A while back I wrote about the most prominent cardiac herb in Western herbalism, hawthorn. Many of you are probably familiar with hawthorn, yet, you might not know that there is another equally valuable herb for the heart that comes from Ayurvedic medicine. It’s arjuna, the bark of a tree used to treat heart problems for over 3,000 years in India.
Arjuna, like hawthorn, helps the heart and improves cardiovascular health in broad ways. It is a traditional remedy for heart failure and angina. It can help to normalize heart rate and has a normalizing effect on blood pressure, helping to balance both high and low blood pressure. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is used to treat heart failure, endocarditis, and pericarditis, and modern herbalists have also found it helpful for coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, and congestive heart failure.
Arjuna has also been found to lower total cholesterol and increase HDL. It appears to reduce cardiovascular inflammation, strengthen the heart action, and improve circulation to the heart muscle. As a secondary action, it may also help with problems with heart rhythm.
In Ayurveda, arjuna is particularly indicated in heart problems associated with smoking. So, anyone who smokes may want to take it to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular problems related to smoking.
Arjuna has several beneficial properties beyond helping the cardiovascular system. It relieves edema and has beneficial effects on the liver, having been used to treat liver diseases. It has a mild astringent action and has been used for irregular menstruation, bleeding, and diarrhea.
Like hawthorn, arjuna is not toxic, so it’s safe to take it regularly if you’re concerned with your cardiovascular health. Some herbalists say arjuna works better than hawthorn, but I have limited experience with arjuna because I’ve primarily used hawthorn for the heart and heart problems. Whether that’s true or not, it’s always useful to know alternatives to remedies you use regularly, especially when there are a lot of distribution problems in the world right now. Arjuna is available in capsules and extracts, and also makes a slightly sour-tasting tea. It is typically combined with pungent herbs like black pepper and ginger, in the same way hawthorn is often combined with capsicum and garlic.
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