Did you know that Ayurveda can help treat and maintain the heart? This week we will be continuing our series on the heart in celebration of American Heart Month! For this week’s spotlight, we will be investigating how Ayurvedic practices can maintain the heart’s health, even in dire situations.
In 2020, a case study was performed to investigate a patient who had tried every possible western medicine approach (diet change, exercise, and medication) to treat their valvular heart disease. With the only option being surgery, the participant elected to participate in the Ayurvedic study.
In most cases, Western medicines typically elect to prescribe changes in an individual’s diet, exercise, medication, or in severe cases, surgery. These solutions typically aim to lower an individual’s Blood Pressure (BP), Heart Rate (HR), and increase the function of their Cardiovascular System. However, in this case study, not only did these prescriptions exaggerate the patient’s symptoms but also accelerated the patient’s need for invasive heart surgery. The surgery would involve a mitral valve transplant. Furthermore, the patient turned to a team of researchers to alleviate their condition instead of surgery.
Before and after treatment, special care was given to apply techniques and methods of modern science to test and validate the results. Most of the modern doctors didn't accept the 3D cardiovascular test, so an echo test was also done for their acceptance of modern fraternity and to establish the efficacy of the age old indigenous System, Ayurveda.
In Sanskrit, the language of Ayurvedic texts, Hrid means heart and in these texts 2 complications of the heart referred to as Amavata (elevated vata with ama) are explained. One is Hridayavishuddhi and another is Hridgraha (Cardiology in Ayurveda by Dr.V.B.Athavale). Hridayvishudhi may be considered as the unclean state of the heart and Hridgraha as the impaired condition. Due to regular and prolonged accumulation of the ama in the heart, the proper function of the heart may get impaired. Accumulation of ama in the endocardium gives rise to valvular heart disease, called Amajwara and Hridyavishuddhi is one of its symptoms. In Charaka Samhita (Ayurvedic text) there are many clinical features of hridroga, which may correspond to symptoms of valvular heart disease.
The treatment in this study focuses on correcting the imbalanced vata (a dosha), rasa (body fluids), rakta (blood), and the mamsa (flesh/muscle of the heart). The mamsa is an important aspect of treatment because it is the flesh/muscle that needs to be treated, but the rasa and rakta also prove to be fundamental in the maintenance and preservation of the heart because they are the essential components that feed and nurture the heath of both the fluids and blood, that ensure the heart is constantly working.
With these explanations, the researchers developed an Ayurvedic treatment plan to alleviate the patient’s joint pain, breathing labors, and chest pains. The first component of the treatment is Langhana, or a light diet/fasting along with Virechana, a mild purgation (cleansing) of one’s ama (toxins) from the body.
The treatment is given in tandem with the use of Ayurvedic medicines that are selected mainly for having Deepana-Pachana-Hridya properties. Deepana-Pachana medicines are used to help stimulate digestion enzymes (agni) to remove ama.
Once the ama is completely removed from the participant’s body (when the participant feels light-bodied), the aim was to rebuild or correct the degenerated valves to its original texture by administering pushtikrit or kshayanashanam medicines, where the participant was instructed to use Rasayana (tonics) and Ojaskara Oushadhas (medicines) for the rest of the treatment, which effectively rebuild the damaged valves, reduce joint swellings (due to the absence of ama), and mediate the rasa, rakta, and mamsa. Finally, the patient is treated with multiple Kashayams (herbal decoctions), Arishtas (fermented decoctions), Herbal Tablets and Herrak Bhasmams (made from ash), Ghandarvashtadi for purgation, Pichu (pouring of oil) on the heart (similar to Hrdaya Basti) with Dhanwantaram Tailam, along with dietary protocols that included rice kanji and to calm the mind specific instructions for breathing exercises and meditation were included.
Detailed symptoms, specific treatments provided and laboratory and clinical findings are listed in a chart in the study, link below.
After 6 months of treatment, a follow-up investigation was conducted where the Mitral Valve had shown repairs as well as growth in the patient’s heart. Additionally, the patient was asked and stated that they were completely satisfied as their fatigue, chest pains, and associated symptoms have decreased and were no longer noticeable. The quality of personal and official life of the patient had improved significantly and instead of a bleak future she developed confidence and an experience of well-being.
Although this is a case study, it produced conclusive evidence that Ayurvedic heart treatment is useful and needs further research and discussion.
To read the study that includes the complete list and dosage of the medications used, please follow this link with the awareness that Ayurvedic treatment is based according to the individual and may differ from person to person and taking treatment under the advice of a Ayurvedic Professional is needed to insure proper administration.