Heart disease is the number one killer in America. Anxiety also plagues millions of Americans but we often don’t link the two. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM), anxiety is a direct symptom to a heart out of balance. When a practitioner treats anxiety, we are taught to not only treat the symptom of anxiety, but to treat heart health to prevent more serious cardiac disease. While not everybody can or wants to use acupuncture and herbs (although I highly recommend it), everybody can choose to drink these easy-to-make-at-home elixirs. Of course, if you have heart disease or any other cardiac problems, please consult your doctor before adding anything new to your routine.
We all need to drink, but instead of coffee, a soda, or an empty calorie drink, try one of these liquids to help not only ease your anxiety, but nourish your cardiac muscles. These drinks help build blood while also helping calm the spirit.
Dragon Eye Fruit Tea
Not familiar to many in the West, this deceptive looking fruit is commonly found in Asian markets around the world. Beneath the cardboard-colored peel is a succulent translucent piece of heaven. Since it's harder to find fresh, look for the dried version available online. I like to put mine in a hot cup of water, let it steep for 5 minutes and joyfully sip down the sweetness. Dragon eye fruit, also known as longan fruit or long yan rou in Chinese, is considered a blood builder in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It strengthens the heart and spleen, nourishes blood, and restores a calm spirit. It's also good for people who worry excessively, which over a long time causes fatigue, emotional fragility, palpitations, forgetfulness and insomnia with frequent waking.
Contraindications: If you are experiencing hot flashes, try the hawthorne tea instead.
Growing up I would chomp on hawthorne flake candy every weekend when my mom would venture 30 minutes to shop at the Asian market. They are like sour patch kids to Chinese kids, being sweet and tart at the same time, but much less sugary. These sweet and tart berries are great in a tea with some lemon and honey. This berry has multiple uses aiding in digestion, lowering blood pressure, as well as preventing coronary heart disease. According to studies, hawthorne has a hypotensive activity via vasorelaxation and a tonic cardiac action. Translation: it's great for the heart!
Contraindications: If you have acid reflux or stomach ulcers, use sparingly and try beet juice instead.
According to TCM, eating red foods benefits the heart. What’s redder than a beet? Personally, I love eating them but my husband prefers them in a juice or as beet chips. Beets are a unique source of betaine, a nutrient that helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental and emotional stress. It’s also known to help improve vascular risk factors, fight inflammation, protect internal organs, enhance performance, and is overall beneficial to prevent numerous chronic diseases. So whether you want to improve your athletic stamina or are a heart disease patient or have bouts of anxiety, a big cup of beet juice is a supreme dose of nutritional love for your body.
Similar to beet juice, pomegranate juice glows with a bright redness that emanates health. It's easy to find thanks to POM and easy to drink due to its flavorful natural sweetness. Pomegranate juice has been shown to reduce levels of oxidative stress, reduce cardiac enlargement, and reduce ECG abnormalities. That's potent information for anyone with anxiety, a history of heart disease, or family history of heart disease.
Dang Gui Tea with Raw Honey
Dang Gui, or Angelicae Sinensis, is a hugely popular herb in China that is used daily by millions in soup broths, recipes or herbal supplementation. You may have heard of its benefits for gynecological disorders like irregular menstruation or lack of menses, but it is also beneficial to the heart. Dang Gui can help with palpitations and other symptoms due to anemia or "blood deficiency." It tonifies the blood and promotes blood circulation, two important functions to maintain a healthy cardiac muscle. It can also alleviate pain and help with constipation. You can buy it bagged or in bulk and brew it yourself. Beware, it can be a bit bitter and acrid so I recommend brewing it with raw honey, which is also good for removing bad LDL cholesterol in the human blood. LDLs are your heart health's worst enemy because they are the foundation of dangerous plaque deposits in blood vessel walls that can lead to heart attack and stroke.