Heart is the powerhouse of our body. It is essentially a muscle working nonstop to pump blood throughout our body. Its tireless beating ensures circulation of fresh oxygenated blood to all the tissues in our body. But the downside is that even the slightest dysfunction in its working can affect our overall health and throw our life out of gear. February, being the heart month, is a good time to review your heart health and ensure that it is in good condition.
In order to have a heart that is healthy and working at its optimum, it is necessary to lead a lifestyle that is heart-friendly. With changes in lifestyles, more and more people are suffering from various heart diseases. This is primarily due to sedentary lifestyles and bad diet. The quest to make money has taken precedence over health, leading to an increase in lifestyle diseases. Coronary artery diseases due to narrowed or blocked blood vessels, irregular heart rhythms or deformed heart valves, congestive heart failure, etc. are some of the diseases affecting the heart.
Ayurveda and the human heart
According to Ayurveda, the hridaya (heart) is the seat of prana (the life energy). Prana is maintained by a delicate balance of Agni (the solar energy element) and soma (the lunar energy element). Heart is also the seat of ojas, the stabilizing element in our body that prevents diseases, gives us immunity and strength and helps to resist stress. It is created by the prana from the food that is eaten and digested. When these elements are in balance, health and contentment are the results.
If agni, due to too much emotional and mental stress, is the dominant energy, it will burn away soma and lead to reduced ojas. Any imbalance causes low immunity and dysfunction in the body systems.
The heart, like the whole body, is governed by the three doshas – kapha, vata and pitta. The three governing sub-doshas of the heart are:
- The sadhaka pitta (governs emotions)
- The avalambaka kapha (provides strength and sense of security)
- The vyana vata (governs circulation)
When these doshas are naturally balanced, the heart can work at its optimum capacity.
Causes of heart ailments in Ayurveda
According to Ayurveda, the root causes of all diseases is due to ama (toxins) accumulated in the body. Ama is produced when agni becomes impaired and the food eaten remains undigested and unabsorbed. Ama clogs channels like tissues and capillaries, which then leads to the formation of diseases in the body. Other causes of heart diseases are:
- Improper diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Emotional stress
- High cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure causing arteries to thicken
Classification of heart diseases in Ayurveda
In Ayurveda heart disease is known as hridaya roga. They are classified into two types – Janma bal pravrit or congenital heart disease and Sahaj hridya roga or acquired heart disease.
Ayurveda classifies acquired heart diseases into five types:
- Vata type – In this type of heart disease the symptoms include tightness in the chest, fainting, pain, palpitation, irregular heartbeat, etc.
- Pitta type – In this type the symptoms include burning sensations, restlessness in cardiac region and fever.
- Kapha type- This type of heart disease shows symptoms which includes lethargic movements, heaviness in the cardiac area, breathlessness, etc.
- Tridosha type – In this type of heart disease the symptoms are a combination of the three doshas as all three are involved.
- Krumija hridroga type – This type of heart disease is caused by parasites and the symptoms include vision blackout, frequent spitting, vomiting or nausea, anorexia, piercing pain in chest, etc.
Treatments for heart disease in Ayurveda
Ayurvedic physicians recommend modification of diet and lifestyle to ensure a healthy and efficient heart. The first and foremost aim of Ayurvedic treatments for heart diseases is to cleanse the body of all accumulated toxins and promote digestion to avoid further increase in blockages and to prevent diseases from manifesting.
Arjuna, Puskarmula, Bala, Aswagandha, etc. are some of medicinal plants used in formulations and administered by physicians to heart patients for treating cardio-vascular diseases.
The common medicines used in Heart diseases.
- Brihat Nayopayam Kashayam
- Nayopayam Kashayam
- Shiva Gulika
- Dhanwantharam qwath
- Hridayarnava Ras
- Arjunarishta ( Partharishta )
- Dhanwantharam gulika
- Parthalasunadi gulika
- Sagarlic Pears
- Arjuna Tablets
- Arjunin capsules
Things you can do to promote heart health
Heart is an important organ in the body. Enabling it to function properly is a necessity for the overall wellbeing of the body. The things you eat and do and stress can all take a toll on your heart. Being careful and making some changes to your lifestyle patterns can make a big difference to the health of your heart. Below are some tips to help you keep away all those heart diseases and enjoy a rich fulfilling life.
- A diet containing almond, cucumber, cabbage, onion, garlic, radish, tomato, ginger, coriander, mint, spinach, etc. is good for the heart and keeps it healthy.
- Reducing stress by practicing meditation and yoga can help by lowering your blood pressure thus benefitting your heart.
- Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like fish, flaxseeds, canola oil, olive oil, sesame oil, avocado, etc. are good for the heart.
- Taking a tsp of honey after food can help improve circulation and tones the heart.
- Consuming an apple daily helps in stimulating the heart.
- Detoxifying your body regularly helps your body to flush out toxins.
- Consuming amla fruit helps to prevent arterial damage.
- Doing pranayama (breathing exercise) everyday can help improve heart health.
Yoga for Heart Health
- Pranayama ( Consult your Yoga teacher before fixing the breathing exercise)
- Ardha Matsyendrasana
- Adhomukha Shavasana
- Janu Shirasana
- Sethubanda Shavasana
- Suptha Padagusthasana
By following the above tips and leading a life as recommended in the Ayurvedic scriptures will ensure that your heart is in good condition and you are well served throughout your life.