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5 Herbs That Boost Blood Flow. Image © naturehacks.com (with permission)
Heart disease is a silent killer that has claimed more lives than all forms of cancer combined, not just in the United States but in the whole world. It is the number 1 cause of death worldwide, indiscriminate of gender, age, and race. Surprisingly, many people turn a deaf ear to doctors’ warnings. Worse, they tend to ignore the early signs and symptoms that are the body’s way of saying, “Do something before it’s too late!” 
It’s ultimately beneficial and life-saving not to ignore the symptoms of heart attack such as chest pain, discomforts in other areas of the upper body, shortness of breath, and other symptoms such as nausea and light-headedness. These symptoms are brought by poor circulation which in effect causes cardiovascular diseases. Suffice to say, improving your blood circulation also improves your overall wellbeing. All of the cells in our body are dependent on blood and its circulation to provide a steady supply of oxygen, energy and nutrients and to remove waste products. 
Here are 5 herbs that have been reported by scientific research to be beneficial for blood flow:
1) Chilli pepper: Chilli pepper has been used for various medicinal purposes since the early civilizations. The US National Library of Medicine recognizes chilli as an effective spice in preventing and reversing common health ailments. Other than a potent painkiller, toxin remover, and antibacterial, it also boosts blood circulation and feeds the cell structure of arteries, veins, and capillaries to maintain and regain elasticity.
It also acts as a clot buster, making you less vulnerable to arterial blockage. By thinning the blood and increasing blood flow heart attack and stroke are prevented. Because of its compounds that improve blood circulation and reduce blood pressure, chilli is considered a heart food. 
Warning: Large oral doses is possibly unsafe especially to pregnant and breastfeeding women. Medicinal oils and lotions that contain its extract are possibly unsafe to children under two years of age. 
2) Cacao: Studies have found that foods rich in flavonoids were associated with a decreased risk of heart-related death in women. Furthermore, the Dutch Zutphen Study provided further data on the efficacy of cacao in lowering blood pressure and reducing cardiovascular illnesses. Flavonoid, the largest family of polyphenols in cacao, is responsible for lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol levels, and increasing blood vessel health. According to Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Eric Ding, the intake of flavonoid-rich cacao is linked to reductions in risk factors for diabetes, a major cause of heart diseases. Its resistance to the hormone insulin regulates blood sugar levels.
Note that chocolate, while high in cacao content, typically contains sugar. It’s advisable to seek high cacao percentage or even pure cacao – which can be added to smoothies and other recipes. 
3) Motherwort: Motherwort has a reputation as a heart herb, thus the scientific name Leonurus Cardiaca. Its Chinese name yi mu cao means “benefit mother herb”. The founder of the School of Natural Healing in Utah, John Christopher, N.D., called it “the best heart tonic known” because of its usefulness for shortness of breath and high blood pressure. Its ability to strengthen blood vessels and lower blood pressure is attributed to bioflavonoids, the same compounds found in cacao. 
Warning: Excess of 3 grams in intake may cause diarrhea, uterine bleeding, and stomach irritation. It should not be given to pregnant women as large amounts may cause miscarriage. 
4) Hawthorn: Hawthorn has been a treatment for heart diseases since the first century and it can be located in supplement form. Originally, the berries were used as remedy to various heart ailments like chest pain, hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure, and heart failure. Today, people also utilize the leaves and flowers for medicinal purposes.
Studies report that hawthorn contains antioxidants that prevent free radicals from causing cell damage that contribute to early aging, cancer, and heart disease. Like cacao and motherwort, flavonoids are also found in hawthorn. It regains the elasticity and strength of blood vessels and improves blood flow. Studies have proven the efficacy of hawthorn in relieving heart failure symptoms such as palpitations and breathing problems in heart disease patients.
Warning: Do not take in high dosages. 
5) Ginkgo Biloba: Ginkgo, one of the oldest living tree species, is a top selling herb for improving blood circulation and enhancing cognitive functions. Scientific evidence has shown that ginkgo opens up blood vessels and prevents blood clots. It is also rich in antioxidants which repair the cells and overall body functioning. Its two types of chemicals, flavonoids and terpenoids, have been reported to prevent heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Terpenoids have been proven to dilate blood vessels and reduce the stickiness of platelets.
Its fruits are inedible and the fruits’ inner seeds may be poisonous, according to studies. Although ancient Chinese herbal medicine uses the leaves and seeds, it is typical in the West to take standardized Ginkgo Biloba extract made from dried green leaves.
Warning: Ginkgo should not be given to children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people with epilepsy. For safety, consult a physician first. 
More medicinal herbs are believed to improve blood circulation but scientific evidence is not enough to conclude their accuracy. Like all medicines, medicinal herbs also have contraindications and side effects that one should be aware of before taking. The effectiveness of these herbs goes along with proper knowledge from professionals.
If we focus on improving our circulation, not only will we reduce the risk of diseases like arteriosclerosis but there must be a knock-on positive effect on every organ of the body, improving its function, and it could treat many common health problems at the root. Often the aim of herbalism is to support the body’s natural defences and prevent disease from taking hold.
There is growing interest in herbs and natural remedies that can be used safely without the possible unpleasant side-effects or the unknown long-term effects of modern medicines. Many herbs do not produce instant results but tend to work more gradually.
There is one lesser known activity that will also help to improve your circulation – deep breathing! Regular periods of exercise will help you expand your lung capacity but conscious slow, deep breathing will boost these benefits and will be helpful even on its own.
Also ensure you have enough vitamin E and B vitamins in your diet.
 Leah Hechtman. Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Revised Edition. Australia: Elsevier Australia, 2012
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Can you guess which muscle in your body is the #1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat?
This is especially important if you spend a significant amount of time sitting every day (I do, and this really affects me in a big way!)
Working this "hidden survival muscle" that most people are simply not training because no-one ever taught them how will boost your body shape, energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
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d) Hip Flexors
Take the quiz above and see if you got the correct answer!
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