Best Natural Remedies for Heart Health

More people die annually from cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) than from any other cause. CVDs include all the diseases of the heart and circulation including coronary heart disease (CHD), angina, heart attack, congenital heart disease and stroke.

Herbs and dietary supplements have been used in combination with conventional therapies to help treat and prevent cardiovascular diseases and with good reason.

Many have shown great promise in treating both the risk factors of CVDs and the deadly process at the heart of it, atherosclerosis – the hardening of the arteries.

Herbal treatments have been used in patients with congestive heart failure, systolic hypertension, angina pectoris, cerebral insufficiency, venous insufficiency, and arrhythmia.

Many herbs have also shown to help counteract the key risk factors of cardiovascular diseases like obesity, hypertension and stress.

The truth is there are numerous websites claiming to have the latest wonder herb or herbal supplement to treat or prevent heart disease.

If you are considering taking herbs as a treatment or preventative measure for CVD, caution should be exercised – many herbs have powerful ingredients and the potential to cause serious toxic effects and major drug-to-drug interactions.

At Majestic Herbs we’ve compiled some of the most promising herbs for treating or preventing cardiovascular disease, backed by research, for you to make your own decision on their efficacy.

While not definitive, herbs are ranked in order of apparent efficacy, clinical research and known safety profile.

Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum)

Jiaogulan Herb

In clinical and animal studies to date, Jiaogulan has shown remarkable effectiveness in helping prevent and treat cardiovascular disease (CVD), due to its ability to counteract several root causes of CVD, while also treating risk factors like obesity and stress.

Known as the Immortality Herb in China, Jiaogulan is thought to regulate blood pressure, reduce inflammation and improve cardiac function.

Jiaogulan has shown in research to protect the endothelium (blood vessel or artery lining) from damage – a key precursor to Atherosclerosis – from bad cholesterol, free radicals and high blood pressure.

An antioxidant and internal antioxidant stimulant, Jiaogulan helps neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative damage to the endothelium (artery or vessel lining).

In research, Jiaogulan has demonstrated a regulatory effect on a number of bodily systems including blood pressure, lowering it or raising it depending on need – key in preventing blood pressure-related endothelial damage that can lead to atherosclerosis.

Jiaogulan is also thought to both stimulate and regulate Nitric Oxide production, which plays a key role in ‘vasodilation’ – dilating blood vessels and reducing blood pressure.

Jiaogulan is also reputed to help prevent plaque buildup in the arteries by lowering bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels while raising good cholesterol (HDL) levels (67-93% success in clinical studies.)

Used widely in Asia as a treatment for weight loss, Jiaogulan has also shown in research to increase fat metabolism and help treat obesity, a leading risk condition for CVD.

See more evidence of Jiaogulan’s effects on heart health and cardiovascular disease.

Click here if you want to try Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphullym).

Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea)

Fox Gloves

Digitalis has been prescribed for patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) for over 200 years. In fact it was a popular medicine during Roman times.

Only recently, clinical evidence for digitalis’ efficacy has been brought about, with the herb now a proven treatment for CHF.

In the last 20 years several double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials have unequivocally shown that digitalis decreases symptoms of cardiac failure, results in a reduction in the need for hospitalization for treatment of congestive heart failure, and improves cardiac function.

Now approved by the FDA, foxgloves is used in re-entrant cardiac arrhythmias and to slow the ventricular rate during atrial fibrillation.

Medicines extracted from digitalis plants are called digitalin, which is used to increase cardiac contractility and as an antiarrhythmic agent to control the heart rate, particularly in the irregular (and often fast) atrial fibrillation.

However it is only thought to be effective at this during rest, i.e., when your heart rate is low.

Cardiac glycosides have played a prominent role in the therapy of congestive heart failure since William Withering spoke of their use in his late 18th century monograph on the efficacy of the leaves of the common foxglove plant (Digitalis purpurea)

Cardiac glycosides in digitalis are believed possess positive inotropics (agents that alter the force or energy of muscular contractions).

Digitalis is believed to inhibit sodium-potassium adenosine triphosphatase, which allows calcium to build up in myocytes, which results in enhanced cardiac contractility (improves the ability of the heart to produce force during contraction).

In conventional medicine, Digoxin, a drug derived from foxgloves (Digitalis purpuria), has been used to treat heart problems for more than 200 years.

It was well known as a herbal remedy despite some toxicity but, like many drugs, if used incorrectly it can cause side effects.

While a powerful herb, anyone considering taking digitalis should consult a doctor so they can be monitored during treatment.

Red Yeast Rice

red yeast rice

Red yeast rice aka red rice koji or akakoji is bright reddish purple fermented rice, which acquires its color from being cultivated with the mold monascus purpureus.

Red yeast rice is also used to add color to a wide variety of food products, including Peking Duck, pickled tofu, red rice vinegar, char siu and other foods that require red food coloring.

In Chinese medicine it has been documented as far back as the Tang Dynasty (800AD) and is known to promote or improve digestion, fortify the spleen, eradicate phlegm, improve blood circulation and to help prevent blood stasis.

In the late 1970s, US researchers isolating ‘lovastatin’ (a patented, prescription drug Mevacor by Merck & Co used for lowering cholesterol in those with hypercholesterolemia to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease) from Aspergillus and monacolins (the red pigment) from Monascus, discovered that that lovastatin and monacolin K are identical.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) thus determined that red yeast rice products that contain monacolin, i.e. lovastatin, are identical to a drug and should be subject to regulation as a drug.

Lovastatin and other prescription “statin” drugs inhibit cholesterol synthesis by blocking action of the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase.

As a result, circulating total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol are lowered.

In a meta-analysis of 91 randomized clinical trials of ≥12 weeks duration, totaling 68,485 participants, LDL-cholesterol was lowered by 24-49% depending on the statin.

The amount typically used in clinical trials is 1200–2400 mg/day of red yeast rice containing approximately 10 mg total monacolins, of which half are monacolin K.

A separate meta-analysis of 20 clinical trials (range of red yeast rice dose 1200 to 4800 mg/day) reported LDL-cholesterol lowered by 1.02 mmol/L (39.4 mg/dL) compared to placebo. The incidence of reported adverse effects ranged from 0% to 5% and was not different from controls.

People hypersensitive to any components of red yeast rice, should avoid its use.

Though an analysis of 93 randomized trials (9,625 patients) reported no serious adverse reactions, anaphylactic reactions in certain patient populations have been reported.

Care should be taken when choosing supplements as some commercial have been found to contain high levels of the toxin citrinin or negligible levels of monacolin.

Reishi/Lingzhi (Ganoderma lucidum)

Reishi Mushroom

The reishi mushroom or lingzhi mushroom – a medicinal fungus – has been heralded for centuries as the ‘King of Herbs’ due to its reputed medicinal qualities.

Known as ‘lingzhi’ in traditional Chinese medicine (translated as “spirit plant”), reishi is widely used and recommended for its supporting effects on the immune system.

A surprising amount of preliminary laboratory research and numerous preclinical trials suggest reishi has beneficial effects not only on the cardiovascular system but also on rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes and cancer.

For the heart and cardiovascular system, reishi has demonstrated several beneficial effects, including a decrease in high blood pressure, credited to reishi’s ganoderic acids.

Some experts believe these ganoderic acids can lower triglyceride levels, eliminate excess cholesterol from the blood, reduce platelet stickiness and even help normalise arrhythmia.

Burton Goldberg, an expert in alternative medicine, published a study in which 54 people with hypertension who were unresponsive to medication, took reishi extract three times a day for only four weeks.

The result was a significant lowering of blood pressure across the test group.

Although many of these claims are based on anecdotal evidence, an increasing number have now been demonstrated using more rigorous approaches.

In a six-month clinical trial performed in a Tokyo university hospital, nearly half (47.5 per cent) of 53 patients with hypertension, lowered their blood pressure by 10-19 mmHg, and 10 per cent of the patients lowered their pressures 20-29 mmHg (both systolic and diastolic readings) after consuming Reishi extract.

Studies have also found that Reishi can inhibit cholesterol biosynthesis suggesting it to be an effective way to lower blood cholesterol levels.

High blood cholesterol is believed to be a major risk factor for heart disease.

Studies using mouse models have also demonstrated reishi extracts can lower blood sugar and reduce LDL-cholesterol.

Another study using rats found that reishi enhanced the activity of heart mitochondrial enzymes, essential for mitochondrial function. (Mitochondria are organelles that convert our food into energy so that every other function of our body can occur. Without them we would die.)

That same study suggests reishi partially reduced the age-related decline in energy production at a cellular level.

Reishi has also shown in animal and in vitro experiments to reduce lipid peroxidation (the process in which free radicals steal electrons from the lipids in cell membranes, resulting in cell damage.)

Reishi is non-toxic, it can be taken daily without any adverse effects.

Find out more about Reishi’s amazing health benefits.

Click here if you want to try Reishi mushrooms.

Danshen (Salvia miltiorrhiza)

danshen

Native to China, the root of Salvia miltiorrhiza also known as red sage, is considered a key tradional Chinese medicine and clinical trials seem to back up its efficacy in treating cardiovascular conditions.

Results from animal and human studies support the use of danshen for circulatory disorders, as it is known to decrease the blood’s ability to clot in at least two ways.

Firstly it limits the stickiness of blood platelets and secondly it also decreases the production of fibrin (the threads of protein that trap blood cells to form clots).

These two effects collectively improve blood circulation.

Moreover, chemicals in danshen are thought to relax and widen blood vessels, including those around the heart.

In fact danshen was the first Chinese medicine to pass clinical phase 2 trials for cardiovascular indications in the US.

Chinese research also suggests danshen is an effective treatment for acute ischemic stroke in China.

Danshen is also thought to have antithrombotic effects (reduces the formation of blood clots) but as yet there have been no human trials.

One animal study found danshen treatment had an ameliorating effect on injuries to the vasculature following ischemia and reperfusion.

Chemicals in danshen may also have protected the inner linings of arteries from damage, a key precursor to atherosclerosis.

A Chinese study with rats discovered that danshen (in combination with gegen – the root of Pueraria lobata, has a vasorelaxant (reduction in tension of the blood vessel walls) effect on basilar arteries.

Another study from 2008, on rats with vascular injury found that oxidative damage was limited by treatment with magnesium lithospermate, a danshen ingredient.

Some other research suggests it may also increase the force of heartbeats and slow the heart rate.

Danshen is thought to be a useful anti-anginal drug because it has been shown to dilate coronary arteries in all concentrations, similar to notoginseng.

Trials conducted on patients with angina suggest that salvia pellets (containing danshen) helped with angina symptoms.

Danshen also seems to have a protective action on ischemic myocardium (reduced blood flow to the heart), enhancing the recovery of contractive force on re-oxygenation.

Danshen is considered safe when taken orally for cardiovascular indications though some mild side effects are known, including itching, upset stomach, and loss of appetite.

Those people using the anticoagulation drug, warfarin should avoid taking danshen as it has been known to exacerbate the anticoagulation effects and lead to bleeding complications.

Hawthorn (Crataegus)

Hawthorn

The use of Hawthorn dates back to ancient Greece, appearing in ‘De Materia Medica’, the precursor to all modern pharmacopeias.

Crataegus leaves, flowers, and fruits contain a number of biologically active substances, including flavonoids, oligomeric procyanins and catechins.

Hawthorn is well known for its use in the treatment of various heart problems including heart failure in cases of declining cardiac performance, angina pectoris, hypertension with myocardial insufficiency, mild alterations of cardiac rhythm, and atherosclerosis – the deadly process most often behind cardiovascular diseases.

Numerous clinical trials have been conducted with crataegus on cardiac performance in heart failure.

Ten trials included 855 patients with chronic heart failure (New York Heart Association classes I to III).

Treatment with hawthorn extract was found to be more beneficial than placebo in these. Exercise tolerance was significantly increased and symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue improved significantly.

In another study, patients with a left ventricular ejection fraction (25%+) experienced a decrease in sudden cardiac death after treatment with hawthorn.

In animal studies, hawthorn extracts have also shown to decrease peripheral vascular resistance and hypertension.

Hawthorn has demonstrated numerous properties that may be beneficial in heart failure including anti-arrhythmic activities and the ability to increase coronary blood flow and cardiac output.

Anti-inflammatory and anti-hyperlipidemic effects have also been reported with hawthorn appearing to improve the status of antioxidant enzymes, which supports the herbs cardioactive efficacy.

Hawthorn extracts have shown in research to antagonize the increases in cholesterol, triglyceride, and phospholipid levels in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in rats fed a hyperlipidemic diet.

This also suggests hawthorn may help inhibit the progression of atherosclerosis.

In a placebo-controlled human study, an extract of Crataegus clearly improved the cardiac performance of patients with New York Heart Association class II heart failure.

More seriously ill patients may need higher dosages (1800 mg) as used for significant improvements to be obtained.

In German research, hawthorn the exercise capacity of patients with heart failure and on typical heart failure-related clinical signs and symptoms

Hawthorn has also displayed cardio-protective effects on ischemic-reperfused hearts without causing an increase in coronary blood flow.

Hawthorn has been used as a diuretic for bladder and kidney problems, for stomach ache, as an appetite stimulant and to improve circulation.

From current studies, Crataegus extract appears to have antioxidant properties and can inhibit the formation of thromboxane (plays a role in clot formation) as well.

Results recorded from clinical trials, experiences of professionally qualified medical herbalists, and the mild and rare side effects experienced by patients indicates Crataegus has great potential as a useful remedy in the treatment of CVD.

A meta-analyses of clinical trials concluded that hawthorn may be a safe and effective treatment for chronic heart failure.

Garlic (Allium sativum)

garlic

Not simply a culinary pleasure, garlic has been valued for centuries for its medicinal properties and is one of the herbal medicines being examined more closely by the scientific community.

In research, garlic has demonstrated multiple beneficial cardiovascular effects.

Research has focused on garlic’s use in preventing atherosclerosis, while a number of studies have demonstrated that consumption of large quantities of fresh garlic can lower blood pressure, inhibit platelet aggregation, enhance fibrinolytic activity, reduce serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels and protecting the elastic properties of the aorta.

In support of this, a double-blind crossover study was conducted on moderately hypercholesterolemic men that compared the effects of 7.2 g of aged garlic extract with placebo on blood lipid levels.

This study found that there was a maximal reduction of 6.1% percent in total serum cholesterol levels and 4.6% in LDL cholesterol levels with garlic compared with placebo.

Like many of the studies conducted on herbal remedies, perceived methodological shortcomings have prevented this positive evidence from being endorsed and coming to light.

Garlic has been also studied in hypertensive patients as blood pressure lowering agent.

The results of one meta-analysis suggests some clinical useful patients with mild hypertension but there is insufficient evidence to recommend its use as a routine clinical therapy.

Garlic has also shown to possess antiplatelet activity. A recent study examined the effects of consumption of fresh garlic on platelet thromboxane and showed that after 26 weeks serum thromboxane levels were reduced about 80%.

The effect of long-term garlic intake on the elastic properties of the aorta was also studied.

Participants in the trial (aged 50-80 years) consumed 300 mg per day of standardized garlic powder for more than two years. The results showed that the pulse wave velocity and standardized elastic vascular resistance of the aorta were lower in the garlic group than in the control group.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)

Ginkgo biloba

Heralded as a living fossil, Ginkgo aka maidenhair tree is thought to be one of the world’s oldest plants. Native to China, imprints of Ginkgo leaves have been found in sedimentary rocks dating 135 to 210 million years ago.

Legend has it that ginkgo biloba nearly became extinct. Only human intervention saved the herb when it became extremely scarce, with some wise souls planting it in Far Eastern Temple Gardens to preserve it.

The route and kernels of gingko have been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. But it was in the 20th century that Ginkgo Biloba first gained attention in the west for its medicinal value after an effective, concentrated extract of Ginkgo Biloba leaves was developed in the 1960s.

There are at least two groups of substances within that ginkgo extract (EGb 761), which demonstrated beneficial pharmacological actions.

The flavonoids in ginkgo reduce capillary permeability as well as fragility and act as free radical scavengers.

The terpenes (ginkoloids) inhibit platelet activating factor, decrease vascular resistance and improve circulatory flow without appreciably affecting blood pressure.

In a randomized placebo-controlled, double-blind study, a standardized extract of ginkgo was shown to significantly decrease the areas of ischemia as measured by transcutaneous partial pressure oxygen during exercise.

Because of its rapid anti ischemic action, biloba may be valuable in the treatment of intermittent claudication and peripheral artery disease in general.

A clinical study of 15 patients undergoing coronary bypass surgery demonstrated that oral ETB 761 therapy may limit free radical induced oxidative stress occurring in the systemic circulation and at the level of the myocardium during these operations.

Ginkgo appears to be safe when taken by healthy adults by mouth in suggested doses for up to six months.

Green Tea (Camellia sinensis)

Leaves of green tea

Green tea is a type of tea that is made from Camellia sinensis leaves that have not undergone the same withering and oxidation process used to make oolong and black tea.

Population-based studies and clinical studies indicate that the antioxidant properties of green tea may help prevent atherosclerosis and address arterial inflammation.

Chinese research suggests green tea reduces the levels of LDL or ‘bad’ blood cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of CVD, while good HDL cholesterol remained unchanged.

According to the Harvard Medical School, studies that looked at links between green tea and cardiovascular disease have had promising results.

A study of over 40,000 Japanese adults discovered that participants who drank more than five cups of green tea a day had a 26% lower risk of death from heart attack or stroke and a 16% lower risk of death from all causes than people who drank less than one cup of green tea a day.

A meta-analysis of green tea and black tea drinkers found that people who drank the most green tea had a 28% lower risk of coronary artery disease than those who drank the least green tea. Meanwhile, black tea had no apparent effect on heart risk.

Green tea catechins – the active polyphenols in green tea – have been associated with health benefits in human trials. As such, they have the potential to reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk; however, results are not consistent.

A 2012 meta-analysis of 14 randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials found that Green tea catechins in capsule form significantly lowered LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

While the evidence isn’t conclusive, green tea catechins seem to possess some cardiovascular-protective properties, which may be useful for reducing CVD risk.

Green tea presents no known serious side effects when consumed in moderation.

Fang Ji (Stephania tetrandra)

Butchers Tetrandra root - Fangji

Fang Ji is a herbaceous perennial vine used in Chinese medicine to treat hypertension. The name Fang Ji literally translates as ‘snakebite remedy’.

Tetrandine, an alkaloid isolated from Fang Ji, is known to have anti-inflammatory, immunologic and antiallergenic effects.

Research from New York suggests tetrandrine is a structurally unique natural product calcium blocker (Ca2+ entry) and therapeutically effective. Calcium channel blockers are typically prescribed to treat angina (chest pain) and high blood pressure.

In one Japanese study of stroke-prone hypertensive rats, an oral dose of 25 or 50 mg/kg produced a gradual and sustained hypotensive effect (decreasing mean, systolic, and diastolic blood pressures) after 48 hours.

An Italian study from 2010, suggests the protective effects of tetrandrine can be attributed to its antioxidant action in lowering peroxide levels and its ability to counteract coagulating activity.

The researchers suggested tetrandrine offers “full protection” against myocardial infarction, which was experimentally induced in rabbits.

Meanwhile a Chinese study of rats with induced cardiomyocyte hypertrophy (a thickening of the interventricular wall and/or septum), found tetrandrine had an anti-hypertrophic effect.

Research from Hong Kong suggested an extract containing Stephania Tetrandra root may be a therapeutically better agent in the treatment of ischemic heart diseases and hypertension than Ca2+ channel antagonists.

A follow-up study discovered treatment with stephania tetrandra root extract returned arterial blood pressure, cardiac compliance, and coronary flow towards normal levels, and reduced right ventricular hypertrophy (enlargement) in hypertensive rats.

Fang Ji is also used in Chinese medicine for flatulence, to relieve pain and to promote diuresis (increased urination).

While known to interact with drug metabolizing enzymes, Fang Ji is considered safe if consumed in recommended daily dosage.

Guggul (Commiphora mukul or Gugulipid)

guggul

Guggul is the common name for the flowering mukul myrrh tree (Commiphora mukul), a small, thorny tree that is most commonly found in India.

It has been used for many years in Ayurvedic medicine as a heart tonic and to treat lipid disorders.

Guggul has shown in studies to increase the uptake and metabolism of LDL cholesterol by the liver, while also decreasing LDL cholesterol levels by 12.5% and the total cholesterol–high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio by 11.1%.

Triterpene (myrrhanol A), terpenes found in the plant’s gums and resin, are believed to have potent anti-inflammatory effects.

While limited clinical trials have been completed, a trial on 200 patients with ischemic heart disease found guggul caused an improvement on electrocardiogram readings and reduced episodes of chest pain and dyspnea.

In studies with rats with isoproterenol-induced ischemia, an extract of guggul improved cardiac function and thwarted myocardial ischemic impairment.

‘Guggulsterone’ – phytosteroid found in the resin – is also believed to have a protective effect on cardiac enzymes in drug-induced myocardial necrosis.

Caution may be merited in patients who have previously experienced adverse effects to statins.

Notoginseng (Panax notoginseng)

Panax notoginseng

In traditional Chinese medicine, panax notoginseng is often used in the treatment of patients with hypertension, angina and coronary artery disease.

It has acquired a very favorable reputation for treatment of blood disorders, including blood stasis, bleeding, and blood deficiency.

Research to date has indicated that notoginseng appears to be a promising natural cardio-protective agent, with an effect on reversing ventricular hypertrophy, protecting target organs, improving blood vessel function, and other auxiliary vasodilator (widening of blood vessels).

Recent research has found notoginseng to be antioxidative, anti-atherogenic (preventing atherosclerosis), lipid-lowering, anti-inflammatory and angiogenic (the migration of endothelial cells to the walls of blood vessels).

Meanwhile a Cochrane systematic review indicated that panax notoginseng was effective in preventing stroke.

In a 2013 review, Panax notoginseng did not show significant effect on reducing cardiovascular events, but it could alleviate angina pectoris (including improving the symptoms of angina pectoris.

With its high level of use, perhaps millions a year, few reports of apparent adverse effects have occurred and none of them related to toxicity of notoginseng’s herbal constituents.

Snakeroot

snakeroot

A Hindu Ayurvedic remedy since ancient times, snakeroot contains a number of bioactive components, including ajmaline, deserpidine, rescinnamine, serpentinine and reserpine.

Snakeroot is a natural source of the alkaloid ‘reserpine’, one of the first drugs used on a large scale to treat systemic hypertension (high blood pressure) a key risk factor for metabolic disorder and cardiovascular disease.

Reserpine is believed to lower blood pressure by decreasing cardiac output, peripheral vascular resistance, heart rate, and renin secretion.

A Canadian study from 2015 suggests snakeroot is a safe and effective adjunct to pharmaceuticals in the treatment of high blood pressure.

In a mouse study, a root extract of snakeroot also improved the glycemic, anti-atherogenic (inhibited plaque buildup in arteries), coronary risk, and was cardioprotective.

Snakeroot was also a component of a formulation that saw antihypertensive effects in healthy adult male volunteers from a single dose.

The plant has also been heralded in Chinese medicine for weight loss.

Snakeroot should be taken with caution, side effects have been noted that range from mild to serious.

Some of these include stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, drowsiness and nasal congestion.

More serious side effects, though very rare, include convulsions, Parkinson’s-like symptoms and coma.

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)

motherwort

Motherwort is an herbaceous perennial plant in the mint family, Lamiaceae. Other common names include throw-wort, lion’s ear, and lion’s tail.

It is known as a sedative and calming agent that is thought to be very beneficial to the circulatory system.

Motherwort has been used for centuries to help treat heart palpitations, mild heart irregularity, hypertension, and also to strengthen the heart.

It is also believed to possess antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic activities, and is used as a complementary remedy to improve heart function and blood circulation.

However, as yet there is little scientific evidence to support these uses of the herb.

In one test tube study motherwort slowed the beating of normal rat heart cells and inhibited the effects of substances that usually speed up heart cell contractions.

Another study suggested that motherwort might improve blood circulation and protect brain tissue in people who have had a stroke.

An Eastern European study suggests motherwort extract could be a useful remedy to protect cardiac muscles from the effects of pathogenic processes.

Motherwort has been used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for coronary heart disease (CHD).

Important active ingredients of motherwort include the phytonutrient alkaloid ‘leonine’, believed by some to be a mild vasodilator, which relaxes muscles, expands blood vessels and improves blood flow.

Pharmacological studies have confirmed its antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity, as well some effects on the heart and the circulatory system.

Among other chemical constituents, motherwort also contains stachydrine, bitter iridoid glycosides (leonuride), diterpinoids, flavonoids (including rutin and quercetin), tannins, volatile oils, and vitamin A.

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of motherwort for heart conditions.