Congestive Heart Failure

A common syndrome that may be caused by many different etiologies whose clinical manifestations reflect a fundamental abnormality – a decrease in the myocardial contractile state such that cardiac output is inadequate for the body’s needs.


Congestive heart failure describes a problem where the heart is functioning inadequately as a
pump. This leads to a range of problems but most of the symptoms result from the congestion that develops in the lungs or backup pressure of blood in the veins of the body. Thus dyspnoea and edema will result. Orthodox medicine’s approach to heart failure is based upon the successful use of cardiac glycosides remedies such as Foxglove.

It would be inappropriate in a correspondence course format to explore
the use of cardio-active remedies in practice. As dramatically effective as they are, the key to safe and successful usage is skilled diagnosis and interpretation. Without this skill (unteachable in this format) these plants are potentially extremely poisonous. The non-cardioactive approach described here will prove effective in a number of situations:

  • to support the work of the medication the patient may be on, but notreplace it.

  • for patients with mild heart failure that does not warrant the use of stronger medication. This is especially the case in the elderly who have chronic CHF.



Actions indicated for the processes behind this disease

Cardio-actives will be the core for the treatment of such problems butare best prescribed by skilled diagnosticians who can follow
the changes brought about in the heart & its functioning.

Cardiac Tonics will aid any allopathically prescribed cardiacglycosides.

Peripheral Vaso-dilators may be indicated and will help generalized circulation in the face of the heart disease.

Hypotensives are often appropriate because of associated hypertension.

Diuretics ease the water retention problems. Cardio-actives diuretics
are often used. Replacement of flushed out potassium is essential.

Nervines will ease the stress component, either causal or a result of the heart disease.

System support

As this all too common malady is usually a result of degenerative processes, it may be accompanied by any of the plethora of conditions that may manifest the aging process. Tonic support is called for the CV and respiratory systems,
but beyond that the specifics will depend upon the individual concerned.

Specific Remedies

As the primary cardio-actives are often out of the range of what can be safely used by the herbalist can do in practice, we shall not used Lily of the Valley or its equivalents in this suggested prescription. Our aim is to either strengthen the heart muscle or support the work of all opathically prescribed cardiac glycosides.
Hawthorn, Linden Blossom and Garlic are essential.

One possible prescription:


Hawthorn — 3 parts
Ginkgo — 1 part
Linden Blossom — 1 part
Dandelion leaf — 1 part
Motherwort — 1 part
Cramp Bark — 1 part
Valerian — 1 part
to 2.5ml of tincture combination 3 times a day
Garlic should be used as a dietary supplement.

Broader Context of Treatment

The dietary and life-style issues already discussed in this chapter on the cardiovascular system all apply for congestive heart failure. Please refer to Hypertension, Arteriosclerosis and the opening sections.

David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH Written by David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH

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