of heart disease include wrong diet, physical or mental (emotional, spiritual) trauma, suppressed emotions, anxiety, congenital and hereditary factors. Heart disease may result as a complication of rheumatic disease or liver or kidney disorder. Modern diets which include animal fats and excessive amounts of oil and butter, combined with a lack of natural anti-oxidants and modern life styles which entail unbearable stress and strain as well as a lack of exercise make us prone to heart disease.

How would you know if you had heart problems? Many people will have few or no symptoms until they suffer a heart attack or heart failure. Others will experience angina, minor chest pains, shortness of breath, unexplained tiredness or depression, high or low blood pressure. Any of these symptoms of course could be be unrelated to heart problems, but are a sure signal that if experiencing symptoms, it is time to seek medical advice.

Hereditary heart defects may be discovered and repaired early in life, others may not have any significant affect on general health and longevity. Cures here may require restorative surgery, though creating a balanced lifestyle with good nutrition may be sufficient for a long and happy life.

The most common cause of heart disease in the Western world is diet and lifestyle. An imbalanced diet and a lack of cardiovascular exercise can cause a build up of fat around the heart or cause the arteries to become clogged, in effect making the heart work harder to accomplish it's task. Here products like Angoporim provide relief and an exercise program will help to reduce symptoms, but if left untreated total heart failure and death is inevitable.

As heart disease develops over time, recovery also takes time. The first step is to manage the symptoms so they do not get worse and then develop a course of action in consultation with a health care professional and Ayurveda offers an excellent holistic program.

Hruday Vikar Chikitsa (Ayurvedic Treatment of Heart Disease)
Dr. Satish Kulkarni

According to ayurveda, the heart is the seat of the atma i.e. our spirituality, our consciousness. It is the site of the divine self. The feelings in our heart are a measure of who and what we are. This means that heart problems reflect issues of our identity, feelings and consciousness.

Heart disease can occur within any of the three basic body constituents (vaat, pitta and kafa.) Problems related to age are commonly a vaat disorder, heart attacks and strokes are commonly a pitta disorder and hardening of blood vessels, accumulation of fat and increased levels of blood cholesterol lead to a kafa disorder and heart disease as a result of that.

The general line of treatment for heart disease includes a change in life style i.e. ensuring a sufficient amount of rest, reducing strenuous activity and avoiding anxiety, worry and stress. Ayurveda asks us to go back to our own heart, see what it really wants in life and start doing that. This is the real treatment for heart disease. Yoga asana's, prarthana (prayers) and meditation are good for cardiac health. Heavy exercise, hectic schedules and frequent traveling should be avoided as far as possible.

Arjuna (terminalia arjuna) is a recommended ayurvedic herb for all kinds of heart disease. It gives tone and strength to the heart muscles, improves the heart-lung ratio, regulates blood circulation, controls bleeding and promotes healing of the ‘injured’ cardiac tissue. It is usually given with honey in kafa related disease, with ghee in vaat related disease and with milk and ghee in pitta related disease. It should be noted that modern medicine advises reducing fats like ghee in heart disease but ayurveda recommends ghee made from cow milk in moderate amounts to ensure lubrication and avoid drying of tissue. One to two grams of arjuna powder with ghee or sidhdha ghrut (ghee enriched with arjuna) should be taken daily. Arjunarishta (a decoction prepared out of the herb arjuna) is also a frequently chosen drug. Ashwagandha (withania somnifera) and guggul (commiphora mukul) are a few other medicines used in heart related disorders. Another heart supportive medicine is saffron, usually taken in or with milk. It is a cardiac tonic as well as a rejuvenating medicine.

Changes in life styles such as going back to nature, avoiding intake of artificial food and following nature’s advice of consuming fibrous food, avoiding consuming alcohol and tobacco, starting to work on the theme of spiritual healing, controlling one’s emotions through prayers and meditation, avoiding anxiety, quarrels and strain, and strengthening one’s heart are very important for all types of heart problems. Taken along with this regime, ayurvedic medicines help in cleansing the blood, regulating cholesterol, improving and maintaining proper circulation and strengthening cardiac tissue. These are the general principles of cardiac treatment. A few other things like the use of spices like ginger, cardamom and cinnamon, will definitely add to the results of this treatment.

Ruby, garnet, gold and silver are recommended heart sedatives mentioned in ayurvedic textbooks. The ash of these stones is to be taken orally, but wearing them on the body is also useful. Pearl, moonstone, emerald and jade calm the heart. Yellow Sapphire and topaz strengthen the heart and tone the cardiac muscles. Drinking water kept overnight in a copper container helps in improving arterial health.

In short, our general health is directly linked to our cardiac health. Improving cardiac health with ayurvedic regime will definitely improve our general health and thus the quality of life.

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