The main symptom of angina is mild to severe chest pain in the area of the heart. The pain, which is often accompanied by a sense of pressure in the chest, can spread to the throat, upper jaw, back, arms, and between the shoulder blades. Other symptoms may include nausea, sweating, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
What is Angina?
From Modern Western Medicine
Angina, literally a strangling pain in the chest, is caused by insufficient blood flow to the heart, a condition called ischemia. The insufficient blood flow is caused by advanced atherosclerosis, brought on by a high-fat and -cholesterol diet. (See section on Atherosclerosis.) Eventually, the atherosclerosis can result in a myocardial infarction, or a heart attack.
From Traditional Medicine
Angina, like many other forms of heart disease, is seen as a disorder of the fire element (see the Five Element Theory explained in Part III), which is associated with the deficiency of blood and qi, weakness of spirit, and the absence of joy.
Who Gets Angina?
More men than women suffer from angina pain, especially after men turn 50. Women can contract angina later in life.
- Reduce or eliminate all animal foods to avoid saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Reduce blood cholesterol to below 180 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) of blood.
- Increase fiber to lower cholesterol and improve bowel function.
- Get mild, but regular exercise. Walking is ideal.
Foods to Eat
- Whole grains, fresh vegetables, and fruit. Many of these are rich in vitamins C and E and beta-carotene, which reduce the incidence and severity of angina.
- White fish and salmon are rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fat. These fish oils lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease. They also increase HDLs (high-density lipoproteins), which lower the risk of heart attack.
Foods to Avoid
- Foods rich in saturated fat, especially red meat, eggs, the skin of chicken, and whole milk products
- Refined sugar increases triglycerides (blood fat) that cause platelet adhesiveness, which increases the incidence of angina attacks
- Coffee and alcohol interfere with calcium absorption (a factor in heart problems)
- Excess sodium (most common in table salt, pickles, and foods containing salt and sea salt)
- Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils
- Begin with mild stretching for 10 minutes, then walk for 20 – 30 minutes, starting out slowly. If angina pain surfaces, stop walking and rest.
- Avoid competitive sports
Herbs to Treat Angina
- Garlic lowers LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol, the so-called good cholesterol. Garlic inhibits blood clotting, which protects against heart attack and lowers blood pressure. Use it raw and in cooking. Garlic capsules can also be taken.
Fresh garlic bulbs 7 – 28 cloves daily
Dried whole garlic cloves 5 – 20 g daily
- Ginkgo biloba increase blood flow and decreases stickiness or viscosity of blood. Dose: 40 mg, three times a day; use for four to six weeks.
- Capsaicin: found in red pepper; lowers cholesterol, lowers the tendency of blood to clot
- Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha) contains flavonoids that prevent blood vessels from constricting, thereby preventing angina pain. It lowers cholesterol and helps reverse atherosclerosis. Dosage: 80 – 200 mg per day
- Gugulipid: a plant extract; lowers LDL substantially, and raises HDL. Dosage: 25 mg, three times a day
- Oat bran: water soluble fiber. Dosage: ½ – 2 cups daily
- Bitterroot: dosage: 10 – 40 drops of tincture
- Corn, amaranth, dandelion, chicory, chives, scallions, Brussels sprouts, and escarole all strengthen the fire element
- Chinese chive: 6 – 9 g dried or 30 – 60 g fresh
- Shiitake mushrooms lower cholesterol substantially and improve the immune system. Boil in water and use as a tea and use regularly in soups, stews, broths, and vegetable medleys.
- Reishi mushrooms treat heart disease, reduce cholesterol, and lower high blood pressure. Decoction, place 1 – 2 mushrooms in 1 oz./pint cold water, cook over low heat until reduced to ½ the amount started with; drink 1 cup three times a day; 3 – 6 g for less serious conditions, 9 – 15 g for more serious conditions.
- Vitamin E: 60 – 200 IU daily
- Vitamin C: 500 mg daily
- Vitamin B complex: 25 – 50 mg daily
- Choline: can be found in lecithin
- Daily meditation
- Hot compresses: in acute angina, apply hot, moist compresses to chest or mid back, then massage the muscles deeply along the spine and follow with spinal manipulation