Learn about HRT vs natural remedies for the heart and the natural remedies you can use instead to protect your heart.
HRT vs Natural Remedies for the Heart
For many years now, doctors have believed that HRT provides protective effects for women’s hearts. More than 20 million American women receive prescriptions for supplements containing estrogen and progesterone, with an estimated 20 percent of women taking HRT specifically to prevent heart disease.
Recent guidelines from the American Heart Association, published in their journal Circulation, indicate that the long-held belief that HRT is cardioprotective is incorrect and that HRT does not prevent heart disease. In fact, in some cases, women had a higher risk of heart disease if they took HRT, even for only one year.
While HRT does raise HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind) and lowers LDL cholesterol, it has other side effects that might outweigh the benefits, including causing blood vessel inflammation and blood clotting. Therefore, it’s preferable to look to safer and more natural means of protecting the cardiovascular system. Avoiding smoking, eating a healthy diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, soy and other legumes, good-quality protein, and plenty of fiber, and exercising are important ways to prevent heart disease. Stress reduction is also essential.
Herbal remedies can serve as beneficial health supplements to your cardioprotective lifestyle. Studies indicate that garlic (Allium sativum), for example, can reduce total serum cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels by as much as 9 to 12 percent, can reduce blood pressure by 5 to 7 percent, and can prevent blood clots. Garlic can be added raw or lightly cooked to the diet, or taken as a supplement in capsule form.
Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) is another herb widely used by herbalists for its beneficial effects on the heart. This herb, which can be taken as a tea, tincture, concentrated extract, capsule, or even in jam, supports and tones the blood vessels, improves the contractility of the heart muscle thus improving blood flow, and acts as an overall heart tonic.
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) has long been used to protect the heart, mostly by reducing stress. Motherwort may be used for heart palpitations and mild high blood pressure, particularly when caused by stress. It also nicely supports the female reproductive system, making it a perfect herb for many menopausal women. Because it is quite bitter, the herb is generally taken in tincture or capsule form.
Read more about natural remedies for hormone therapy: Natural Alternatives to Hormone Replacement.