Natural Treatments for Arterial Plaque
By Dr. Mao Shing Ni
THE RESULT OF PLAQUE FORMATION in the arteries is a hardening of the blood vessels also known as atherosclerosis. This plaque is made up of cholesterol crystals and calcium deposits. Over time arterial plaque causes narrowing of the arteries, impairing blood flow. Accumulation of plaque can also lead to an aneurysm-the bulging and rupturing of a blood vessel, causing internal bleeding. Atherosclerosis is commonplace today, a result of stressful lifestyle combined with poor eating habits.
Unfortunately, because arterial plaque has no outward symptoms and signs, the condition is often discovered too late-with devastating consequences. In the United States in 2004 the first symptom of atherosclerosis experienced by 65 percent of men and 47 percent of women who had it was either heart attack or sudden death. A routine blood test for C-reactive protein (CRP) can reveal inflammation and potential plaque dangers. Metabolic disorders such as diabetes, blood sugar intolerance, high blood cholesterol, stress, obesity, inflammation, and high blood pressure can put you at risk for high levels of arterial plaque.
In Chinese medicine, we examine our patients through tongue and pulse diagnostic techniques. I recall seeing a young man in his late thirties who appeared to be in good health. When I examined his tongue, though, I saw that it was purplish with bulging veins underneath. His pulse was choppy, which indicated obstruction of blood flow. Because of family history-his father died of a heart attack at age forty-five-I sent him to a cardiologist for a full cardiovascular workup. His chest CT scan showed that he had 65percent occlusion or obstruction in his main coronary artery, the artery that supplies the muscles of the heart. In his case, diet and emotions played key roles in causing the obstruction of energy and blood flow.
In my approach to treating plaque buildup, I activate circulation and work to reduce inflammation with acupuncture, reduce dampness and mucus through diet and nutritional therapy, and reduce plaque and cholesterol with Chinese herbal therapy and exercise. Effective stress reduction is essential for promoting good cardiovascular health-I recommend meditation and tai chi. Here are some of my favorite home remedies to help maintain good cardiovascular health and clean arteries. If you experience severe pain in the chest, radiating to the shoulders or down the left arm, or severe shortness of breath, go to the emergency room immediately-these symptoms may signal a cardiac emergency.
Related conditions: high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, inflammation
- Diet for Arterial Plaque
- Home Remedies for Arterial Plaque
- Daily Vitamin Supplements for Arterial Plaque
- Herbal Therapy for Arterial Plaque
- Exercise for Arterial Plaque
- Qigong For Arterial Plaque
- Acupressure for Arterial Plaque
- Arterial Plaque: Advice on what to avoid
DIET FOR ARTERIAL PLAQUE
- Eat whole grains containing a fiber-rich bran layer such as whole oats and brown rice - the fiber traps and eliminate cholesterol from your intestines.
- Eat smaller meals more frequently.
- Favor green leafy vegetables, whole grains, brown rice, black and white fungus (soak in water, then cook like vegetables), Chinese black dates, peanuts, vinegar, celery, seaweed, cassia seeds (make tea), lotus root, jellyfish (soak in water and cook), chrysanthemums (make tea), hawthorn berries, water chestnuts, mung beans, pearl barley, peach kernels, ginger, soybeans, sprouted vegetables, wheat bran, bananas, watermelon, sunflower seeds, lotus seeds, black sesame seeds, garlic, and green tea.
- Drink at least six 8-ounce glasses of room temperature water a day.
- Avoid foods with preservatives, additives, and pesticides. Refrain from eating foods that are fried, greasy, and spicy; simple carbohydrates, including sugars and white flour; sodium; and MSG. Alcohol, coffee, and tobacco should be avoided, as should cheese and aged, cured meats.
HOME REMEDIES FOR ARTERIAL PLAQUE
- Make a glass of asparagus juice with pulp by blending 4 to 6 fresh asparagus spears and 1 cup water in a blender, and add 1 teaspoon honey. Drink twice a day for 1 month to show cholesterol-lowering effects. The rich supply of B vitamins and the potent antioxidant glutathione in the asparagus helps reduce cholesterol and inflammation.
- Take alternating hot and cold showers to help stimulate circulation. Start slowly with hot and lukewarm showers, alternating every 3 minutes. Over 4 weeks gradually increase the temperature difference to hot and cold.
- Make a tea by steeping 1 tablespoon green tea, 1 tablespoon dried chrysanthemun flowers, add 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon in 3 cups of boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain, and drink at least 3 cups every day to help prevent arterial plaque.
DAILY SUPPLEMENTS FOR ARTERIAL PLAQUE
- Taking niacin (300 milligrams) can lower total cholesterol levels by 18 percent on average over 6 months.
- Taking coenzyme Q10 (50 milligrams) increases oxygen supply to the heart.
- Taking magnesium citrate (2,000 milligrams) along with calcium (1,000 milligrams) works as a natural calcium blocker, useful for preventing and assisting in the treatment of heart disease.
- Taking fish oil supplements (at least 1,000 milligrams omega-3 essential fatty acids) helps to reduce inflammation in the blood vessels.
HERBAL THERAPY FOR ARTERIAL PLAQUE
Herbs can be found in health food or vitamin stores, online, and at the offices of Chinese medicine practitioners. Herbs should be used according to individual needs; consult with a licensed practitioner for a customized formulation. To learn more about the herbs listed here, go to www.askdrmao.com.
- Salvia, peach kernel, red peony, safflower, ginger, cinnamon, and hawthorn berry can help stimulate circulation in the chest and support healthy cholesterol.
- To support healthy cardiovascular function, you can try my herbal tea beverage Ancient Treasures Tea, which includes hawthorn berry, chrysanthemum, motherwort, and other select Chinese herbs to regulate cholesterol and circulation and promote tranquility. Steep tea bag in boiling water; drink 3 cups a day.
EXERCISE FOR ARTERIAL PLAQUE
Exercise is essential for promoting circulation and strengthening heart function. Thirty minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day will increase blood flow, optimize oxygen supply to the heart, and reduce arterial tension. It’s important to get your heart rate above 110 beats per minute to promote blood flow and improve circulation. Exercise also helps reduce cholesterol by increasing HDL - the good cholesterol. Swimming and brisk walking are both good choices.
QIGONG FOR ARTERIAL PLAQUE
Energy exercises like tai chi and the Eight Treasures Qi Gong have been found to improve cardiovascular health. In fact, doing an arm swing warm-up to tai chi and the Eight Treasures Qi Gong can make a noticeable difference. Here I describe the arm swing warm-up:
- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Freely swing your arms from front to back until you reach a point of natural resistance. Now let your arms swing to the front again.
- After a couple of minutes of arm swinging, increase the workout by bending your knees and lifting your heels as your arms swing back and forth.
- Then increase the workout further by jumping off the ground as your arms swing back, as if the momentum of your arms swinging were carrying your body upward, jumping progressively higher each time for 5 minutes.
- Swing your arms for 10 to 15 minutes, then gradually slow down and stop.
Do this exercise twice a day.
ACUPRESSURE FOR ARTERIAL PLAQUE
- For a general acupressure treatment for a healthy heart, locate the acupoint Gate of Spirit (HE-7), on the palm side
of your right hand at the end of the wrist crease below the little finger. This is traditionally used to strengthen heart function and
calm spirit. Apply moderate pressure with your left thumb. Hold for 5 minutes. Repeat on the left hand.
- Locate the acupoint Great Surge (LIV-3), in the natural indentation on the top of your right foot between the big and first toes. Apply moderate pressure with your right thumb for 5 minutes. Repeat on the left foot. This point is traditionally used to
release all types of blockages.
ARTERIAL PLAQUE: WHAT TO AVOID
- Sedentary lifestyle and stress, as they increase the risk of heart problems and also cause other disorders such as obesity and diabetes, which worsen cardiovascular problems.
- Cavities and dental plaque-make sure to see your dentist on a regular basis. Poor dental health can contribute to inflammation in the blood vessels, leading to arterial plaque buildup.
- Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, as they contribute to hardening of the arteries.
- Benskey, D., and R. Barolet. Chinese Herbal Medicine. Seattle: Eastland, 1990.
- Chen, J.K., and T. Chen. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology. Los Angeles: Art of Medicine Press, 2005.
- Glagov, S., E. Weisenberg, C. K. Zarins, R. Stankunavicius, and G. J. Kolettis. 1987. Compensatory enlargement of human atherosclerotic coronary arteries. N. Engl. J. Med. 316:131- 137.
- Ni, M. The Eight Treasures: Energy Enhancement Exercises. Los Angeles: Seven Star, 1996.
- Ni, M. and C. McNease. The Tao of Nutrition. Los Angeles: Seven Star, 1987.
©2015 Dr. Mao Shing Ni
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