Picture of red heart shape broken in two


Sudden loss brings shock; grief elicits pain; a surprise overwhelms; anger spikes; fear transforms into fight or flight with an all-systems alert.

Severe emotional stressors impact us body wide, and the heart is no exception to their influence.  In fact, stress-induced cardiomyopathy, a condition of the heart also referred to as broken heart syndrome, is caused by emotional stressors such as extreme grief, surprise, anger, or fear.  

Indistinguishable from a heart attack, a stress-induced cardiomyopathic event can produce chest pain and shortness of breath yet will reveal no blockage of coronary arteries.  Rather, the heart will have been left stunned by a strong and sudden surge of adrenaline (a stress hormone).  Such an occurrence can cause a ballooning (enlargement) and weakening of the lower part of the heart's left ventricle.  Because the left ventricle is the heart's main pumping chamber, its pumping action is thereby reduced.  

The heart's exposure to a sudden bath of excess adrenaline can also constrict coronary arteries, reducing blood flow to the heart, as well as causing heart cells to beat improperly.

A large portion of reported stress-induced cardiomyopathy cases (90%) occur in post-menopausal women age 58 to 75.  It is thought that, because estrogen helps protect the heart from adrenaline, reduced levels of estrogen post menopause may lend the heart in that particular population more susceptible to extreme stress.  

Creation and maintenance of good heart health is always advisable. Certainly, if diagnosed with stress-induced cardiomyopathy, helping to restore and support the heart is imperative.  

In Cheryl's Herbs' Heart Liquid Extract are five liquid herbal extracts combined with the purpose of being specifically helpful in comforting, strengthening, and regulating the heart.  The herbs yield a synergy of qualities designed to encourage healthy heart function.  The five herbs are as follows:


Richard Whelan:  "Hawthorn increases blood flow through the heart and strengthens the heart muscle."

Sharol Tilgner:  Hawthorn enhances "the connective tissue structure of the endothelial lining of the heart, blood, and lymphatic vessels.  This gives these structures resiliency against injury, disease, and the normal wear and tear of aging."

Pacific College of Health and Science:  "Many herbalists consider Hawthorn to be one of the best heart tonics on the planet.  It's helpful for all sorts of heart conditions including enlarged heart.  It will increase and strengthen deteriorated heart muscle.  Its gentle dilation of the coronary arteries helps circulation within the heart itself."


Richard Whelan:  "I have come to develop a great deal of respect  for how much Motherwort can shift a stuck pattern of tension in the heart."

Nicholas Culpepper:  "Venus owns this herb and it is under Leo.  There is no better herb to drive melancholy vapours from the heart, to strengthen it and make the mind cheerful, blithe and merry."

rebeccasherbs.com:  "On an emotional level, Motherwort is one of my absolute favorite herbs for treating a broken heart and relieving the anxiety and duress which frequently accompanies."

Bloesem Remedies:  Regarding Motherwort Flower Essence:  "For those who don't feel at home in their family and on earth and easily feel under attack.  When it has not been possible to receive the warmth and love of the family and as a result you become hardened, rigid, and feel like a stranger on the earth.  When you have the feeling that you cannot open your heart in the specific environment you are living in, [Motherwort] helps you to stay open to the love and support of family and friends in the here and now.  It is particularly good for letting go of the fear of being hurt."


Richard Whelan:  "Ginger acts like a gentler version of Cayenne to warm the body from the core, and a common medicinal use of Ginger in cooler countries has been for poor circulation."

Peter Holmes:  "Recent research has verified that Ginger possesses the unique property of assisting other remedies in reaching their destination.  It is  . . . an ideal emissary herb, that should be included in combinations where its inclusion is appropriate from the energetic point of view."


John William Fyfe:  "In impaired action of the heart, whether functional or organic, Cactus is a most efficient remedy."

henriettes-herb.com:  "It does not seem to make any difference whether the heart action be feeble, violent, or irregular (provided it be due to lack of innervation, associated with mental depression, or in excitable or nervous individuals), the remedy relieves, because its tendency is to promote normal rhythmic action of the cardiac muscle.   

"The peculiar state of the nervous system in cardiac diseases calling for Cactus Grandiflorus is quite characteristic.  There is marked mental depression, often amounting to hypochondria and fear of impending death.  

"The nutrition of the heart is increased, the contractile power augmented, and the irregular movements regulated."

Matthew Wood:  It is recommended "in cases where the person sighs from air hunger, or where there is a sense of weight on the chest [band-like], oppression of breathing, with feeble heart action, anemia, nervousness, and even panic or apprehension of some danger or death.  I do think of it when vata presents with heart trouble; also, it is for 'broken-heartedness.'"


Dr. Christopher:  "It equalizes the blood stream from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet."

Matthew Wood:  "Specific to a weak, senile heart."

As the human body ages, its systems may become somewhat less adaptive to stress.  Herbs to consider to reduce the negative effects of stress include those that build our resilience, thereby offering some protection. 

Nervine herbs such as Hawthorn, Motherwort, and Linden are particularly appropriate for heart health.  Nervines assist in nourishing and soothing the central nervous system.  We sell many of them, including a Nervine Liquid Extract Combination.  

Adaptogens assist in building stamina to help mitigate the impact of stress.  Particular to the heart are Ashwagandha, Eleuthero, Ginseng, Rhodiola, and Schizandra.









David Winston's Adaptogens, Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief, Peter Holmes' The Energetics of Western Herbs, Dr.Sharol Marie Tilgner's Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth


Hawthorn Berry Syrup Crataegus oxyacantha

Doses of cardiac drugs may be reduced by concomitant use of Hawthorn. It can potentiate the activity of cardioactive drugs such asDigitalis spp., Convallaria majalis, strophanthin, and the cardiac glycosides digitoxin and digoxin.  However, because of its coronary vasodilating and antiarrhythmic effects, it also potentially reduces the toxicity of these cardiac glycosides by reducing the dosage needed to achieve the desired effect.  It may increase the effects of beta-blockers.  Hawthorn can increase the coronary artery-dilating effect induced by theophylline (a bronchodilator), adrenaline, adenosine (an antiarrhythmic), papaverine (a vasodilator), caffeine (a vasodilator), and sodium nitrate (a salt used to preserve food).  However, the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy monograph does not list any interactions, so some authorities apparently do not consider these interactions significant.  It can potentiate barbiturate-induced sleep times. Consult a physician when symptoms continue unchanged for longer than 6 weeks or in cases of swelling of the legs. Medical diagnosis is absolutely necessary when pain occurs in the region of the heart, spreading out to the arms, upper abdomen, or the area around the neck;  or in cases of respiratory distress (dyspnea).

Motherwort Herb Leonorus cardiaca, organic

Avoid during pregnancy.  Avoid with blood thinning medication.

Ginger Root Zingiber officinale, organic

Avoid with active gallstone disease.  Avoid with blood thinning medication.  May potentiate anti-platelet medication.  Large doses may cause gastrointestinal disturbance.  Excessive doses of preparations made from fresh Ginger have been reported to cause dry mouth, sore throat, nosebleeds, and kidney inflammation.

Cactus Grandiflorus Selenicereus grandiflorus, organic

Avoid with heart medication.

Cayenne Pepper, Capsicum annuum, wild

Excessive internal doses in sensitive individuals may cause GI irritation or heartburn or exacerbate gastroesophageal reflux.  Externally, contraindicated on injured skin or near eyes.


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