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Three Circulation Secrets for Baby Boomers and Seniors

Larry Smith

Poor Circulation is a common problem amongst baby boomers and seniors alike. Poor leg circulation may result in restricted blood flow to the legs and is known as Peripheral Vascular Disease. (PVD)

PVD occurs in the blood vessels that are located outside of the heart. It may occur in peripheral arteries (blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart) or peripheral veins (blood vessels that carry blood toward the heart).

Obstruction or blockage of the arteries is known as Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). A fatty substance called plaque builds up and hardens on the walls of the peripheral arteries and makes it difficult for blood to flow properly. It is the obstruction of the blood flow that causes poor circulation. Plaque build up occurs over many years and this is why baby boomers and seniors are more at risk for poor circulation.

Symptoms of Poor Circulation:

• Cramping or fatigue in the legs, buttocks or feet during activity. It will usually go a way with rest, but will come back as soon as you resume your activity.

• Cramping or pain in your legs while sitting for long periods of time (e.g. driving for long distances)

• Legs and/or feet “fall asleep” while sitting or sleeping.

• Tired, aching feet, or swelling of the feet and legs.

• Lower temperature in the legs and feet as compared with the rest of the body. (This can also apply to the arms and hands)

Traditional Medical Care:

• A prescription for Vasodilators:

• A prescription for Blood Viscosity Reducing Drugs

• Sclerotherapy:

• Angioplasty and Stents:

• Surgery:

These traditional treatments may be effective and necessary. However, there are several natural, safe and effective herbs you may wish to consider as well. Three commonly prescribed treatments that natural health practitioners utilize are:

1. Gingko Biloba

Gingko Biloba has shown promise in several medical studies to increase circulation of the arms, legs and feet by thinning the blood and reducing clotting. The blood can then flow freely through the circulatory system to keep the extremities warm.

The American Family Physician (September, 2003) reported a systematic review of eight randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies and concluded that ginkgo had modest effects on improving the symptoms of dementia and cerebral insufficiency equivalent to pharmacologic therapy with ergoloid mesylates (Hydergine).

Another indication for ginkgo is for treating intermittent claudication from peripheral vascular disease. Two placebo-controlled trials, with a total of 190 patients, showed improved walking distance and decreased pain in patients with peripheral vascular disease.

2. Cayenne

Many herbalists believe that Cayenne is the most useful and valuable herb in the herb kingdom. It is useful not only for the entire digestive system, but also for the heart and circulatory system. Cayenne Pepper is a stimulant and is known for improving circulation and purifying the blood. It is anti bacterial, promotes healing and prevents infection. It acts as a catalyst and increases the effectiveness of other herbs when used in combination. Cayenne is a medicinal and nutritional herb and is an excellent source of vitamin A, the complete vitamin B complex and vitamin C. It is also known to be a very rich source of organic calcium and potassium.

3. Hawthorn

Hawthorne berries have been used since the middle Ages to support the heart and normalize cardiovascular functions. Today, hawthorn berries are one of the most valuable medicinal herbs used in the treatment of congestive heart failure and circulatory disorders. European studies have shown that this botanical increases blood flow to the heart and brain, protects the heart from irregular beats, enhances the strength of the heart's contractions, and mildly lowers blood pressure. Compounds in hawthorn can help protect the heart against oxygen deprivation, a condition that often leads to angina, a disease marked by intense chest pain. Hawthorn is rich in bioflavonoids, which relax and dilate the arteries. These compounds are powerful antioxidants that help increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. This reduces the work required by the heart to circulate blood, and in-turn reduces blood pressure and stress to the heart muscle. The bioflavonoid substances give strength to the walls of blood vessels and improve blood flow to other areas of the body. Components in hawthorn have also been shown to lower cholesterol, and the amount of plaque in arteries.

If you have any symptoms of poor circulation, you should be evaluated by a medical professional immediately. Although traditional medical care may be indicated, why not consider natural treatment as a safe and effective alternative?

Dr. Larry Smith Chiropractor and co-author of: Inside the Minds: The Art and Science of Sports Medicine.

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