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The human body has 60,000 miles of blood vessels that irrigate our cells from head to toe. When focusing on health, we must remember that all the good food vitamins, minerals, supplements and herbals that we proactively consume to optimally fuel our bodies must be absorbed through our GI tract and get delivered to trillions of cells through our body. This requires a healthy circulatory system. As I advise my patients, whether you’re focused on optimizing brain function, building stronger muscles, nurturing your immune system or nourishing any body part, good circulation is key.
Many health savvy consumers are well-aware that cholesterol is not the only enemy to our blood vessels. There are other considerations that must be addressed to protect blood vessels, our body’s very own irrigation system.
I have my patients focus beyond merely cholesterol and control risk factors that, if not sufficiently controlled will damage blood vessels. For example, elevated inflammation, which is often measured by a simple blood test called C-reactive protein. Also, it is essential to have one’s homocysteine, fibrinogen and cholesterol particle size measured. Over 90 percent of patients are not aware that the size of their LDL (bad cholesterol) is vitally important. If one’s LDL is 130 but small in size, it is far more dangerous than an LDL of 130, which is large is size. Same numbers yet a big different in risk factor. I encourage all my patients get these tests measured routinely. Knowledge is power!
Ensure targeted antioxidant and anti-inflammatory pathways are sufficiently fueled to quench the damage that our bodies endure from just regular wear and tear that we face with normal non-stressed living. With additional environmental, genetic and health burdens, often even greater proactive steps need to be taken to protect our blood vessels.
One of the most challenging concepts for patients to grasp at first is that the more aerobic exercise they do, the higher the free radical damage. After all, aerobic exercise is, by definition, the use of oxygen. Yet, with each deep breath, there is greater oxygen exposure, leading to higher risk of oxidative (free radical) damage.
5 Herbs to Support Your Circulatory Health
I have several herbs that I like to use with my patients to support a healthy circulatory system. These botanicals can help support inflammatory pathways, provide antioxidant protection and target unique biochemical pathways naturally occurring within our bodies.
Hawthorn is a naturally rich source of bioflavonoids, like oligomeric procyanidins (OPCs), vitexin, vitexin 4’-O-rhamnoside, quercetin and hyperoside, and several other active constituents. Researchers have focused on how Hawthorn can help support heart and blood vessel health and overall circulatory performance. The average person with a heart rate of 72 beats per minute will have their heart beat 103,680 per day. Thus, it is vitally important help support healthy blood pressure and decrease the workload the heart faces each day.
Garlic is, without question, the perfect example of food as medicine. Scientific literature abounds with promising research about how it may support healthy blood properties and even brain health.
Ginger is well known for its ability to help with nausea and as a digestive aid, yet Ginger has also been studied for its effects on helping with mild pain. Its digestive and suggested anti-inflammatory properties earned it a spot on my ‘favorites list’ for supporting a healthy GI tract, the center for whole body wellness. Avoid “inflam-aging”!
Turmeric is without question the new superstar of the herbal world. It has been used for a millennia by many indigenous cultures as a natural way to spice up one’s cuisine. One of the challenges is that Turmeric, also referred to often as curcumin, is that it has a relatively low natural bioavailability, or ability to absorb from the GI tract. Thus, the addition of Bioperine - derived from black pepper - has been shown to augment our body’s assimilation of Turmeric. I have actively used Turmeric in my clinical practice for the last two decades for a multitude of health supportive goals. Many of us know it as a natural support for inflammation, helpful for injuries and aches and mild pains. The same supportive properties can often help support inflammation that can damage blood vessels as well. Turmeric also contains antioxidant properties, which comes from the curcumins and supports antioxidant activity similar to what is found in vitamins E and C. This is believed to help improve overall good health.
Ginkgo has traditionally been used for its ability to support brain health. It also has the ability to confer antioxidant benefits along with supporting circulation.
We must nurture our circulatory system commensurate to our genetic and individual risk factors. It is far better to be proactive and be in charge, which I rather than being reactive, which is when we hope the healthcare system can save the day.
Dr. Chris Meletis, N.D., has 24-years of experience practicing as a Naturopathic Doctor in Portland, Oregon. He is dedicated to using his vast knowledge about alternative medicine to help his patients and generously give to those in need. He has written over a dozen books and 100's of national articles, and was named Naturopathic Physician of the Year in 2003 by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. Read more about Dr. Meletis here. Or, visit our "Ask Dr. Meletis, N.D." page for additional articles.
*Statements herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to treat or diagnose any disease or health condition. The information on this website, and provided by Dr. Chris Meletis, N.D., is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is recommended that patients check with their doctors before taking herbs, to ensure that there are no contraindications with prescription medications. There is additional information linked within this site to HealthNotes®, a third party educational source, containing the latest research on health and supplements. Oregon's Wild Harvest will not be held accountable for this information and consider it an education reference only.