Cardiovascular Disease Part 1: Where Do We Start?

By Dr. Terry Willard, Faculty Member here at the BodyMind Institute
Blog Website: www.drterrywillard.com
Wild Rose College of Natural Healing Website: www.wrc.net

After doing a blog on how statins might not always be good for you, several people asked me what to do, so I decided to do a multiple part blog on cardiovascular issues. We sit at a unique time in history when heart issues, both emotionally and physically, play one of the most prominent roles in people lives. This can’t be just coincidence! There are many risk factors that contribute to cardiovascular issues; but I would have to say that the lack of emotional contentment and spending too much time in one’s head (thinking about things too much) has to be the largest contributing factor. Unfortunately, this is not even on the radar of most health care practitioners that deal with cardiovascular issues. This is something that I hope changes in upcoming times.

The concepts used by the modern Herbalist benefit from blending together some of the older understanding of circulation and heart issues, with present medical information of the cardiovascular system (CVS). Modern medicine has a pre-occupation with a mechanical disease states of CVS, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, clotting disorders and heart diseases.

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Traditional medicine focuses on the vital flow of fluids to the tissue and the elimination of waste out of the tissue. To this we can add the feelings associated with lifestyle, as related to one’s social-psycho-spiritual interactions. By incorporating these concepts together, we can do a great benefit to people suffering from these issues.

Botanicals and lifestyle issues can greatly improve cardiovascular (CV) health. For several decades cardiovascular conditions were the number one killer in North America and Europe. In early 2005 cardiovascular conditions were replaced by cancer as the number one killer. Many authorities suggest that the much publicized advice on the benefits of making lifestyle changes has finally hit home, and the result has been a decrease in CV disease. Even so, lifestyle issues are still considered the major cause of CV disease.

Modern cardiology, as practiced in large urban centers, has had an almost miraculous effect when it comes to acute emergencies. For this we can be thankful for all of the lives they have saved. Where they fail is in the prevention of acute events and maintaining of good health after events. This is an area in which a Herbalist can play a very significant role. Modern medicine has developed great wonder drugs for use in these emergency issues, and even some drugs to lower risks for times of recovery. The area they have overlooked is the potential of gentle toning therapy as seen in regular use of botanicals.

Botanicals can clearly play a role in the decrease of cardiovascular disease, as Reishi, Cordyceps, Ginkgo, Garlic, Cayenne, Ginger and Hawthorn are some of the biggest sellers in Europe and North America. When looking at these botanicals we can see that they work as much, if not more, on circulation at the tissue level, an area often overlooked by modern medicine. Even though the heart and the tubes (arteries, veins, arterioles, venules) have a lot to do with the CVS, most of the blood is found between the capillaries and cellular tissue. The blood plasma filters through the capillary wall to bathe the various tissues. These areas are often restricted, reducing free flow of circulation. Edema is a major symptom indicating the breakdown of this system. Regular exercise and especially stretching as found in Tai Chi, Yoga or Qi Gong, contributes to the integrity of the gelatinous matrix.

From a vibrational medicine point of view, many have theorized that this interstitial matrix is a ‘living crystal’ that aids in the communication of vibration and electromagnetic frequencies throughout the body. Many forms of bodywork credit this communication network as the bases for their success. The effect the interstitial matrix has on circulation and overall health is quite dynamic and profound. From a tissue point of view, circulation is more of a diffusive process marked by local and wide oceanic currants, rather than one of vascular circulation. Most herbals working on the CVS (like the ones mentioned above) act more on the local circulation. This is particularly true of many flavonoid containing plants.

The heart is as much a resonator as a muscle. It sets the ‘drum beat’ for the rest of the body to follow. This is true on an energetic, vibrational level as well as on a physiological level. Herbalists know that issues of the fourth chakra can have an overwhelming impact on the CVS. They also know that the old adage ‘love is the best medicine of all,’ can have profound positive effects on the CVS. For this reason, it is wise to consider Flower essence when dealing with issues of the CVS.

Clinical Herbalists can provide help for anemia, hypertension, angina, palpitation, atheromatous CV conditions, recuperation after CV attacks, venous insufficiency and congestive heart failure.

In our next blog we will start looking at what arterial diseases are and how to treat them.

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Dr. Terry Willard

For over forty years, Terry Willard, Cl.H.,Ph.D., has studied the medicinal properties of plants. He is recognized as one of North America’s leading Clinical Herbalists. He appears regularly in the print and electronic media as an exponent of responsible herbal use. He is the past-president of the Canadian Association of Herbal Practitioners, a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild and in the Canadian Health Food Association’s Hall of Fame.

Dr. Willard is the author of twelve books on the subject of Herbs including the pivotal Wild Rose Herbal Series – a series of three textbooks written to educate herbalists. Two of his books, Mind-Body Harmony and Dr. Willard Flower Essence: Emotional Alchemy and Spiritual Evolution, have been particularly popular with the general public.