More and more individuals are seeking a naturopathic approach as part of their effort to acheive a healthy heart lifestyle. In addition to diet, exercise and lifestyle changes, there are many nutritional supplements or herbal medicines that can be beneficial for heart health. These may help reduce the side effects of your other medications and may help you reach your heart health goals.
Written by Dr. Eric Lewis, Guest Columnist to the Asheville Citizen-Times
February 3, 2012
Have you been told by your doctor that your blood pressure or cholesterol is too high? Are you nervous about the side effects of the medications you are taking for your blood pressure, high cholesterol or insulin resistance? Have you been told “lose weight and exercise” but just aren’t sure what the best way is to do that?
Do you have a family history of heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes or other cardiovascular conditions but don’t want to follow the family path?
Many people who answer yes to one or more of these questions seek a naturopathic approach or guidance from another holistic practitioner as part of their effort to achieve a healthy heart lifestyle.
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct health care profession that blends safe and effective holistic, natural therapies with the latest scientific knowledge of health and medicine.
Naturopathic doctors concentrate on whole-person wellness by identifying and treating the cause of an illness, rather than just treating the symptoms. Naturopathic doctors see each patient as an individual and develop plans that are custom-tailored to each patient’s needs to support the body’s inherent capacity to heal itself.
Prevention is key
When it comes to heart health, prevention is one of the most important keys for success. Naturopathic medicine excels in reducing risk factors for heart disease and teaching effective ways to minimize your chances of developing cardiovascular problems.
Numerous research studies have demonstrated the role that diet, exercise and other healthy lifestyle choices can have on preventing and treating disease to the heart and cardiovascular system. But some patients may simply be told to “eat better and exercise” by their doctors without receiving sufficient support or strategies about to achieve those goals.
A naturopathic doctor will take the time to fully explain which plan will work for you. In addition to diet, exercise and lifestyle changes, there are many nutritional supplements or herbal medicines that can be beneficial for heart health. These may help reduce the side effects of your other medications and may help you reach your heart health goals.
Fish oil, magnesium, co-enzyme Q10 (known as Co Q10) and turmeric are but a few of the numerous natural remedies that have been used safely to support cardiovascular health.
Caution should be exercised, however, when it comes to herbal, homeopathic or nutritional remedies. Just because a supplement is labeled “natural” does not mean that it is risk-free. Many popular products contain ingredients that may interact with medications for blood pressure or clotting (“blood thinners”).
Gingko biloba and St. John’s wort are some of the most frequently utilized herbal remedies and have been safely used for generations. But they contain compounds that may interact with certain prescribed medications. Talking to your doctor about everything you take is a must.
As a rule, the therapies naturopathic doctors utilize are safe, gentle and nontoxic. N.D.s are trained to recognize and avoid drug-herb interactions. It is imperative to make sure any remedy you take to support your health does not have any contraindications with your medications.
Teamwork between your M.D. and you N.D., as well as with your cardiologist and other health care practitioners, is paramount to provide a comprehensive plan for your heart health, even if you are currently on medication.
We all have our areas of expertise — both conventional and naturopathic — so that’s why working together in an integrative fashion best serves to help people in need.
Dr. Eric Lewis is a naturopathic physician with Lewis Family Natural Health in Asheville. www.lewisnaturalhealth.com