"Heart disease is the leading cause of death in adult individuals among most racial and ethnic groups in the United States." (CDC, 2019)
This statistic is astounding, and upon reflecting on that, lets consider how much heart "dis-ease" is caused not by physical, but emotional factors. The American Heart Association recognizes "Broken Heart Syndrome" as being a very real form of heart disease, otherwise known as a stress induced cardio-myopathy.
How many of us are taking care of our hearts, in a physical, emotional and spiritual sense? How often are we checking in with ourselves, tuning onto our bodies to reconnect to our heart center; the center of our being? We live in such a fast paced society, and this unhealthy culture is not doing us any justice when it comes to our heart health. Healthy circulation is responsible for healthy function in every system of our body. Healthy boundaries and the ability to feel love, receive love, give love and be loved are crucial to our existence, individually and as a community.
Again enter the plant community!
In addition to healthy lifestyle factors like a balanced whole-foods diet, including healthy fats and fermented foods, regular meditation and light exercise, time for self-love, disconnecting from technology, spending time in nature, laughter, and fun, there are a number of plants that are there to offer themselves as allies to support a healthy heart and circulation, inspire self-love and embodiment, sensuality, healthy boundaries, and can bring us into deeper connections with ourselves and communities. We need to change the way we take care of ourselves, each other and take steps to encourage healing.
Below are just a few of the benefits of 7 different plants that offer support for heart health, and so much more:
Hawthorn: Crataegus spp.
An indispensable cardiac tonic, supportive for healthy circulation and the go-to herb for just about any heart related condition. In addition to hawthorn’s physical heart protective properties, she also is nourishing to the emotional and spiritual heart. Hawthorn offers support in times of sadness and grief. She helps us to navigate trauma stuck in the heart chakra and let it go, opening the heart wider to receive. Hawthorn trees, a member of the rose family, are covered in long thorns, sometimes over 3 inches long. Her thorns remind us about maintaining healthy boundaries, while remaining open to receive and give love. ❤️
Rose: Rosa spp.
All parts of the rose (blossoms, hips and thorns) have been used medicinally and magically for thousands of years. Rose’s energetics vary in herbalism from culture to culture. In Ayurveda and some western traditions, rose is cooling , sweet and contracting. In TCM, rose is warming. I think rose is one of those plants with so many different “actions” that its energetics could vary depending on the body system its affecting. Rose is an ally for emotional, nervous system, reproductive and circulatory health. But I want to talk more about the spiritual properties of this plant. Roses, in their appearance, are are an elegant representation of healthy boundaries of the heart. Soft, graceful, passionate and beautiful, yet fragile and protected by her thorns. Rose is heart opening, and in this way, helps us to open our hearts while creating healthy boundaries, as her elder hawthorn does. Roses energetic medicine is profound, sensual and delicious, and her vibrational healing is felt even from the smallest drop. Roses grace so many ceremonies in cultures across the world; birth, weddings, various rites of passage, and death. Spiritual bathing is another way roses magical healing can be brought into our lives. Spiritual bathing with roses can be done in ceremony surrounding the above mentioned, and also to help navigate grief, loss, depression, and trauma. White roses for birth and rebirth, yellow for energy and light, red for reclaiming strength and beauty.
Linden: Tilla spp.
Beautiful linden! This honey like, sweet, grandmother of a tree offers heart, nervous system and respiratory support to us in times of need. I LOVE when the linden trees bloom in the city. For years, I had no idea there was a linden tree just about 2 blocks from my home here in fishtown, but every year in late spring/early summer when she would bloom I could smell that intoxicatingly sweet beautiful floral aroma filling the air. Intuitively I knew that it was a linden, and one day i went out in search of her, following the smell to find an ancient linden tree full of blossoms, buzzing with bees two blocks east of my home. ❤️. I await her blooming with excitement every year now. Opening to the spiritual and emotional heart, linden can hold us in times of stress or grief, and is a fantastic cardiovascular health tonic. Robin Rose Bennett puts it beautifully when talking about stuck grief and/or the loss of a loved one, “even if you are crying a river of tears, linden brings a bright, golden-light energy to touch the heaviness of sorrow over death and loss.” Linden is also a ‘mucilaginous’ herb (moistening), and when left to infuse for 4-8 hours, transforms a normal cup of tea into a beautifully moistening, healing infusion. This moistening quality I like to think of as adding flexibility to arteries, vessels and capillaries, reaches into the deepest parts of our emotional self, and is one of the primary benefits of its support for chest congestion and irritable coughs.
Hibiscus: Hibiscus sabdariffa
This mallow family member has a long history of use for heart health, and has been purported to reduce and maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. “A random double blind study found that drinking three cups of hibiscus a day lowers blood pressure in pre and mildly hypotensive adults”. In addition, hibiscus is loaded with antioxidants and vitamin c. This plants sour, astringent nature helps to cool and regulate body temperature, as well as tone and cool irritated tissue. It is also used for sore throats, cold and flu symptoms, urinary health, and reproductive health. Isn’t it amazing how many body systems ONE PLANT can be supportive for?!!
Motherwort: Leonurus cardiaca
Motherwort’s namesake suggests and means literally, “the lion hearted one,” and she truly embodies and inspires that. Motherwort is a wonderful cardiotonic, known for strengthening the heart, and she does this in physical, emotional, and spiritual ways. Motherwort is an ally for anyone with hypertension, and/or suffers from palpitations from anxiety/stress. (always discuss any herbs you use with your physician) I have found time and time again, from myself and from others I have shared the gifts of motherwort with, how incredibly quickly she lifts away the crumbling weight of stress and anxiety. Although everyone can benefit greatly from her medicine, she has a particular affinity for women, representing the ‘mother’ of the ‘triple goddess’, and has a deep relationship with our womb space. She offers support for moon cycle symptoms, in the bleeding cycles of our lives and in menopause. She has carried me through childbirth, cramping after birth, and has upheld me through postpartum anxiety and grief, and beyond.
Oatstraw: Avena sativa
Every part of this plant is used for food or medicine. The mature oat tops as oatmeal to provide us with comforting heart healthy nourishment. The Milk stage oat tops (the same that gives us oatmeal, but harvested in their early “milky stage”, where when squeezed, a milky sap flows out of them), as all parts of the plant, are incredibly nourishing to the nervous system, and are an indispensable support for stress related nervous system depletion and/or depression when prepared from the fresh plant. Oatstraw is the rest of the plant and is incredibly nutrient rich, full of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals and is the more commonly used dried herb of the plant. Oatstraw and the oat grain: * nourish and repair tissue and nerves * sooth and strengthen nerves and digestion * Improved communication between nerve cells * is a regenerative endocrine tonic * alter our responses to stress over time and offer support when feeling depleted * aid in recovery from or offers support during long term illness * help build deep immunity