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Heart Care

CATEGORY: Cardiovascular

Publication: Ayurveda - The Science of Traditional Medicine
Author: Vaidya Bhagwan Dash / Suhasini Ramaswamy

The functions of the heart and mind and linked in Ayurveda.  Irregular and intemperate behavior patterns and food habits are responsible for many of our present-day heart ailments, known as bridroga, heart disease are classified into several types depending upon the characteristics features of the pain.  If the pain is acute, and of a shifting nature, it is called vatika bridroga as it is connected to vata vitiation.  If it is associated with a burning sensation, then it is a pitta or paittika bridroga.  In kaphaja bridroga or heart disease of Kapha type, the pain is usually very mild and is associated with heaviness, nausea and cough.  If the heart ailments are caused by invading organisms, they are called krimija.  They are associated with extreme debility, prostration, giddiness and emaciation.

Treatment

Eleven medical plants are generally used for treatment of heart ailments.  A few are described here.  They promote the health of the heart and prevent heart diseases, as also cure the manifested signs and symptoms of the various types of heart diseases.

Wood apple or bael fruit (Aegle marmelos) can act as a heart tonic and cure heart ailments.  It is one of the ingredients of Dasamula-satpalaka ghee, an Ayurvedic recipe used for vatika and kaphaja heart ailments, and Garlic is useful in different types of heart ailments including weakness of heart muscles, in reducing levels of cholesterol, and in preventing blood clotting.  Amalaki too is used in the treatment of heart ailments, especially those related to irregular blood pressure.  Regular intake of this fruit makes the heart healthy and strengthens its muscles.

The leaves of basil (Ocimum sanctum), and basil juice strengthen the heart and nerves.  The bark of Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna), useful in angina, stimulates the heart, increase blood circulation, nourishes the heart muscles, regulates the heart beat and prevents clotting in the coronary arteries.  Its powder is given to the patient during and even after the attack.  Arjunaristha, another Ayurvedic tonic, commonly used by physicians, is a derivatic of arjuna.

Diet and Regimen

Fried food, pulses and groundnut oil are prohibited.  However, almond and sesame oil are allowed.  Cow’s milk, ghee, and butter are useful for such patients.  Stimulants like tea, coffe, and alcoholic drinks are very harmful.  Both wheat and rice are good for the heart but the former is better.  Among pulses, mung (phaseolus mung) and masoor (Lens culinaris) are useful.  Butter-Milk is better than curd or yoghurt.  Honey and jaggery should be preferred over purified sugar.Radish, plantain, bitter gourd, pumpkin, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, coriander leaves, onion, carrots, tomato and cucumber are useful too although cauliflower,brinjal and mustard leaves are harmful.

Spices like cumin seeds, black pepper, turmeric, coriander seeds, clove, cardamom, ginger, onion, garlic and asafetida are very useful but chilies can cause harm.  Fruits like banana, papaya, mango, coconut, lichees, black berries, orange, pineapple, Melon, water melon, plums, pomegranate, olives, woodapple, apple, dates, grapes, and raisins are useful.  But guava, jack fruit and tamarind can harm the heart.

The patient’s bowels should be cleaned regularly.  A daily walk and glass of water kept in a copper vessel for twelve hours and taken on an empty stomach early in the morning are beneficial.