In order for our bodies and minds to function optimally, all of our systems require an ample supply of blood. When blood is circulating as it should, our cells get the fuel they need to do their jobs. However, when circulation is compromised, a lot can go awry.
Poor circulation occurs when blood cannot adequately flow through blood vessels, capillaries and arteries. It is often caused by plaque buildup, which blocks the passage of the blood through its designated channels. It may also be a result of a sedentary lifestyle, or poor cardiovascular function. One common symptom of sub-par circulation is icy-cold hands and feet.
The inability of blood to travel as it should can also lead to inflammation of the extremities, fatigue, impaired cognitive function (as blood cannot adequately flow through the brain), varicose veins and hypertension (high blood pressure). If arteries become blocked and hardened, it can lead to heart attack and stroke, among an array of other chronic conditions.
Pharmaceutical options exist for improving circulation, however, these medications often have a laundry-list of negative side effects. Before going this route, why not explore the potential of the following five natural circulation-boosters?
Most famous for its effect of enhancing memory and cognitive performance, gingko biloba accomplishes this task partially by improving circulation throughout the brain. The antioxidant compounds found in gingko biloba also increase blood flow to all systems of the body, and may help improve sexual dysfunction caused by poor circulation to the genitals.
These incredible tree leaves also support optimal energy levels, and are especially noted for improving circulation through the eyes, helping to prevent eye disorders, including those which may lead to blindness.
The warming sensation that cayenne pepper creates in your body is a sign that it is delivering a kick to your circulation. This well-known spice, which originally hails from India, not only improves circulation, but also helps break up the plaque sticking to artery walls. It also works to detoxify the blood, as well as to strengthen cardiovascular muscles.
Additionally, cayenne aids in digestion, nutrient absorption, rebuilding red blood cells and has been shown to ease heart palpitations, along with offering natural relief from pain and inflammation.
Hawthorn is a shrub related to the rosebush, which grows wild in woody areas worldwide. Extracts are derived from the leaves, flowers and berries of the hawthorn bush. The oligomeric procyanidins found in hawthorn may help to improve overall circulation by relaxing blood vessels, and guarding them from damage.
This in effect can lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular function and help prevent heart disease from developing. Hawthorn has also been shown to be quite beneficial for people who have experienced and are recovering from heart failure. These benefits include reducing stress and easing angina (chest pain).
While ginger is best known for aiding in digestion, it also has blood-thinning characteristics. Like other herbs and spices that boost circulation, it helps to transport nutrients throughout the body more efficiently.
Ginger may also help to lower LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of heart disease. For women experiencing their menstrual cycle, ginger can be very beneficial, as it’s blood-thinning properties can help to reduce abdominal cramping.
Pine bark extract
Pine bark extract is derived from the inner bark of specific pine tree species. It contains active compounds that can help to both strengthen blood vessels and increase system-wide circulation. This can lower blood pressure, and ensure that all cells get an adequate supply of oxygen.
This extract may also aid in reducing edema (inflammation caused by fluid buildup in tissues) of the ankles and legs. Pine bark essential oil can be highly therapeutic for this purpose.
Note: It is always best to consult a health professional before starting any treatment plan for a health issue such as poor circulation, to be on the safe side. Many of the above-listed remedies are quite potent, so especially if you are taking any medications, be sure to call a naturopath or your healthcare provider of choice.
-The Alternative Daily