Due to the
COVID-19 pandemic, we all seem to be under an inordinate amount of stress—from
worrying about getting infected, to anxiety about mounting bills, to concerns
about home schooling … and the list goes on. Even if our blood pressure and
cholesterol levels are within
normal range, over time, chronic stress can wreak havoc on our heart health. It
is more important than ever that we familiarize ourselves with the following
herbs and foods that have been proven to prevent heart problems and incorporate
them into our diets.
(a food that is
cheap, easy to use, and readily available)
Christopher Hobbs, renowned botanist, herbalist
and teacher, highly regards garlic as the world’s most respected medicinal
plant and says not only does it have thousands of years of historical medicinal
usage, but it has also been the subject of numerous research studies, including
more than 250 on its cardiovascular effects. (And don’t forget its sidekick,
onions, equally as medicinal.) These studies show:
can reduce the tendency of the blood to form life-threatening clots (possibly
leading to heart attack or stroke) by adding as little as two-thirds of a clove
per day to meals. The ability of the blood to destroy clots that may be forming
is increased by 50 to 80 percent when using even one clove a day. The best
advice about taking garlic seems to be, Eat it raw, cook with it, take it as a
supplement―but do use it every day.
has only moderate blood pressure-lowering effects; it must be taken regularly
for any significant benefits, but even the modest 7 to 10 percent that
double-blind studies have shown can be helpful for those taking garlic for its
other stronger effects.
For many herbalists, hawthorn is the very first
plant we think of for heart health. It works in numerous ways, many of which we
don’t fully understand. But what we do know, thanks to numerous recent studies,
is that hawthorn shows the ability to lower LDL (low-density lipoprotein) (bad
cholesterol) and reduce blood pressure when used regularly for several months. Hawthorn
is rich in citric acid and vitamin C, and improves the way our heart acts as a
pump to push out the right amount of blood in the right rhythm for proper
circulation. It is a true heart tonic, and the longer it is taken, the better
the effects. Hawthorn’s many heart-health benefits can ease fatigue, certain
pain that comes with heart weakness, and palpitations.
Hawthorn can be taken alone or combined with
other heart-healthy herbs, like hibiscus.
According to a 2008 American Heart Association report, drinking hibiscus tea
cuts down the circulatory force in hypertensive adults. If you have Type 2
diabetes, hibiscus may help reduce cholesterol and triglycerides. It is
delicious hot or cold, with a bit of honey due to its bitter taste.
Here is a recipe from LearningHerbs.com that we have amended a bit to our liking. So
delicious, your heart will thank you. We’ve also included a pickled garlic
recipe that has many uses.
Double H Heart Cordial
1 cup dried hawthorn berries, crushed but not
1 apple or pear, chopped, seeds removed
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
3 cardamom pods, crushed
1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick, broken
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 Tbsp dried hibiscus flowers
¼ cup dried rosehips
⅓ cup unsweetened pomegranate or cranberry juice
½ cup honey
2 cups brandy or your favorite warming liquor
Place all herbs, spices and fruit in a quart
jar. Add your preferred juice and honey, then fill the jar up with your warming
liquor. Infuse this for at least 4 weeks, shaking and infusing your love daily.
Strain. This can be mixed with sparkling water for an added “special event”
Fill any size glass jar with peeled garlic
cloves and add 1 Tbsp fennel seeds. Fill the jar with a combination of ½
vinegar and ½ local honey (warm this combination for ease of blending). Make
sure all the garlic is completely covered. Cover the jar securely with plastic wrap
and lid, and let sit for 6 months. Do not shake. Watch to see if the jar builds
up gas, and burp jar as needed (the fennel seed should help avoid this). When
ready, use this in any recipe calling for garlic, in salads or rice, or eat it
by itself. Your heart … and immune system will love you.
Note: Do not rush this “brewing” process. Six
months is a long time to wait, but the wait will be worth it. We promise! If
you try it earlier, it might not taste as good.
To a strong heart!
Madalyn Johnson (left) and Kathleen Gould (right)
registered herbalist, and Madalyn Johnson are proprietors of SW Herb Shop and
Gathering Place. Gould has been an herbalist for 30-plus years and has
extensive experience in herbal medicine. For more information, call
480-694-9931, or visit SWHerb.com or Store.SWHerb.com.