Photo of ginkgo biloba leaves on a black background
Ginkgo biloba can help improve circulation in the extremities [Image: James Field - Wikimedia Commons]

Herbal relief: Improving circulation

15 July, 2014

Cardiovascular disease is caused by lack of exercise, obesity, diets that are rich in saturated fats, smoking, and excessive stress.

Improving your diet and regular exercise helps, as can simple herbal remedies to reduce cholesterol levels and alleviate stress. The chart below, while not comprehensive, highlights some of the key herbs for improving circulation and the best ways to use them. Remember if you take medication, seek advice from your practitioner first.

Nettle (Urtica dioica)    

Nettle tea is an excellent iron tonic in the treatment of anaemia. It helps to lower blood pressure when combined with hawthorn and lime flowers, and is a traditional remedy for varicose veins when combined with motherwort and melilot.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

An effective circulatory stimulant and vasodilator that has an anti-cholesterol action. Add powdered ginger to hot water, or take the tincture or capsules, to relieve cold hands and feet and to support the treatment of atherosclerosis.

Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata)             

Traditionally used as a restorative for the heart and circulation, hawthorn helps to regulate heartbeat and high blood pressure. Take it as an infusion, tincture, or as capsules.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)     

Combined with lime flowers and hawthorn as a tea or tincture, yarrow will reduce high blood pressure and treat arteriosclerosis. Soak a cotton wool pad in the diluted tincture or cooled tea to stop a nosebleed.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)          

A circulatory tonic traditionally used to strengthen the heart, improve varicose veins, and help prevent arteriosclerosis. Combine with lime flowers as an infusion to relieve headaches associated with high blood pressure.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)

A circulatory stimulant and peripheral vasodilator. Combine with hawthorn to treat coronary artery disease. Combine with yarrow to treat varicose veins. Combine with ginger to treat cold extremities, intermittent claudication, and chilblains

Goji (Lycium barbarum)              

A traditional Chinese tonic, believed to promote long life. The berries, now thought of as a “superfood’ in the West, are a tonic for the circulatory system and blood, and can relieve dizziness and tinnitus. The root relaxes the artery muscles and lowers blood pressure.

Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)      

Soak a cotton wool pad in distilled witch hazel and apply locally to relieve the heat, inflammation, and itching of varicose veins, piles (haemorrhoids], phlebitis, and chilblains.