“The intellect is powerless to express thought without the aid of the heart.” -Henry David Thoreau
Stress is a major factor in heart health as well as in many other diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and stroke, all of which were in the top five leading causes of death in the U.S. in 2017 according to the CDC. How do we address stress and heart health? There are many ways in, through diet, exercise, sleep, human connection, physical heart health, and stress management.
In the first of four classes in Herbal Medicine-Making for Heart Health we will discuss foods and tonic herbs for heart health including: oats, red clover, hawthorn, hibiscus and more. There are also herbal cardiotonics that improve the efficiency of the speed, force, and volume of blood pumping. But there are even more ways to contextualize heart health. How is your emotional heart: how heavy or light, open or tight does your heart feel? The Wise Woman tradition asks what web of connection surrounds you to support your heart’s wholeness? Are there plants growing nearby that could bring you more heart wellness?
What about the the heart to mind connection? “[A]ccording to the Chinese medical definition, the heart not only regulates blood circulation but also controls consciousness, spirit, sleep, memory and houses the mind. In this way the heart, together with the liver, is related to the nervous system and brain.” (Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods, p.322.) There is the heart to gut connection in which the heart and gut communicate and there is a visceral knowing that could not happen without their cooperation. There is the heart to womb connection, or the heart to the creative center or the 2nd chakra connection where we grow, release, and birth our hearts desires into the manifest realm.
What my teacher, bodyworker and healer, Don Van Vleet, shared with me from his many years of healing physical bodies, is that the heart is not meant to be a steady drum beat or even stationary in space. It is through normal variations of pulse and organ location, where the heart can and does move around in the chest cavity, that we find health. Having the space to move and the freedom of variation allows more adaptability, and more adaptability means more flexibility to respond, which means less stagnation. Stagnation leads to blockages, disease, and death. No matter what angle we look at heart health, it is clear that supporting the flexibility of the cardiovascular system supports us as whole and holistic beings. The universe is constant motion. Let’s reorient ourselves to support the flow of heart health, to keep happy hearts moving.
In Herbal Medicine Making for Heart Health’s four classes, we will explore many ways of supporting heart health. In Class 1 Herbal Heart Sprays, students will make an individualized heart spray with witch hazel, rose water, and a selection of herbal teas and tinctures to support stress relief. I hope to see you in class! Join me in my four class series at the New York Open Center Tuesdays starting June 5th 8-10 pm.