Can Ayurveda help with cardiac problems?

Can Ayurveda help with cardiac problems?
Heart in Ayurveda's philosophy

Heart in Ayurveda's philosophy

The heart in Ayurvedic philosophy

According to Ayurveda, Atman is focused in the heart – the individual human soul, the consciousness, the real inner self of everyone, and the thoughts are a reflection of feelings. This interpretation is given in the Upanishads – preserved ancient Indian texts perceived as sacred.

At the same time, the heart is an “emotional” organ and is strongly influenced by the emotions generated by relationships with relatives, neighbors, colleagues at work and so on. That is why heart diseases reflect the deepest personal problems. This fits into the philosophy of Ayurveda. According to Ayurveda, the ultimate goal is not the personal success and material prosperity. The goal is the unity and harmony with the surrounding world, including with other people, to the moment when people reach separation from the material and connection with the Divine beginning in them.

Since ancient times, Ayurveda has defined all cardiac diseases with their symptoms, causes and healing methods. These are all diseases where there is damage to the heart.  Often they don’t directly affect the cardiac muscle, but are preceded by damage to the blood vessels.  

Some of the cardiac diseases are the heart defect, rheumatic heart disease, arrhythmia, myocarditis, arteriosclerosis, hypertension, etc. There may be a genetic predisposition for these diseases, but the primary role is played by suppression of feelings and the stress that causes constant tension and anxiety, the emotional crashes caused by bad life events, the feeling of dissatisfaction, fear, as well as unhealthy eating and immobilization.

The development of heart diseases usually leads to heart attacks and strokes. But before the occurrence of these conditions, patients usually feel discomfort in a certain period, such as chest pain, tingling sensations in the middle area of the back to the hands, and even may lose consciousness. Symptoms may include blueish tong and lips, shortness of breath, vomiting, cough, fever, etc. In many cases, the patient undergoes a light stroke without knowing – people think that they suffer from a cold or some kind of disturbance, muscle stretching and so on.

Principles of the Ayurvedic treatment

The principles of Ayurvedic treatment come from the ancient Indian perception of diseases. According to it, diseases are not just an anomaly in the activity of certain organs, and subsequently – anomalies in the function of the related systems in the body. The diseases and their symptoms are an indication of overall disturbances in the organism. These are imbalances of the vital energies that carry out all biological processes and which maintain the body as an integrated and self-sufficient system of self-protection, self-control and development.

These energies are three and they are called Doshas. In the primary nature of the human being these energies are set in a certain ratio, as the leading energy may be one, they can be two, but they are in balance so the organism functions optimally. If one of the energies goes out of that naturally set balance – the unique equilibrium in any person, it causes disturbances in the function of a number of organs, so diseases occur.

The Dosha that has gone out of balance usually causes disturbances in the other two energies. Vata causes the biggest damages because it is responsible for the movements and is most prone to changes. Thus Vata may block the flow of Pitta, which is generally  responsible for the transformations, and of Kapha, whose function is to control the fluids.

That is why the Ayurveda treatment is aimed at restoration of the balance of the Doshas. The goal is to restore the harmony between the energies by returning them into balance and as a result the functions in the organism will be optimal for protection, control and development. In this state, the body is not vulnerable to diseases.

Vulnerability of the heart to diseases

Why all people are vulnerable and when

According to Ayurveda, cardiac diseases are most often related to deviations in the Pitta energy. This is especially true with regard to heart attacks and strokes, because when Pitta is out of balance it causes “fiery” negative emotions – intense irritability, agitation, jealousy, even rage.

However, heart diseases may be related to imbalances of the other two Doshas. Vata usually causes imbalances when the person is older, when the tissues start to age and when the blood vessels start to lose their elasticity. The heart problems of the Kapha type usually occur due to overeating and accumulated fat, cholesterol, mucus that prevent the normal function of the cardiovascular system.

In fact, unhealthy eating that includes heavy foods, foods with animal fat, sedentary lifestyle and value system that is oriented towards career competition, all these make heart diseases leading as a cause of death in modern society. Every year, over 17 million people die around the world, and in Bulgaria every 2 of 3 deaths are due to cardiac diseases – heart attack or stroke, or heart failure.

General rules and healing Ayurvedic remedies for heart diseases  

In the treatment of cardiac diseases, first the patient must rest, he also must limit the physical and mental activities in order to avoid all kinds of anxiety and tension.

Meditation and yoga asanas have very beneficial effect on these conditions. Ayurveda includes also herbs that are useful for all three Doshas in the process of treatment of heart diseases. One of these herbs is arjuna, which strengthens the heart and tissues, tones them, activates blood circulation. It is prepared with ghee. The daily dose is up to 3 grams of arjuna powder, as it is consumed with honey for Kapha; with ghee – for Pitta; and with milk for Vata.

Often arjuna is combined with guggul and aswaganda, which enhances is effect as a heart tonic. Saffron with milk (one gram per cup) is the ideal heart tonic for all three Doshas.

Cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, which are very good for Kapha and Vata, also have a stimulating effect on the heart. Also very useful is the essential oil of sandalwood that calms the heart.  

Ayurveda uses various metals and precious stones for the treatment of heart diseases. They can be worn on the body, as well as they can be consumed as a tincture or as a special ash. Gold and granite, for example, stimulate the heart, and the yellow topaz and sapphire also have toning effect on the heart. Silver, nephrite, emerald and lunar stone have calming effect. Beneficial for atherosclerosis is to drink water that has stayed during the night in a copper pot.

Specifics of the heart diseases according to the Doshas

Generally speaking, we can determine that heart diseases of the Vata type are due to neurological problems; inflammations such as pericarditis, endocarditis, myocarditis, are of the Pitta type, and the engorged diseases such as heart failure are mostly due to Kapha.

There are palpitations, tingling sensations and pressure in the chest area, pain in the heart area in cardiac diseases of the Vata type. The discomfort is exacerbated by shortness of breath, cough, insomnia, irritability due to noise. Dark circles under the eyes may occur as an accompanying symptom. There are also intense frustrating feelings – anxiety and fear, which get intensified over time. The seizures usually occur upon physical or mental overload.

Heart diseases due to Vata imbalance, are accompanied by a “burning” sensation in the heart area and warmth all over the body, severe sweating, dizziness, which can lead to  loss of consciousness. In this state, if there is a Pitta imbalance, people easily get irritated and have angry outbursts.

Heart diseases due to imbalances of Kapha, the patient has a feeling of heaviness in the heart, in the chest, increased salivation, cough, lack of appetite, nausea, fatigue, sadness, sleepiness, reduced mental activity.

Ayurveda treatment of heart disease

Ayurvedic treatment of heart diseases according to the Doshas

Ayurveda heals through a special diet, oils and herbs to soothe the Dosha that has gone out of balance. It is combined with a complex of therapies for cleansing of toxins and yoga practices.

The diet to restore the balance of Vata excludes light and dry foods as well as the industrially processed products. Regular feeding is recommended, fish is good choice as well as other products containing Vitamins such as А, Е and D. Garlic is an excellent choice. Meditation, relaxation in nature and calmness are recommended. There are also useful asanas that have to be performed in a seated position.

In case of palpitations or heart pain, you can smear the forehead or chest with sandalwood oil. The “Sham”mantra shoothes the cardiac activity, and the “Ram” mantra has strengthening effect. To strengthen the heart, you can wear a ruby or garnet in a gold plating, on your finger ring on the right hand. The herbs used for Vata are the arjuna, aswaganda, guggul, garlic, cinnamon, sandalwool, cardamom and licorice.

You can consume from 3 to 6 grams of aswaganda in a spoonful of ghee, mixed in a cup of milk. Drink it two to four times a day according to your medical prescription. Of course, as for any Dosha, there are various herbs, oils and combinations. But they depend on the assessment of the Ayurveda physician with regard to the energy deviations for the specific patient, because the ayurvedic treatment is always strictly individual and there are no “universal recipes”.

The Ayurvedic treatment of heart diseases of the Pitta type excludes from the menu the hot foods, warming spices, red meat, oily foods, salt. The long stay in over-heated rooms or directly in the sunlight is contraindicated, as well as the heavy physical work and sport.

Unbalanced Pitta easily leads to anger and aggression, so patients need to be free of irritation and calm. It is recommended to wear an emerald in a silver frame, lunar stone or pearls on the middle finger of the right hand. You can smear the zone of the Third eye /over the nose/ and chest with oil extraction of sandalwood.

The “Sham”mantra has cooling and soothing effect. The recommended herbs are saffron, arajuna, shatavari, sandalwood, Aloe juice, katuka and so on. You can mix barberry with licorice in equal amounts and then consume it after meal with two grams of ghee. In some acute cases laxatives can help. Useful remedies are also the Brahma rasayana and Brahmi based on arajuna.

In the treatment of cardiac diseases of the Kapha type are avoided the fatty meats, eggs, sugar, butter, lard, salt. Just like for Vata, it is recommended to wear garnet or a ruby in a golden plating. You can apply massages with camphor or cinnamon oil. The “Оm”mantra has a cleansing effect and opens the mind. It is good to use expectorating remedies to eliminate the mucus and you can perform controlled vomiting. Cinnamon, arajuna, cardamom, guggul and trikatu are used.

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