Ayurveda for Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
When the inner walls of the heart’s arteries become lined with a fat-like substance, coronary artery disease (CAD) develops. This accumulation reduces the amount of blood that can travel through the arteries, eventually starving the heart muscle. Heart attacks and strokes may result. According to Ayurveda, an ancient Indian holistic medical practice, diseases such as CAD result from a number of factors that create imbalances in the body. Ayurveda primarily employs herbal supplementation and lifestyle changes to reduce the risk factors for coronary artery disease (CAD). Exercise, spiritual disciplines, and behavior changes that address a patient’s mind, spirit, and body, help to restore balance and health.
Why Use Ayurveda to Treat Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)?
Ancient Indian texts say that regular physical activity, regular waking and sleeping hours, emotional equanimity, a balanced diet, and balanced thoughts and actions keep disease away. These concepts dovetail with modern medical views of coronary artery disease (CAD). Ayurvedic theories are primarily based on diet and digestion, but also consider lifestyle, environment, and the mental state of the individual. Disease is the result of disturbances in any of these factors. Another important concept in Ayurvedic medicine is that each person has a unique way of interacting with the environment and a specific constitution. When an illness occurs, Ayurveda prescribes remedies based on herbs, minerals, and other therapeutic procedures that are specific to each patient.
Ayurvedic medicine focuses on three body types, called doshas. These types are vata, pitta, and kapha. If pain is mild and is associated with nausea, heaviness, and cough, it is considered a kapha heart disease. If the pain is acute and has a shifting nature, it is known as vata heart disease. If it is associated with a burning sensation, it is called pitta heart disease. If all these symptoms are active, then the patient has tridosha heart disease.
Ayurvedic Treatments for Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
Both Ayurvedic and modern medicine offer suggestions for keeping the circulatory system healthy.
- Meditate. In Ayurveda, this often is the first treatment for heart disease. Meditation lowers resting heart rate, decreases blood pressure, and reduces the production of noradrenaline, which indirectly affects the metabolism of glucose, lipids, and many neurotransmitters. Yoga postures and breathing exercises offer synergistic benefits.
- Maintain a healthy diet. The ideal portion of food in Ayurvedic practice is equal to an amount that fits in a patient’s two cupped palms. Eating three meals at regular times each day trains the body to prepare for digesting food. A sluggish digestive system will probably respond to a fresh slice of ginger dressed with lime juice and a pinch of salt. Avoid heavy dinners and late-night snacks.
- Select natural foods. Choose plenty of fresh fruits, dress vegetables with fresh lime juice, eat blanched almonds, and add fresh-ground black pepper and the spice turmeric. Avoid processed foods or leftovers; rich, deep-fried foods; and cold, heavy foods.
- Avoid alcohol, drugs, and smoking. Ayurveda recommends internal cleansing with every change of season to help the body flush out impurities, especially in the digestive tract. Drink plenty of warm water during the day and go to bed by 10 p.m. to help the body cleanse itself during its natural purification time.
- Cultivate emotional health. Ayurveda encourages a holistic approach to heart health that views the heart as the source of all emotions. Stress disrupts emotional balance. Several Ayurvedic herbs are known for their positive influence on the emotional heart and the mind.
- Cultivate happiness. Avoid excess stress. Focusing on positive attitudes, emotions, and activities increases ojas—the substance that maintains life. Ojas leads to contentment, bliss, vitality, and longevity.
- Exercise daily. Make gentle exercise, like walking, a regular activity. A 30-minute walk early in the morning is ideal.
- Get plenty of sleep. Ayurveda considers sleep just as important as diet in maintaining health. Research has linked sleep deprivation to depression, blood pressure problems, and other issues that increase the risk of heart disease. Choose calm, restful activities during the evening to help the mind disconnect from the senses. Keep the bedroom temperature comfortable and the space clear of the television, computers, and work-related materials.
Ayurvedic Remedies for Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
Coronary artery disease (CAD) should always be treated by a conventional medical doctor; however, Ayurvedic medicines can provide a complementary role in managing the disease. During an acute attack of pain, especially in cases of angina, Ayurvedic medicines like Brihat Vat Chintamani, Laxmi Vilas Rasa, and Shrung Bhasma can be taken beneath the tongue. These protect the heart, decrease the pain, and improve the tone of the heart muscles. Following an acute attack, the same remedies can be given again to reduce damage. Other helpful medicines include Patol, Triphala, Nimba, Musta, Kutaj, Medohar Guggulu, Chandraprabha, Amalaki, Garlic, Kutki and Punarnava. These remedies help reduce fatty deposits in the blood vessels and reduce blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and atherosclerosis. Studies demonstrate that powdered stem bark of Terminalia arjuna modifies coronary risk factors such as hypertension, obesity, and diabetes.
In addition, the following remedies might be of assistance:
- Commiphora mukul shows significant ability to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Emblica officinalis reduces serum cholesterol levels.
- Ocimum sanctum reduces hypertension and stress.
- Trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek) possibly decreases blood glucose levels.
- Withania somnifera possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-stress, anti-oxidative, and rejuvenating properties.
- Ginger tends to decrease platelet aggregation.
Signs and Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
Symptoms of blocked arteries are usually noticed during bouts of anger, physical exercise, sexual activity, exposure to cold weather, or while under stress.
The most common symptoms include:
- Chest pain (generally a heavy, squeezing, or crushing sensation with possible burning or stabbing pains)
- Shoulder, arm, abdominal, neck, back, or jaw pain
- Shortness of breath
What to Expect When Visiting an Ayurvedic Doctor
The first thing an Ayurvedic doctor will do when treating coronary artery disease (CAD) is to determine the patient’s body type. Close attention is given to eyes, nails, tongue, pulse, overall health, and family histories. The physician may listen to the heart, lungs, and intestines with a stethoscope and palpate the body. Ayurvedic medicine consists of a specially tailored treatment plan to correct imbalances by detoxifying the body, bringing the body into balance, bringing rejuvenation, and encouraging mental and spiritual healing. This is done through recommendations for meditation, yoga, dietary changes, exercise, massage, herbal tonics, herbal sweat baths, medicated enemas, and medicated inhalations.
Contact the American Heart Association for more information about coronary artery disease (CAD).
Medline Plus has information about coronary artery disease (CAD).
Ayurvedic treatments for heart disease from Holistic Online.
Extensive article on Ayurveda, cholesterol, and CAD from the South Asian Journal of Preventive Cardiology online.
Description of the doshas or body types in Ayurvedic medicine.
"Ayurveda, Ayurvedic Medicines and Important Herbs" By Dr John Anne.