Most people know that calcium plays a vital role in bone health. But did you know it’s also an essential mineral for the cardiovascular system? Calcium particles enter the muscle with every squeeze of the heart, helping it to beat strongly and evenly. As a result, blood moves smoothly to the rest of the body.
Over the last half-decade, scientists discovered that reducing the amount of calcium that enters the heart works to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate. As a result, doctors now regularly prescribe calcium-channel blockers to treat cardiac conditions. Unfortunately, these drugs are not without dangerous side effects.
Thankfully, there are many natural alternatives to calcium-channel blockers, most of which are safer and equally effective.
What are calcium channel blockers?
Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) are commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals that slow the rate at which calcium passes into the heart muscle and blood vessel walls.
Calcium enters cells through unique pores on the cells called ion channels. Much like a plug that stops water from going down the drain, calcium channel blockers block these pores, thus reducing the amount of calcium that can enter the heart and vessels.
With less calcium reaching the cardiovascular system, the heart does not squeeze as firmly, allowing blood vessels to relax and for more oxygenated blood flow to the heart. As a result, calcium channel blockers may do the following:
- Lower blood pressure
- Slow the heart rate
- Reduce chest pain
- Help to control an irregular heartbeat
There are two primary types of calcium channel blockers:
Dihydropyridines act as peripheral vasodilators, causing blood vessels to relax. These CCBs typically end in the suffix “-pine” and are often used to treat high blood pressure. Examples include amlodipine, felodipine, and isradipine.
Non-dihydropyridines act like dihydropyridines in relaxing the blood vessels, but they also work on the heart’s conduction system, lowering the heart rate. These types of CCBs are often prescribed for arrhythmias such as AFib. Examples include diltiazem and verapamil.
Dangers of calcium channel blockers
Although initially effective, calcium channel blockers come with significant dangers. These medications may cause individuals to have a blood pressure or heart rate that is too low, thus resulting in less than ideal distribution of oxygen throughout the body. As a result, people taking CCBs may experience lightheadedness, fatigue, headaches, nausea, and swelling. Moreover, calcium channel blockers often cause significant constipation.
Even more concerning, literature links the use of calcium channel blockers with an increased risk of heart failure and other dangerous cardiovascular conditions. Studies show that in addition to blocking calcium from the cells, CCBs also obstruct the uptake of vitamin C. Vitamin D deficiencies harm artery walls, contributing to atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
The use of calcium channel blockers has also been associated with the following:
- Increased suicide risk
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Increased risk of cancer
Four safe alternatives for calcium channel blockers
In addition to optimizing health through an organic, whole-food-based diet, several supplements can mimic the results of calcium channel blocker use.
Magnesium is often called nature’s calcium channel blocker for the way in which it naturally blocks calcium from entering cells, thus relaxing blood vessels and lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
Moreover, magnesium has potent antiarrhythmic effects, helping to ensure a steady, regular heartbeat. Individuals with magnesium deficiency commonly experience tachycardia, heart palpitations, and other cardiovascular abnormalities.
Unfortunately, most of us are deficient in this essential mineral – even those who consume a healthy, organic diet typically can’t obtain enough magnesium to maintain health. Sadly, modern farming practices have significantly lowered magnesium availability in food.
The vast majority of people need to supplement magnesium to keep levels optimal. There are several forms of magnesium, all of which serve different roles in the body. Magne 5 contains five kinds of magnesium, which, when used in combination, support normal heart rate and rhythm.
Much like magnesium, the average American is deficient in potassium. Declining potassium concentration in food sources, over-consumption of high-sodium processed foods, and certain medications have depleted potassium reserves for 9 out of 10 Americans.
Potassium is vital for maintaining a healthy and consistent heart rate. Not only does it help to keep sodium levels in check, but because of its vagolytic effect, potassium helps to maintain a regular heart rate. When given with magnesium, potassium supplements have been shown to lower dangerously high heart rates.
Moreover, multiple studies have shown potassium to lower blood pressure naturally. Potassium works to counteract the effects of sodium. While conventional medicine has led us to believe that high sodium diets cause high blood pressure, a potassium deficiency is more likely the issue.
Studies show that low potassium levels, also called hypokalemia, may cause calcification and stiffening of the arteries, thus increasing heart rate. A recent New England Journal of Medicine study found that those with the highest potassium levels had a 31 percent lower risk of cardiovascular events than those with the lowest levels.
Potassium Boost, an exclusive potassium and mineral powder supplement, restores optimal potassium levels in the cells, thus lowering heart rate and supporting healthy cardiovascular function. A high heart rate responds well to the formula’s elemental potassium and magnesium.
Berberine, curcumin, and other natural herbs
Mother nature holds the healing cure for nearly all ailments. For example, many natural herbs work to lower blood pressure and regulate the heart.
When it comes to cardiovascular health, berberine is a superstar. Found in plants such as tree turmeric, goldenseal, and European barberry, berberine naturally strengthens the beat of the heart.
Numerous studies have found that berberine protects against high blood pressure, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, and heart arrhythmias. In addition, researchers have found that berberine prevents tachycardia and other arrhythmias.
Berberine, or Berbe, helps to maintain the heart rate within the normal range while simultaneously reducing inflammation, controlling blood sugar, and preventing heart disease.
Curcumin is another excellent herb used in place of calcium channel blockers. Also known as turmeric, this golden spice has been used for centuries to lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health. In addition, curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties and has been proven to increase nitric oxide and improve vascular health.
Curcu Gold is a highly absorbable form of curcumin that helps deliver turmeric’s anti-inflammatory benefits to the cell. Curcu Gold lowers blood pressure and helps support a healthy heartbeat by supporting healthy endothelial function.
Most people know lithium as a medication that treats chemical imbalances in the brain. However, few people know that lithium is an essential naturally-occurring dietary mineral in grains and vegetables. Lithium naturally occurs in the environment and is present on the periodic table. When used in low doses that mimic those found in food and water, lithium serves a vital role in heart health.
Unfortunately, most studies involving lithium’s relationship to the heart involve lithium toxicity due to too much lithium. However, in small doses, such as those in Cardio-Lith supplement, lithium slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure, decreases stress, and calms the sympathetic response.
When the body is out of balance, it alerts us by sending signals to indicate that it needs help. For example, high blood pressure or an elevated heart rate is simply the body’s way of sending an SOS.
While calcium channel blockers may lower blood pressure and settle the heart, at least initially, they fail to address the problem’s underlying cause in the first place.
If you are currently taking a calcium channel blocker, consider talking with one of our experienced health practitioners to see if natural alternatives are a good choice for you.
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