Cardiovascular diseases from an Ayurvedic point of view
Ayurveda views cardiac diseases and diseases of the blood vessels in a completely different way from the perceptions of the Western medicine. According to Ayurveda, cardiology is related to the state of the three Doshas – the vital energies through which all processes in body take place.
These energies are specific biological essences of the person. Each of them manages a certain type of processes of existence and development:
- Vata – movements
- Kapha– fluids
- Pitta – transformations
Even upon conception, nature sets these energies in specific proportions for each Dosha to the other two. One energy may be leading in this energy balance, or two. If the equilibrium is maintained, the organism functions optimally, it is able to protect, correct and develop itself according to the natural laws.
However, if a Dosha goes out of the harmony, disturbances occur in a number of processes. And since the body is a whole, this causes deviations also in the other Doshas, which leads to combined diseases.
According to Ayurveda the cardiovascular diseases are three type depending on the patient’s body type, symptoms and causes found. These caused by imbalances in the Vata energy include reduced elasticity of the blood vessels, pathological enlargement of the cardiac muscle, reduced conductivity, problems with cardiac contractions, and so on. Usually these cardiac diseases are the result of age-related changes, so they are mostly common in older people.
Cardiovascular disease of the Pitta type is a pathology caused by an increased excitability of the nervous system and high blood pressure. These patients usually experience strokes and a high heart rate. They often feel irritated and have outbursts of anger as these characteristics are very specific for Pitta dosha as part of their character.
The category cardiovascular diseases of the Kapha type include atherosclerotic vascular changes, obesity and symptoms of heart failure. Patients with this type of cardiovascular diseases experience blockages in the organism, increased salivation, poor blood circulation in the brain, easy fatigue and general weakness.
Main heart diseases, causes and symptoms according to Ayurveda
Among the major diseases of the cardiovascular system are heart attacks, strokes, angina, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, etc.
The causes of these disease are many and varied.
Ayurveda directly connects the heart with emotions, so emotional stress is one of the main causes of cardiovascular diseases. An intense experience, for example, can lead to a heart attack. Frequent mental and physical load is also among the negative factors that can lead to heart problems, as well as prolonged exposure to stress.
Very dangerous, for example, is the constant anxiety, unlike the anger, it is the “silent connection”with the heart attack. The chronic fatigue is at the same time a consequence of the tension and a heart disease factor.
Cigarettes and alcohol are also factors that lead to cardiovascular diseases. Smoking causes atherosclerosis, which includes fat deposits in the arteries, reducing the blood stream, and blood pressure rises, which increases the risk of a stroke. According to Ayurveda, alcohol is in the list of “foods of ignorance” – it is associated with obesity, toxicity of the organism and hypertension.
Of course, heredity can also play a role for the development of cardiovascular diseases, if a specific disease is common in the family. Different chronic illnesses and even the age can also be a factor.
The symptoms include pain or tingling in the chest, insomnia, feeling of intensive palpitations. Blue lips, fever, loss of consciousness can also be an indication of a heart disease.
If the increased or “jumping” pulse is accompanied by shortness of breath, vertigo and general weakness, this may be an indication of a heart failure or heart attack. In heart failure, the organism starts to retain fluids, so edema may also be related to cardiac problems.
This also applies to accumulation of fluid in the lungs – then cough occurs or the breathing is accompanied by wheezing, and bloody sputum may occur. Another symptom can be sweating without reasonable cause, especially if accompanied by pain in the chest and nausea.
Ayurvedic principles in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases
Ayurvedic treatment of the heart and blood vessels is complex. It is aimed at correction of the occurred energy deviations, and at restoration of the harmony between the Doshas, so the systems of the organism can start functioning in the best way.
This is done with the help of selected foods, herbs, oils and their combinations, as well as yoga. Meditation also plays a role and soothes the nervous system through emotional and spiritual pacification and restoration of the harmony of the person.
The daily regime is designed to exclude risk factors such as stress and anxiety, reduced physical and mental activity, etc. It includes moderate, but regular yoga practice and the suitable asanas. The herbs are selected strictly individually by the Ayurveda specialist for each person according the specifics of his body, the disease under the classification of Ayurveda, age, and so on.
It is especially important to cleanse toxins from the blood vessels and from the body in general. This happens through herbs, potions, oils that are extracted from nature and have no side effects. To remove toxins from the body, laxatives and purifying natural remedies are also used. By removing the toxins from the body, Ayurveda restores the normal pulse rate, the cardiac tone and optimal condition of the blood vessels, improves the sleep and emotional balance. It is equally important, however, that the treatment of Ayurveda also provides a perspective with regard to the prevention of reoccurrence of the diseases or the development of new ones. Ayurveda specialists help patients to understand themselves and the causes that have led to the disease, so they can change their lifestyle and maintain a good health without medicines. The conservative medicine is often incapable of doing so, because it only cures the consequences, and not the cause of the disease.
Herbs used by Ayurveda in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases
The thousand-year old practice of Ayurveda has found a number of healing remedies for the balance of each Dosha. The arjuna plant is very useful. The extract of this riverside tree is applied for various cardiovascular diseases.
Arjuna normalizes the blood pressure and blood stream in the arteries, thereby reducing the risk of thrombus formation, normalizing lipid concentration in the blood, stimulating cardiac pumping function. Thus, cholesterol is reduced, the blood pressure improves, ischemia is eliminated, the restorative processes in the myocardium and the various damaged tissues are stimulated, and lungs are activated. There are also other therapeutic effects, for example, in the treatment of kidney stones.
Ayurveda widely uses Aromatherapy to soothe the nervous system through the effect of essential oils. Sandalwood oil, myrrh or myrtle are used for cardiac pathologies. The Vata constitution is treated with aromatic baths and massages with essential oils such as bursera graveolens, jatamansi, patchouli, and so on.
The essential oils that are recommended for Pitta include rose, cashmere, incense, lavender, mint, pine, cedar, fir. The suitable massages for Pitta dosha include warming base sesame oil. In this dosha, however, it is best to inhale this aromas – cinnamon, cardamom, basil, citrus, ginger. Hot pepper, cinnamon, ginger, saffron, cardamom are recommended for Kapha and Vata. They stimulate the blood circulation and strengthen the heart in general.
The cooling effect of some essential oil is very good for Pitta, for example, hawthorn, aloe, licorice, dill, mint, etc. The basis of the treatment of Pitta dosha is meditation and relaxing practices. In fact, meditation is good for all Doshas. The patient seats in a comfortable position and starts breathing techniques. He must focus completely on an object or phenomenon and he must log off from the outer world. It is proven that a 10- minute meditation per day is enough to reduce the anxiety and increase concentration on the tasks of the day.
Ayurvedic diet for cardiovascular diseases
According to Ayurveda, the cause of all illnesses is poor nutrition that is not consistent with the biological rhythm of the specific type of body. Then digestion becomes overloaded, the degradation of food delays, and decaying foods residues start releasing toxins in the stomach and intestines.
The overloaded liver experiences difficulties to process the substances and is filled with toxins. Generally, the metabolism gets disturbed, the poisons spread through the body with blood and damage the cells and the condition of the tissues. This causes disturbances in the function of specific organs and entire systems. According to Ayurveda, this is a result of the imbalances in the Doshas caused by improper diet.
There are specific foods that have balancing effect on each Dosha, as well as there are foods that aggravate the Doshas and they go out of balance. This leads to functional disturbances. Apart from the types of food, the proper diet for each Dosha includes also specific time and sequence of the meals, as well as avoidance of incompatible foods, etc. It is very important the food to be fresh – it should be consumed within 3 hours after it is prepared, because after that it loses its qualities of charging forces from Nature.
Warm and nutritious foods, which are heavier and oily, are beneficial for Vata dosha, Foods that are not recommended are the cold, raw, dry and light ones, and also the consumption of beans, except for the mung dahl, should be reduced. The beneficial falvors include sweet, salty and sour.
Fluid and cool foods with sweet, astringent and bitter taste are good for the hot Pitta dosha. The spicy, sour and salty should be avoided. Fried and oily foods are contraindicated, red meat should be avoided.
Kapha dosha can be balanced with dry, light and warm foods, as the cold, oily, fat and heavy foods should be avoided. The recommended tastes include hot, astringent and bitter, as the contraindicated ones are sour, salty and sweet. Dairy products are not recommended in general. Tofu is also not good for Kapha dosha. The consumption of vegetables should be increased, and suitable fruits include the lighter ones such as pears and apples.