Note: This article is about primary prevention of heart attacks in people who have no history of heart disease. Heart patients should follow their doctor's advice and take aspirin as recommended. In addition, Ayurvedic methods of heart attack prevention can still be used.
Nobody wants to have a heart attack--and many of us have got used to the idea that popping a baby aspirin a day is a way to prevent heart attacks. Yet a recent update from the FDA reminds us that this strategy is not a safe or effective method of preventing heart attacks.
"The FDA has reviewed the available data and does not believe the evidence supports the general use of aspirin for primary prevention of a heart attack or stroke. In fact, there are serious risks associated with the use of aspirin, including increased risk of bleeding in the stomach and brain, in situations where the benefit of aspirin for primary prevention has not been established."
If taking aspirin might do more harm than good, what methods does Ayurveda recommend for primary heart attack prevention? Ayurveda emphasizes a threefold approach of diet, lifestyle and herbs.
Prevent heart attacks through diet
Follow a diet diet of whole, unrefined foods, favouring local and seasonal produce. Chronic diseases such as heart attacks and cancer are partly due to "free radicals" which oxidize our tissues much as rust affects a car. Colourful fruits, vegetables and legumes are full of antioxidants to help keep our body 'rust free.' Right now, pomegranate, a powerful antioxidant fruit, is in season, so try to enjoy some. Foods high in fibre, such as vegetables, beans and whole grains, also help protect the heart, as do healthy fats like coconut oil.
Prevent heart attacks through lifestyle
A good lifestyle plan includes both Do's and Don't's. Don't smoke, consume excess alcohol or eat junk foods and hydrogenated fats. Do exercise, practice yoga or chi gong, and meditate. Most of all--keep your heart open and stay free of resentment and bitterness. An open heart is a healthy heart!
Prevent Heart attacks with home remedies
Turmeric is a wonderful antioxidant, blood thinner and anti-inflammatory. Turmeric also lowers blood sugar, another important component in heart attack risk. Much the same can be said for ginger. So season your food with plenty of turmeric and ginger. Use fresh ginger for vata and pitta, dry ginger for kapha. Tulsi is another herb that is antioxidant, lowers blood sugar and helps balance blood lipids. Enjoy Trinity Tea (tulsi, turmeric and ginger). Cinnamon is delicious seasoning that has strong antioxidant properties and helps keep blood sugar in balance. And triphala, a combination of three powerful antioxidant fruits, is extremely rich in polyphenols and tannins to protect your heart. So try taking half a teaspoon of triphala daily. Steep in hot water and strain; take at bedtime or upon waking.
(If you are pregnant, consult an Ayurvedic practitioner before using home remedies).
Prevent heart attacks with herbs
The Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia offers many powerful herbs to help prevent and treat heart disease. Arjun (terminalia arjuna), strengthens the heart, lowers blood pressure and helps balance blood lipids. Various classical guggulu formulations can be used to help clear the arteries and balance blood lipids. Hawthorne berry helps normalize blood lipids. These herbs are extremely powerful and must be used properly, with attention to individual constitution and seasonal factors. An Ayurvedic practitioner can help you create the best herbals regimen to enhance your overall health and help prevent heart attacks.
Alakananda Ma M.B., B.S. (Lond.) is an Ayurvedic Doctor (NAMA) and graduate of a top London medical school. She is co-founder of Alandi Ayurveda Clinic and Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula in Boulder Colorado, as well as a spiritual mother, teacher, flower essence maker and storyteller. Alakananda is a well known and highly respected practitioner in the Ayurveda community both nationally and internationally.
Enliven your holistic health! Visit Alakananda Ma in Alandi Ashram’s ayurvedic clinic to support the overall rejuvenation of your body, mind, and spirit. In-person and virtual appointments available. Book now!