Doctors have just announced what complementary practitioners have long observed: that self-medicating with aspirin in the belief that it will help prevent heart disease is counterproductive. Aspirin may indeed benefit those with heart conditions or at high risk of stroke by thinning the blood, but these benefits are often outweighed by the fact that the drug carried a heavy risk of internal bleeding. A review of 164,225 people has found that we are 43 per cent more likely to suffer significant bleeding (such as in the brain or intestines) if we take aspirin. So what alternatives are there to a daily dose of aspirin? Sue Leach, owner of The Natural Health Hub, explains the holistic approach that The Hub’s practitioners take to maintaining good heart health.
In complementary medicine we do not take a one-size-fits-all approach. To treat heart conditions, whether it be angina, high blood pressure or recovery from a stroke, as a homeopath I consider everyone individually. It is you I am treating, not just the heart problem or potential problem. Consultations at The Hub are multi-faceted, exploring not only your symptoms and medical history, but also your lifestyle, your outlook on life, your character, your diet, any stresses you have, your family health and, in our view just as important, your emotions.
Just because you have a medical predisposition to heart disease it does not mean you have to go there. Even actuaries in the insurance industry recognise that your risk of contracting an illness are 40% hereditary and 60% lifestyle – so even if you have a strong family history of heart problems it should, in theory, be possible to avoid developing them yourself if you take preventive measures.
Complementary therapists believe that the mind and body are intimately interlinked when it comes to illness. Heart problems are not simply the result of a valve weakening, arteries furring or a muscle failing or being overworked. Why is it that those bodily functions have happened?
All too often there is an emotional component to disease: loss, grief, sadness, frustration, anger are, we believe, precursors to the body deteriorating in some way. How often have you observed that a relative or friend has never been the same since losing their partner… a child dying… a dog dying… being made redundant… retiring… having a sick relative to look after? For us these are important aspects to consider when we treat people for heart problems. By addressing these emotions and lifting someone from a pit of sadness or helping them cope with a longstanding emotional drain often we see a huge improvement in symptoms and even overall health.
Western health would benefit, we believe, from taking a leaf from Traditional Chinese Medicine. In reiki, sound therapy, reflexology and polarity therapy, for example, our practitioners will help nurture your heart by working on the heart chakra. By balancing the energies in the body, focusing on this chakra, you can literally experience a ‘lightening of the heart’. Many people report feeling uplifted and happier after a course of treatment.
A positive frame of mind is one of the first rules of good health, not least the condition of your heart. If you have a glass half empty attitude to life then you are, in our book, heading for ill health – the body has an uncanny and unfortunate way of manifesting what goes on in our minds. Negative thoughts and attitudes impede the flow of positive energy through the body. You may get palpitations when you let yourself get too anxious, or have stomach problems when you are angry or scared. Longterm those negative thought patterns and behaviours can take their toll physically.
We offer a number of ways to help you learn to break the cycle of negative thinking at The Hub, from meditation to mindfulness to yoga. Our polarity therapist Jane Seaman is particularly passionate about the link between our health and having a positive outlook on life – read here how to take the first steps to thinking positively.
Your diet is of course also crucial when it comes to preventing heart issues. Here are some guidelines from our naturopathic nutritionist Rhi Hepple on eating well specifically to maintain good heart health:
- Eat a low saturated fat diet.
- Avoid/reduce dairy, meat and processed foods.
- Avoid hydrogenated fat such as margarine, fried foods, fast foods, commercial baked goods such as donuts, cookies and crackers and so on.
- Hawthorn berry is a wonderful heart tonic which can help to reduce palpitations, reduce blood pressure and is supportive for angina or heart weakness.
- Reishi (medicinal mushroom) is a restorative tonic for heart health.
- Supportive supplements are omega 3 DHA, Vitamin B complex, zinc, selenium, magnesium and Vitamin C.
- Eat an antioxidant diet – eat the rainbow. Colourful berries and vegetables are rich in phytonutrients and fibre which are supportive for heart health.
- Enjoy foods rich in omega 3 such as oily fish, chia seeds, linseeds, olive oil, hemp seeds, hemp oil, hemp milk, walnuts and walnut oil.
NOTE: experts warn against coming off daily aspirin if you have been self-medicating. It is important to reduce your dose gradually, over a month to six weeks, to avoid rebound ‘stickiness’ of the blood.
In conclusion, there are many ways the team at The Hub can help maintain good heart health. Give us a call or email for advice on the therapy that would be most suitable for you.