by Claudia Ward, L.Ac
considers the heart as the most precious organ and the seat
of human consciousness. The soul is said to be a
jewel that resides deep in the lotus, which represents the
heart. The lotus petals need to be open in order for light
to come in and make the jewel shine. How we feel in our heart
is how we connect to the world. When our emotions are healthy
and stable our heart will thrive. Heart diseases reflect the
deep-seated issues of identity, emotions and consciousness.
Emotional problems play a key role in heart disease and should
always be considered when treating heart disease.
The western lifestyle is hazardous
to the heart. The emphasis on personal achievement,
materialism and consumerism leads to emotional and spiritual
starvation. The Western diet is loaded with sugar, fat, processed
foods, and fast food. Such a diet in combination with a sedentary
lifestyle, lack of exercise, suppressed emotions, and excess
stress and anxiety, is obviously the cause for the high incidence
of heart disease in the West.
Other factors for various heart disorders:
- Excessive exercise.
- A diet high in fat, sugar and processed foods
- Toxins, stress, fear and anxiety
- Lack of exercise
General Ayurvedic Recommendations
for a Healthy Heart
Walking is excellent exercise for everyone and excellent therapy
as well. The early morning is ideal for taking a 30-minute
walk. It will not only help your heart, it will prepare you
for the day by charging up your circulation and your metabolism.
Conscious breathing, as in pranayama, is an effective means
of taking care of the heart. Practice of pranayama or breathing
exercises directly affects the functioning of the cardio-pulmonary
system. Breath control in pranayama strengthens heart muscles
and improves the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood vessels.
Ayurvedic massages with warm vata pacifying oils melt away
aches and pains, improve circulation and general body tone,
relieve mental and physical fatigue, and reduce blood pressure
and heart rate. For me regular massages are no only a treat,
they are a necessity! I also religiously do the Ayurvedic
warm oil self-massage (abhyanga) before taking a warm bath
or shower, which is a great way to start or end the day!
A Fresh, Wholesome Diet
You can make your diet more heart-healthy by eating lots of
fresh fruits, whole grains and vegetables, dressing your veggies
with fresh lime juice and by using heart-friendly spices such
as fresh-ground black pepper and the antioxidant power-spice
turmeric. Choose fresh foods over processed foods or leftovers,
light foods over rich foods. Western nutritionists recommend
the same diet, for instance a raw food diet, for everyone.
Ayurveda, on the other hand, recommends different foods for
different constitutions. Consult with a certified Ayurvedic
practitioner to find out which foods are detrimental to your
health and which foods could actually aid the natural cleansing
and healing processes within the body based on your individual
When was the last time you had a vacation? In Europe six weeks
of paid vacation time are the norm, in the US you are lucky
when you get two weeks. We need time for ourselves, time for
simply doing nothing, time for day-dreaming. We need to be
far away from computers and cell phones on a regular basis.
Our bodies can only heal and rejuvenate when we give them
time to rest.
New research shows that people who practice yoga and meditation
at least three times a week may reduce their blood pressure,
pulse and -- most importantly -- their risk of heart disease.
Roses have been the ideal gift to express love and forgiveness
for thousands of years. They literally soothe the heart and
Rose oil regulates heart palpitations, reduces blood pressure
and enhances blood circulation. On the emotional level rose
oil has a calming effect for grief, anger, depression, stress
and resentment. Massaging a few drops of high quality rose
oil into the center of the palms, soles of the feet and the
center of the sternum reduces sadness, confusion, or frustration,
and will help promote sleep.
A traditional preparation using the rose is rose petal jam,
made by cooking rose petals and sugar (or you can buy it online
from www.mapi.com). Eaten straight from the jar, or made into
a drink with milk or fresh yogurt and water, rose petal jam
has a cooling, soothing effect on mind and body.
Meditation is one of the best ways to relax, dissolve stress
and allow the body to heal. By meditating for 10 to 20 minutes
twice a day, a person’s heart may be healed.
Arterial plaque is toxic matter (ama) that builds up in the
blood vessels because the body cannot get rid of it efficiently.
Ayurveda recommends a program of internal cleansing (Panchakarma)
with every change of season to help your body flush out ama.
Panchakarma cleanses and nourishes the body, mind and soul
on many levels. It is also good for the heart: A study researched
the effects of a three-to-five-day panchakarma cleanse with
the following results: Three months later, the total cholesterol
had dropped acutely, HDL (the good cholesterol) rose 7.5 %,
free radical damage fell significantly, blood pressure dropped,
and problems with anxiety improved. Vasoactive intestinal
peptide, which is a coronary vasodilator, increased substantially.
These findings confirm the efficacy of panchakarma for cardiovascular
Ayurvedic practitioners believe that drinking water purified
by keeping it over night in a copper vessel will help prevent
According to Ayurvedic texts this herb was created by the
gods to help the famous warrior Arjuna make a difficult decision.
A great restorative, Arjuna soothes both physical and emotional
heart. Take ½ teaspoon 3 times a day with honey and
warm water. Arjuna is a coronary vasodilator, it protects
the heart, strengthens circulation, and helps maintain tone
and health of the heart muscle.
Ashwagandha is another powerful rasayana (rejuvenative tonic)
that sweeps away stress and ensures good sleep, thereby healing
an overworked heart. Ashwagandha slows down the circulation
of adrenaline, the stress hormone that can literally cause
wear and tear on the heart muscle. Ashwagandha reduces blood
cortisol, which impairs heart health.
Make fresh ginger tea by boiling a little grated or sliced
ginger in a cup or two of water. Or grate a little ginger
and add it to your rice or soup. Eating a little bit of ginger
every day will help to prevent heart disease.
Tulsi or Holy Basil has many medicinal properties. The leaves
are a nerve tonic and also sharpen memory. Drink a cup of
tulsi tea every day.
Tulsi is thought to open the heart and mind, and bestow love,
compassion, and faith.
believes in prevention, as well as a holistic approach to
healing. Spend time everyday doing things that give you contentment
and happiness. Listen to soothing or uplifting music, enjoy
serene natural beauty, practice uplifting aromatherapy, sip
relaxing herbal teas, enjoy the company of good friends. Never
rush, take your time, don’t gossip or criticize others,
maintain a positive attitude, and walk away from stressful
Ward, L.Ac, Dipl. C.H., CAS
is a Licensed Acupuncturist
and Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist in Santa Barbara,
She specializes in nutrition based on the principles
of Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine and Western medical
research. Her treatments focus on Ayurvedic
women's health, and chronic
combines acupuncture, therapeutic massage, cupping,
essential oils, and herbal recommendations in her