Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death in the United States. Over 71 million Americans currently suffer from some form of heart disease, and one million people die every year despite access to an extensive array of modern drugs and surgical procedures. The situation in developing countries is much worse, as the high expense of advanced Western medical options severely restricts patient access to many contemporary treatments.
China has seen positive results in the modernization of Chinese medicinal formulas based on traditional theories about restoration and improvement of heart function.
In particular, one adaptogenic, pharmacologically active Chinese herbal formula, which was developed over a ten-year period by a team of leading medical researchers at China’s National Institute of Science has been shown to alleviate myocardial damage induced by anoxia (lack of oxygen) and ischemia (lack of blood flow) to heart tissues.
In addition to nourishing heart tissues and enhancing hemodynamics (literally “blood dynamics”) this formula has been shown to improve the physical characteristics of blood cells while supporting blood flow to the heart. It has also been shown to be safe for regular use, exhibiting virtually no toxic effects in large and extended doses.
Heart Disease Taking Toll
The lack of affordable treatments for heart disease posed serious problems for China in the early 1980s. The country was in the midst of an intense period of modernization as millions of rural workers abandoned their traditional farms to work in newly built factories and industrial parks. An unintended consequence of this unprecedented migration was that, as workers left behind their traditional life-styles, they also gave up their traditional foods and adopted a Westernized diet high in calories, saturated fats and processed sugars. Not surprisingly the outcome of this shift in dietary habits was a sudden surge in the incidence of heart disease, and by 1989 a staggering 12 million people were dying from heart disease every year.
To cope with the crisis, in 1989 Chinese health authorities drafted a team of leading scientists from the prestigious National Academy of Science in Beijing and commissioned them to develop a natural, inexpensive and non-intrusive solution for heart disease. After a decade of intense research, the team introduced this astragalus and rehmannia extract-based herbal formula based on traditional Chinese theories of restoration and improvement of heart function. After passing a series of stringent animal and human trials, the formula was certified by the Academy of Sciences in 1999 for use in hospitals as a primary treatment for a variety of cardiac disorders, including chronic congestive heart failure.
Following its approval, ongoing clinical trials across China continued to demonstrate its statistically significant results. In particular, the formula was found to alleviate myocardial damage induced by anoxia (lack of oxygen) and ischemia (lack of blood flow) to heart tissues by lowering rates of lipid peroxidation and increasing endogenous levels of sodium oxide dismutase (SOD).
The astragalus and rehmannia-based formula was also found to reduce pulmonary arterial blood pressure, improve microcirculation, enhance cardiac output and reduce clinical symptoms such as high blood pressure, shortness of breath, angina, palpitations and dizziness.
1. Phase 2 Clinical Trial on 304 Cases of Myocardial Damage
Researchers treated 304 patients previously diagnosed with myocardial damage and cardiac insufficiency. After receiving an adaptogenic, pharmacologic Chinese herbal formula for a period of six weeks, 100 patients (30%) were shown to be free of previous clinical symptoms, including angina, arrhythmia, dizziness and shortness of breath. The study authors noted that electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) scores for this group had returned to normal (healthy) values.
An additional 189 subjects from the same study (62%) showed signs of significant benefits, including improvements in one or more symptoms and/or significant improvements in ECG/EKG scores. Of the total of 304 subjects receiving this advanced herbal cardio-formula, only 15 patients (less than 4%) failed to show signs of improvement. Put in perspective, 95% of all participants experienced significant improvement after only six weeks of treatment.
In summarizing their findings the study authors noted that the formula’s surprising ability to enhance blood SOD activity and reduce plasma LPO concentrations made it “an effective agent for improving and restoring myocardial functions.” Noting its ability to reduce pulmonary arterial pressure and pulmonary capillary wedge pressure, the researchers concluded the formula “…can be safely used for myocardial damage caused by various organic cardiopathies.”
2. Clinical Treatment of 52 Cases of Myocardial Ischemia
Myocardial ischemia occurs when blood flow to heart tissues is impaired, reducing the supply of oxygen and damaging heart tissues. The condition is usually caused by coronary artery disease. Animal experiments had previously shown that this pharmacologically active Chinese herbal formula may improve cases of myocardial ischemia by restoring myocardial microcirculation, enhancing myocardial metabolism, raising serum levels of glutathione, and stimulating oxidation-reduction to reduce free radical damage to protect heart tissues and promote resistance to damage.
In this study researchers treated 52 patients diagnosed with myocardial ischemia. After four weeks of treatment with this astragalus and rehmannia extract-based herbal formula, the researchers noted improvements in clinical symptoms in 87% of the patients and improved electrocardiogram scores in 42% the patients.
3. Hemodynamic Effects in Patients with Congestive Heart Failure
Researchers measured the hemodynamic effects of the herbal formula on 32 patients diagnosed with congestive heart failure (CHF). Baseline readings of heart rate, blood pressure, mean right atrial pressure (MRAP), mean pulmonary arterial pressure (MPAP), pulmonary wedge pressure (PWP) and cardiac index (CI) readings were measured at the start of the study and again every hour for eight hours following treatment.
The study revealed that the Chinese cardio-formula reduced mean right atrial pressure (MRAP) and pulmonary wedge pressure (PWP), and improved the cardiac index (CI) (P<0.05) for a period of 4 hours after intake.
4. Improved Plasma Viscosity in 105 Patients with Coronary Artery Disease
Researchers measured the formula’s therapeutic effect on plasma viscosity levels in 105 patients diagnosed with coronary artery disease. After 40 days of treatment, all patients showed statistically significant decreases in plasma viscosity. Importantly, the subgroup of patients with elevated blood viscosity also showed statistically significant decreases in plasma viscosity. The study authors concluded, “Our results indicate that administration of this herbal blend can decrease plasma viscosity and reduce the impact of this contributing factor on the progression of coronary heart disease and eventual heart infarction.”
5. Clinical Effects on 119 Cases Of Myocardial Damage
Researchers from the Cardiac Medicine Department of First Medical College, Xi’an, conducted a clinical trial on 119 patients diagnosed with coronary artery disease and myocardial damage caused by other organic heart disease. The subjects, 65 males and 54 females, received a pharmacologically active Chinese herbal formula three times daily for a period of six weeks. The study outcome showed that it improved blood supply and oxygen delivery to heart tissues, thereby reducing symptoms such as angina and shortness of breath while improving electrocardiograms (i.e., improved S-T segment depression, T wave flatness and inversion).
6. Treatment of 54 Patients with Myocardial Damage
Researchers at Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine treated 54 patients hospitalized with myocardial damage caused by coronary artery disease. Patients were treated with astragalus and rehmannia extract-based herbal formula for a period of six weeks. At the conclusion of the trial 22 subjects were diagnosed as recovered (i.e. clinical symptoms fully resolved and electrocardiogram S-T segments and T waves returned to normal). An additional 27 cases were deemed effective (i.e. symptoms were partially improved, accompanied by improvement or normalization of S-T segments and/or T waves). The total effective power for subjects receiving the herbal formula was 90%. Clinical measurements also revealed increased SOD activity in red cells reduced LPO in plasma, and normalized blood pressure levels.
The study authors report that their findings indicate that pharmacologically active, astragalus and rehmannia extract-based herbal formulas may be effective treatment for myocardial ischemia and is superior to propranolol, as demonstrated by the clearance of symptoms and improved EKG scores. These formulas were found to benefit myocardial ischemia and myocardial damage from many types of heart disease, including myocarditis and coronary artery disease. In addition to being superior to propranolol for relieving clinical symptoms and improving ECG/ EKG readings, Chinese herbal formulas like those studied have been determined to be free of side effects.