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13 August 2012

Dancing with Atrial Fibrillation: Herbs That Help

Anyone who has ever experienced Atrial Fibrillation knows well this condition is certain to get your full attention. Everything stops for you when your heart moves into that strange rhythm while doing its best to keep pumping blood and keep you alive. All the stress that may have led you to this place suddenly slips into the background and you stop quite literally whatever you're doing.

With this dance, you can't fool around, and a trip to the emergency room is likely and probably a very good idea! If the condition is not chronic, your heart may revert back to normal rhythm on it's own, or the emergency room staff may use strong drugs or other means if the conversion doesn't happen quickly enough for them (and probably you) to get your heart back to what is considered safe or normal.

The reasons for the onset of symptoms are many and varied, but the experience is a message from your heart that you can't ignore. You're dancing with a rather strong partner here who is definitely leading. I was asking myself, why this dance? Have I approached this partner or did the partner choose me? Assuming there's music playing, does the music have a certain melody or even lyrics? Is there something I can learn from this strange step? Something I need to learn?

I thought I was so strong before this happened. I thought I was immune to any such occurrences. Going on two months now since my short but expensive hospital stay, and I'm only now starting to feel my strength and vitality returning. I haven't yet returned to the gym, and when I do I will be rethinking my workouts and the objectives for which I'm striving. I can't even think about running or jogging right now. I still feel "off" and "not myself." My whole body took a hit from this experience. My cardiologist whom I greatly admire and really like has stated a virus may have caused my bout with Atrial Fibrillation; he assures me my exhaustion following my hospitalization was normal, and I will be feeling better. Whatever it was, my body in terms of my strength felt like it was undercut from my heart outwards, like you cut the head off of a snake or something.  I feel like somebody got behind me and crouched down and someone else got in front of me and pushed me backwards, and over the falls I went. I didn't say the dance was all that much fun! All this seemed to come out of the blue, and that left me with a great deal of anxiety, feeling unsafe and vulnerable.

So what herbs can help us if we are dancing with Atrial Fibrillation? 

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) is one of the best heart helpers. If I suspected my heart was moving into an unhealthy rhythm, I would take a large dose of Motherwort, perhaps 25-50 drops (1 to 2 droppers full) in a small glass of water, to see if any improvement occurs. In case of extreme situations, put the herbal tincture right under the tongue; you don't normally do this with herbal tinctures. Motherwort might help instantly! If not, I can take it again in a half hour or so. Aside from critical situations, Motherwort is also used as a tonic for the heart. Taken several times a day at regular intervals, she can strengthen your heart and help keep a healthy rhythm going strong. Again, I think Motherwort is best at regular intervals. At first, you may need it three or four times a day, or even more on bad days, but then you might be fine with using it twice a day or even once a day when you feel added stress or just want some protection. In the weeks and months following my initial episode, I had been taking Motherwort twice a day at 10:00 am and 10:00 pm. I weigh about 200 lbs so I'm taking a fairly large dose, about 20 drops. You may want to adjust that dose slightly according to your weight. I prefer Motherwort tincture made from the fresh flowering tops of the plant. Now many months after the incident, I take Motherwort only when I feel a bit stressed or weak or if I'm getting some heart palpitations, usually one or two doses of about 20 drops during the day.



Stinging Nettle early in the springtime.
Herbal infusions of Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) and Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)  and Oatstraw (Avena sativa) are also great for the heart. A quart of Nettle a few times a week helps ground you and take the fear away, and Red Clover keeps your blood thin, so you don't have to worry about clots, which is a big concern to those with A-Fib. Doctors will often prescribe blood thinners to those who've had an episode of A-Fib, but it is great to thin your blood with natural means if you can, and a quart of Red Clover infusion a few times a week will really help with that. Oatstraw is well known as a heart and nervous system tonic. great to help restore your energy so you can become active again.



St. Johns Wort in bloom.
St. Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum) tincture, again made from the fresh flowing tops of the plant, can be very helpful with any anxiety that may arise as well as fighting viruses that can cause the condition in the first place. You can take fairly large doses at regular intervals as needed. If I suspect a virus, I would take St. Johns Wort at fairly large doses (perhaps 75-150 drops in water) continuously for a few weeks at regular intervals through the day.

I have also found Light Gray Celtic Sea Salt to have a beneficial effect on heart health. I realize this goes contrary to popular opinion, namely that salt is bad for your heart, but that notion should be restricted to processed table salt. Sea salty is an entirely different matter, and this is the best I have ever found as it contains other important trace minerals as well.

Speaking of minerals, magnesium is crucial to heart health, especially regarding heart rhythm. I love magnesium rich Red Swiss Chard boiled in a huge pot with dried herbs, garlic and oregano, and sea salt (drink the dark water, too or use it in soups). There are some good magnesium supplements out there as well, one called Calm which I have used without any problems. But remember, we like to get our nutrients from food whenever possible; however, occasionally I will take a dose or two of Calm. If you were having an episode of a rapid heart-rate or felt particularly stressed or couldn't sleep, a magnesium supplement might be very helpful indeed.

Give yourself time to rest and be very kind to yourself during this process. Your heart is sending you a message. It would be best to listen to it!

ADDITIONAL NOTES: (November 2013) I have found Hawthorn tincture made from Hawthorn berries to be an extremely gentle yet powerful heart ally. I take one dose (two droppersfull--about 50 drops) once a day as a preventative and heart tonic.  Hawthorne is a magnificent heart healer and strengthener. I would strongly consider using this herb. Here's a link to a short article by Jessica Godino of Red Moon Herbs.

I have also come across a useful supplement COQ10 with NADH put out by Invite Health. Again, I'm not big on supplements but this one seems to have some usefulness, especially in the weakest times when you are just recovering from some event and need some extra help.







3 comments:

  1. Excellent content. Thanks for posting.

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  2. This is such an accurate description my own experience. I have had 2 ER trips in the past 6 months, the most recent being last week. I feel like I'm recovering from a marathon. I haven't a lot of faith in pills, so this information is just what I was looking for. Thanks and good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me. If I can help you, don't hesitate to ask.

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