OK In Health - Naturopathic Corner

Cardiac Rehab and the Prevention of Hearth Disease- Part Four - May 2012

Supplements that Benefits the Cardiovascular System and Heart Disease

By Dr. Tamara Browne, Penticton, BC

Certain herbs, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients have been scientifically proven to be of benefit to the cardiovascular system.  As stated earlier, heart disease is caused by toxicity and/or deficiency.  These supplements deal with these two problems.  First, some information about chelation:

Chelation

Chelation consists of a series of intravenous infusions of a chemical called EDTA.  This chemical acts like a “claw” to remove toxic heavy metals and calcium which have been deposited in soft tissue causing it to “harden”.  Chelation softens tissues such as coronary arteries allowing improved perfusion of blood to the heart.  Chelation actually will lead to improved blood flow throughout the body and can aid in any condition of poor circulation.  Chelation in and of itself is not a cure-all.  It must be accompanied by the comprehensive Cardiac Rehab program in order to have any sustainable positive effects.  Usually 30 one and a half hour treatments at two per week are required in the first year and ten treatments per year are required thereafter.  It is not an essential part of cardiac rehab but can certainly help to restore heart health efficiently and effectively. 

For more information on Chelation see our extensive handout on the subject.

Oral supplements

Following is a list of the most commonly used natural supplements along with their dosages and indications.

Carnitine:  40mg/kg/day or 1-3 grams per day

  • An Amino acid
  • Involved in fat metabolism
  • Moves fat into mitochondria, the energy producing engines of the cell
  • Provides energy to cell and burns off fats so they do not accumulate
  • Lowers serum lipids: lowers cholesterol, increases good HDL, lowers triglycerides.
  • Supports heart muscle tissue: reduces angina, arrhythmias, palpitations; after MI reduces extent of damage, decreases subsequent heart attack related deaths
  • Stabilizes RBC membrane fluidity

Possible drug interactions, contraindications, and side effects:

  • Low toxicity.  Very safe.
  • Carnitine levels may be lowered by Valproic acid and AZT.  Animal  research suggests that carnitine supplementation may prevent doxorubicin (adriamycin) toxicity.

CoQ10:  50-150mg/day

  • 50-75% of patients with heart disease are low in CoQ10
  • Works in the mitochondria to produce energy
  • Enhances myocardial function by enhancing energy production, improving contractility of the cardiac muscles, and providing potent antioxidant activity
  • Benefits: cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, angina, arrhythmias, hypertension, mitral valve prolapse, protective during cardiac surgery, prevention of adriamycin toxicity.

Possible drug interactions, contraindications, and side effects:

  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs such as lovastatin and pravastatin inhibit CoQ10 synthesis.  May be inhibited by beta-blockers, phenothiazines, and tri-cyclic antidepressants.  Supplementation benefits patients taking these drugs.  Patients taking warfarin should only take CoQ10 with the guidance of their doctor as it may interfere with the activity of warfarin, although, further research is required to determine this.
  • Low toxicity.  Very safe.  Occassional reports of nausea, anorexia (loss of appetite), or skin eruptions have been reported with CoQ10 supplementation.

Pantethine:    900mg/day

  • Transports fats to and from cells and into mitochondria
  • Lowers lipids, cholesterol, while increasing HDL
  • Inhibits cataract formation

Possible drug interactions, contraindications, and side effects:

  • Low toxicity.  Very safe.  Occassional reports of digestive disturbances.

Vitamin E  400-800 iu/day

  • Potent fat soluble antioxidant
  • Protects blood vessel lining from oxidative damage leading to atherosclerosis

Possible drug interactions, contraindications, and side effects:

  • Low toxicity.  Very safe at recommended dosages.
  • Dosages over 800iu/day have caused severe weakness, fatigue, exacerbation of hypertension, and increased blood thinning effect when taken with aspirin, warfarin, and other anti-coagulants.

Extra-virgin olive oil

  • Cardioprotective

Craetagus (Hawthorn berry)  
½ tsp of Solid Extract 3 times a day or 4-5ml tincture 3x per day, or 80-300 mg herbal extract in capsules or tablets 2-3x/day (standardized for total bioflavanoid content of 2.2% or oligomeric procyanidins 18.75%).

  • Dilates coronary arteries and improves blood flow to the heart
  • Increases contractile force and inotropic effect of heart
  • Heart and circulatory tonic
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Reduces angina attacks
  • Reduces serum cholesterol

Possible drug interactions, contraindications, and side effects:

  • Low toxicity.  Very safe.
  • May increase effect of digoxin in congestive heart failure.  No studies have been done, but this effect should be monitored.

Ginkgo biloba  40-80mg standardized extract 2-3x daily

  • Improves circulation, relaxes arterial walls, increases oxygen delivery (decreases risk of heart attack due to arterial spasm)
  • Antioxidant (decreases oxidative damage to inner lining of arteries)
  • Anti-stress and neuroprotective  effects (prevents brain and nervous tissue degeneration)
  • Improves cognitive performance and social functioning of patients with dementia
  • Lowers fibrinogen levels and plasma viscosity (thins the blood and improves its ability to flow freely as well as preventing thrombus, embolism, and stroke.)
  • Has been clinically effective in improving the following conditions: visual disturbances associated with low blood flow, depressive moods, depressed memory and mental performance, dizziness, diabetes, impotence, intermittant claudication, liver fibrosis, macular degeneration, tinnitis, and vertigo.

Possible drug interactions, contraindications, and side effects:

  • No reports of significant adverse reactions at the recommended dose.
  • May potentiate effects of blood thinners such as warfarin, heparin, and aspirin.  Patients on these medications must be monitored and may only take this herb with the advice of a physician.

Magnesium  600-1000 mg/day

  • Anti-stress, calms nerves and relaxes muscles and arteries
  • Involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body
  • Required for adequate energy metabolism
  • “Nature’s Calcium Channel Blocker”:  Blocks entry of calcium into smooth muscle cells.  Reduces vascular resistance, relaxes arterial walls, lowers blood pressure, improves heart function.
  • Reduces death rate following a heart attack
  • Helps to regulate heart beat and normalize arrhythmias

Possible drug interactions, contraindications, and side effects:

  • Low toxicity.  Very safe at recommended dosages.
  • Consult with your doctor or pharmacist if taking any medication.  Many meds are potentially interfered with when taken with magnesium, and need to be taken at least 2 hours apart from magnesium.  Some drugs will increase or decrease body stores of magnesium.
  • Taking too much magnesium often leads to diarrhea.  This can occur with amounts as low as 350 mg per day.    People with kidney disease should not take magnesium supplements without consulting a doctor.

Chromium  200-400 mg/day

  • Lowers cholesterol and triglycerides if elevated
  • Necessary for tissues to be sensitive to insulin (insulin allows cells to take in and metabolise glucose, thus lowering blood glucose levels; high blood glucose levels lead to diabetes and coronary heart disease)
  • Depleted in high sugar diets
  • Decreases sugar cravings
  • Decreases high blood sugar (glucose) levels

Possible drug interactions, contraindications, and side effects:

  • Low toxicity. Very safe at recommended dosages.
  • Higher doses may be toxic but no clear evidence of this exists.

Gugulipid  500mg gugulipid with a guggulsterone content of 25mg, 3x/day

  • Extremely potent cholesterol and triglyceride lowering herb
  • 14-27% reduction in total cholesterol
  • 22-30% reduction in triglycerides
  • No side effects as with drugs which lower cholesterol, yet more effective
  • Reduces bad (LDL) cholesterol and raises good (HDL) cholesterol
  • Antioxidant
  • Inhibits platelet aggregation and clotting (thrombus, embolism, stroke)
  • Helps regulate thyroid function

Possible drug interactions, contraindications, and side effects:

  • Use with caution in cases of liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and diarrhea.
  • Patients may experience mild abdominal pain.

Niacin  1-3 grams/day. Begin slowly, divide dose into 3x/day. Begin with 100mg 3x/day

  • Lowers LDL cholesterol and elevates HDL cholesterol
  • Inositol hexaniacinate is the safest from and does not cause flushing
  • Decreases mortality and prolongs life

Possible drug interactions, contraindications, and side effects:

  • Almost always safe to take, although, rare liver problems have occurred at doses in excess of 1000 mg per day.
  • Niacin in amounts as little as 50-100 mg per day may cause flushing, headache, and stomachache in some people.
  • Large amounts of 3000 mg (3 grams) or more per day may cause liver damage, diabetes, gastritis, eye damage, and gout, and should never be taken without consulting a nutritionally oriented doctor.
  • Although the Inositol hexaniacinate form has not been linked with side-effects it has not been fully researched.
  • Niacin combined with some cholesterol lowering drugs makes them more effective but may cause muscle pain.

Fish oil  3 fish meals per week or 2-4 grams fish oil/day

  • High in omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA
  • Cold water fish such as salmon, halibut, albacore tuna, bass, sardines, and mackerel
  • Protects against heart disease
  • Lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Thins blood and prevents clotting (thrombus, embolism, stroke)
  • Protects against cancer
  • Anti-inflammatory

Possible drug interactions, contraindications, and side effects:

  • Generally considered very safe.
  • Due to the blood thinning quality of fish oils, they are not recommended in patients on blood thinning drugs such as warfarin.
  • May cause nose bleed at high prolonged dosages.
  • In rare instances, elevations of blood sugar and cholesterol have occurred.  This is likely prevented with vitamin E supplementation and moderate exercise.

Vitamin C   1000mg/day

  • Reduces risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and eye disorders
  • Antioxidant
  • Lowers glucose and normalizes insulin’s response to glucose
  • Enhances immune system and detoxification
  • Anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-cancer

Possible drug interactions, contraindications, and side effects:

  • May cause diarrhea at doses as little as 2000-3000 mg per day.
  • High prolonged use may deplete body copper levels.  Therefore, a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement should be taken along with large doses of vitamin C.
  • People with the following conditions should consult with a doctor before consuming vitamin C:                     - Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency

-          Iron overload

-          History of kidney stones

-          Kidney failure

Folic acid, B12, B6  Folic acid 400-800mcg/day, B12 1000mcg/day, B6 25-100mg/day

  • Lower blood homocysteine levels, thereby, reducing heart attack risk.

Possible drug interactions, contraindications, and side effects:

-          Folic acid may interfere with methotrexate therapy for cancer

-          Vitamin B6 supplementation of 200 mg or more per day can eventually damage sensory nerves, leading to numbness in hands and feet as well as difficulty walking.

-          These 3 vitamins are considered very safe at recommended dosages. They are lowered in the body by many pharmaceutical drugs and should therefore, be supplemented by those taking these drugs.

Garlic  1-4 fresh cloves per day is best, or a supplement providing 4000 mcg allicin/day

  • Reduces risk of stroke and heart attack
  • Lowers LDL cholesterol, increases HDL cholesterol. Lowers triglycerides
  • Lowers high blood pressure
  • Anti-cancer
  • Anti-biotic, anti-fungal
  • Enhances detoxification

Possible drug interactions, contraindications, and side effects:

-          Generally considered very safe.

-          Those on blood thinners should avoid excess garlic supplementation and have their blood viscosity checked regularly.

-          Some people are sensitive to garlic and experience heartburn and flatulence.

Oral Fibrinolytic Agents:  Nattokinase, Lumbrokinase.  1-2 caps 1-3x/day

-          Decrease coagulability and “thickness” of blood by breaking up micro-clots

-          Reduce clotting and break-up small clots before they become damaging.

-          Improve blood flow and reduce risk of heart attack and stroke

Bioflavanoids/Polyphenolic compounds:

-          These are tissue specific plant compound which are highly antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy, anti-viral, and anti-neoplastic (cancer).

-          20-50 times more powerful antioxidants than Vitamin C and E

-          Examples:

-          Quercitin:  anti-allergy, anti-neoplastic

-          Silymarin from milk thistle:  Liver

-          Ginkgo:  Brain and arterial lining

-          Hawthorn:  Heart

-          Grape seed Oligomeric procanthocyanidins (PCO’s):  Lining of blood vessels and LDL cholesterol

Final Notes

All supplement use should be supervised by a knowledgeable nutritionally oriented doctor. 

This program requires regular, monthly visits to your Naturopathic doctor to monitor progress, educate, and advise.  Please do not hesitate to contact your doctor with questions and concerns which may arise during the progress of this program.  Be patient; changing the internal terrain of the body takes time and determination.  Take faith in knowing that your efforts will pay off, however.  Your piece of mind, regaining control over your physical and mental self, and enjoying the benefits of optimal health at every age are all worth the time and effort you put into healing yourself.

Good Health to all,

Tamara Browne, Naturopathic Physician




Dr. Tamara BrowneDr. Tamara's Bio: Dr. Tamara Browne - Naturopathic Doctor. Dr. Browne graduated from Bastyr University of Naturopathic Medicine, Seattle, Wa., in 1996 and has had an active general family Naturopathic practice in the South Okanagan area ever since. Her current practice is called The Okanagan Chelation Center, and is located at 101-1040 Main Street Okanagan Falls BC, V0H 1R4. She specializes in heart disease prevention & treatment, Chelation & metal detoxification, vitamin & mineral injections, lab testing, pain management techniques, chronic disease management, prevention, nutrition, herbal medicine, constitutional homeopathy, weight loss, & women's health. To contact Dr. Browne - Ph. 250-497-6681. Dr. Browne has a column called ' Naturopathic Corner ' and has written for OK In Health since June 2009. - Dr. Tamara Browne Website - Email


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