- Essential Oils for High Blood Pressure
- Manage stress with 8 essential oils
- 12 Essential Oils For a Better Night’s Sleep
- Essential Oil Inhalation on Blood Pressure and Salivary Cortisol Levels in Prehypertensive and Hypertensive Subjects
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Methods
- 3. Results
- 4. Discussion
- 5. Conclusion
- Conflict of Interest
- Can essential oils help lower hypertension?
- 5 Most Effective Essential Oils for Heart Health
- Best Essential Oils for Heart Health
- Orange Bergamot
- Ylang Ylang
- Let’s Keep the Conversation Going
- Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
- What Is Tachycardia?
- Tachycardia: 7 Natural Ways to Manage Symptoms
- Key Points
- Take-Away Lessons
- Soothed by Essential Oils
- Essential Oils for Heart Health: What You Need to Know
- Is aromatherapy good for your heart?
- Clary sage
- Ylang ylang
- What Is Coronary Heart Disease?
- CHD vs. CAD vs. Atherosclerosis
- Conventional Treatment
- Natural Remedies for Coronary Heart Disease
Essential Oils for High Blood Pressure
Here are 18 of the essential oils that are recommended by those who advocate their use for the treatment of high blood pressure.
Bergamot essential oil may lower heart rate and blood pressure.
Cedarwood essential oil can promote relaxation and temporarily decrease heart rate.
Citronella essential oil helps to ease stress. This in turn can lower blood pressure.
Clary sage essential oil can reduce anxiety levels and thus lower blood pressure.
Frankincense essential oil may reduce stress levels and regulate the heart.
Jasmine essential oil might ease a tense nervous system.
Helichrysum essential oil is believed to have hypotensive properties that act as a natural relaxant to reduce blood pressure.
Lavender essential oil has calming properties that may reduce anxiety and heart rate.
Lemon essential oil is believed to relieve stress and depression, and as such support lowering blood pressure naturally.
Lemon balm essential oil may decrease blood pressure while protecting against heart palpitations, tachycardia, and heart attacks.
Lime essential oil is said to have stress-reducing properties.
Neroli essential oil may have antihypertension properties.
The calming effect and anti-inflammatory characteristics of rose essential oil helps relax the entire body to increase blood circulation and lower high blood pressure.
Sage essential oil may promote weight loss through increasing the body’s metabolism. Weight loss has been shown to have a positive influence on lowering blood pressure.
Sweet marjoram essential oil may dilate blood vessels to lower high blood pressure.
Valerian essential oil may have powerful calming effects on the nervous system, which can:
- lower blood pressure
- ease heart palpitations
- ease insomnia
- calm hyperactivity
- reduce nervous tension
Yarrow essential oil is considered one of the top oils for improving blood circulation.
Ylang ylang essential oil may help decrease levels of cortisol, known as the “stress hormone,” and thus lower blood pressure.
Manage stress with 8 essential oils
Join us for a live webinar at 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 27! We’ll talk about Emotions and Oils: Learn how to support your emotional health with special guest Brooke Vreeman, who specializes in essential oils for the emotions.
Life is stressful enough, but going through a cancer diagnosis and treatment takes stress to the ultimate level. I want to teach you simple, nontoxic ways to ease your stress and focus on your life.
So, why is stress such a big deal? It’s actually considered a “silent killer.” Too much stress over long periods of time takes a toll and can lead to high anxiety, irritability, headaches, fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, chronic respiratory disorders, sleep disorders, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, infertility and more. In fact, about two-thirds of doctor’s visits are for stress-related complaints.
Just a few years ago, I had high anxiety. I was irritable every day, my gut issues were at their worst and I was so tired I could hardly function a full day without a nap. My internist advised me to get my stress under control if I wanted to feel better. But how?
In my search to heal my gut and reduce my stress, I found essential oils, which can help manage stress along with other active ways (e.g., yoga, meditation, exercise, socializing with friends, getting enough sleep, reading, listening to music, a healthy diet, reducing processed foods and toxins).
MORE: Have you tried meditation? Sherry shares how it helps her manage stress
Essential oils can help reprogram a body’s stress response on a chemical level. Some oils that can interrupt unhealthy stress response include: lavender, bergamot, roman chamomile, wild orange, vetiver, frankincense, the restful blend and the reassuring blend.
The most popular way to use these oils is aromatically. When the scent of an essential oil is inhaled, molecules enter the nasal cavities and stimulate a firing of mental response in the limbic system of the brain. These stimulants regulate stress or calming responses, such as heart rate, breathing patterns, production of hormones and blood pressure.
My 8 favorite essential oils to manage stress:
Lavender relaxes the body, soothes emotions and reduces feelings of restlessness and irritability. It also can balance personality as it’s the ultimate adaptogen oil, which stabilizes physiological processes and promotes homeostasis. Diffuse 4-5 drops anytime you need it:
- For an easy lavender neck rub: Combine 3 drops of lavender with 1 tsp fractionated coconut oil, then apply behind the ears and on the wrists for calming.
- Use the cupping method: Rub 1-2 drops in your hands, cup your hands several inches from your mouth and nose, then take a few deep breaths in through your nose.
Bergamot is calming and uplifting to mood, induces relaxation and reduces agitation. Bergamot is powerful combined with lavender and frankincense diffused or applied topically:
- Diffuser: Add 4-5 drops (2 drops each bergamot, lavender and frankincense)
- Cupping method: 1 drop of each in your hands (rub together, then cup your hands over your nose)
Wild Orange energizes while reducing feelings of anxiety and depression. It’s also a powerful antioxidant to support a healthy immune system and overall health. Try these methods:
- Add 1 drop each of wild orange, peppermint and frankincense into your hands, rub together and inhale deeply for an energy boost.
- Rub that combination on the back of your neck.
- Take 1 drop in a glass of water 2 or 3 times throughout the day to help restore endocrine and immune systems.
Vetiver improves focus, is calming and grounding to the emotions, acts as a nervous system tonic, decreases jitteriness and hypersensitivity and is great for a high-energy child or adult.
- Diffuse with lavender, balance or restful blend to calm the emotions.
- Diffuse 2 drops each vetiver, wild orange and serenity for a deep sleep.
MORE: How Sherry uses guided imagery to beat stress
Frankincense quiets the mind and is great for meditation and prayer for its grounding and centering qualities. It also provides a calming and tranquil energy. It is incredibly powerful for immune support and the cellular system, as well.
- Diffuse 3-4 drops by itself, 1 drop added to a few drops of coconut oil rubbed over your heart.
- Diffuse 2 drops each frankincense, bergamot and lavender.
- Add 1 drop of each and use as a hand massage.
Restful Blend is one of my favorite blends! It promotes relaxation, lessens feelings of tension and calms emotions, and supports restful sleep. Try these methods:
- Use 5-6 drops on Epsom salts for a calming bath.
- Apply a drop to wrists and behind ears to reduce anxious feelings.
- Diffuse 3-5 drops for relaxation.
- Diffuse at night and apply a drop to the bottom of each foot before bedtime.
Reassuring Blend promotes feelings of contentment, composure and reassurance when anxious feelings overwhelm your emotions. This also counteracts anxious and fearful emotions. Try these methods:
- Diffuse 3-4 drops at nighttime to promote a calming environment and restful sleep.
- Diffuse or inhale before taking a test, presenting to a large group or in times of worry or distress.
- Apply 1 drop with ½ tsp of coconut oil to the bottoms of the feet for small children (dilute appropriately for the child’s age).
Grounding Blend creates a sense of calm and well being, promotes tranquility and relaxation, brings harmony to the mind and body, can ease anxious feelings and provides a grounding and balancing effect on the emotions. I love this one as perfume on my wrists so I can smell it throughout the day and benefit emotionally from the blend. Try these methods:
- Apply to the wrists and back of the neck as needed (remember 1-2 drops is all you need).
- Diffuse with serenity and/or wild orange – 2 drops each
- Apply a drop to the bottom of each foot in the morning for help balancing your emotions before you get your day going. Again, cupping method is a great option!
Want to learn more? Check out these articles packed with information on how stress affects your musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous and reproductive systems.
Please join us for our monthly live webinar at 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 27. The topic this month is Emotions and Oils: Learn how to support your emotional health. Special guest Brooke Vreeman, who specializes in essential oils for the emotions, will join us!
Remember, it’s super important to ensure any oils used are certified pure therapeutic grade, with no synthetics or fillers, and they are sourced indigenously to ensure potency. Essential oils aren’t regulated, so companies can write “pure” on their label even if that isn’t true – and many do. A reputable company can provide testing results showing the purity IF their oils are indeed pure. To label a bottle pure, there only has to be 25% essential oil in the bottle, so who knows what they fill the rest of the bottle with! It’s scary!
For a list of questions to ask, see my post about using essential oils for nontoxic cleaning!
Aromatherapy, which involves Inhaling the vapors from essential oils, may be beneficial for short periods, but could harm the heart if done for too long, a new study from Taiwan suggests.
In the study, 100 spa workers in Taipei sat in a room and breathed in the vapors of bergamot oil — a concentrated, citrusy extract — for two hours, while researchers measured their blood pressure and heart rate, as well as the level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air. VOCs are substances, including essential oils, which easily evaporate at room temperature.
During the first hour, the workers’ blood pressure and heart rates went down. After 45 minutes, the average systolic blood pressure measurement had dropped by 2.10 mmHg, and the heart rate by 2.21 beats per minute. This finding agrees with some previous research showing essential oils relieve stress.
However, after 120 minutes, the researchers saw the opposite effect. Systolic blood pressure not only returned to the baseline level, it had risen by about 2.19 mmHg, and the heart rate was 1.70 beats per minute higher than at baseline.
“These findings suggest that overexposure to essential oil might be harmful to cardiovascular health,” the researchers wrote in the Nov. 29 issue of the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
Previous studies have linked VOCs with an increased risk of asthma, as well as death from cardiovascular disease. Breathing these compounds may increase inflammation in the body, and alter nervous system functioning, which could then affect heart health, the researchers said.
However, further studies are needed to confirm the new results. While elevated blood pressure and heart rate are markers for cardiovascular disease, it’s not clear whether small, short-term fluctuations in these measures could lead to heart problems, the researchers said. In addition, because the researchers measured total VOC levels, other compounds in the air besides those from the oil vapor itself could have influenced the results.
The finding “brings to light that more isn’t better all the time,” said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who was not involved in the study. While the findings are preliminary, it would be concerning if the elevated heart rate and blood pressure seen in the study were chronic, Steinbaum said.
Pass it on: Aromatherapy may increase blood pressure and heart rate if used for too long.
Follow Rachael Rettner on Twitter @RachaelRettner, or MyHealthNewsDaily @MyHealth_MHND. We’re also on Facebook & Google+.
12 Essential Oils For a Better Night’s Sleep
As anyone who’s ever suffered from insomnia will tell you, there’s no substitute for a good night’s sleep. With all the pressures of modern day life, though, that sleep can be hard to come by. When things aren’t right–whether your blood pressure is up, there are problems at work or even at home–the body responds to those strains and struggles to relax.
The good news is that often natural methods can help improve sleep. Certain essential oils, utilized in the right manner and proportions, can land you comfortably in dreamland!
A few drops is usually all it takes, and intake options include air diffusers, steam from pots of boiling water or simply massaging directly into the skin. Read on for the best essential oils to get your nightly forty winks and then some!
1. Lavender Oil
Well known for its versatility of benefits, lavender oil is top-of-field when it comes to help with sleep as well. Numerous studies have cited the effectiveness of inhaling lavender oil to keep insomnia at bay. In large part, this is related to the other benefits lavender oil confers, which include lowering heart rate, temperature and blood pressure, all processes which–not incidentally–mirror the stages the body undergoes when easing into sleep. Lavender oil is also known to reduce anxiety, which is critical to relaxing at the end of a long day fraught with any number of difficulties.
2. Ylang Ylang Oil
Perhaps not quite as potent a sleep remedy as lavender oil, ylang ylang isn’t far behind. An extract of tropical trees in Asia, ylang ylang–like lavender oil–lowers blood pressure and heart rate and quite naturally sets the body up for sleep. When breathed in, the oil gives off a very fruity and pleasing scent, something which is calming in its own right.
3. Chamomile Oil
The soothing effects of chamomile oil and its benefits in bringing about sleep are more general than specific. The direct effects of this oil on the body’s rhythms and temperature is minimal, but when diffused in the air, the subtle floral aroma has a calming and relaxing effect on the mind. Roman chamomile in particular–with its fresh, apple-tinged fragrance–is ideal for staving off anxiety.
4. Peppermint Oil
Not a traditional sleep aid, peppermint oil nonetheless is great for promoting restfulness by clearing your head, both figuratively and literally. The pleasant aroma of peppermint oil can be relaxing, but more to the point, if you suffer from any seasonal allergies or dust sensitivity, nothing will ease your symptoms better or more quickly than diffusing some peppermint oil in the air of your bedroom. Once you finally find relief for those sore nasal passages, the drop-off to relaxation and then sleep is sudden and satisfying.
5. Bergamot Oil
Bergamot oil has a little something for everyone, and insomnia-sufferers are no exception. Noted for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, bergamot oil also reduces blood pressure and heart rate and prepares the body for sleep, much in the same way that lavender oil and ylang ylang oil do. As an added benefit, though, bergamot oil has been shown to reduce stressful thoughts, which are a common barrier to good rest. Put a few drops in a steaming pot of water and breathe in deeply and sleep won’t be far behind!
6. Sandalwood Oil
Sandalwood oil is rich both in scent and–unfortunately–in cost, but as with many such things, you get what you pay for! Few oils are as effective as sandalwood at promoting deep rest, due largely to its mood-balancing properties. While other oils may slow heart rates or chase away troubling thoughts, sandalwood oil is unique in that it evens you out emotionally. Always keep some on hand for when you need to rest and unwind and–if you prepare sleep blends–always include at least a little sandalwood as an ingredient.
7. Cedarwood Oil
With the same sort of woodsy aroma as sandalwood essential oil, cedarwood oil is a more affordable–if somewhat less effective–alternative to ease stress and take the edge off. For best results, either apply topically or blend with chamomile and then diffuse in the air of your bedroom.
8. Marjoram Oil
Many essential oils will help you get to sleep, but marjoram oil will actually keep you there. The sweet fragrance can be counted on to soothe you both physically and mentally, and to produce the kind of deep, peaceful sleep where you truly heal and recharge. When selecting a type of marjoram as a sleep aid, the sweeter the better.
9. Clary Sage Oil
For depression-suffers, clary sage oil is a must. Unlike regular sage, clary sage oil excels at combating the sort of dark thoughts that regularly besiege folks as day gives way to night, and will soothe your troubled mind enough to nudge you over those obstacles into a deep, restful slumber.
10. Vetiver Oil
Vetiver oil is less about basking in pleasing aromas and more about sheer effect. With its deep, earthy smell, vetiver oil isn’t for everybody, but it’s hard to argue with the results. If you can’t stop dwelling on the events of the day and slow your mind down into a relaxed state, vetiver oil is likely what you need. Diffuse into the air when you lay down in bed for the night and you’ll be surprised how quickly your concerns begin to melt away.
11. Eucalyptus Oil
Like peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil combines a naturally relaxing aroma with potent sinus-clearing properties. If you’re one who suffers from excessive phlegm production when you get prone to sleep, eucalyptus oil provides the dual benefit of relaxing you and relieving your congestion so that you can get the good night’s sleep that you need.
12. Valerian Oil
Last but not least is valerian oil, well known for having a deeply calming effect overall. Valerian is used as an ingredient in many nighttime teas for exactly this reason. Like marjoram, valerian oil will ensure that you not only sleep but sleep well.
Once you find the right oil (or oils!) for you, your midday yawns will be a thing of the past!
*The contents of this article and blog should not be considered medical advice. Please ask your practitioner prior to implementing essential oils into your treatment plan.
Essential Oil Inhalation on Blood Pressure and Salivary Cortisol Levels in Prehypertensive and Hypertensive Subjects
The purpose of this study was to identify the effects of essential oil inhalation on the 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure (BP) and salivary cortisol level in 83 prehypertensive and hypertensive subjects. The experimental group ( ) was asked to inhale an essential oil blended with lavender, ylang-ylang, marjoram, and neroli (20 : 15 : 10 : 2), whereas the placebo group ( ) was asked to inhale an artificial fragrance for 24 hours and the control group received no treatment ( ). The SBP ( ) and DBP ( ) measured at home in the experimental group were significantly decreased compared with the placebo group and the control group after treatment. The daytime SBP during the 24-hour ambulatory BP measurement of the experimental group presented with significant decreases in comparison with the measurements of the placebo group and the control group ( ). There was no statistically significant difference in the nighttime SBPs. The daytime DBPs during the 24-hour ambulatory BP measurements of the experimental group presented with significant decreases in comparison with the measurements of the placebo group and the control group ( ). There was no significant difference in the night time DBPs. The experimental group showed significant decreases in the concentration of salivary cortisol in comparison with the concentrations of the placebo group and the control group ( ). In conclusion, the inhalation of an essential oil had immediate and continuous effects on the home SBP, daytime BP, and the stress reduction. Essential oils may have relaxation effects for controlling hypertension.
The prevalence of hypertension in adults older than 30 increased from 2.3% to 24.6% in 2007 to 26.9% in 2008, with males having a higher prevalence than females (29.4% versus 26.4% of females), and the prevalence increases with age. The prevalence of prehypertension is 23.4% overall and is also higher in males (28.4% versus 18.7% of females), with a significant increase in prevalence starting in the 40s .
The management of hypertension is primarily focused on the use of antihypertensive medications and lifestyle modifications , but many patients have difficulty accepting pharmacotherapy because the duration of therapy will be lifelong and because long-term pharmacotherapy will lead to target organ damage. Although the rate of pharmacotherapy is rising, from 18.2% in 1998 to 47.1% in 2005, 58% in 2007, and 59.4% in 2008, this rate is still much lower compared to the 68% in the United States .
There are many complementary and alternative therapies aimed at lowering the activity of the sympathetic nervous system in patients with hypertension . Aromatherapy has been claimed to be effective in decreasing one’s BP, and heart rate using the essential oil of plants . However, previous studies measured BP once or twice weekly to monitor physiological changes to assess the antihypertensive effect of essential oils . In clinical practice, the diagnosis of hypertension using one or two BP measurements and the subsequent evaluation of a therapeutic effect on the patient leave much room for error. Thus, a 24-hour ambulatory BP monitoring and self-measurement have been advocated , and a 24-hour ambulatory BP monitoring is recommended for evaluating the BP control of patients . In particular, a 24-hour ambulatory BP measurement can exclude the bias of a measurer and is an effective method for assessing the variations within the day and BP load .
Thus, this study was designed to investigate whether a four-week intervention of essential oil inhalation using a simple, comfortable necklace is effective for reducing home BP, 24-hour ambulatory BP and salivary cortisol levels among patients with prehypertension or hypertension as a self-care intervention.
2.1. Study Design
We used a nonrandomized controlled design. The participants were allocated to one of three group, aromatherapy group (inhalation of essential oil), a placebo group (artificial fragrance), and a no-treatment control group.
Data collection for this experiment occurred over a seven-month period from February 2011 to August 2011. Prior to the beginning of the study, a review of the study design was performed by the bioethics committee board of the university, and their approval was obtained. Signed consent forms were obtained from all participants, who were informed that they may withdraw from the study at any point if they do not agree with the study. Possible side effects of the oil (e.g., nausea, vomiting, allergic reaction, and headache) during the treatment were explained. Participants showing an adverse reaction to the essential oil during treatment were excluded. After data collection, patients in the control group were provided with a necklace and essential oils to inhale. The inclusion criterion was having BP meeting JNC 7 standards for prehypertension and hypertension upon a physical exam in cooperation with family medicine. The participants were males and females with the ability to communicate, between 20 and 59 years of age, and with a known administration of antihypertensive medications; all participants agreed to the study. Exclusion criteria were history of prior nose surgery, a history of asthma or allergy to fragrance, a change in antihypertensive medication dose or type during the study period, and a presence of concurrent disease.
2.3. Sample Size
The experimental treatment of this study was the inhalation of essential oils. In consultation, with an international aroma therapist, four oils were thought to have an effect on BP and the autonomic nervous system—lavender (Lavandula officinalis), ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata), marjoram (Origanum majorana), and neroli (Citrus aurantium)—were blended at a 20 : 15 : 10 : 2 ratio and stored cold. Lavender alleviates cardiac excitation, lowers BP, and is effective in hypertension and palpitations. Ylang-ylang lowers BP, alleviates palpitations and nervous system excitation, and promotes emotional relaxation . Marjoram lowers sympathetic nervous system activity and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in vasodilatation to reduce cardiac strain and decrease BP. Neroli brings forth emotional soothing and comfort and is effective in cardiac palpitations secondary to shock or fear .
As the method of intervention, the study group was provided with a necklace with the essential oils, while the placebo group was given a necklace with artificial fragrance. The subjects were instructed to wear the necklace during the daytime and place an aroma stone with two oil drops by the bedside for a 24-hour inhalation.
To investigate the immediate effects of the essential oils, two drops of blended essential oils (study group) or artificial fragrance (placebo group) were dropped on an aroma stone between 10 AM and noon. The subjects sat in a comfortable position within 10 cm of the stone for two minutes of inhalation followed by three deep breaths.
2.5. Outcome Measures
2.5.1. Primary Main Outcomes
Home BP was measured twice each time prior to and 10 minutes after inhalation using a BP monitor with verified reliability (OMRON IA2, Japan). Subjects in the control group measured home BP twice, followed by 10 minutes without intervention, and repeated two BP measurements. Based on a study that serum levels of the main ingredients of lavender, linalool, and linalyl acetate are detected five minutes after massage with lavender and peak at 20 minutes , the stabilisation time after inhalation was considered, and home BP was measured twice after 10 minutes. BP was self-measured twice on the left arm between 10 AM and 12 PM in a location with room temperature between 18 and 24°C, in a sitting position after 5–10 minutes of rest. Ambulatory BP was measured using an ambulatory BP monitor (AND, Japan) over the span of 24 hours, with measurements every 30 minutes between 6 AM and 10 PM and every hour between 10 PM and 5:30 AM. After four weeks of intervention, all subjects from the study group, placebo group, and control group were tested for a 24-hour ambulatory BP and heart rate, and these measurements were compared against the values prior to the intervention; the salivary cortisol levels were also measured for all subjects.
2.5.2. Secondary Main Outcomes
The salivary cortisol level was obtained by rinsing the mouth with cold water between 3 and 4 PM and spitting the saliva sample 10 minutes after the rinse (without swallowing the saliva) into a sputum sample collection bottle. The collected sample was immediately stored in a freezer (−20°C) and stored until analysis; the samples were sent in an ice box for transportation to N agency for analysis. The units of measurement were in μg/dL, and the salivary cortisol level was analysed with an enzyme immunoassay (EIA) using equipment and media (ER HS SALIVARY CORTISOL, USA) designed for a microplate reader (USA).
2.6. Data Analysis
Collected data were analysed using IBM SPSS 19.0 software. Homogeneity was verified using one-way ANOVA, and the treatment effect was analysed using one-way ANOVA, ANCOVA, Kruskal-Wallis’ test, and repeated measures ANOVA.
All 90 participants were assessed for eligibility, and none were excluded in the screening test. Over the study period of four weeks, two subjects dropped out from the study group and refused to undergo the 24-hour ambulatory BP measurement (refusal of data collection), three subjects were lost from the placebo group (two for the refusal of data collection and one for a change of residence), and two were lost from the control group (one for refusal of data collection and one for the change of residence), for a total of seven patients who dropped out of the study. Thus, the data were collected and analysed for 28 subjects in the study group, 27 subjects in the placebo group, and 28 subjects in the control group.
The total number of participants in this study was 83 (28 in the study group, 27 in the placebo group, and 28 in the control group), with an average height of 168.9 cm and an average weight of 70.9 kg. The average age (in years) was 40 in the study group, 41.8 in the placebo group, and 40.1 in the control group, and the number of males in each respective group was 20 (71.4%), 19 (70.4%), and 20 (71.4%), showing no significant difference between the groups. In terms of marital status, there were 24 (85.7%), 19 (70.4%), and 24 (85.7%) married individuals in the study, placebo, and control groups, respectively, again without significant differences between groups. The participants used antihypertensive drugs were 3 of 28 in study group, 4 of 27 in placebo group, and 4 of 28 in the control group (Table 1). Homogeneity verification of the dependent variable showed no significant differences between the groups in home BP and 24-hour ambulatory BP. There was with a significant difference in salivary cortisol level between the groups ( , ).
Table 1 Homogeneity test before treatment among participants.
3.1. Immediate Effects on BP
The SBP before and after inhalation over 8 measurements in 4 weeks decreased by 4.70 mm Hg from 132.3 mm Hg to 127.6 mm Hg after the inhalation of essential oils in the study group, increased by 0.97 mm Hg from 133.3 mm Hg to 134.2 mm Hg in the placebo group, and increased by 0.66 mm Hg from 133.2 mm Hg to 133.8 mm Hg in the control group. An analysis of pre and postintervention differences found a significant difference in SBP between the groups ( , ), and there was a meaningful reduction in the study group compared with the placebo and control groups from a posthoc analysis ( ) (Table 2).
Table 2 The effect of essential oil on home BP at 10 minutes after inhalation.
The results of the eight DBP measurements over four weeks before and after inhalation in the study, placebo, and control groups identified a decrease of 1.21 mm Hg from 85.7 mm Hg to 84.5 mm Hg in the study group. There was an increase of 0.22 mm Hg from 83.8 mm Hg to 84.0 mm Hg in the placebo group and a reduction of 0.27 mm Hg from 85.0 mm Hg to 84.7 mm Hg in the control group. The changes in diastolic pressure before and after the inhalation in the three groups showed significant differences between them ( , ), and in a posthoc analysis, there was a significant reduction of BP in the study group compared with the placebo and control groups ( ) (Table 2).
The results of a subgroup analysis using prehypertensive and hypertensive subjects revealed significant differences in SBP of the prehypertensive (Kruskal-Wallis , ) and hypertensive ( , ) patients between the study, placebo, and control groups (Table 3).
Table 3 Subgroup analysis of home SBP after inhalation.
The subgroup analysis revealed significant differences in DBP after essential oil inhalation between the study, placebo, and control groups only in the hypertensive subgroup (Kruskal-Wallis , ) (Table 3).
3.2. Home BP
The SBP measurements obtained eight times over four weeks from all three groups using repeated measures ANOVA found no time-group interaction in the study group compared with other groups, but there was significance among the groups ( , ) (Table 4). Prior to the study treatment, the SBP results from an official physical examination were investigated. The values were 140.6 mm Hg for the study group, 141.0 mm Hg for the placebo group, and 140.1 mm Hg for the control group, showing no significant differences between the groups. The average BPs which were measured eight times over four weeks, two times before and after each treatment, are listed in Table 4. In the first week, pretreatment values were 136.6 mm Hg in the study group, 134.0 mm Hg in the placebo group, and 135.1 mm Hg in the control group, while posttreatment values were 131.8 mm Hg in the study group, 135.7 mm Hg in the placebo group, and 136.3 mm Hg in the control group, showing no significant difference among the three groups. By week 4, posttreatment values were 126.3 mm Hg in the study group, 132.9 mm Hg in the placebo group, and 134.0 mm Hg in the control group, with significant differences between the groups ( , ). The BP of the study group decreased to 10.3 mm Hg from the first week’s pretreatment values. In the posthoc analysis, there was a significant decrease in BP in the study group compared with the placebo and control groups (Tukey, ).
Table 4 The effects of essential oil inhalation on Home BP for 4 weeks.
Repeated measures ANOVA results for the eight DBP measurements over four weeks of essential oil treatment revealed no significant difference in a time-group interaction or with time, or in groups (Table 4). An initial investigation before treatment using office DBPs revealed values of 87.4 mm Hg in the study group, 87.0 mm Hg in the placebo group, and 86.5 mm Hg in the control group, with no meaningful difference between the groups. The average of BPs measured eight times over four weeks, twice before and after each treatment, is shown in Table 4. In the first week, pretreatment values were 87.9 mm Hg in the study group, 84.8 mm Hg in the placebo group, and 87.0 mm Hg in the control group, and, by four weeks after treatment, the respective values were 83.8 mm Hg, 83.9 mm Hg, and 84.8 mm Hg. The changes were 4.1 mm Hg in the study group, 0.9 mm Hg in the placebo group, and 2.2 mm Hg in the control group, but these changes were not significantly different.
3.3. 24-Hour Ambulatory BP
The 24-hour ambulatory BP monitoring showed a decrease of 10.77 mm Hg after inhalation from 140.6 mm Hg to 129.9 mm Hg in the study group, an increase of 3.40 mm Hg from 132.6 mm Hg to 136.0 mm Hg in the placebo group, and a decrease of 0.71 mm Hg from 136.8 mm Hg to 136.1 mm Hg in the control group. The results of BP measurements before and after essential oil inhalation found a significant difference in SBP between the three groups ( , ), and a posthoc analysis revealed a significant difference in the study group in comparison with the placebo and control groups (Tukey, ) (Table 5). The night time systolic pressure decreased by 2.61 mm Hg (from 121.1 mm Hg before inhalation to 118.5 mm Hg after inhalation) in the study group and by 0.88 mm Hg (from 116.4 mm Hg to 115.5 mm Hg) in the placebo group and increased by 3.86 mm Hg (from 114.8 mm Hg to 118.7 mm Hg) in the control group. There were no significant differences in night time SBPs pre and postinhalation between the three groups.
Table 5 The effects of essential oil inhalation on ambulatory BP among the groups.
Daytime diastolic pressure decreased by 7.11 mm Hg from 90.5 mm Hg before essential oil inhalation to 83.3 mm Hg after inhalation in the study group, increased by 1.60 mm Hg from 84.0 mm Hg to 85.6 mm Hg in the placebo group, and decreased by 0.44 mm Hg from 87.8 mm Hg to 87.3 mm Hg in the control group. There was a significant difference in the daytime diastolic pressures pre and posttreatment between the three groups ( , ), and a posthoc analysis showed a significant decrease in the study group compared with the placebo and control groups (Tukey, ). Night time DBP was increased after inhalation by 0.77 mm Hg, 0.23 mm Hg, and 1.96 mm Hg in the study, placebo, and control groups, respectively. There was no difference in night time diastolic pressure before and after essential oil inhalation between the groups.
3.4. Salivary Cortisol Concentration
The salivary cortisol concentration decreased by 0.02 μg/dL from 0.16 μg/dL before inhalation to 0.14 μg/dL after inhalation in the study group, while it increased by 0.04 μg/dL in the placebo group from 0.12 μg/dL to 0.16 μg/dL. The control group showed a change from 0.11 μg/dL to 0.13 μg/dL, for an increase of 0.02 μg/dL. There was a significant difference in salivary cortisol changes before and after intervention between the three groups ( , ) (Table 6).
Table 6 The effects of essential oil inhalation on salivary cortisol (μg/dL) among the groups.
This study aimed to identify the effect of a four weeks essential oil inhalation on the home BP, ambulatory BP, and salivary cortisol concentration in patients with hypertension and prehypertension.
As a result, the home BP decreased on average 4.70/1.21 mm Hg after inhalation in the study group, showing a significant decrease compared with the placebo and control groups. These results are consistent with the results of previous studies . However, the magnitude of the difference was very low; therefore, the clinical significance can be deemed small despite the statistical significance. However, considering the results of a 5.5-year follow-up study by the Angio-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial-BP-Lowering Arm (ASCOT-BPLA) that calcium channel blockers and ACE inhibitor combination therapy significantly lowers BP by 2.7/1.9 mm Hg and thus decreases the risk of cardiovascular death and stroke, even a small decrease in BP can have a clinical significance if long-term maintenance can be achieved .
A four-week home BP monitor shows repeated increases and decreases in BP before and after intervention and an overall decreasing trend. Thus, essential oil inhalation not only has an immediate BP-lowering effect, but also has a long-term effect. In this study, the screening office BP measured during the participant recruitment was higher than the home BP, which may be indicative of white coat hypertension. A four-week home BP monitoring to identify a long-term effect showed a decrease of 10.3/4.1 mm Hg in the study group, which is considered both statistically and clinically significant.
In the subgroup analysis using prehypertension and hypertension groups, home SBP decreased in both the prehypertension (−4.96 mm Hg) and hypertension (−4.47 mm Hg) subgroups within the study group. DBP was significantly decreased only in the hypertension subgroup. A study by Hwang showed decreased BP after aroma therapy consisting of lavender, ylang-ylang, and bergamot in stage 1 hypertension, while Jung showed decreased BP and balanced autonomic nervous system activity with lavender aromatherapy in prehypertensive middle-aged women. This result is consistent with the results from a study by the Korean Society of Hypertension , which found that aerobic exercise decreased office BP by 3.0/2.4 mm Hg and daytime ambulatory BP by 3.3/3.5 mm Hg, with a larger BP-lowering effect in hypertensive subjects compared with normotensive population. A meta-analysis of 10 studies on aroma inhalation showed a small effect on systolic and SBPs , but the decrease of systolic and diastolic home BPs with essential oil inhalation achieved in this study have a large clinical significance.
A study by Jäger et al. showed that after massage with lavender, the main ingredients of linalool and linalyl acetate were detected in the blood within five minutes and peaked at 20 minutes; by 90 minutes, they were mostly eliminated. Likewise, our experiment confirmed immediate BP lowering effects within 10 minutes of essential oil inhalation. As evidenced by Rimmer’s study , which showed the presence of the ingredients of essential oil in blood within five minutes after application along with a reduction in stress reaction, the onset of the essential oil’s effect occurs very rapidly and has an immediate effect on BP.
To identify the effect of essential oil inhalation after four weeks of treatment, a 24-hour ambulatory BP was measured and analysed during the day and the night. The daytime BP was decreased by 10.8/7.1 mm Hg and was significantly different from the placebo and control groups, while no difference was found on the night time BP. These results are consistent with previous research showing a decrease in BP of 6.7/3.0 mm Hg after three weeks of aromatherapy . However, a study comparing eight weeks of triple and double pharmacotherapy using a 24-hour ambulatory BP showed a decrease of 30.3/19.7 mm Hg and 28.0/17.8 mm Hg in the daytime and night time BPs, respectively, in the triple therapy group and a decrease of 18.8–24.1 mm Hg/11.7–15.5 mm Hg in the daytime and 18.3–22.6/11.1–14.3 in the night time BPs in the double therapy group . In comparison with these results, the effect of this complementary therapy is not large. However, according to a report that even a slight decrease in SBP (2 mm Hg) can lead to a decrease in mortality due to coronary artery disease and stroke by 7% and 10%, respectively , the average decrease in a 24-hour daytime systolic pressure of 10.77 mm Hg and diastolic pressure of 7.11 mm Hg can be considered clinically significant.
Despite the significant decrease in daytime BP found in this study, there was no significant decrease in night time BP, which contrasts with the significant decrease of both daytime and night time BPs in pharmacotherapy. We could not determine whether this difference is secondary to the use of the necklace during the daytime and aroma stones in night time or whether it is attributable to the differences in daytime and night time stress and autonomic nervous system hormones. Further research is required on this issue.
As seen in white-coat hypertension and office hypertension, to identify accurate BP and pulse of the patients, a 24-hour ambulatory BP monitoring is recommended rather than one or two BP measurements in the office. This study employed home BP and 24-hour ambulatory BP monitoring to identify the immediate and long-term effect of essential oil inhalation on decreasing BPs.
Controlling BP requires a strong will of the patient, but for a more universal approach, that is, an easy to use, self-administered, and economical approach, essential oil inhalation can be used as an effective intervention for BP control.
In this study, the concentration of salivary cortisol after the inhalation of essential oils in prehypertensive and hypertensive patients was decreased significantly in comparison with the placebo group (exposed to artificial fragrance) and the control group (no interventions). A study by Hwang showed a significant change in the serum cortisol level in the study group after four weeks of aroma inhalation, while Jung reported decreased activity of the sympathetic nervous system and increased activity of the parasympathetic nervous system after five days of aromatherapy, aiding in the balance of the autonomic nervous system. In particular, Kim reported that the inhalation group showed the most significant decrease in serum cortisol compared with the massage group. Although Seo found that aromatherapy using a necklace during the daytime for one week did not result in decreased concentration of salivary cortisol, the levels were decreased significantly when the study group was exposed to a second week of inhalation after a two-week washout period. But the cortisol difference between the pretest and the posttest was so small, further research was needed to clarify the study effects.
Of the essential oils used in this study, marjoram decreases the activity of the sympathetic nervous system and stimulates the parasympathetic system . Because the cortisol levels were increased in the placebo and control groups (in comparison with the decreased levels in the study group) in this study, the continuous essential oil therapy may have activated the parasympathetic system by controlling stressors. However, because the values were obtained before the study and four weeks after the experiment, the exact difference in cortisol concentration could not be identified, and what effect the four-week study duration had on changes in cortisol concentration could not be confirmed.
Despite an increased risk of stroke and death from cardiovascular disease in the absence of other risk factors when measured BPs are in the prehypertension or hypertension range, hypertension is often poorly managed due to its mild subjective symptoms. As such, the inhalation of essential oil, which brings out relaxation effects and stress and immunologic response control in hypertensive patients, has an immediate and chronic BP effect as observed through home monitoring and 24-hour ambulatory BP monitoring rather than a single measurement.
This study was conducted without considering the subjects’ preference for certain types of essential oils, and although the subjects had varied responses to the aroma, there was no adverse effect or repulsion towards it. Over the four-week period, the participants were actively involved in the treatment, and by self-monitoring home BP, they were able to acknowledge their BP and observe the therapeutic effects, leading to the increased willingness to control their BP.
To summarise the discussion thus far, there are many complementary therapies being researched for the management of stress and BP. Although research in aromatherapy has been approached from many angles to provide scientific evidence, there is a little current clinical use of aromatherapy in patients with hypertension or stress. To facilitate its use, a short-term administration such as a one-time inhalation or an easier, comprehensive, and patient-centred approach is required.
This work is a quasi-experimental study using a nonequivalent control group, a nonsynchronised design to identify the effects of essential oil inhalation on home BP, a 24-hour ambulatory BP, and salivary cortisol levels. Both immediate and long-term effects were identified from this study. Although a 24-hour ambulatory daytime BP was decreased significantly, no differences were found in night time BPs. In addition, decrease in salivary cortisol concentration was noted. A relaxation therapy using essential oils for BP control to prevent the progression of hypertension is strongly recommended, in particular, in the simple and convenient form of a necklace. The essential oil therapy is also believed to function as a promising nursing intervention.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) Grant funded by the Korean government (MEST) (no. 2008-0061658).
Can essential oils help lower hypertension?
People who use essential oils for high blood pressure often recommend:
Share on PinterestA person with hypertension should talk to a doctor before including essential oils in a treatment plan.
In a small study including 52 participants, researchers tested whether inhaling an oil blend containing bergamot could help reduce hypertension.
The blend also included lavender and ylang-ylang.
Based on their results, the team concluded that essential oils may help reduce high blood pressure.
People traditionally use citronella oil as a mosquito repellent, but it may benefit the health of the heart.
A small 2012 study, published in the Journal of Health Research, reports that inhaling citronella vapors may significantly reduce a person’s blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate.
A 2013 study, involving 34 female participants who were experiencing urinary incontinence, suggests that clary sage is effective at reducing blood pressure.
In the study, clary sage oil reduced the participants’ heart rates while they were undergoing urodynamic examination.
It is important to note that sage oil — as opposed to clary sage oil — contains a compound called thujone, which may increase high blood pressure.
Frankincense essential oil is a popular component of Eastern medicine. In addition to having anti-inflammatory properties, it may also help combat anxiety and similar issues.
These effects may help reduce high blood pressure. However, it is possible for people to have high blood pressure even when they feel relaxed.
Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils for enhancing relaxation and reducing stress and anxiety.
Various scientists behind a 2006 study and a 2012 study found that a blend of oils, including lavender, could reduce high blood pressure in participants who inhaled it.
Researchers have found that neroli essential oil, blended with lavender, ylang-ylang, and marjoram could reduce stress and blood pressure in people with prehypertension and hypertension.
Rose oil may have calming effects.
One study has reported that applying rose oil to the skin can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, blood oxygen saturation levels, and skin temperature.
Researchers behind a small 2017 study observed “remarkable changes” in the blood pressure and heart rates of participants who inhaled sweet marjoram essential oil.
A 2012 study mentioned above also used a blend containing marjoram oil and found similar results.
Valerian is a potent relaxing agent and a common ingredient in many natural products that claim to enhance sleep and promote calmness in humans and pets.
The European Medicines Agency points to a long history of valerian as a sleep aid before noting that the essential oil can be used to treat mild mental stress and promote sleep.
Because of these benefits, valerian essential oil may help reduce hypertension in some people.
Researchers have used ylang-ylang essential oil in combination with other oils to effectively lower blood pressure.
A small study from 2013 reported that the aroma of ylang-ylang may have a sedative effect that significantly decreases blood pressure.
5 Most Effective Essential Oils for Heart Health
Best Essential Oils for Heart Health
Maintaining a healthy heart is something that is often overlooked, especially in America.
With the amount of fast food we ingest and stress we subject our bodies to, it’s no wonder cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.
Obviously, it’ll take a lot to undo all the damage we’ve done to our bodies, but there is a quick fix—aromatherapy.
While there’s not a whole lot of conclusive evidence that aromatherapy using essential oils can cure those with heart disease, it has been linked to lowering anxiety and stress, two risk factors for high blood pressure. We’d also like to point out that overexposure to essential oils (meaning exposure for longer than one hour) may be harmful to cardiovascular health.
So proceed with caution as you scroll through our list of essential oils for heart health!
Before you continue, we’d like you to know that there are affiliate links in this post. This means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the following links. Times are tough in the publishing world, okay? We’d love for you to keep being able to enjoy fun articles like this one—for free! Oh, and P.S., prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.
Buy it on Amazon here!
Basil isn’t just one of the best herbs to cook with, it also has many proven benefits to one’s overall health. Rich in vitamin K and magnesium, using this essential oil can lower your levels of bad cholesterol. Not only should you use basil essential oil, but go ahead and add it to every dish you make.
A study conducted in Taiwan showed that spa workers who were exposed to bergamot for an hour had lowered heart rates and blood pressure. Again, too much exposure could have the reverse effects, so be sure to limit how much you use.
Juniper offers many benefits to one’s overall health and well-being. From fighting arthritis to relieving cramps, this essential oil just about does it all. It works as a carminative agent, which helps the removal of gases from the intestines. You may not know this, but this can threaten heart health. So better stock up on that juniper now.
A close relative or oregano, marjoram has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve the flow of blood. this means it can reduce your risk of heart attacks or stroke.
A study in 2013 reported that ylang ylang lowered the subjects’ heart rates and blood pressure when they inhaled the scent of the native Southeast Asian tree flower.
Let’s Keep the Conversation Going
Have you ever used any of these essential oils for heart health? Have they worked? Tweet us @womendotcom or message us on Facebook to tell us all about your experience.
Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Sania Saljoughian Nutritional Science Department, Varastegan Institute for Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran, Shahin Roohinejad Department of Food Technology and Bioprocess Engineering, Max Rubner-Institut, Federal Research Institute of Nutrition and Food, Karlsruhe, Germany; Burn and Wound Healing Research Center, Division of Food and Nutrition, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, [email protected] [email protected]
http://orcid.org/0000-0002-1524-2534 , Alaa El-Din A. Bekhit Department of Food Science, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, Ralf Greiner Department of Food Technology and Bioprocess Engineering, Max Rubner-Institut, Federal Research Institute of Nutrition and Food, Karlsruhe, Germany, Alireza Omidizadeh Nutritional Science Department, Varastegan Institute for Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran, Nooshin Nikmaram Young Researchers and Elite Club, Sabzevar Branch, Islamic Azad University, Sabzevar, Iran & Amin Mousavi Khaneghah Department of Food Science, Faculty of Food Engineering (FEA), University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Campinas, SP, Brazil show all
Tachycardia is when the heart beats faster than normal while at rest. It is a change in your heart’s rhythm, and in some cases, it is harmless. In others, it can lead to serious complications. With medical management and some lifestyle changes, however, many people can avoid the greatest risks of tachycardia.
What Is Tachycardia?
A common disorder of the heart’s rhythm, tachycardia is having a faster-than- normal heartbeat when at rest. It happens when the electrical signals that tell your heart to beat start speeding up. (1)
Normally, adults at rest have a heartbeat between 60 and 100 beats per minute. (1) Tachycardia is usually defined for adults as having a heartbeat above 100 beats per minute at rest. However, in children, tachycardia is a resting heartbeat of more than 160 beats per minute for an infant and 90 for a teenager. (2)
Tachycardia in children is rare and may be due to problems with the heart that developed before they were born. It can also be caused by illness or other health conditions. The most common type in children is supraventricular tachycardia (SVT); most kids with this problem do not need treatment, but they should be evaluated by a doctor. (2)
There are several types of tachycardia: (1, 3)
- Atrial fibrillation
- Atrial flutter
- Sinus tachycardia
- Supraventricular tachycardia, or SVT
- Ventricular tachycardia
- Ventricular fibrillation
According to the American Heart Association, tachycardia can be simplified into three main types: (4)
- Atrial or supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)
- This starts because of an abnormal beat in the upper chambers of the heart. Your heart has a natural pacemaker that sends electrical signals to tell your heart to beat. The upper part of the heart starts to beat too fast with this type of tachycardia, which means your heart doesn’t have enough time to fill with blood between each beat. This reduces the blood flow to the rest of the body.
- SVT can cause fainting, dizziness, fluttering in the chest, chest pain or tightness, fatigue and other problems.
- Ventricular tachycardia (VT)
- This starts because of an abnormal beat in the lower heart chambers. Just like in SVT, this type of tachycardia doesn’t give the heart enough time to fill with blood before it beats each time, so blood doesn’t get pushed out to the rest of the body properly.
- VT can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, feeling out of breath, fainting, nausea or even a heart attack.
- Sinus tachycardia
- This happens when your heart is beating fast but otherwise normally. It happens when your heart’s natural pacemaker simply sets a faster pace for each heartbeat. It may happen when you are ill, anxious, on certain medications, or after some other heart or health problems. In this case, the underlying problem is usually treated rather than the fast heartbeat itself.
- The only real symptom of this type of arrhythmia is feeling like your heart is beating fast at rest.
Signs & Symptoms
Some people with tachycardia don’t notice any symptoms. (1) The condition may be discovered by chance during a doctor’s visit.Other people will know when they are experiencing an episode. Tachycardia symptoms may vary by the type of tachycardia you have.
In general, however, people with tachycardia may have the following signs and symptoms: (1)
- A racing, uncomfortable, or irregular heart beat
- Feeling short of breath
- Feeling lightheaded
- Having a fast pulse
- Chest pain
In serious cases or cases where ventricular tachycardia or SVT are untreated, they can cause: (4)
- Heart attacks
- Damage to the heart muscle
In rare cases, complications may include blood clots, stroke, heart failure, and sudden death. (1)
Causes & Risk Factors
Tachycardia is caused by an irregularity in the electrical signal that makes the heart beat. However, there are many root causes for that irregularity. These tachycardia causes include: (1, 3, 5)
- A damaged heart from heart disease
- A heart disease or abnormality present from birth
- Abnormal electrical signals to the heart present from birth
- Strenuous exercise
- Sudden stress or fright
- High or low blood pressure
- Drinking too much caffeine or alcohol
- Certain medications
- Use of certain street drugs
- Hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease
- Electrolyte imbalance
Risk factors for tachycardia include any problem that strains the heart or damages its tissue. It can also occur in people with sarcoidosis. Fast heartbeat is most common in people of older age or who have a family history of heart rhythm disorders. (1)
Other risk factors for tachycardia are lifestyle-related or medical, and can include: (1)
- Heavy alcohol or caffeine use
- Use of street drugs
- Stress or anxiety
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Sleep apnea
- Thyroid problems
Treatment for your tachycardia will depend on the type of arrhythmia you have. In some cases, no treatment may be needed. In others, as in most sinus tachycardia, doctors will treat the underlying problem — such as anemia or fever — and your heartbeat will return to normal.
Typically, conventional treatment for new disease includes: (6, 7)
- Doing special movements, called vagal maneuvers, to try to self-regulate your heartbeat
- Taking medication, such as a pill or an injection at the hospital
- CPR, in emergency cases where the tachycardia has stopped your heart or is not letting enough blood through
- Shocking your heart (cardioversion) with a paddle system and patches on your chest, using an automated external defibrillator (AED)
In cases where the condition is expected to return, treatment may include: (6)
- Ablation: The abnormal part of your heart that is causing the tachycardia will be destroyed.
- Medication: Anti-arrhythmia pills can be taken regularly to help avoid episodes of tachycardia. Other medications to treat conditions that also affect your heart may be prescribed as well.
- Pacemaker: A small device is implanted under your skin. When it notices your heart is off rhythm, it sends a little electrical pulse to help your heartbeat return to normal.
- Implantable cardioverter (ICD): A small device implanted in your chest to monitor your heartbeat. If it detects an abnormal rhythm, it gives electrical shocks to your heart to normalize the heartbeat. This is usually only done in people with ventricular tachycardia, who are at particular risk of sudden death due to the arrhythmia. (7)
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be done to create a little maze of scar tissue on the heart. This can help stop the abnormal electrical pulses from making the heart beat too fast because the scar tissue doesn’t let the electricity pass.
Tachycardia: 7 Natural Ways to Manage Symptoms
In some cases, your doctor can show you how to stop tachycardia naturally. Before you attempt to learn how to slow down tachycardia on your own, however, you should make sure you have been officially diagnosed. After discussing the cause and best course of treatment for your condition with your physician, you may be able to use certain natural remedies for slowing a rapid heart rate. In general, natural methods for managing tachycardia symptoms target overall heart health and the prevention of heart disease and known tachycardia triggers.
Natural ways to manage tachycardia and prevent future episodes may include: (1, 8)
- Do vagal maneuvers.
- Exercise and eat a heart-healthy diet.
- Avoid energy drinks and limit alcohol.
- Avoid certain medicines, smoking and recreational drugs.
- Reduce stress and anxiety.
- Ask about dietary supplements.
- Try acupuncture.
As always, be sure to discuss any changes to your diet or exercise, including the use of supplements and natural remedies, before you try to use them to treat tachycardia. Some herbs and supplements can cause or worsen tachycardia or may cause serious problems for people taking heart medicines or who have certain health conditions.
You should also tell your doctor about any changes in your symptoms, any worsening of symptoms, or any other health problems you develop. Go to regular checkups for your heart so that your doctor can keep track of your heart problem over time.
Do vagal maneuvers
Vagal maneuvers are just moves that affect your vagal nerve, which helps control your heartbeat. These are described in detail in the Dr. Axe article on irregular heart beat and include:
- Bearing down, as if you are having a bowel movement
- Blowing through a syringe
- Immersing your face in cold water
- Putting an ice pack on your face
- Gagging yourself with a tongue depressor
- Carotid massage (gentle, circular massage under the jaw for about 10 seconds)
These actions may help your vagal nerve slow or stop a fast heartbeat. (6) During an episode, call your doctor if these moves do not stop the fast heartbeat.
Exercise and eat a heart-healthy diet
Exercise can help keep your heart healthy and can help reduce your risk of conditions that can lead to tachycardia. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which can reduce your risk of heart disease. (1)
These two simple suggestions are notorious for being easier said than done. Simple ways to add more exercise to your lifestyle include:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Park farther away from the entrance to stores.
- Take a walk on your lunch break or after dinner.
- Use a push or walking lawnmower rather than a riding mower.
- Do some spring cleaning; wash windows, scrub the floors, dust, wipe the baseboards down, and do other physically demanding chores.
- Play with your kids or grandkids outside.
To eat a heart-healthy diet, opt for foods low in fat and high in fiber. Avoid foods that are high in fat and calories but low in nutritional value.
More specifically, the American Heart Association suggests you focus on nutrient-rich foods such as: (9)
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Low-fat dairy
- Poultry (fat and skin trimmed off) and fish
- Nuts and legumes
- Healthy fats, such as olive oil or avocados
Avoid energy drinks and limit alcohol
While it is commonly recommended that people with arrhythmias avoid caffeine, there isn’t clear evidence that caffeine alone causes a faster or irregular heartbeat, even in people who already have tachycardia. However, energy drinks often combine caffeine, taurine, large doses of vitamins and herbs, sugar and other chemicals. There have been numerous reports of people experiencing fast or irregular heartbeats after having one or more energy drinks, particularly when they are combined with exercise or other stimulating drugs or activities. (10) Do not drink energy drinks if you have tachycardia. While it may also be wise to limit your overall caffeine intake, you can discuss with your doctor what may be a healthy amount of coffee or tea for you.
Alcohol is also often fine in moderation for people with known tachycardia problems. However, binge drinking and regular heavy alcohol use are known to increase people’s risk of tachycardia. (10) Heavy alcohol use and binge drinking should be avoided if you have diagnosed tachycardia or are experiencing a fast heart beat at rest.
Avoid certain medicines, smoking, and recreational drugs
Everything you put in your body has the potential to impact your health and to interact with other things you consume. Avoid smoking and street drugs, and ask a health care professional about all drugs, herbs, supplements and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines you take to help minimize your risk of tachycardia.
- Some OTC drugs for coughs and colds have ingredients that can trigger tachycardia. (1)
- Non-prescription diet or weight-loss drugs may contain ingredients, such as caffeine and ephedrine, that can cause tachycardia (as well as other health problems). (11, 12) In some cases, even herbal weight loss medications have unregulated or hidden ingredients, such as the chemical appetite suppressant sibutramine, that can cause tachycardia. (13) Some of these ingredients may also be in prescription drugs, so be sure that whoever prescribes a weight-loss treatment to you is aware of your risk for tachycardia.
- Make sure that any doctor prescribing medicine to you is aware of your tachycardia, since other medications may cause heart arrhythmias or aggravate tachycardia.
- Smoking increases the risk of tachycardia. In addition, for people already diagnosed with heart trouble such as mild heart failure, continuing to smoke increases the risk of tachycardia and death. (14)
- People with existing tachycardia and implanted cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) who still smoke are more likely to have serious complications and to have their ICD shock them inappropriately due to rapid heartbeat than nonsmokers. (15)
- Stop smoking if you have tachycardia.
- Stimulant street drugs such as cocaine can cause heartbeat irregularities. (16) In many cases, this type of tachycardia can be hard to treat. Ask a medical professional for help to recover from addiction to street drugs.
- Misuse of prescription drugs should also be avoided. Some drugs, such as the attention-deficit disorder (ADD) drug Adderall, can result in increased heart rate and other severe side effects when misused or combined with other drugs. (17)
Reduce stress and anxiety
Many people who have issues coping with anxiety or stress have sinus tachycardia or racing heartbeat. (18) However, many people with other forms of the disease also experience anxiety. In addition, tachycardia itself, its potential to happen again, and worries about its impact on your health can all cause anxiety. (19, 20, 21) No matter which type of tachycardia you have, controlling your levels of stress and anxiety may be beneficial.
There are many ways to reduce stress and relieve anxiety. These methods have been shown to reduce anxiety as well as tachycardia:
- Yoga: A review of arrhythmias and natural treatments found that yoga can reduce episodes of atrial fibrillation and reduce anxiety and depression. (22)
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programs: A study of young people with implanted heart devices, postural tachycardia and other heart problems experienced less stress and anxiety after receiving an intervention involving yoga, meditation, cognitive restructuring (thought therapy), and group support. (23)
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Just three sessions of CBT plus exercise resulted in reducing chest pain and sinus tachycardia in a randomized, controlled study. (24) It also reduced depression and fear of bodily sensations (for example, thinking catastrophically about palpitations).
- Aromatherapy: A study of patients who underwent heart surgery found that inhaling lavender essential oil reduced heart rate and blood pressure, which are commonly elevated after surgery due to stress and pain. (25)
Ask about dietary supplements
In some cases, it may be safe and beneficial for you to add supplements to your regimen or to alter your diet to get certain nutrients. These supplements may help reduce the risk of tachycardia or boost heart health. (26) However, they need to be present in the right amounts. For example, having too much magnesium in your blood can cause other heart problems.
Check with your doctor before beginning anything new, as these supplements may not be appropriate for everyone. Your doctor should also discuss the right dose with you based on your age, diet and other medications or supplements.
- Vitamin C: This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant that may improve blood circulation for people with postural tachycardia, prevent atrial fibrillation after surgery, and reduce the likelihood of repeat episodes in people who had persistent atrial fibrillation (27, 28, 29).
- Magnesium: This mineral has potent anti-arrhythmia effects and is used both to prevent tachycardia in heart surgery patients and to improve the effectiveness of anti-arrhythmic drugs. (30) When taken as a supplement it is believed to be particularly useful for ventricular tachycardia that doesn’t respond to other therapies. (31) Together with potassium, supplements may be useful for people with deficiencies in preventing serious complications from tachycardia, such as fatal heart attacks. (32)
- Potassium: This mineral has also been used to stop fast heartbeat after surgery. (33) Having a potassium deficiency can cause arrhythmia. (34) In one study, potassium supplements were given at the same time as magnesium injections, and together they successfully stopped harmful tachycardia in seven of the eight patients in the study. (35)
- Hawthorn berry: This herb is a traditional treatment for heart rhythm problems such as tachycardia. In one lab study, hawthorn leaf extract reduced the arrhythmia in human heart stem cells. (36)
- According to Dr. Patrick Fratellone of the American Herbalists Guild, dosages of hawthorn used for treating arrhythmias can range from 120 to 240 milligrams twice per day (as a standardized pill), or one or two berries steeped in 8 ounces of water as a tea each day, for three to 24 weeks. (37)
- More research is needed to determine whether calcium, corydalis, valerian, skullcap and lady’s slipper may be useful as natural remedies for tachycardia. (26)
Although omega-3 fatty acids have frequently been reported as helpful for heart health, there are some inconsistent research studies, some of which suggest it may not be helpful for people with arrhythmias and may even be harmful in some cases. (29, 38) Talk with your doctor about omega-3 fatty acids before increasing your fatty fish intake or taking a supplement.
Other herbal and supplement options may also be useful for tachycardia. However, the American Herbalists Guild does not recommend that these all be used in isolation (without conventional medicine) to treat tachycardia. These herbs include: (37)
- Night blooming cactus (Cactus grandiflores)
- Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius)
- Motherwort (Leonarus cardica)
- Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis), leaves and flowers only
A review of studies of natural therapies for the treatment of arrhythmias found that acupuncture was safe and effective at reducing recurrences of atrial fibrillation, and, in some cases, reducing chest pain and in several studies, reducing hypertension. (39) Ask your doctor if you may be a good candidate for acupuncture before seeking this treatment. People with tachycardia brought on by fear of needles should avoid acupuncture.
- Always consult a health care professional before starting or stopping a medication, herb or supplement.
- Do not attempt to diagnose yourself. There are many reasons your heart may seem to beat fast and tachycardia is impossible to diagnose based on symptoms alone. Knowing the type of rhythm problem you suffer from is critical to getting the right treatment.
- Tachycardia treatment at home should only be done once you know the type of tachycardia you have and after you have discussed treatment with your doctor.
- Tell your doctor if you have any new or worsening symptoms.
- Seek emergency medical care if your irregular heartbeat causes you to faint, have trouble breathing, or causes chest pain for more than a few minutes.
- Avoid supplements and herbs known to cause irregular heartbeats, such as cola nut, ephedra, guarana, and creatine. (26)
- Tachycardia is an irregularly fast heartbeat (over 100 beats per minute at rest for an adult).
- It is caused by a misfire of the heart’s electrical signals that tell the heart to beat. This misfire can be triggered by anxiety, illness, heart disease or an abnormality in the heart’s natural pacemaker.
- In many cases, it does not require treatment or cause health problems. However, certain types of this condition can lead to serious complications and even death if they are not treated.
- Follow the treatment plan given to you by a health care professional to manage your symptoms. Do not start or stop medicines, herbs, or supplements without consulting your doctor.
You may also benefit from trying these natural ways to manage symptoms and prevent future episodes:
- Do vagal maneuvers
- Exercise and eat a heart-healthy diet
- Avoid energy drinks and limit alcohol
- Avoid certain medicines, smoking, and recreational drugs
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Ask about dietary supplements
- Try acupuncture
Read Next: These 5 Heart Disease Tests Could Save Your Life (And Your Doctor Probably Isn’t Ordering Them)
I have posted numerous times, including here and here, about FDA warning letters concerning “drug claims” used for supposedly cosmetic products. After those posts went up, I had a number of people tell me about several national companies selling essential oils that were making all sorts of claims, and asking why they could get away with it. Apparently, they can’t (and rightfully so).
The Denver Regional Office of the FDA recently sent warning letters to Young Living ( see here) and doTERRA (see here), both Utah based essential oil multi-level marketing companies. Both the letters cited numerous statements making claims that the essential oils sold could combat, treat, cure and prevent a myriad of medical conditions including:
- “Top on my list is Thieves. Thieves is highly anti-microbial . . . it could help against Ebola.”
- “Viruses (including Ebola) are no match for Young Living Essential Oils”
- “Rosemary research in regards to Alzheimer’s disease showed aromatherapy as a potential treatment for the cognitive (eg, memory) impairments caused by dementia.”
- “Myrtle is a wonderful antiseptic . . . It has been known to protect against tetanus . . ..”
- “yrtle . . . can help with sexual dysfunction issues such as impotency . . . and ED.”
- “he Ebola virus cannot survive in the presence of a therapeutic grade Cinnamon Bark and Oregano essential oil.”
- “Eucalyptus Blue essential oil has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.”
- “Peppermint oil has so many more uses . . . asthma, autism, brain injury . . . Crohn’s disease . . . multiple sclerosis, paralysis . . ..”
- “Ylang Ylang is used medicinally . . . for the treatment of . . . arterial hypertension . . . diabetes . . . insomnia, heart palpitations, and tachycardia.”
- “Many have found a protocol of essential oils and supplements have helped ease the symptoms of autism-related issues”
- “Melaleuca: Melaleuca (also known as tea tree oil) has been clinically shown to inhibit the replication of the influenza virus. Some of melaleuca’s primary uses include . . . athlete’s foot . . . canker sores, chicken pox, cold sore, colds, flu, fungal infections, Herpes simplex, MRSA, shingles, warts and viral infections.”
- “Oregano: Oregano is effective in inactivating MNV (non-enveloped murine norovirus) within 1 hour of exposure.”
- “Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus has demonstrated an ability to inhibit the Herpes simplex virus. Some of the primary uses for eucalyptus include Influenza, Measles, Neuralgia, Neuritis, Pneumonia, respiratory viruses rhinitis, shingles, sinusitis and tuberculosis.”
- “Clove: . . . rheumatoid arthritis . . .”
- “Wintergreen: Arthritic pain, bone pain, joint pain”
- “Lemongrass: Grave’s Disease, Hashimoto’s Disease . . .”
- “Geranium: Diabetes, endometriosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis”
- “Lavender: . ..cancer, inflammation, insomnia, pain, rheumatoid arthritis”
- “Clary Sage: Cramps . . . Endometriosis, Estrogen Balance, Hormonal Balance, PMS, Pre-menopause”
- “Lowers High Blood Pressure” and “Helps Symptoms of Crohn’s, Arthritis, & Epilepsy”
and that’s just a very partial list of all the claims that were cited!
Both the warning letters explain that the cited claims made for the essential oils make it clear that the products are drugs because “they are articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease.” The letters go on to clarify that these are “new drugs” because they are not generally recognized as safe and effective for use under the conditions prescribed, recommended or suggested in the labeling.”
Labeling, as defined by the FDA, includes “all labels and other written, printed or graphic material on or accompanying a product in interstate commerce or held for sale”. What I found particularly interesting about these warning letters was that they referenced as “labeling” not only claims made on the official company websites and print materials, but also on consultants’ websites, Facebook posts and pages, twitter posts and even Pinterest pages. When I went to look at the websites, all had removed the questionable text and had generic “we’re revamping our website” content.
There are some things to be learned from this.
First, just because someone is doing something wrong apparently “getting away with it,” doesn’t mean that they will continue to be able to do it that way. Setting up a business model that depends on “getting away with it” isn’t one that is likely to last. These businesses, and their consultants, have been making wild and outrageous claims for years – now they are going to have to completely regroup on the way they sell products in order to comply with the regulations.
Second, regardless of what someone tells you is okay to do (either explicitly or by example), it’s your responsibility to ensure that you understand the applicable law and regulations, and to operate within them. If someone tells you it’s okay to go 60 mph in a school zone just because “no one is watching,” YOU, as the driver, is still the one who will get the ticket and pay the fine (and maybe lose your license). It’s best to operate within the law to the best of your understanding and ability. I expect that the consultants for these companies that had websites and promotional materials based on the information they got from the home office will be scrambling to make changes and get compliant, no doubt causing an unplanned drain on resources.
So, if you are selling – or making and selling – products, know what your rights and responsibilities are. Keep in mind that:
- All consumer commodities (products purchased by the consumer that can be used up) must be labeled in accordance with the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act.
- For cosmetics, drugs, food, and dietary supplements, the regulations for labeling under the FPLA are created and enforced by the FDA.
- For other products (such as soap or household fragrance products), the regulations for labeling under the FPLA are created and enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- The FDA determines what a product IS based on the intended use, as stated on the product label and in the materials that accompany the product in print and on the internet.
- Food, drugs and dietary supplements have very specific requirements for their manufacture (including registration of the facility and following good manufacturing practices as defined in regulations) and detailed limitations about the claims that may or may not be made about them.
Soothed by Essential Oils
About three years ago, my husband called me from work. “Honey, I’m not coming home tonight. I checked myself in at the hospital.”
I stopped breathing for a moment. “Are you okay?”
He had just finished his shift as a surgical nurse and checked himself in the hospital through the emergency room.
“I’ve been having heart palpitations and I really don’t feel well.”
“What? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t want to worry you.”
Worry I did for those two days he remained in the hospital, and many more after that. After a battery of tests, he was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia, or a fast heartbeat due to abnormal electrical impulses. It was a kind of tachycardia that would require a piercing of one the heart chambers if he were to undergo a surgical procedure called an ablation. We definitely wanted to avoid that route.
Fortunately, he went on a medication that regulated his heartbeat. And even more fortunate was that he was able to wean himself off the medication, with his doctor’s supervision, and has remained healthy since then.
Thank goodness for allopathic medicine and its ability to manage acute situations by addressing the symptoms. But the other side of the dance was dealing with the root cause of his tachycardia. If you met my husband, you’d see him as an energetic, loving, and fun person. With a very stressful job.
Stress. That’s what we needed to reduce.
Enter essential oils. While I was freaking out internally about losing my beloved (and father of our two children), I happened to have attended a doTERRA essential oils workshop. (doTERRA, BTW, means “gift of the earth.”) My naturopath friend, Laura, invited me. I asked her for some advice for my husband. She said I could start by rubbing lavender oil on the bottoms of his feet at night. I did just that, and those lovely floral notes wafted between us and calmed us both down. Lavender also contains about 30% linalool, a chemical compound also known as a monoterpenol, that has been the subject of many studies investigating its anti-anxiety effects.
This was the beginning of my journey into the benefits of essential oils. I particularly love using them for emotional balancing. doTerra has a blend called Balance that immediately grounds me and relieves stress. I love clearing the energy of a room by diffusing lemongrass and white fir. And frankincense? Oh my. Inhaling it gives me a sense of immediate alignment, like all the planets of our solar system just snapped back into their orbits after wobbling around a bit.
If you are interested in learning more about essential oils, please let me know. I’d be happy to sit down with you and let you know which ones would be helpful for your particular need. I also have a doTERRA website where you can order essential oils, either as a retail or wholesale customer: www.mydoterra.com/fenestra.
“But wait,” you might ask, “didn’t you do energy work on your husband?” You betcha. A lot of it. What I found underneath my hands was a heart chakra that wobbled, had some tears, and was congested. Poor darling. I fixed that baby up and now it’s humming along.
I’m wishing you all love, healing, and infinite blessings. It’s been an immensely difficult time lately, especially with the shooting in Las Vegas. Kissed your loved ones and tell them how much you love them. If you need some instant emotional relief, try diffusing lavender oil or doTERRA’s Balance blend.
P.S. Do you have a friend who is curious about energy healing but doesn’t know how it can help? I’d like to extend a gift to them! My time is limited this month, but I do have room to give 10 free consultations. Please forward them this blog. If they are one of the first people to submit this application, and qualify, I will contact them to set it up.
P.P.S. Here’s my sweetie with our son and daughter:
Essential Oils for Heart Health: What You Need to Know
When it comes to the leading of cause of death in the United States, cardiovascular disease trumps all others. And that’s true for both men and women. Heart disease kills 610,000 people in the United States every year — that’s roughly 1 of every 4 deaths.
Reducing your risk of heart disease involves making simple changes to your lifestyle, like quitting smoking, cutting down on alcohol, smart eating habits, daily exercise, and monitoring your cholesterol and blood pressure.
Is aromatherapy good for your heart?
Used medicinally for centuries, essential oils are fragrant compounds derived mainly from distilling flowers, leaves, wood, and plant seeds.
Essential oils are meant to be inhaled or diluted in a carrier oil and applied to the skin. Do not apply essential oils directly to the skin. Do not take ingest essential oils. Some are toxic.
Most researchers agree that there is no conclusive evidence that aromatherapy has any therapeutic effects on people with heart disease, but there is some evidence that aromatherapy can lower anxiety and stress, which are risk factors for high blood pressure. A 2012 study found that aromatherapy using essential oils can lower blood pressure through relaxation.
However, it’s worth noting that only short bursts of aromatherapy are helpful. According to the same study, exposure that lasts for over an hour has the opposite effect.
If you’d like to try using essential oils to lower your heart disease risk, these are some of your best bets:
This “royal herb” pops up in pesto, soup, and on pizza. It packs a solid dose of vitamin K and magnesium. In addition, extract from basil leaves shows potential for lowering your levels of bad cholesterol, otherwise known as LDL (low-density lipoprotein). LDL plays a major role in atherosclerosis by depositing fat molecules along artery walls.
Maintaining your blood sugar levels not only helps prevent diabetes, but heart disease as well. That’s because unregulated high blood glucose can increase the amount of plaque that forms on your artery walls. Research shows that cassia flower extract reduces blood glucose levels while increasing plasma insulin.
Research from Korea shows that oil vapors from the white-pink flowers of this wide-leafed shrub are effective at decreasing systolic blood pressure (that top number in a blood pressure reading).
Stress and anxiety have a direct effect on blood pressure and overall heart health. Consider cypress oil which, when used in aromatherapy massage, provides short-term relaxation, ease, and relief from fatigue.
Commonly associated with cold relief products like cough drops, eucalyptus is also good for your heart. According to one study, inhaling air infused with eucalyptus oil can significantly lower your blood pressure.
A staple of Asian cuisine, mildly sweet smelling ginger not only possesses antioxidant properties and helps with nausea, but drinking ginger extract in water also shows promise in inhibiting LDL.
Perhaps not as recognizable as others on this list, helichrysum, with its reedy flowers, came through in a study that focused on its cardiovascular effects. It proved to be another potential option for managing high blood pressure.
A longtime fixture of backyard gardens, this blue-violet flower finds its way into perfumes, soaps, and is even relied on to ward off mosquitos. Research into the scent of lavender oil found that it produces an overall calm and relaxed mood in those inhaling it.
When inhaled, the oil from this Mediterranean herb (and close relative of oregano) lowers blood pressure. It relaxes blood vessels by rousing the parasympathetic nervous system, which improves the flow of blood.
In 2013, researchers took a look at what effect inhaling the scent of this native Southeast Asian tree flower would have on a group of healthy men. They reported that the fragrance had something of a sedative response, and lowered both their heart rate and blood pressure.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is currently the leading cause of death among adults in the U.S. — and according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it has maintained this ranking as the No. 1 killer since 1921. (1)
Coronary heart disease is a condition caused by the buildup of waxy plaque in the arteries that flow to and from the heart. CHD often goes by several other names, including coronary artery disease, heart disease and arteriosclerotic heart disease.
What is heart disease caused by, and what does this tell us about how to prevent it? Most cardiovascular disorders are related to elevated inflammation levels — so, as you’ll learn, by reducing inflammation, the root of most diseases, you can place your body in a state that is conducive to healing.
Here’s the good news for those struggling with heart disease: adjusting your diet, reducing stress levels and regularly exercising are all ways you can naturally control inflammation, and therefore are beneficial for treating and preventing coronary heart disease. And as you’ll more about below, there are many whole foods that are available in common grocery stores that can help protect your heart, as well as lower your risk for developing various forms of chronic diseases in the future.
What Is Coronary Heart Disease?
CHD occurs when the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart narrow and sometimes harden, which over time can cause ruptures, heart attacks and other fatal conditions.
Heart disease is sometimes called a “disease of Western, modern civilization” because it was rare before 1900, and still remains much less common in pre-industrialized populations today. (2) By the mid 1900s, coronary heart disease became the nation’s biggest killer, and today all forms of cardiovascular diseases — including conditions of the heart and blood vessels like angina, congestive heart failure and stroke — are still the leading causes of death in many Western nations. Cardiovascular diseases kill more than 630,000 Americans a year, men and women pretty much equally. (3) Currently, heart disease is the cause of about 1 in every 4 deaths in the U.S. (4)
For the past several decades, doctors have mostly turned to medications and surgeries to help treat cardiovascular disease — including clot-busting prescription drugs, tiny balloons implanted inside the body to open up arteries and bypass surgeries.
The result is that, today, coronary heart disease is considered more chronic than necessarily fatal. However, these treatments are really resolving symptoms rather than addressing the underlying causes of heart disease. Recently, it’s become apparent that lifestyle and dietary changes are fundamental to truly treating heart disease and/or preventing it from returning.
CHD vs. CAD vs. Atherosclerosis
- Many people use the names coronary artery disease and coronary heart disease interchangeably.
- Coronary artery disease is considered the most common type of heart disease. It occurs when there’s a blockage of one or more arteries that supply blood to the heart. (5)
- In the first stage of heart disease, called angina, blood flow to the heart is restricted. When blood flow stops, there’s a myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack. The combination of these two conditions is what many doctors are referring to when they say “coronary heart disease” (or CHD).
- What is atherosclerosis, and how does it differ from CHD/CAD? When someone has CHD or CAD, the buildup of substances inside their arteries is what is referred to as arteriosclerosis (also spelled atherosclerosis). The definition of arteriosclerosis is “a disease of the arteries characterized by the deposition of plaques of fatty material on their inner walls.” (6)
- Arteriosclerosis refers to hardening and thickening of the walls of the arteries. It is often said to be “partly a function of aging.” Over time the smooth, elastic arterial cells become more fibrous and stiff. Calcium, cholesterol particles and fatty acids accumulate on arterial walls and form a swelling called an atheroma. Atheroma are capable of bursting, causing blood clots, and leading to heart attacks or strokes. In populations that eat an unprocessed diet, far less inflammation-caused arteriosclerosis and heart disease are present.
Not everyone who has CHD even knows it — especially people who are in the early stages. Some symptoms of CHD can be very noticeable, however, it’s also possible to have this disease and experience no symptoms at all or only slight symptoms.
Coronary artery disease symptoms vary a lot from person to person. The most common noticeable sign of CHD is having chest pain or discomfort, which is caused when the heart is not getting enough blood or oxygen.
Other coronary artery disease symptoms can include: (7)
- Feeling a “heaviness” or like someone is squeezing your heart. This is called angina (another name for chest pain) and is probably the most common blocked artery symptom. It’s possible to experience various forms of chest discomfort including heaviness, tightness, pressure, aching, burning, numbness or fullness.
- Pains or numbness in your breast bone (sternum), neck, arms, stomach or upper back
- Shortness of breath and fatigue with activity
- General weakness
- Indigestion or heartburn
If CHD progresses, you may experience a heart attack, also called myocardial infarction. Heart attack symptoms can include:
- Pain or discomfort in the upper body including the chest, arms, left shoulder, back, neck, jaw or stomach
- Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
- Feeling of fullness, indigestion, choking or heartburn
- Nausea or vomiting
- Light-headedness, dizziness and weakness
- Anxiety and panic
- Rapid or irregular heart beats
What really causes CHD and heart attacks? CHD is ultimately a result of inflammation from fatty material and other substances forming a buildup of plaque that accumulates within the walls of your arteries. Because these arteries have the crucial role of bringing blood and oxygen to your heart, reduced blood flow can slow down or stop your heartbeat, causing “cardiac arrest.”
For this reason, medical professionals use a combination of lifestyle changes, medicines and medical procedures to slow, stop or reverse the buildup of plaque. This can help lower the risk of blood clots forming and a heart attack taking place because it widens clogged arteries.
What are risk factors for developing coronary heart disease? (8)
- High amounts of free radical damage (also called oxidative stress) and low antioxidant levels in the body. When antioxidant levels are lower than those of free radicals due to poor nutrition and other lifestyle factors, oxidation wreaks havoc in the body — damaging cells, breaking down tissue, mutating DNA and overloading the immune system.
- Being a male, since men develop CHD more other than women (although it affects both sexes)
- Being over the age of 65
- High consumption of alcohol
- Eating a poor diet with unhealthy fats and processed foods
- Family history of coronary heart disease, stroke or peripheral arterial disease
- Menopause in women
- Having high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol levels
- Lack of physical activity or exercise
- Sleep deprivation
- Exposure to environmental pollutants and toxic chemicals
Related: How to Maintain Normal Troponin Levels
Half a century ago, coronary heart disease killed an even greater percentage of those who suffered from it, but fortunately, doctors today are more adept at using various treatments to control heart disease symptoms. Some of these are effective at lowering blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol, but many simply target symptoms and don’t focus on the bigger picture.
Many doctors place people with coronary heart disease on a treatment plan that includes both prescription medications and lifestyle changes. Depending on which healthcare professional you choose, your symptoms and how severe the disease is, you might be prescribed one or more medicines to treat your high blood pressureor high cholesterol or to prevent complications like diabetes.
Examples of medications used to treat CHD include: cholesterol-modifying medications like aspirin, beta blockers, nitroglycerin, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs).
Many people are able to prevent CHD and recover from it naturally by maintaining a healthy lifestyle: changing their diet, stopping smoking, getting good sleep and adding in supplements on top of some other things we’ll discuss below.
Natural Remedies for Coronary Heart Disease
1. Lifestyle Changes (Quitting Smoking & Eating A Healthy Diet)
A 2016 study found that living a healthy lifestyle — including exercising, eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables and grains and not smoking — can lower your risk of heart disease, even if you are genetically predisposed to developing the disease. The study looked at 55,685 participants total in three prospective cohorts and one cross-sectional study. According to The New York Times:
The investigators found that genes can double the risk of heart disease, but a good lifestyle cuts it in half. Just as important, they found, a terrible lifestyle erases about half of the benefits of good genetics. (9)
The individual results of each study were impressive. In the first study, when participants with the highest genetic risk followed a healthy lifestyle, they cut the 10-year likelihood of heart disease from 10.7 percent to 5.1 percent. In the second study, the high-risk and healthy lifestyle participants’ 10-year risk dropped from 4.6 percent to 2 percent. In the third study, participants risk went from 8.2 percent to 5.3 percent. In the final study, participants with a high genetic risk living a healthy lifestyle had significantly less calcium in their coronary arteries, which is a sign of CHD. (10)
This groundbreaking research illustrates that you can naturally reduce your risk of heart disease. Below we’ll look closer at foods, supplements, essential oils and lifestyle changes you can implement to achieve greater health and fight off coronary heart disease.
2. Avoiding Inflammatory Foods
Should you eat a low-fat diet to prevent heart disease? When most people think of foods that increase their chances of developing heart disease, fatty cuts of meat and fried food probably come to mind. For many years, the public was led to believe that cholesterol-rich foods and saturated fats of all kinds increased the risk for heart disease. “The cholesterol hypothesis,” as it’s called, rested on the assumption that saturated fats raise cholesterol levels that wind up clogging the arteries.
However, a number of researchers today have demonstrated that this is not necessarily true, and that while this theory has been widely accepted, it has never been proven. Cholesterol is actually an essential component of healthy cells and organisms, and we all need to maintain a certain level to thrive!
According to a 2009 study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice,
It is now acknowledged that the original studies purporting to show a linear relation between cholesterol intake and coronary heart disease (CHD) may have contained fundamental study design flaws, including conflated cholesterol and saturated fat consumption rates and inaccurately assessed actual dietary intake of fats by study subjects. (11)
Many experts today now believe that elevated blood cholesterol is a symptom, not a cause, of heart disease. Whether or not someone’s blood cholesterol level is increased by eating a certain food depends on that person’s individual cholesterol makeup, and each person is different. Several recent studies have shown that the dynamics of cholesterol homeostasis and of development of CHD are extremely complex and multifactorial. This suggests that the previously established relationship between dietary cholesterol and heart disease risk was overexaggerated. (12)
In the majority of people, the real cause of heart disease may be inflammation. (13) Foods to avoid to prevent CHD that promote inflammation include:
- Corn and soybean oils
- Pasteurized, conventional dairy
- Refined carbohydrates
- Conventional meat
- Sugars of all kinds
- Trans fats
But don’t many health authorities still warn against eating too much fat? Despite the existing evidence that eating cholesterol isn’t the cause of heart disease, most government-funded health associations, including the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, still recommend limiting saturated fats. As part of a treatment plan called “Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes” (TLC) — used to control high blood cholesterol through a healthy diet, physical activity and weight management — the Institute recommends that less than 7 percent of daily calories come from saturated fats. They recommend limiting fat-containing foods like meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods and deep-fried and processed foods. (14)
The TLC diet is purposefully low in saturated fat, trans fat and dietary cholesterol. No more than 25–35 percent of your daily calories are intended to come from all fats, including saturated, trans, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Going forward, we can expect guidelines like this to be updated to reflect the most recent study findings. Over the last decade, many countries and health promotion groups have modified their dietary recommendations to reflect the current evidence and, in fact, now address the negative consequence of ineffective dietary cholesterol in someone’s diet. (15)
3. Eating a Heart-Healthy Diet
Following a healthy, whole-foods–based diet can reduce inflammation, high blood pressure and unhealthy high cholesterol. Of course, eating well will also help you maintain a healthy weight and have more energy to be active, both of which are important for preventing coronary heart disease. Instead of focusing on eating low-fat foods to reduce fat and cholesterol, I believe we would be much better off making our goal to reduce inflammation.
The healthiest anti-inflammatory foods for fighting coronary heart disease are those brimming with antioxidants and phytonutrients that lower your immune system’s overactive response. These help fight free radical damage and target the problem where it starts by lowering oxidative stress.
How do you know what the top antioxidant foods are? Anything loaded with fiber, grown directly from the earth and brightly colored is a good place to start!
Healthy fats and animal proteins have a place among other whole foods in a heart-healthy diet, too. When it comes to including healthy fats, the general effect of quality saturated fats in someone’s diet is to help balance the ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterols. Regarding HDL cholesterol, some feel “the higher, the better,” but we know that the ratio of cholesterol is important too. (16)
Foods that help reduce inflammation and, therefore, the risk of CHD include:
- Fiber-rich and antioxidant-rich foods of all kinds
- Vegetables (all kinds, including beets, carrots, cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale, dark leafy greens, artichokes, onions, peas, salad greens, mushrooms, sea vegetables and squashes)
- Fruits (all kinds, especially berries and citrus)
- Herbs and spices, especially turmeric (curcumin) and raw garlic (also basil, chili peppers, cinnamon, curry powder, ginger, rosemary and thyme)
- Traditional teas like green tea, oolong or white tea
- Legumes and beans
- Healthy fats found in nuts, seeds, avocados, wild-caught fish and extra virgin olive oil
- Raw, unpasteurized dairy products, cage-free eggs and pasture-raised poultry
- Red wine in moderation
If you look at evidence from many people living a traditional diet, it doesn’t seem that saturated fats are the cause of coronary heart disease. Foods containing saturated fats — such as full-fat dairy, organ meats, beef, eggs, lard and butter — are actually found in high levels in many of the healthiest, longest-living people that have been studied, like those in the Blue Zones.
The Mediterranean diet is one of the most popular and effective anti-inflammatory diets that exists. Foods commonly eaten in the Mediterranean region include fish, vegetables, beans, fruits and olive oil. These have been shown to lower cholesterol and triglycerides and reduce symptoms of numerous chronic diseases. (17) Following this type of diet that is low in sugar, processed foods, preservatives, vegetable oils and artificial ingredients can also help you maintain a healthier weight.
4. Using Heart-Healthy Supplements
You’ll get the most benefits from a healthy diet when you consume real foods that provide natural, absorbable nutrients. While it’s helpful to be aware of certain nutrients that can help protect your heart, eating a wide variety of whole foods and reducing toxin load in your body is by far the most important thing. That being said, some supplements added to a nutrient-dense diet may also be helpful for treating heart problems.
I recommend the following supplements for controlling inflammation and supporting heart health:
- Omega-3 fish oil supplements or 1 tablespoon of fish oil (such as cod liver oil) daily — if you avoid fish, try plant-based algal oil
- Curcumin (turmeric) and garlic supplements
- Coenzyme Q10
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
A study published in May, 2019 in the BMJ found evidence that habitual use of glucosamine supplements, which are commonly taken to help relieve osteoarthritis pain, may also be related to lower risks of cardiovascular disease (CVD) events. (18) Ongoing use of glucosamine — which is a crystalline compound which is found inside connective tissue and cartilage — was associated with a 15 percent lower risk of total CVD events and a 9 to 22 percent lower risk of individual cardiovascular events. The protective effects of glucosamine on CVD outcomes were even stronger among current smokers.
The study followed over 466,000 participants without heart disease at the beginning of the study and tracked their supplement use and health for eight years. It was found that after adjusting for age, sex, body mass index, race, lifestyle factors, dietary intakes, drug use, and other supplement use, glucosamine use was associated with a significantly lower risk of total CVD events, CVD death, coronary heart disease development and stroke. It’s believed glucosamine can reduce C reactive protein concentrations, which means it can help lower systemic inflammation, and also mimic the protective effects of a low-carbohydrate diet, since it can decrease glycolysis (the breakdown of glucose by enzymes) and increase breakdown of proteins.
While there are really too many types and benefits of exercise to list here, just know that exercise helps restore and maintain cardiovascular health by improving blood flow, bringing more oxygen to your cells, managing hormones and blood sugar levels and helping you relax. This makes it one of the most powerful things you can to do prevent clogged arteries.
Studies suggest that exercise can benefit your heart just as much as certain medications. A meta-review of more than 305 clinical trials focusing on exercise benefits even found that, amazingly, no statistically detectable differences existed between those who exercised and those who were given medications in the prevention of coronary heart disease! (19) The conclusion of the analysis was that “exercise and many drug interventions are often potentially similar in terms of their mortality benefits in the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease, rehabilitation after stroke, treatment of heart failure, and prevention of diabetes.”
Try whichever type works best for you and your current level of fitness, such as burst training, HIIT workouts, Crossfit, yoga, Tai Chi or simply walking more.
6. Stress Reduction
Stress raises cortisol levels and may interfere with inflammatory responses when left unmanaged. Chronic stress caused by our modern, fast-paced lifestyles can affect just about every bodily system — suppressing the immune system, slowing metabolism, and stalling digestion, detoxification and cell regeneration.
Research conducted by the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College of London suggests that:
Chronic stress predicts the occurrence of coronary heart disease (CHD). Employees who experience work-related stress and individuals who are socially isolated or lonely have an increased risk of a first CHD event … Among patients with CHD, acute psychological stress has been shown to induce transient myocardial ischemia and long-term stress can increase the risk of recurrent CHD events and mortality. (20)
Some of the best natural stress relievers include nixing caffeine, smoking and alcohol, getting proper sleep, working out, praying and/or meditating, journaling, doing something creative, cooking or spending time with family and pets.
7. Essential Oils
There are many natural plant-derived essential oils that can help manage inflammation and symptoms related to heart disease. (21) Some include lemongrass oil, helichrysum oil and ginger oil. (22, 23, 24)
The active ingredients found in plants are their most potent in this concentrated form. Ginger essential oil, for example, contains the highest levels of anti-inflammatory gingerol, and helichrysum oil kicks off inflammatory enzyme inhibition, free-radical scavenging activity and corticoid-like effects. I recommend diffusing these oils in your home, inhaling them directly and applying them topically to your skin (such as over your chest) after mixing them with a carrier oil like coconut oil.
- Coronary heart disease (CHD) occurs when the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart narrow and sometimes harden, which over time can cause ruptures, heart attacks and other fatal conditions.
- Many people use the names coronary artery disease (CAD) and coronary heart disease (CHD) interchangeably. Coronary artery disease is considered the most common type of heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and many other developed/industrialized nations.
- Causes and risk factors of coronary heart disease include: being a male, being over 65, family history of heart disease, eating a poor diet, obesity, being sedentary, smoking, and having high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol levels.
- Natural treatments for coronary heart disease include: lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, avoiding inflammatory foods, eating a heart-healthy diet, taking anti-inflammatory supplements, exercising, managing stress, and using essential oils.
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