Natural Remedies To Treat Tachycardia: Calm That Heart Beat At Home
Natural Remedies To Treat Tachycardia
Tachycardia is a condition in which the heart's rhythm becomes abnormally fast. Other than medical remedies, there are a few natural methods that can help manage tachycardia. These include practicing vagal maneuvers that stimulate the vagus nerve; dealing with anxiety and stress by practicing meditation, progressive relaxation, and body scanning; using herbal remedies like motherwort, passion flower, oats, and valerian; and cutting down on caffeine, alcohol, and smoking.
Any problem with your heart’s rhythm can be quite worrisome. When your heart beats abnormally fast, say at over 100 beats per minute, the condition is called tachycardia. This typically happens when the normal electrical pathways of your heart get disturbed. Strangely enough, many people don’t experience any symptoms when their heart starts beating too rapidly. And if they do, the symptoms may include palpitations, fatigue, dizziness, chest pain, and shortness of breath. A severe case of tachycardia can even result in a heart attack too, so it’s vital to stop it in its tracks.1
Tachycardia may be caused by factors such as heart conditions, high blood pressure, anemia, hyperthyroidism, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, excessive consumption of alcohol or caffeine, and smoking, to name a few. Treatment for tachycardia varies according to its cause. For instance, your doctor may prescribe medication, surgery, or electrical cardioversion (surgery) for cardiac conditions, while hyperthyroidism or pneumonia may be treated with medicines. In certain cases, natural remedies may also be used to deal with tachycardia. But remember, you must keep your doctor informed about using any natural remedy to tackle your abnormal heartbeat.
1. Try Vagal Maneuvres
Vagal maneuvers are techniques designed to stimulate the vagus nerve. Your vagus nerve runs from your brainstem, through the neck, to both sides of your chest and abdomen and carries messages from your brain to major organs like the lungs, heart, and intestines. It also conveys messages to those areas of the brain that control sleep and mood, among other functions.2 You can decrease the rate of electrical impulses by stimulating this nerve and end episodes of tachycardia.
The Valsalva maneuver is one of the principal vagal maneuvers. There’s no standard way of performing this maneuver but a popular method involves exhaling hard with your mouth shut. Simultaneously, close your nose with your hand while straining as though you were trying to evacuate your bowels.3
The Dive Reflex
A simple way of stopping an episode of tachycardia involves plunging your face into a bowl of cold water. This has an effect similar to the Valsalva maneuver.4
Carotid Sinus Massage
A carotid sinus massage is another way of stimulating the vagus nerve. During this, a part of your neck known as the carotid sinus is massaged to stimulate the vagus nerve. However, this should not be attempted at home as it is associated with a risk of lung or heart injury and stroke due to blood clots. Let your doctor decide if this method will help stop your tachycardia.5
2. Deal With Anxiety And Stress
Stress and anxiety can sometimes trigger an abnormal heart rhythm. Learning healthy ways of managing stress may help in dealing with tachycardia. Here are some useful tips:
Rather than choosing just one technique, experts recommend sampling several to see which one works best for you. Try to practice these techniques for at least 20 minutes a day, although even just a few minutes can help. The longer and more often you practice these relaxation techniques, the greater the benefits, and the more you can reduce stress.
Practice Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is a simple technique that helps you relax. All you need to do is inhale slowly till your stomach expands, hold that breath for a brief moment, and then exhale slowly. Also try to focus on your breath and disengage from thoughts that crowd your mind while you do this exercise. Do keep in mind though that this relaxation technique may not be suited for people who have respiratory problems.6
The practice of meditation involves bringing your attention to the present moment. Focusing on your breath, on an object like a candle flame, or chanting a mantra can help you do this. Keep your mind on the present moment without letting it wander into thoughts of the past or future. But don’t judge thoughts that come to your mind either – let them go and gently bring your mind back to the present.7
Try Progressive Relaxation
Progressive relaxation is another simple relaxation technique. In this, you tighten your muscle groups one by one for a few moments and then relax them. Start with your toes and go up your body.8
Practice Body Scanning
Body scanning is essentially a blend of breath focus and progressive muscle relaxation. Here you practice deep breathing, also referred to as belly or abdominal breathing, for a few minutes and follow that by focusing on a group of muscles and release any tension in that area mentally.9
Try Guided Imagery
While practicing guided imagery you visualize soothing places, scenes, or experiences that help you relax. You can find apps and sites that provide soothing scenes but if you pick one of those, make sure it has some personal significance for you and that you find it calming.10
A good night’s sleep is not only essential for health but can also help you keep a clear head and handle problems without getting too stressed. On average, an adult needs around 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep.11
Make Time For Friends And Family
Connecting with loved ones can help you forget stress and feel better. Talk to a friend if you’re feeling overwhelmed and need to blow off some steam.12
Deliberately avoid sources of stress. For instance, if family conflicts come up during the holidays, take a break by going for a walk. Or if you’re overloaded at work, ask for help or learn to say “no.”13
3. Make Lifestyle Changes: Cut Alcohol, Smoking, Caffeine And Get Rest
Sometimes episodes of tachycardia can be triggered by lifestyle factors like smoking, tiredness, or consuming excessive amounts of alcohol or caffeine. Controlling these factors can be helpful.
Cut Down On Alcohol
There is a link between consuming excessive amounts of alcohol and high blood pressure. Binge drinking can trigger an irregular heart rhythm.14 If you have a problem with alcoholism, talk to your doctor. You can consider options like medication, counseling, support groups etc. as part of treatment.15
Cut Down On Caffeine
Excessive amounts of caffeine can quicken your heartbeat too. Most people can consume about 400 mg of caffeine in a day without problems. But if you’re indulging in too much caffeine, it would be wise to cut down. One cup of coffee (8 ounces) contains around 95–200 mg of caffeine while a cup of tea has around 14–60 mg.16
Smoking is a major cause of heart disease and heart attacks. Quitting can lower your risk of these conditions, reduce fats and cholesterol in your blood, as well as lead to an almost immediate drop in heart rate and blood pressure. Counseling combined with nicotine replacement therapy can help you if you’re trying to quit.17
Get Enough Rest
Tachycardia episodes can sometimes be triggered by tiredness. Making sure you have time to relax and get sufficient rest may lower your chance of having an episode.18
4. Balance Your Electrolytes And Eat Healthy
An unhealthy or unbalanced diet can cause electrolyte imbalances like low potassium levels, which in turn can affect your heart’s rhythm. Electrolytes found naturally in your body include minerals like calcium, potassium, sodium, and magnesium. They keep your body’s fluids balanced and also help maintain functions like muscle contraction and heart rhythm. Certain diets that are liquid based or high in protein can throw them off. Speak to your doctor if you’re going on a diet to make sure that it’s healthy for you. Do keep in mind though that health issues like endocrine diseases, diarrhea, or chronic kidney or heart disease can also cause electrolyte imbalances.19 Correcting electrolyte imbalances with a proper diet, taking an oral rehydration solution etc. can be helpful if your tachycardia is caused by it.
Also be sure to eat a balanced diet and stock up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products. And cut down on foods rich in unhealthy fats and sugar.20
5. Try These Herbal Remedies: Motherwort, Oats, Passion Flower, And Valerian
Certain herbal remedies have been traditionally used to deal with heart palpitations, particularly when the condition is associated with anxiety. An expert naturopath can guide you on dosages and ways of prepping the herbs.
With tachycardia, however, it is important to determine the cause of your abnormal rhythm first. Any remedy that addresses the abnormal rhythm without tackling the underlying cause can prove to be harmful in the long run. Also, keep in mind that herbs can interact with medications and have other side effects too, so speak to your doctor before using them.
Some herbs used to treat tachycardia include:
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)
Motherwort has been traditionally used to deal with heart palpitations, especially when associated with anxiety. Alkaloids present in it can calm the nervous system. However, this herb may cause side effects like stomach irritation, diarrhea, or uterine bleeding in some. It is also not suitable during pregnancy.21
Oats have traditionally been used as a “nerve tonic” to deal with anxiety. Alkaloids present in it are thought to be responsible for its relaxing action.22
Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata)
Passion flower is another herbal remedy that promotes relaxation and has anti-anxiety properties. Flavonoids present in it may account for these properties.23
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Valerian root is well known for its sedative properties and is also used to deal with a rapid heartbeat. Research indicates that valerian may bind to GABA-A receptors which regulate sedation. This could be why they have sedative effects and help people deal better with stress.24 25
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Tachycardia. Health Direct.|
|2.||↑||Brain Stimulation Therapies. National Institutes of Health (NIH).|
|3, 4, 5, 18.||↑||Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) – Treatment. National Health Service.|
|6, 8.||↑||Relaxation techniques for stress. National Institutes of Health.|
|7.||↑||Relaxation techniques for stress. National Institutes of Health.|
|9, 10.||↑||Six relaxation techniques to reduce stress. Harvard Health Publications.|
|11, 12, 13, 20.||↑||Learn to manage stress. NIH.|
|14.||↑||Effects of alcohol on your heart. British Heart Foundation.|
|15.||↑||Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse. NIH.|
|17.||↑||Benefits of Quitting. NIH.|
|19.||↑||Ventricular Tachycardia. HealthLink BC.|
|21.||↑||Motherwort. University of Michigan.|
|22.||↑||Oats. University of Michigan.|
|23.||↑||Passion Flower. University of Michigan.|
|24.||↑||Valerian. University of Michigan.|
|25.||↑||Gladstar, Rosemary. Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family. Storey Publishing, 2008.|
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.