Heart & Circulation Health
Keeping you up to date
HEART AND CIRCULATION AND HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AND HOW TO TREAT IT NATURALLY
by Herbal Practitioner Alan Hopking MA MNIMH
Circulation is key. From major blood vessels carrying life sustaining blood to and from the heart, to microcirculation, the capillary bed network of minute one-cell vessel walls that feed the heart itself, the liver, lungs, kidneys, and all the organs, including the brain, bones and skin, the heart pulses the blood to the cells with nutrients and life-sustaining oxygen, and carrying away spent fuel and waste products to nurture the fragile nature of vitality and intelligence. So even the very walls of the blood vessels need this nurturing. And if these walls are not maintained with the right nutrients, they harden, becoming rigid and unyielding. And if this occurs in the brain, the pulse of life can become the drum of death – the capillary ruptures and bloods leaks or floods outwards where it should not go: a haemorrhage and a resultant stroke or blood clot or heart attack. The Heart and Circulation Tonic (along with the ABC Daily Powder) can really act as a powerful healer to prevent these life-destroying events, reducing and modulating blood pressure, protecting and maintaining flexibility in the blood vessel walls down to the microcirculation in the essential organs and throughout the body’s interacting interdependent systems. Even a 1tsp a day top up acts as insurance against the gradual decline of deprived nutritional standards in these essential feeding channels throughout our body. The combination of well-researched herbs like hawthorn, bilberry anthocyanins, garlic, ginkgo gotu cola, cacao, ginseng, motherwort, red sage root, ginger and curcumin, etc all contribute to the increase of nitric oxide where endothelial health can prevent vascular deterioration and inflammatory damage which can lead to many types of disease, even to abnormal cell formation and spread. Eating beetroot or drinking a small cup of its fresh juice regularly, and having plenty of green leafy veges, making organic cacao drinks or smoothies with stevia, with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries improve the supply of the powerful health benefits of anthocyanins, adding fresh garlic to cooking and salads, with ginger and spices, and drinking green tea – all support heart and circulation health. Or with greater certainty take a regular daily dose of the Heart and Circulation Tonic.
Nasal Breathe for More Oxygen to your Blood Vessels and Organs and Brain!
To get an idea of the size of the nasal cavity, run your tongue from the front of the roof of your mouth right back as far as it will go. You may be surprised to learn that the roof of the mouth is in fact the floor of the nose! The nose you see on your face comprises approx. 30% of its volume. The remaining 70% of the nasal cavity is set deep within the scull. Nature is intelligent and does not waste space; evolution has determined the importance of the nose by the amount of space it occupies within the skull.
As air enters through the nose, it is swirled through scrolled spongy bones called turbinates, which condition and guide inhaled air into a steady, regular pattern. The internal nose, with its cul-de-sacs, valves and turbinates, regulates the direction and velocity of the air to maximise exposure to a network of small arteries and veins and to the mucous blanket in order to warm, humidify and sterilise the air before it is drawn to the lungs. Dr Maurice Cottle, who founded the American Rhinologic Society in 1954, stated that the nose performs at least 30 functions, all of which are important supplements to the roles played by the lungs, heart and other organs. CO2 is needed for haemoglobin to release oxygen to your cells, which is required in the process of creating ATP for energy. So by regulating the levels of oxygen and CO2, you are able to increase your body’s ability to create and utilize energy. What’s more, its positive effects on cardiovascular health mean better stamina, greater energy, and enhanced fitness.
When we wake after a night’s sleep we usually have a good stretch (as do cats and dogs). This involves holding our breath for quite a long time. This increases carbon dioxide in the body, improving oxygen delivery to all our organs. This stimulates the heart and opens the blood vessels before we get out of bed to begin our day. This breath-hold and stretch is normal and has been part of our natural evolutionary development.
Pranayama and other controlled breathing techniques are abnormal, developed by yogis and elite sportspeople to get an oxygen advantage for competitive edge. Quiet, slow, nasal breathing is normal for ordinary people. Mouth breathing for both ordinary people, children and sportspeople is abnormal and to be discouraged. Sitting quietly for five or more minutes to slow nasal breathe using the diaphragm is to be encouraged.
To improve the quality of the air you breathe
It is imperative that nasal breathing is practised at all times during rest. To avoid over-breathing even during exercise, you must always breathe through the nose. Try it next time you go for a walk or cycle. During intensive physical exercise you may have to mouth breathe for a short time. Yogi Ramacharaka said, “One of the first lessons in the Yogi Science of Breath is to learn how to breathe through the nostrils, and to overcome the common practice of mouth-breathing. Many of the diseases to which civilized man is subject are undoubtedly caused by this common habit of mouth breathing.”
Beneficial functions of nasal breathing
- Breathing through the nose imposes approx. 50% more resistance to the air stream compared to mouth breathing, resulting in 10-20% more oxygen uptake.
- Nasal breathing filters, warms and humidifies incoming air so that it is at body temperature 37C/98.6F when it enters the lungs, bringing in nitric oxide to open airways and blood vessels.
- Nasal breathing removes most viruses, bacteria, and dust from the air you breathe in.
- Nasal breathing during physical exercise reduces the heart rate to allow muscle action to improve.
- When speaking, we breathe out. Then between sentences or after laughter, we breathe in. So train yourself to put your tongue against the roof your mouth to breathe in through your nose between sentences. This prevents mouth breathing. This is a lot safer and healthier when conversing with others.
More nitric oxide with every in-breath
- When breathing in through the nose the air releases nitric oxide, an essential gas for the maintenance of good health and blood supply to the organs. Nitric oxide was proclaimed Molecule of the Year in 1992 by the journal Science. It is an important signalling molecule in the cardiovascular system. It helps keep us free of disease, including cancer, promotes a longer life, and even helps with libido to perform better in bed (increases blood supply to the genitalia).
- Nasal breathing harnesses the benefits of nitric oxide, whereas mouth breathing bypasses this special gas, missing out on its health-giving effects. Nitric oxide is central to vasoregulation (the opening and closing of blood vessels), homeostasis (maintaining a stable state of physiological balance throughout the body), neurotransmission (the interactive messaging in the brain), immune defence (it is antiviral and antimicrobial), modulating blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, keeping the arteries young and flexible, and preventing the development of plaque and clots in the blood vessels, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Yes, breathe in with your nose for more nitric oxide, and increase even more (five times more) by humming when breathing out. Reported by Drs Weitzberg and Lundberg in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
- If you hold your out-breath until you have air hunger (i.e. not for as long as you can), it sharply increases the concentration of nitric oxide in your nasal cavity, resulting in dilation of the nasal passages. This can lead to clearing your nose and stopping the formation of nasal polyps.
- Try practicing 5 to 10 minutes of breath-holds out, for anything from a few seconds up to 30 or 40 seconds, then breathing normally for 30 seconds and then holding breath again, etc, this increases nitric oxide and carbon dioxide tolerance which enables you to recover from exercise more quickly because there is a quicker release of extra oxygen from the oxygen-rich spleen into the circulation and the brain.
- To help even more (and to improve your general health), make sure you only breathe through your nose at night. To do this, tape your mouth from corner to corner with wide surgical tape (mycropore) bought at your chemist or Superdrug store. This will ensure that you do not breathe through your mouth for 7-8 hours. Leave it on every night until you get up in the morning (the tape is easy to remove). It prevents snoring and deepens and lengthens your sleep. After a few weeks of this practice, it will become a habit and you won’t need your mouth taped.
When it comes to breathing, less is more
Try to get down to 6 breaths a minute or less. 5 seconds in, 5 seconds out. Use a timer to learn this slow breathing style. At times you may find that you are breathing so softly that you do not feel yourself breathing. True health and inner peace occur when breathing is quiet, effortless, soft, through the nose, abdominal, rhythmic and gently paused on the exhale.
Breathe using the diaphragm
Inhale through your nose and feel your abdomen gently move outward. Then slowly exhale and notice your abdomen gently moving inward. This natural abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing rhythm is more efficient as it draws more air to the larger lower lobes of the lungs for longer, deeper, slower breathing, making you feel more relaxed and calmer. This doesn’t happen with upper chest breathing which uses the smaller upper lobes causing faster shallower breathing, which in fact increases the stress hormone, cortisol.
Apart from the oxygen and nitric oxide benefits of breathing using the diaphragm, the movement of this great sheet of muscle across the centre of the abdomen has other great benefits to the abdominal organs. The diaphragm’s massaging rhythm improves lymphatic drainage, liver function, pancreas and digestive response, kidneys and spleen, and reproductive organs. Blood supply is improved, and the heart responds better with the oxygen delivery into the lungs and the carbon dioxide is released from the venous side of the heart to the lungs.
So, as well as improving air-exchange throughout the body, nasal breathing helps many health conditions, not least asthma, sleep, hay fever, colds and flu, catarrh, anxiety, and depression. Research shows breathing through the nose helps children with studying, athletes perform better, improves weight loss as a knock-on effect from improved mood and increased mental control.
How to train yourself to breathe light to breathe right
- Sit up straight. Relax the shoulders.
- Place one hand on your chest and one hand just above your navel.
- Feel your abdomen gently moving outward as you inhale, and inward as you exhale.
- As you breathe, exert gentle pressure with your hand against your abdomen and chest. This should create resistance to your breathing.
- Breathe against your hands, concentrating on making the size of each breath less.
- With each breath, take in less air than you would like to. Make the in-breath smaller or shorter.
- Gently slow down and reduce your breathing movements until you feel a tolerable hunger for air.
- Breathe out with a relaxed exhalation. Allow the natural elasticity of your lungs and diaphragm to play their role in each exhalation. Imagine a balloon slowly and gently deflating of its own accord.
- When the in-breath becomes smaller and the out-breath is relaxed, visible breathing movements will be reduced.
Herbs to help
Herbs and products that can help:
BreathLess Tonic, LungShield COPD Tonic, Atomiser Inhaler Spray, ColdLess Antiviral Tonic, LungShield Tonic, CatarrhLess Tonic, Nasal Congestion Drops, Nasal Polyps Drops, Heart and Circulation Tonic, WorryLess Tonic, Adrenal Tonic, HayFever Tonic, MouthShield, MouthShield Toothpaste.
Adapted with thanks from Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown© and other sources, by Alan Hopking
From the depths of my heart
“Dear Mr Hopking, I just wanted to let you know how pleased I am with your treatment of my high plood pressure. It was 190/105 when I went to the GP and I didn’t want to go on his drugs. I came to you and you put me on Heart and Circulation medicine. I went back to him for another assessment today after 1 month and my reading is 130/85. He was astonished that I only took your herbal medicine. I will of course continue taking a low dose daily as you have advised. I feel so well and I thank you from the depths of my heart!!”
Update on my husband (who is taking the Heart and Circulation Tonic) and his blood pressure, it is coming down and he is losing weight as well. He is taking the ABC powder also. We have always taken supplements but don’t believe any have worked as well and as quickly as these. Again thank you for all you do.
Regards, Kay (USA)
A. Right BP – Key to Long Life
The relationship between blood pressure and cardiovascular disease is a continuous one. A normal blood pressure through your years is the key to a long life say the experts. Excess risk for cardiovascular disease begins to increase substantially at a SBP (Systolic Blood Pressure) greater than 140 mm Hg and a DBP (Diastolic Blood Pressure) greater than 83 mm Hg.(2) Factors such as age, race, sex, socioeconomic status, and other cardiovascular risk factors should be considered in determining the need for treatment.(3) Since it is estimated one fifth of British adults have SBP that averages over140 mm Hg and/or DBP that averages 90 mm Hg or greater. The Joint National Committee on Detection Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure V (JNC V) has reclassified hypertension to emphasize elevation of SBP and to phase out the outmoded adjectives mild, moderate and severe. (1)
Category …SBP ….DBP
Normal ….<130 …..<85
Borderline 130-139…. 85-89
Stage 1…. 140-159…. 90-99
Stage 2…. 160-179…. 100-110
Stage 3…. 180-209…. 110-119
Stage 4…. >210…. >120
There is elevated risk of disease and death at all levels of hypertension and each requires long-term management.
B. Risks of Hypertension
The choice of 140 mm Hg to define high SBP or 90 mm Hg to define high DBP should not imply a fixed threshold by which to initiate therapy. Persons with consistent readings between 85 89 mm Hg should be considered as having borderline diastolic hypertension, and although in most cases this does not warrant treatment, non-medication treatment should be started.
Dear Mr Hopking, I have been taking the heart and circulation tonic for a few weeks now and am happy to say there has been a lowering of my blood pressure which is now at 143/84.
Many thanks for all you do and for the herbs you make available to everyone. Mrs AK. France
“Borderline” hypertensive persons are usually significantly heavier, and have higher total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, and higher glucose and insulin levels. (4) It has been concluded that “borderline” high blood pressure is associated with other cardiovascular risk factors. (4)
Coexisting high SBP is an important factor to consider since it has been found to be more predictive of cardiovascular disease and death in the majority of British men. (5) (6) Isolated high SBP is predominantly found among the elderly.
The six year risk of coronary artery disease mortality among men, 35 to 57 years of age, screened for the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT) confirms earlier reports from Framingham that multiple cardiovascular risk factors increase the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and death. Cigarette smoking increases the risk by two to three fold independent of DBP and cholesterol levels. As cholesterol levels increase the risk of CHD mortality increases by three fold from the lowest to the highest category.(6) Between 1972 and 1990 the US experienced a significant reduction in the mortality rates for coronary heart disease (50%) and stroke (57%) in both men and women (1) compared to a decrease of <10% in mortality from all non cardiovascular diseases. (7) Goldman and Cook (8) estimated that lifestyle factors (less cigarette smoking, less saturated fat consumption and healthier dietary habits, and increased physical activity) have contributed to about 50% of the decline; physician initiated factors are estimated to account for about 40% of the decline. Recent data from the Framingham study suggest that the decrease in incidence of coronary heart disease is related to changes in lifestyle and to treatment of hypertension. (7)
C. Herbal Medicine and High Blood Pressure
The heart pumps 100,000 times a day. The blood travels through a maze of 60,000 miles of vessels. Blood pressure is vital to life. High blood pressure threatens it. Low SBP below 100mm Hg is also a danger. Blood pressure depends on the strength of the heart beat, the elasticity of the blood vessel walls, back-pressure resistance (e.g. body fat), muscle, blood thickness and volume, also the health of the liver, kidneys and lungs. Blood pressure has now been found to be totally unrelated to age – it doesn’t rise with age. There are often no signs or symptoms of high blood pressure. But don’t be deceived. To optimize heart health, choose foods such as green veggies and berries with low glycemic index ratings. If you occasionally must have foods with simple carbs, avoid those made from white flour; instead, have a modest portion of brown rice or whole-wheat pasta.(9) And exercise three times a week for half an hour. If you want to get off your diuretics, adrenergic antagonists, vasodilators, beta-blockers, etc contact your local NIMH herbalist. S/he will give you a full examination and monitor your withdrawal, as you take a mixture of herbs like Lime Flowers, Hawthorn, Motherwort, Yarrow, Garlic, Dandelion leaves, and Ginger root. Other herbs s/he may give are for the liver, kidneys, immune system, gentle detox and relaxants for a stressed nervous system. Recommended supplements for high blood pressure: vitamin C 1000mg; vitamin E 400 IU; B complex; Magnesium 300mg; Selenium 50mg. Or better still take just ½ tsp of our ABC Daily Herbal NutriPowder Plus to fully support and supplement your nutritional needs.
Health matters. Live a lifestyle that’s both healthy & happy!
There are twoimportant tonics important for heart health:
1. Cholesterol herbs used for those with a need to keep cholesterol under control – designed to gently cleanse the heart and arteries of lipids (fats). It’s also a gentle stimulant for those who have circulatory problems like cold hands and feet. With Hawthorn, Ginkgo, Melilot tops, Safflower, Buck wheat, Madder root, Ginger root, Prickly Ash and Red Sage root.
2. Heart and Circulation herbs to normalize blood pressure and regulate the circulation – great for those who have general good health but are looking to support their heart health into the latter years. With Hawthorn berry, Lime flower, Motherwort herb, Horse Chestnut, Blood root, Stevia, Heartsease, Broom tops, Jujube seed and Hart’s Tongue leaf.
References: 1. Joint National Committee on Detection Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. The Fifth Report of the Joint National Committee on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC V). Arch Intern Med 1993;153:154 183. 2. Kannel WB, Stokes JI. Hypertension as a cardiovascular risk factor. In: Bulpitt CJ, ed. Epidemiology of Hypertension: Handbook of Hypertension, Volume 6. New York/Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Publishing Co, Inc., 1985: 15 34. 3. Browner WS, Hulley SB. Effect of risk status on treatment criteria: Implications of hypertension trials. Hypertension 1989;13(suppl I):I 51 56. 4. Julius S, Jamerson K, Mejia A, Krause L, Schork N, Jones K. The association of borderline hypertension with target organ changes and higher coronary risk: Tecumseh blood pressure study. JAMA 1990; 264(3) :354 358. 5. Lichtenstein MJ, Shipley MJ, Rose G. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures as predictors of coronary heart disease mortality in the Whitehall study. Br Med J 1985;291:243 245. 6. Kannel WB, Neaton JD, Wentworth HD, et al. Overall and coronary heart disease mortality rates in relation to major risk factors in 325,348 men screened for the MRFIT. Am Heart J 1986;112:825 836. 7. Sytkowski PA, Kannel WB, D’Agostino RB. Changes in risk factors and the decline in mortality from cardiovascular disease: The Framingham Heart Study. N Engl J Med 1990;322(23):1635 1641. 8. Goldman L, Cook EF. The decline in ischemic heart disease mortality rates: an analysis of the comparative effects of medical interventions and changes in lifestyle. Ann Intern Med 1984;101:825 836. 9. Am J Clin Nut 2000; 71(6): 1455-61.
Questions to and Answers by Alan Hopking
- Is it likely blood pressure will continue to drop with prolonged and regular use of the heart and circulation tonic or is this as low as it will go?
What happens is that the BP adjust to become normal or as near normal as possible. It won’t just carry on getting lower and lower, that’s not what will happen.
2. Should I continue taking the tonic as a lifelong ‘control’ of my blood pressure?
When you find your BP stabilizes at the same reading for at least a week, you can begin to edge the dose down if you can, always watching your reading to make sure it is not going up again. The objective is to get a dose that maintains your BP at a normal reading. Of course, if you are able to reduce your dose to the point of coming off the medicine altogether while the BP is maintained at normal, then that is the best outcome, because then the body is controlling the BP itself.
3. Why does the tonic stipulate to be taken before food? I would like to take it four times a day but only eat three meals.
When the dose is taken on an empty stomach the medicine is taken into the bloodstream almost immediately, whereas if taken with or straight after food the dose is mixed with digestion and the medicinal action is reduced. You can take it 2 hours after food, that’s fine, e.g. 10am, 3pm, 8pm
4. Would one of the other simple tinctures -hawthorn for example- be useful in addition to the heart and circulation tonic? (I have also been told I have an irregular heartbeat)
Hawthorn is an important herb for the heart and circulation and is in this Tonic, along with other important herbs for the BP, cholesterol, pulse regulation, blood purification, vascular improvement, plaque reduction. All these herbs work synergistically to benefit the cardiovascular system. Taking more hawthorn is not necessary but also no harm to do if you feel the need.
5. Do you do a tincture of just crataegus berries rather than flowers, leaves and berries?
In the spring and summer, I collect the flower, leaf and fruit of hawthorn from wild areas near where I live and make a fresh plant tincture. Hawthorn is abundant in this area. I also buy organic fruit and leaf/flower from a UK supplier. This plant and its action is one of the most respected in my pharmacy and by all medical herbalists.
Related herbal medicines:
Heart & Circulation
Gentle, strong and extra strong laxatives
Worry and Stress
ABCDaily Herbal NutriPowder Plus