May 05 2023

Herbal and Nutritional Supplements for Heart Health

Herbal and Nutritional Supplements for Heart Health


Cardiovascular disease is a disorder of the heart and blood vessels. Coronary heart disease is a type of heart disease affecting the blood vessels of the heart. Other cardiovascular diseases include high blood pressure (hypertension) and thickening of the blood vessels (atherosclerosis). Smoking, diet, exercise habits, and blood sugar levels contribute to cardiovascular disease.

Exercise, a healthy diet, and stress management are mainstays for preventing cardiovascular disease. However, there are herbal and nutritional supplements which can support a healthy cardiovascular system. Below are a few options to consider.


Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 is found in our diets. Foods containing coenzyme Q10 include beef, some fish, and some nuts. It’s also synthesized by our cells as it plays a role in the adequate production of energy in every cell in our bodies. Since our hearts have a high energy requirement, coenzyme Q10 is concentrated there. Often, the body cannot make enough coenzyme Q10. In fact, Coenzyme Q10 levels are highest during the first 20 years of life and decline with age. At age 80, coenzyme Q10 levels may be lower than at birth. With this in mind, supplementation may be helpful. It is also very well tolerated.

Many of the therapeutic benefits of coenzyme Q10 are primarily attributed to its antioxidant effects and its role in the generation of ATP, the bodies “energy producing” molecule.  An analysis of clinical research showed that taking coenzyme Q10 increased antioxidative capacity. In the treatment of heart disease like congestive heart failure, the mechanism is thought to involve prevention of oxidative damage. The greatest benefit seems to occur in people with the largest deficiency of coenzyme Q10.


B-Vitamins and Folic Acid

The B-Vitamins and folic acid are found in a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meat poultry, and fish. Both B-vitamins and folic acid are required to breakdown the amino acid homocysteine. Though, naturally occurring, elevated levels of homocysteine are linked to cardiovascular disease. In addition, elevated homocysteine is associated with other conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, decreased cognitive function, impaired memory, Alzheimer disease, and vascular dementia. Low folate levels are also associated with increased plasma homocysteine levels.

Vitamin B supplementation has an additive effect to folic acid in lowering fasting homocysteine levels. Folic acid might improve endothelial dysfunction, arterial blood flow, and the coagulation and oxidative status in individuals with high coronary risk and atherosclerotic disease. Improvements in endothelial dysfunction have been shown following an acute myocardial infarction, as well as in patients without cardiovascular disease.


Herbals - Hawthorn and Garlic

            In herbal medicine, a tonic is an herbal which has a gentler effect than an active substance. Cardiotonics have a less dramatic effect than cardioactive herbals. Therefore, they can be used in a more preventative setting. An example of a cardiotonic is hawthorn. Hawthorn has several effects on the cardiovascular system including improving coronary blood flow, correcting hypoxia, and improving heart muscle contraction by improving the heart’s utilization of energy. The active ingredients in hawthorn are thought to be this plants specific collection of flavonoids.

Another herbal relevant to the cardiovascular system is garlic. Garlic has a number of effects including lowering cholesterol and decreasing the “stickiness” of blood platelets. Garlic also has antioxidant properties. These effects taken together provide a strategy for preventing atherosclerosis, hypertension, and blood clotting.


Ask our Compounding Pharmacist Which Supplement is Best for You!

            Cardiovascular disease encompasses a variety of medical conditions that are very common. Conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and coronary artery disease may be preventable. In addition to a healthy diet, proper exercise, and prescriptions medications, herbal and nutritional supplements offer a strategy for preventative care. Coenzyme Q10, B-Vitamins, folic acid, as well as herbals like Hawthorne and garlic are examples of substances found in some instances in diet, and others as part of a quality evidence-based supplement formulation.


Written By Angelo Maida, PharmD

Compounding Pharmacist at Maida Pharmacy Compounding and Wellness 


Written by:

Angelo Maida, PharmD