Heart diseases are getting very common throughout the world. Although Cardiology has made great advances in modern medicine yet instances of cardiac and cardiovascular diseases are increasing day by day due to sedentary lifestyle, reduced physical activity and poor eating habits. So, heart health is a very relevant and important topic in today’s health scenario. But how many of us actually know what heart is and what it actually does? Actually, our heart is a muscle and is about size of our fist. It’s located slightly left to the middle of our chest. Heart is one of the most important organs in our body. It pumps blood throughout the body, beating approximately 72 times per minute of our lives. It pumps the blood, which carries all the vital materials which help our bodies function. Our heart deserves to be loved for all the great work it does. It started pumping blood before we were born and will continue pumping throughout our whole life. But in reality, knowingly or unknowingly we don’t care much about the health of our heart. The diet and lifestyle we have adopted is only worsening the situation. So, the problem lies within us. The most important thing is to improve our lifestyle and to implement healthy habits. Ayurveda, our very own ancient Indian System of medicine can be of great help to keep our heart healthy with its simple interventions related to diet and actions (Ahar & Vihar). Ayurveda counts heart as most important amongst 107 vital points in human body known as ‘Marma’. According to Ayurveda for a healthy heart most important thing is to calm the mind, to practice mental peace and non violence and to control sense organs. Few simple methods of Ayurveda can be of great help for keeping our heart and the hearts of our near dear ones healthy.
Gold is dear to every Indian woman but not for its healing properties. Actually, Gold really helps to heal and strengthen the heart. The healing qualities of gold can be harnessed by preparing and drinking water infused with the subtle energy of pure gold. Simply place a pure (ideally, 24 karat) and clean gold item like a gold band or bangle in two cups of water, bring it to a boil and simmer until the water is reduced to 1 cup. Remove the gold item. (It will not be damaged at all by this process), cool and store the gold water. Take one teaspoon of this water, two to three times each day.
Arjuna plant is the foremost rejuvenating herbal plant for heart health in Ayurveda. It strengthens and tones the circulatory system and promotes the proper functions of the heart muscle. These properties support the maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels, blood pressure values, and proper coagulation in the blood. Take ½ teaspoon Arjuna stem bark powder three times per day with raw honey and warm water or you can make a decoction with milk and Arjuna stem bark powder known as Ksheer Paka in Ayurveda.
Ginger and Garlic are very good for heart and the circulatory system because they promote healthy circulation, vaso dilation, and healthy sweating. You can easily add garlic and ginger to cooked dishes, or consider making a ginger tea simply by boiling a few slices of fresh ginger in water. Ginger tea can be particularly beneficial during the colder seasons.
Turmeric is available in every Indian kitchen. It actually supports the proper function of the heart. It also purifies the blood, strengthens digestion, and helps to eliminate toxins from the digestive tract. It is a good uterine tonic too. Beside using it in various dishes, you can simply boil 1 table spoon of turmeric powder in a cup of milk and take it as a bed time drink especially during winters.
Amalaki is a potent rejuvenating herb best known as one of the three ingredients in Triphala. Amalaki is deeply nourishing to the bodily tissues, supports the proper functions of the heart, and provides a highly-concentrated source of antioxidants. It can be taken raw or as sweet pickle or fresh amla juice. Other citrus fruits like pomegranate, lemon, and olives are also very beneficial for heart health. Chyavanprash is a traditional Ayurvedic herbal preparation made in a base of Amalaki fruit pulp. It rejuvenates body tissues and improves heart health. One tablespoon full of Chyavanprash with milk will surely keep many diseases away.
Diet is important: Ayurveda emphasizes on the role of diet in disease manifestation and health maintenance. According to Ayurveda, One should eat food, which is hot, unctuous, adequate in quantity, after the digestion of previous food, and non antagonistic in potency. It should be eaten in a congenial place, provided with all accessories, neither too hurriedly, nor too leisurely, without talking or laughing, with full concentration and having proper regard to oneself. More over Ayurveda suggests diets according to one’s physical constitution.
Pranayam is a sort of breathing exercise which involves controlling inhalation and exhalation. Various forms of pranayam can be very helpful for the health of heart and body. Specially Ujjayi Pranayam and Nadi shodhan techniques are best for heart.
Yoga positively impacts the heart by stimulating circulation, and serving as a balanced form of exercise. Unless there is an acute heart condition, Ayurveda recommends six to ten sun salutations daily, or you can more specifically support the heart with poses such as locust, bridge, cow face, bow, cobra, seated forward bend, tree pose, or a simple ten to fifteen minutes of shavasana daily.
Meditation can be very useful to heart patients as well as healthy individuals for improving heart health as it strengthen our emotional and mental health and clears channels of mind. Ayurveda suggests Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi practices as tools of meditation.
Proper exercise supports heart health. However, improper exercise can actually be quiet damaging; it can induce stress and compromise our overall health. Ayurveda offers the unique perspective that the type, duration, and intensity of exercise that is most supportive for each of us vary with individuals. A daily thirty minute walk can do wonders for the entire system-body, mind, and spirit. How and when you exercise is also important. Ayurveda suggests that certain times of day are more conducive to exercise than others. These are the Kapha times of day (approximately 6 to 10 a.m. /p.m.), when atmospheric conditions lend a little extra strength and stamina to the system.
I am pretty sure that you can really care for your heart by implementing these natural and simple tips of Ayurveda in your daily life. And as they say, if you take care of your heart your heart takes care of you!
(The author is Assistant Professor, Govt. Ayurvedic Medical College, Jammu.)