The Circulatory System also referred to as the Cardiovascular or Vascular System is an organ system that allows for blood to be transported throughout the body carrying life supporting hormones, nutrients, and oxygen providing nourishment and aid in fighting diseases, stabilizing pH and temperature and basically maintaining homeostasis. Arteries carry blood away from the heart while veins bring blood back to the heart. A weakness in an arterial wall, plaque build-up in an artery causing a reduction in blood flow, a clot formation causing an arterial blockage or the hardening of an artery wall making it difficult to absorb blood pressure increases are all things that can cause a breakdown in the Circulatory system.
Here are some of the herbs often used to support a healthier Circulatory System:
Butcher’s Broom (Knee Holly) is a shrub and is native to the forests of Europe, where it has become very popular as a medicinal treatment for venous Circulatory disorders. It grows only about 1 to 3 feet tall (knee high) and is very prickly. The name Butcher’s Broom came from the plants use as a broom; the plants branches were tied together as a bundle to clean off carving blocks.
Butcher’s Broom tones up a slow moving venous system and reduces capillary vulnerability. Pain and swelling may also be reduced due to an enzymatic effect of the herb. Additionally insufficient circulation to the outer extremities may be reversed while supplementing with this herb. Butcher’s Broom has also been recognized for its ability to treat hemorrhoids.
Butcher’s Broom supplements have become a recognized treatment for an inflammation of the veins, Phlebitis, which is caused by insufficient circulation. Butcher’s Broom is also a recommended treatment for Post-Thrombotic Syndrome, Chilblains (a venous circulatory disturbance of the extremities), Peripheral Circulatory Edema, Varicophlebitis, Pregnancy-Related Varicose Veins, Varicose Ulcers and Postoperative Venous Disorders.
Cayenne, a systemic stimulant, stimulates blood flow which strengthens the nerves, capillaries, arteries and the heart. Cayenne supports both the Circulatory and the Digestive Systems. Taking Cayene increases Fibrinolysis, the enzymatic breakdown of the fibrin in blood clots. Fibrin is a fibrous non-globular protein and it is involved in the clotting of blood.
A greater degree of fibrinolytic activity has been seen in certain people from areas like Thailand, Korea, Bantu, Nigeria, and East Africa which has been traced to their intake of Cayenne.
Animal studies using Capsaicin, the phyto nutrient in Cayenne that gives this herb its beneficial properties, showed long terms Capsaicin supplementation was beneficial for blood pressure reduction. Additional studies showed Capsaicin helped relax blood vessels in pigs which lead to reductions in blood pressure.
Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) is a tree found in the Balkan Peninsula. Horse Chestnut Extract is most commonly used to support vein health and to reduce inflammation. The phyto-nutrient in Horse Chestnut is called aescin which has been studied for its ability to increase blood flow in the legs as well as its ability to treat varicose veins and hemorrhoids caused by Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). Aescin seems to have Anti-Inflammatory properties and has been known to reduce swelling related to both Venous Insufficiency and injury.
A review of 19 studies found that daily doses of 600 mg of Horse Chestnut Extract standardized to 50 mg of Aescin reduced symptoms of CVI (itchy legs, swelling and leg pain). One study even found Horse Chestnut to be as effective as compression therapy for reducing leg volume and swelling.
A review of 17 studies found Horse Chestnut Extract could help reduce inflammation and swelling in the legs and feet related to CVI.
In an 8 week study, over half the participants supplementing with Horse Chestnut Extract containing 20 mg of Aescin 3 times per day and also applying a 2% aescin gel topically 2 times per day had a significant reduction in Varicose Vein Symptoms like discoloration, leg pain, swelling and heaviness.
Ginkgo Biloba (maidenhair) comes from a tree that has been grown for thousands of years in China. It is sometimes called a living fossil because it is the only surviving member of an ancient order of plants. Ginkgo is known mostly for its ability to improve blood flow especially in the capillaries and outer extremity arteries due to its potential to inhibit platelet aggregation.
In one study participants with heart disease who supplemented with Ginkgo saw an immediate increase in blood flow to many parts of the body. A 12% increase in circulating Nitric Oxide (a compound that is known to dilate blood vessels) levels was considered to be the reason for the increases seen in blood flow.
Ginkgo has been used successfully to support cerebral Vascular Insufficiency, Cerebral Arterioscleroses, Raynaud’s Disease, Dizziness, Memory Loss, Diabetic Angiopathy, Varicose Veins and Intermittent Claudication.
Like Ginkgo Biloba, Ginger makes the platelets less “sticky” and hence improves the health of the Cardiovascular System. Ginger reduces major risk factors for Artherosclerosis by raising levels of prostacyclin, which inhibits thromboxane, a substance associated with stimulating platelet aggregation.
Bilberry which is high in anthocyanosides is very effective for strengthening capillaries by protecting them from free radical damage, making Bilberry a strong antioxidant. Bilberry also helps support strong capillary formation by stimulation healthy connective tissue development. Anthocyanosides have also been known to aid in the formation of new healthy capillaries. Bilberry also helps improve large blood vessel tone in both veins and arteries as well as reduce platelet aggregation. All of the benefits attributed to anthocyansides, makes Bilberry a popular tool in supporting a healthy Circulatory System.
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