Chapter 4

Herbal Therapies and Micronutrient Supplements in Cardiovascular Disease

Tasnim F. Imran and Jacob Joseph

Abstract

Herbal remedies have been used throughout history both for culinary and medicinal purposes, including for prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Some derivatives of herbs (aspirin, digitalis) are commonly used pharmacotherapies today [1, 2]. Although drug therapy of conventional risk factors for CVD is effective, there is growing awareness of dietary factors and herbal medicines and their use in the prevention and potential treatment of CVD. Many herbal remedies have not undergone careful scientific evaluation with clinical trials and are often available over the counter to lay persons and sold by unregulated agencies [3]. The American Herbal Products Association, the British Herbal Medicine Association, and the European Committee on Herbal Medicine Products Act has implemented product testing and registries to assure safety of herbal supplements. Because of their prevalent use, healthcare providers and patients should be informed about the potential for benefit and harm. This chapter reviews herbal remedies used for prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases and related conditions, including atherosclerosis and CVD risk factors, angina pectoris, peripheral vascular disease, venous insufficiency, hypertension, congestive heart failure, and arrhythmias. Additionally, we describe the use of antioxidant vitamins and micronutrient supplements in CVD prevention. Precautions, side effects and adverse interactions are also considered. We want to emphasize that more rigorous research to elucidate the physiologic and long-term effects of these therapies on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, as well as open communication between patients and physicians regarding herbal medicine use is needed for appropriate use of therapy and to avoid complications.

Total Pages: 129-187 (59)

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