Congestive Heart Failure: Natural Remedies To Save Your Life
…reduced by taking L-carnitine supplements.5 L-carnitine is a natural substance made from the amino acids, lysine and methionine. Levels of L-carnitine are low in people with CHF; therefore, many doctors recommend that those with CHF take 500 mg of L-carnitine two to three times per day.
Most L-carnitine/CHF research has used a modified form of the supplement called propionyl-L-carnitine (PC). In one double-blind trial, people using 500 mg of PC per day had a 26% increase in exercise capacity after six months. In
double-blind research, other indices of heart function have also improved after taking 1 gram of PC twice per day. It remains unclear whether propionyl-L-carnitine has unique advantages over L-carnitine, as limited
research in animals and humans has also shown very promising effects of the more common L-carnitine.
Magnesium deficiency frequently occurs in people with CHF, and such a deficiency may lead to heart arrhythmias. Magnesium supplements have reduced the risk of these arrhythmias.10 People with CHF are often given drugs
that deplete both magnesium and potassium; a deficiency of either of these minerals may lead to an arrhythmia.11 Many doctors suggest magnesium supplements of 300 mg per day.
Whole fruit and fruit and vegetable juice, which are high in potassium, are also recommended by some doctors. One study showed that elderly men who consumed food prepared with potassium-enriched salt (containing about half potassium chloride and half sodium chloride) had a 70% reduction in deaths due to heartfailure and a significant reduction in medical costs for cardiovascular disease, when compared with men who continued to use regular salt.12 While increasing potassium intake can be beneficial for heart patients, this dietary change should be discussed with a healthcare provider, because several drugs given to people with CHF may actually cause retention of potassium, making dietary potassium, even from fruit, dangerous.
Taurine, an amino acid, helps increase the force and effectiveness of heart-muscle contractions. Research (some double-blind) has shown that taurine helps people with CHF.13 14 15 16 Most doctors suggest taking 2 grams three times per day.
As is true for several other heart conditions, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) has been reported to help people with CHF,17 18 sometimes dramatically.19 Positive effects have been confirmed in double-blind research20 and in an overall analysis of eight controlled trials.21 However, some double-blind trials have reported modest22 or no improvement23 24 25 in exercise capacity or overall quality of life. Most CoQ10 research used 90–200 mg per day. The beneficial effects of CoQ10 may not be seen until after several months of treatment. Discontinuation of CoQ10 supplementation in people with CHF has resulted in severe relapses and should only be attempted under the supervision of a doctor.
The body needs arginine, another amino acid, to make nitric oxide, which increases blood flow. This process is impaired in people with CHF. Arginine supplementation (5.6–12.6 grams per day) has been used successfully in double-blind trials to treat CHF.27 A double-blind trial has also found that arginine supplementation (5 grams three times daily) improves kidney function in people with CHF.28
For people with congestive heart failure, intravenous injections of creatine have been found to improve heart function; oral supplementation has not been effective, though it does improve skeletal muscle function.29 30
In a preliminary study, blood levels of DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) were found to be lower in people with CHF than in people without the disease. The lowered blood levels of DHEA among these people was proportional to the severity
of their disease.31 However, there is no evidence that DHEA supplementation can prevent or reverse CHF.
In a double-blind study of people with established heart disease or diabetes, participants who took 400 IU of vitamin E per day for an average of 4.5 years developed heart failure significantly more often than did those taking a placebo.32 Hospitalizations for heart failure occurred in 5.8% of those in the vitamin E group, compared with 4.2% of those in the placebo group, a 38.1% increase. Considering that some other studies have shown a beneficial effect of
vitamin E against heart disease, the results of this study are difficult to interpret. Nevertheless, individuals with heart disease or diabetes should consult their doctor before taking vitamin E.
Are there any side effects or interactions?Refer to the individual supplement for information about any side effects or interactions.
Herbs that may be helpful
Berberine is used in Asia to treat congestive heart failure. In a double-blind trial, supplementation with berberine (300 to 500 mg, four times per day) for eight weeks significantly improved heart function andexercise capacity and reduced the frequency of arrhythmias in people withcongestive