Plants are Nature’s pharmacy. Most drugs are derived from plant compounds, but the original plants chemicals tend to be more effective and have fewer side effects than their pharmaceutical derivatives. Herbalism is often seen as a quack science by mainstream medicine, but the pharmacological effects of many herbs have been scientifically observed and reported. Many plants posses cardioprotective effects if consumed regularly.
Hawthorn is found in hedgerows throughout Europe. The flower of the hawthorn tree contains the substance tyramine which is thought to be protective of heart function. Tyramine may increase catecholamine release, which explains the ability of hawthorne to strengthen the heat beat. The flowers and berries are rich sources of flavonoids, including anthocyanins, which may have cardioprotective properties through the prevention of endothelial dysfunction.
2. Horse Chestnut
The horse chestnut tree is best known for producing seeds called conkers. The conkers from the horse chestnut tree contain aescin which is able to cause constriction of blood vessels and thus prevent oedema and inflammation. Both the bark and the conkers are a rich source of flavonoids such as aesculetin, which may improve circulation. Evidence suggests that horse chestnut may be an effective treatment to strengthen blood vessels and increase blood flow.
3. Olive Leaf
Olive groves are found throughout the Mediterranean regions, where the olive leaves are used medicinally in tinctures and infusions. In particular olive leaf is used in conjunction with other medicinal plants to lower blood pressure. The leaves contain secoiridoids such as oleuropein which may be the active chemical that lowers blood pressure. Oleuropein may also dilate the coronary artery, modulate heartbeat and help regulate blood sugar levels.
4. Butcher’s Broom
Butcher’s broom is found in southern England and Wales. It has spiky leaves and possesses red berries. The plant is a rich source of steroidal saponins that may have cardioprotective effects. In particular, butcher’s broom may be effective at preventing oedema, poor circulation, varicose veins and may protect veins and capillaries. Studies in Europe attest to the effectiveness of butcher’s broom through published papers from clinical trials.
Celery is a plant possessing a ridged shiny stem. The wild variety has an unpleasant taste, but cultivated varieties are often used in soups, salads and other foods. The stem contains a compound called 3-n-butylphthalide that may have blood pressure lowering effects. Evidence suggests that celery also possesses anti-inflammatory effects which may also provide cardioprotective activity. Blood pressure lowering effects may be seen by eating only a few stems per day.