Tag Archives: niacin

Using herbs and natural treatments for circulatory system problems

Generally, the last Thursday of the month, I hold a free lecture series at the local library regarding Herbs, Herbalism, Shamanism, folk medicine, natural and alternative treatments to common health issues.

Last week’s discussion was at the request of one of the participants. Requested was a discussion focused on natural treatments of high cholesterol and high blood pressure problems. I want to share some of the things we discussed.

The Circulatory System

Understanding the basic body mechanics

Blood is the body’s life force.  Blood is needed in every system for the body to survive. Blood carries Vitamin C and E and other necessary nutritional needs and vital oxygen to every cell. Blood also carries out and removes waste material from every cell.  Blood is carried to the cells by way of the circulatory system. The circulatory system consists of a network of veins and arteries and smaller vessels known as capillaries.

Arteries, smaller arterioles and capillaries carry oxygen enriched blood to the cells.  The veins carry waste material away from the cells and back to the heart to be pumped to the lungs to be re-oxygenated. They all work together to complete the circuit.

With that said, we discussed some of the more common medical issues people have with their circulatory system.


Cholesterol is a fatty compound present in the blood to maintain normal structure and function of the cell membrane.  Cholesterol is also important to sheath and protect the nervous system. However, too much cholesterol is not a good thing.  High cholesterol is almost epidemic in Western culture because of our bad eating habits and poor quality food.

 There are two types of Cholesterol

  • High Density Lipid (HDL) considered to be the ‘good cholesterol’.
  • Low Density Lipid (LDL) considered to be the ‘bad cholesterol’ and which is the main cause of arterial plaque build up and narrowing of the artery walls.

The body’s natural cholesterol regulator is Vitamin B3 (Niacin).  Proper daily intake of Vitamin B3 keeps cholesterol in check.

Because of our generally bad ‘SAD’ diets many people are symptomatic of Hypercholesterol – too much fat in the blood and the inability of the body to break down these fats with bile.  When this occurs, we generally take medical advice to reduce the cholesterol by taking medications (other than Vit.  B3) like Statins.  Taking Statins opens us up to a whole bunch of unpleasant side effects.

I recommend treating hyper cholesterol with natural supplements.

Recommended supplements to control High Cholesterol are:

  • Niacin: A time released formula of Vitamin B3 is recommended
  • Fish Oil: High in Omega 3 Essential (short chain) Fatty Acids (EFA)
  • Flax Seed Oil which is high in Lecithin and breaks down fatty proteins.
  • Evening Primrose Oil also high in lecithin drops the LDL
  • Soy Isoflavones: a compound found in Soy products

Hypertension, aka High Blood Pressure:

High blood pressure is known as the silent killer.  Many people have high blood pressure and aren’t even aware of the condition.  High Blood pressure can be caused from a number of different factors. Understanding your own symptoms will determine how you may treat the condition.

High blood pressure is determined by measuring the pressure exerted on the blood vessel walls.  When the heart is contracted and at full ‘pump’, this is known as the systolic pressure.  The pressure measured when the heart is relaxed (between beats) is known as the diastolic pressure.

This gives you an upper (systolic) number and a lower (diastolic) number.  The pressure is measured in millimeters of Mercury by a cuff and gauge called a sphygmomanometer.

Causative factors that will raise the blood pressure are:

  • Narrowing of the blood vessels from age and build up of arterial plaque (hardening of the arteries)
  • Genetic anomalies, i.e.: Family history
  • Stress/ anxiety
  • Chemical imbalances from poor nutrition and supplementation, i.e.: Inadequate Serum Magnesium levels

That brings me to the importance of maintaining a proper blood serum Magnesium level.

The mineral Magnesium is responsible for hundreds of chemical autonomic functions throughout the body’s systems. One of Magnesium’s primary functions is to control the dilation and contraction of blood vessels.

Magnesium must be absorbed every day for proper autonomic functions. Normal magnesium levels are usually provided in the food we drink or eat. But industrial farming methods in this country have depleted Magnesium in the soil over the last 100 years. Most people today are Magnesium deficient because of this and supplementation is almost imperative.

Magnesium is also poorly absorbed when taken in pill/ capsule form. Magnesium is mostly destroyed in the stomach and alimentary system (80%).

Two effective methods of Magnesium supplementation are:

  • Transdermally: absorbing magnesium directly through the skin. One way to do that is by soaking in an Epsom Salt Bath. Epsom salt is 100% Magnesium sulfate. Soaking 20 -30 minutes a day in a warm water bath will absorb enough magnesium to elevate ones serum Mg levels. An alternative to this is just a simple foot soak in warm water with Epsom salt. Magnesium is absorbed directly through the skin on the soles of the feet.(Search article on my web site at Belfirebotanicals.wordpress.com)  ‘Transdermal Magnesium Therapy’.
  • Internally: Another method of Magnesium intake is taking a warm infusion of ‘Harmonic Tea’

Harmonic tea is formulated to support the Musculoskeletal system and also the nervous system.

My recipe for this amazing tea is:

2 parts Oat Straw

1 part Red Clover herb and flower tops

1 part Nettle leaf

1 part Comfrey leaf

1 part Hibiscus flowers

Blend herbs. Add 1 TBS of the herb mixture to 1 cup of hot water. Steep 10 – 15 minutes.  Sweeten as desired.


These are some of the herbs you may use to help deal with your own issues of the circulatory system.

Cayenne Pepper, aka African Bird Pepper

  • It is warming to the system, improves blood flow, acts as a vasodilator


  • Metabolic stimulant, natural blood thinner, inhibits blood platelet aggregation.

Bilberry – Vacinnum myrtylis, aka Blueberry

  • Improves vascular integrity especially in small blood vessels and coronary arteries and also helps repair small blood vessels especially around the heart and the middle ear.

Devil’s Claw – Harpogophytum Procumbens, an African Orchid

  • Softens / removes arterial plaque, tones the vascular wall, great anti-inflammatory.

Oat Straw

  • Strengthens the arterial wall

Rosemary – Rosemary officianalis

  • Warming, stimulates and tones the ‘myocardium’ heart muscle

Eleuthro – Eleuthro Senticoccis, Siberian Ginseng

  • Improves and tones the entire circulatory system, improves the body’s ability to withstand heat and cold.

Gingko Biloba

  • Improves vascular integrity, repairs small blood vessels, capillaries, especially around the heart (coronary arteries) eyes and ears.



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Niacin aka Vitamin B3 for Cholesterol Control

I was mentioning to a friend the other day that the best way to regulate cholesterol in your blood is through Niacin, aka Vitamin B3.

Your body needs Cholesterol, but as with all things in life, sometimes too much is a bad thing.  Niacin regulates cholesterol.  That’s what it does. That’s its job.  Niacin raises the HDL (Good) cholesterol and reduces the LDL (Bad) Cholesterol.  Fat free regulated diets are not the answer to controlling your blood cholesterol levels.

You need good cholesterol for proper brain function. It also helps protect you from stroke, heart disease and nerve damage. Good cholesterol is also necessary for proper metabolic function.  One of the side effects of Niacin is a strong is a warm, tingling flushed feeling in the face, neck and ears.  Try Timed Release Niacin Capsules to help bring down your LDL for about 4 -6 weeks. The timed-release helps prevent those hot flashes or body flushing. 

If you need further supplementation, I recommend that you take one of the following daily:  1 tsp Cinnamon (In your tea/ coffee, on toast, etc.); Garlic (with parsley) as tolerated; or Apple Cider Vinegar (1 shot glass a day mixed with juice or water is fine). These natural, healthful ingredients included in your daily routine will help reduce problems surrounding High Blood Cholesterol levels and the diseases they can bring about.  Another natural alternative is to include Flax seeds in your daily diet, (I take mine as 1 TBSP Flax Seeds with yogurt every day for lunch).  Flax seeds are loaded with Lecithin, Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids and will drop your bad cholesterol over time.  Flax Seeds/Flax Oil and Cultured Yogurt also helps to maintain healthy intestinal flora and good digestive health.  So they will do double duty for you if included in your everyday regimen.

Little subtle changes in the daily diet can make a big difference for you to get the hell off those nasty Statin Drugs.  For more info read the following article by Keri Knox, RN.

The TinMan


*article reprinted with permission of Ms. Knox*

Niacin Increases Good Cholesterol

by Kerri Knox, RN, citizen journalist (Natural News)

In the past decade doctors have declared an all out war on the high cholesterol levels by prescribing cholesterol lowering ‘statin’ drugs that have dubious safety records. What’s not talked about very much, though, is that humans actually NEED cholesterol for good health. Interestingly, there are different types of cholesterol: ‘bad’ cholesterol that may be an overall contributor to the arterial plaque that doctors are so concerned about, and ‘good’ cholesterol that is an overall contributor to good health. What’s talked about even LESS is the fact that niacin, one of the B complex vitamins, is well known as THE most effective way to improve cholesterol levels by INCREASING cholesterol levels- in a good way.

High Density Lipoproteins, known as HDL’s, are the healthy cholesterol particles that are measured as a part of the total cholesterol level. While doctors generally say that high cholesterol levels are ‘bad’, nearly all health professionals and cholesterol researchers agree that high levels of HDL’s are actually quite good and tend to be protective against heart disease, stroke and other chronic illnesses. This fact is not discussed much by the media or by doctors, however, because there is no financial incentive to educate people about HDL cholesterol when the only good ways to raise levels is with diet, exercise- and niacin.

Niacin, also called nicotinic acid and Vitamin B3, is an extremely common and inexpensive over-the-counter B vitamin that is present in small amounts in nearly all multivitamin preparations. In higher doses, however, niacin has been shown to be a formidable weapon in the war to RAISE the right kind of cholesterol. It’s so effective that, in a rare harmony of opinion about a natural substance, the Mayo Clinic, the ‘New England Journal of Medicine’ and the ‘Atherosclerosis Journal’ all agree that niacin is, “the most effective drug available for raising HDL cholesterol.”

That isn’t niacin’s only health benefit; it’s also been shown to reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol, thin the blood and improve blood flow to the heart: each of which independently has been shown to be an important part of preventing and even treating heart disease. The short acting over-the-counter supplemental niacin, however, has one significant flaw- while extremely safe, it creates an uncomfortable, but harmless and temporary problem of skin flushing and itching. In answer to this inherent problem with niacin, Big Pharma created a long-acting niacin preparation called Niaspan that, while greatly decreasing the flushing that occurs, actually increases the incidence of liver problems. With a slap in the face to the supplement industry, the less safe drug Niaspan is allowed to make a ‘Qualified Health Claim’ for reducing cholesterol while the supplement industry is NOT allowed to make the same claim about safer over-the-counter niacin! In any case, even though your doctor isn’t likely to tell you about it, niacin is an incredibly safe over-the-counter supplement that has an amazing ability to increase the good HDL cholesterol levels that we all need for good health- just watch out for the flushing.



About the author

Kerri Knox, RN is a Registered Nurse and Functional Medicine Practitioner.
With over 14 years of experience in health care, she has the unique perspective of being solidly grounded in Conventional Medicine and being well versed in Alternative Medicine.
She can help you to to find and repair the UNDERLYING CAUSES of illness using cutting edge in home lab testing that finds nutritional deficiencies, hidden infections and chemical and metal toxicities that contribute to ill health.
She can be reached through her websites at:
Easy Immune System Health.com
Side Effects Site

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