Healthy blood vessels confer the benefit of promoting proper cardiovascular and cerebrovascular circulation.  Not just the strength and suppleness, or tone, of our vessels, but the unrestricted flow of blood they allow are keys to right movement of life-giving blood throughout the body.

Bilberry Berry - is a fruit containing flavonoids which may be helpful in strengthening capillaries (tiny blood vessels not visible to the naked eye), but no matter how tiny, appropriate functioning of our capillaries is critical to our good health.

These microscopic vessels have very thin, permeable walls (walls with holes in them) and reach very close to the cells in the body in order to release oxygen and other nourishment to them.  Coming back from the cells to the capillaries is cellular waste which is carried up the venous side of our circulatory system.  Blood flow on the way back up to the heart is governed not by the heart's pumping action but by muscle contraction. One-way valves prevent gravity and sluggish muscles from causing blood to back up.

But when blood does back up on the venous side (venous blood stagnation), conditions such as varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and cramping in the calves of the legs can occur.

One way to work against venous blood stagnation is to strengthen the capillaries and in so doing also reduce the likelihood of platelet buildup. Platelets are sticky cell fragments that congregate inside blood vessels potentiating clotting.  When capillaries are weakened and injured, platelets are called in to adhere to the areas of injury.  They adhere to each other, as well, forming a platelet aggregate.  Ideally, the stronger the capillary walls, the less likely they are to suffer damage, and the need for platelets is minimized. 

Bilberry berries, by way of their tannin content, may aid in preventing plaque deposits in the arteries (atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries).  Plaque forms when LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, lodges in artery walls.  As the cholesterol grows, blood flow becomes blocked.  Ruptured plaque can cause a clot to form over the rupture. 

Bilberry berries may then help to prevent venous blood stagnation and hardening of the arteries, allowing blood to flow unencumbered throughout the body,  reducing the possibility of serious vascular conditions and events.

Horse Chestnut Seed - may be useful when blood congests in the veins disallowing proper return circulation upward from the feet (venous blood stagnation).  Such congestion can reveal itself in the form of varicosities (permanently dilated, twisted veins usually in the legs), phlebitis (inflamed veins in the legs causing swelling and pain), thrombosis (a blood clot), a sensation of heaviness in the legs, night-time leg cramps, pooling of blood in the pelvic area, and hemorrhoids.  The liver, heart, and lungs can be affected by this slowing or stopping of the blood's current.  Horse Chestnut shares its tannins, coumarins, and triterpene glycosides to strengthen our veins and promote free-flowing circulation.

Gotu Kola Herb - contains triterpenes which may be beneficial in cases of phlebitis (inflamed veins in the legs causing swelling and pain) as well as in conditions of lower limb edema and heaviness.  Its healing effect on the veins includes nutritional support of vein cells, reduction of capillary fragility, and support of the connective tissue surrounding veins.  It works to reverse venous insufficiency.

Ginger Root - may help reduce platelet buildup.  Blood stagnation is eased and blood flow improved.

Cayenne Pepper - is a powerful herb for the heart and circulation.  When the body's circulation is unequal, this herb can be employed to help equalize it.  Blood supply can become unequal when there is an excess of it being directed to a certain area of the body.  Eating too much, smoking, using drugs, drinking alcohol, being constipated, or blood stagnation draws blood to the digestive system, the liver, the large intestine, the capillaries, or the heart  creating an imbalance in circulation.  Easing the inequality eases the heart.  

Because Cayenne pepper is hot and stimulating, it helps move the blood and break through stagnation.  Matthew Wood, in his book The Earthwise Herbal, A Complete Guide to New World Medicinal Plants, writes that it has been "reasoned that during a heart attack the blood pool[s] in the interior and congest[s] around the heart, while it [is] absent in the extremities - which [are] cold and blue . . . the late Dr. Christopher said that Cayenne never failed him in more than thirty years of use as a remedy for heart attack."

Hawthorn Leaf, Flower, & Berry - has an affinity for the heart, being a superb herbal remedy for addressing elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, and coronary circulation.  It normalizes cholesterol levels by helping to correct fat deposition in capillary walls, dilates blood vessels, improves blood supply to the heart, reduces angina, helps with palpitations and arrhythmias, and supports the condition of the heart muscle, all of which is restorative to the heart.

Ginkgo Leaf - supplies us with a number of cerebrovascular benefits.  For example, carotid artery blockage, which is a serious occurrence that reduces blood flow and oxygen to the brain, poses a threat to the blood-brain barrier ultimately resulting in cerebral edema.  Utilizing Ginkgo leaf in the early stages of carotid artery blockage may help stabilize blood-brain barrier membranes, thus preventing the development of such edema.

Certain disturbances of the inner ear may result in hearing loss, tinnitus, or vertigo.  Ginkgo leaf, when these disturbances are due to vascular defects, may help mitigate, if not completely resolve, such conditions.

Microcirculation in the eyes may be improved by Ginkgo leaf.  Such a benefit may slow the progression of, or prevent, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.  When treating diabetic retinopathy with Ginkgo leaf, the addition of other herbs is helpful, one of which is Bilberry berry.  Bilberry berry is used for macular degeneration, as well.

Both blood flow to the head and the periphery are promoted by the use of Ginkgo leaf.

Ginkgo leaf also assists in inhibiting platelet aggregation which in turn prevents the development of clots in the vessels.  This allows for protection from heart attack and stroke.

David Winston, in his book Adaptogens, Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief, writes that this herb has been the object of significant research on its use "for people with poor cerebral circulation, degenerative effects of Alzheimer's disease and senile dementia, poor memory, hearing loss, tinnitus, erectile dysfunction, atherosclerosis, varicose veins, and peripheral neuropathies."

Turmeric Root - helps to lower bad cholesterol, prevent platelet aggregation and plaque formation, works against atherosclerosis, and promotes blood motility.

SOURCES:  Matthew Wood's The Earthwise Herbal, A Complete Guide To New World Medicinal Plants, Matthew Wood's The Earthwise Herbal, A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants, Peter Holmes'  Energetics of Western Herbs, David Winston's Adaptogens, Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief, Donald Yance's Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism.

Cheryl's Herbs sells:

Bilberry Berries dried and as liquid extract

Horse Chestnut Seed as liquid extract

Gotu Kola Herb dried and as liquid extract

Ginger Root dried (cut and powder) and as liquid extract

Cayenne Pepper dried (powder) and as liquid extract

Hawthorn Leaf & Flower dried, Hawthorn Berries dried, and as liquid extract

Ginkgo Leaf dried and as liquid extract

Turmeric Root dried (powder) and as liquid extract

Cheryl's Herbs also sells:

Heart Liquid Extract Combination

Circulation Blend (topical use only)

Vein Blend (topical use only)

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