Poor blood circulation, which in itself is caused by health complications such as obesity, diabetes, arterial disease or varicose veins, can often be identified through a number of bothersome symptoms. These include muscle pain, throbbing, cramping, stinging and numbness, particularly in your arms or legs.
If you are seeking natural treatments that improve the function of your circulatory system and allow your body to receive the nutrients, oxygen and blood flow that it needs to thrive, a diverse group of herbs is available to help. Take a closer look at 15 herbs whose properties have been studied for their effectiveness regarding blood circulation, and consult with a wellness professional to see if one or more of these herbal remedies are right for you.
A common herb that has been used for medicinal purposes over many centuries, garlic is helpful in treating several conditions that relate to poor circulation, including platelet aggregation and high cholesterol. Garlic was studied for its cardiovascular benefits and was found to increase resting calf blood flow levels when taken by women in 600-milligram doses once a day over a week-long period.
Found abundantly in dark chocolate, cacao has a positive impact on blood circulation through its high antioxidant and magnesium levels, which lower stress, protect against heart disease, improve blood pressure and eliminate free radicals in the body. A study that measured the ingestion of large quantities of chocolate and cocoa showed an increase in brachial artery flow-mediated dilation and lowered cardiovascular risk.
The presence of oligomeric procyanidins in hawthorn not only increases blood flow from the heart by relaxing and protecting blood vessels, but it also promotes various other benefits. These include heart disease prevention, blood pressure reduction, heart rhythm regulation and heart muscle strengthening. Hawthorn has been studied in conjunction with Japanese knotweed for its positive effects on blood circulation and atherosclerosis prevention.
4. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is rich in capsaicin, a chemical that stimulates the circulatory system. Regular intake of cayenne pepper also improves cardiovascular function by breaking up arterial plaque, strengthening red blood cells, decreasing heart palpitations and increasing the absorption of nutrients. Through a study in which capsaicin was administered to rats, it was shown to lower cholesterol and enhance blood flow.
Research on motherwort extract examined the herb’s capability of protecting cardiac muscles and acknowledged its use as a complementary treatment to improve blood circulation. Motherwort has long been associated with promoting heart health due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties. This herb also functions as a gentle sedative that eases heart palpitations and is included in various medical tonics.
6. Gingko Biloba
Gingko biloba treats poor circulation in numerous ways; it is not only given to patients as a means of dilating narrow blood vessels, but it also works to loosen platelets that may be interfering with blood flow. This herb is recommended for increasing cognitive function, as it stimulates blood flow to the brain. Gingko biloba has been studied for its effects on cerebral circulation.
Often used in food preparation, parsley is an herb that has been researched for its capacity to influence the human circulatory system when eaten in blanched form. Rich in Vitamin B12 and Vitamin C, parsley has natural characteristics that make it a good choice for promoting blood circulation. This herb benefits the body by opening up passageways so that blood can flow through properly.
8. Horse Chestnut
Although it must never be eaten raw due to toxicity, horse chestnut offers some benefits in regard to improving circulation when it is thoroughly processed. Horse chestnut supplements are particularly useful for boosting blood circulation within the venous system. In a study, horse chestnut seed extract was evaluated along with other herbal and pharmacologic preparations in people with chronic venous insufficiency.
9. Ginger Root
With its anti-viral and anti-inflammatory abilities, ginger root helps to promote overall health while it works to reverse poor circulation. This herb is considered to be a vasodilator, or an agent that widens blood vessels so that blood can more efficiently flow through the body. Research subjects in one study experienced arteriole dilation through drinking hot ginger tea.
Bilberry has been tested within human umbilical veins as a means of evaluating its capacity to offer protection from cardiovascular diseases. This herb has also been studied in animals, with results showing effectiveness in improving blood circulation. Bilberry functions as a blood-thinning herbal supplement, and its use in the treatment of patients with chronic venous insufficiency is common in Europe.
11. Green Tea
Not only is green tea a delicious and highly popular herbal preparation, but it is also packed with nutritional benefits, some of which help to improve capillary function and lower the risk of heart diseases involving poor blood flow. In a study of 60 women, the polyphenols found in green tea significantly increased oxygen and blood delivery to the skin.
12. Gotu Kola
Like gingko biloba and ginger root, gotu kola is a vasodilator, and this herb also assists in cell repair. Gotu kola has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for many centuries, and its ability to dilate blood vessels is just one of its helpful properties. Research on gotu kola extract shows that it is beneficial as an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory and as an agent in treating edema.
13. Prickly Ash
In a study conducted on prickly ash peel and a variety of other Chinese herbs, this herbal preparation yielded positive results in regard to the activation of blood circulation in mice. Prickly ash is used to treat circulation problems in the hands and feet and to provide pain relief.
14. Pine Bark Extract
The benefits of pine bark extract in relation to the circulatory system are numerous. This herbal extract, found in the inner bark of certain pine trees, supplies blood cells with oxygen, increases circulation in all bodily systems, lowers blood pressure and maintains blood vessel health. Pine bark extract has also been studied for its effectiveness in reducing swelling and edema in people with chronic venous insufficiency.
15. Dong Quai
Dong quai acts in a similar manner to prickly ash in the improvement of reduced blood circulation. This herb does have blood thinning properties and should not be used by people who are taking other blood thinners or who are pregnant or breastfeeding. A study on dong quai examined its usage in treating cerebrovascular and cardiovascular conditions.
Be sure to follow the dosage recommendations provided by a naturopathic doctor or other holistic medicine expert when taking these herbs to improve circulation. If you are taking other medications for a primary health condition, it is also very important for you to give this information to your wellness professional, as some herbal remedies can cause negative reactions when combined with certain traditional medicines.