Article by: Dr. Mahesh Annapure M.Sc. D.N. M.D.(A.M.)
Transportation of blood from heart to the different parts of the body, then pulling it back to heart to send it to lungs to get fresh oxygen and so on, is called as blood circulation. Human body contains 1,12,000 km long blood vessels. The functions of the blood vessels are to provide the nutrients and fresh oxygen to all the cells of body and to remove unpurified blood and the wastes from body metabolism .
Human body is having at about 10 Lakh Crore cells. The needs of these cells are supported by the blood. The main part of the blood is a Red Blood Corpuscles (RBCs). In every second 12 Lakh RBCs are degenerated. The life span of RBCs is of 120 days. The formation of new RBCs occurs in the bone marrow. In the whole life of human, the bone marrow produces 100 kg of RBCs. Within the life span of 120 days, these RBCs revolves around the body cells near about 75 thousands times. This happens due to the help of the motor pump of body, we know it as a heart. Heart performs the activity to supply blood to the body cells and collect it back.
From each contraction of the heart 75 ml of blood is forced towards the body. Due to the hearts contraction and relaxation, heart beats are formed. We call it as a Nadi (Pulse). This practice is called as a Nadi parikshana. Many defects and disorders of the body are occurred by the obstructions in the blood vessels, major of it is a Blood Pressure or Heart Attack. In Charaka Sutrasthana, it is denoted as a Raktavaha srotas and explained that the roots of the Raktavaha Srotas are based in the 12 major arteries and veins near the heart.
Symptoms of obstruction in circulation
Symptoms of obstruction in blood circulation
– Shortness of breath
– Irregular heartbeats
– Itchy hands, legs and feet
– High cholesterol and blood pressure
– Swelling of hands and feet
– Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss
– Change in skin temperature like cold hands, feet and fingers
– Numbness or loss of sensation in feet, toes and hands
– Feeling lethargic even after doing small activities like climbing the stairs
– Lack of energy and stamina
– Hair fall and dandruff
– Dry skin, uneven skin tone and blemishes on the skin
– Memory loss or sluggish memory
– Feeling sleepy all the time
– Cramps and headaches
Tips to maintain proper blood circulation:
It includes warm water bath, tub bath, contrast bath (switching between the hot and cold water), steam bath, etc. The therapy of water vapours, targeted towards relaxation, causes vaso-dilatation (widening of the blood vessels) of peripheral blood vessels (arteries and veins in the feet, legs, lower abdomen, arms, neck or head) which in turn, lead to faster and smoother blood circulation.
Smoking is primarily responsible for peripheral vascular diseases (diseases of the blood vessels located outside the heart and brain). It brings about degenerative changes within the blood vessels leading to hardening of arteries and vericose veins, heart attacks, which eventually leads to improper blood circulation.
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to enhance blood circulation. Thirty minutes of regular exercise daily can substantially reduces your risk of various cardiovascular problems. There is an increase in the pumping action of the heart along with an increase in the number of vessels and capillaries. It can take the form of any physical activity like walking, jogging, running, stair climbing, cycling, swimming etc. These exercises have a great potential to improve the blood circulation rate and maintain pulse rate.
Healthy, fats free diet
To live healthy, you must eat healthy by taking healthy diet. Avoid consuming excess of anything especially dairy products, hydrogenated oils etc.
Consume healthy fats such as ghee, omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) that are available in fishes.
Vegetables, fruits, grains
Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Reduce the consumption of sugar and excess salts and add up more of dietary fibers. Improper diet can adversely affect the blood cholesterol levels, which in turn, can result in atherosclerotic changes (plaque build-up in the artery walls which does not allow blood to flow freely). These conditions affect the body’s normal process of blood circulation.
Tomato is a well-known food for blood circulation improvement. It contains lycopene, a compound that prevents plaque buildup, a hindrance to healthy blood flow.
Ginger contains gingeroles and zingerone, the active components that provide a whole range of benefits to the body. It prevents the absorption of cholesterol in the blood and liver. Regular consumption also prevents the clotting of blood in the body. In fact, it is much more effective than aspirin in preventing blood clot formation. Read more about ginger usage
Green tea is rich in antioxidant called epigallocatechin, which improves the health of the cells that forms in the innermost lining of the blood vessels. This helps in the constriction and dilation of the vessels, enhancing the flow of blood. It reduces the formation of bad cholesterol and prevents the rise in blood pressure. Regular consumption also cuts down the risk of heart diseases.
Nuts like almonds and cashews provide high levels of vitamin B3, which boost the blood flow. It dilates the blood vessels, improving the circulation of blood. It also helps to lower low-density lipoprotein in the blood.
Garlic relaxes the blood vessels and interacts with the red blood cells, increasing the production of hydrogen sulfide. Increased production of hydrogen sulfide improves blood circulation. Consuming raw garlic reduces the accumulation of low-density lipo-protein in the blood. It also raises good cholesterol in the blood, keeping the blood pressure within normal limits. It also prevents blood platelet aggregation.
Guggulu or Guggul
Guggul is a plant gum, contains kenotic steroid compounds called Guggulsterones, which reduces the plaque that builds the inner walls of the arteries, causing poor blood flow. It reduces the possibility of platelet aggregation, preventing blood clot formation. Read more about guggulu
Rosemary is one of the great herbal remedies for blood circulation improvement in the body. Fresh rosemary works best, but you can use the dried ones, its extract is taken in small quantity.
Nagfani/ Bansanjali (Hawthorne)
Hawthorne has been used since centuries to treat heart and blood circulation problems. The berries and leaves of Hawthorne plant contain quercetin, a substance that minimizes histamine release. It is also useful for treating blood pressure problems.
– Reduce your coffee and tea intake or cutting down on them may be very beneficial for the body.
– Alcohol can have several detrimental effects on the body. It should be drunk only in moderation.
– Quit smoking in order to lead a healthy life. Smoking increases cholesterol levels, constricts the blood vessels and hardens the arteries.
– Avoid eating foods that contain high amounts of saturated fats. Saturated fats contribute to the buildup of cholesterol deposits or plaque in the arteries, leading to poor circulation.
– In addition, it is also required eliminate refined foods like alcohol, sugar and oily foods. Eliminating these items from your diet will help thin your blood, which will enable it to pass easily through the small blood vessels.
Drink plenty water- and juices
The blood plasma volume is the major determinant of blood pressure and the circulatory functions, plasma makes blood thinner. Dehydration can cause a reduction in the volume of blood through a reduction in the water content of the blood. This further lowers the blood circulation rate.
Make sure you drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated and it also maintains body heat.
The sedentary and lazy lifestyle of today slows down the rate of circulation and causes various health related problems. Switch to a healthy and active lifestyle, get involved in some outdoor activities like social gathering, mass movements, enjoy festivals, carnivals, gardening, dog walking, house keeping or in some recreational sports. Get adequate amount of sleep and learn to cope up with day to day stress. Stress, which causes muscle-tensions, can lead to serious circulation problems and cardiovascular diseases.
Ayurvedic Herbal Remedies
Include herbs like cayenne (a mild form of chili powder), ginger, garlic and in your diet. These herbs have favorable effects on blood circulation. Wild berries, tomatoes and rosemary are known for their effects in regulating and stabilizing blood pressure. Spicy foods also promote good circulation. When you eat spicy food, your body’s temperature is raised; therefore, it increases your blood flow and gets your heart pumping.
Massage facilitates circulation because the pressure created by the massage technique actually moves blood through the congested areas. Massage is one of the ancient and the most effective remedies to improve blood circulation. Massage is not just a relaxation technique but something more than that useful for circulation, The release of this same pressure causes new blood to flow in. Body pain develops on account of reduced oxygen supply to the muscles due to muscle tension, The squeezing and pulling also flushes lactic acid from the muscles and improves the circulation of the lymph fluid which carries metabolic waste away from muscles and internal organs, resulting in lower blood pressure and improved body function. Massage warms the body reliving the blood vessels improving blood circulation.
Yoga for improving blood circulation-
Virabhadrasana – Warrior Pose –
Warrior pose stretches the muscles of arms, shoulders, neck, legs, and groin favoring muscle contraction and relaxation. Such tone up muscles encourages circulation. Furthermore, the joints of the legs, the waist and those of spinal cord and neck get curved exactly in opposite direction, regulating the blood circulation in those joints.
Salamba Sarvangasana – Shoulder Stand –
Shoulder stand is a part of Hatha yoga, where all pressure is exerted on the neck, shoulders and back of the head. As the body remains straight from feet up to shoulder with legs at the 90- degree angle from the floor, blood flows from lower part of the body towards heart for oxygenation. Peculiar shoulder stand position improves supply of fresh blood to the brain, eyes, ears, nose and throat.
Viparita Karani- Leg’s Up Pose –
Inverted body position with leg’s up is just opposite to our normal standing or sitting posture. Gravity effect pushes impure blood from legs and pelvis towards heart and improves circulation.
Uttanpadasana with Both Legs
Vertical position of both legs stretches thigh muscles facilitating blood circulation. In this pose, you raise both legs up without the support of a wall.
Shavasana- Corpse pose –
Shavasana is one of the best relaxing poses, where a body looks like a dead body. Whenever a body is in action, it requires more oxygen, which is gained through increasing circulation. Increased circulation favors increase in respiration.
– While breathing in, the diaphragm, a major respiratory muscle is pulled down. This minimizes the chest pressure and increases abdominal pressure. An increased abdominal pressure compresses the abdominal veins, a type of blood vessels and pushes blood upward in chest and heart.
– While breathing out, the diaphragm reverts back in its normal position, which minimizes abdominal pressure. Reduced abdominal pressure drains blood from both legs toward abdomen and improves venous return to the heart.
Kapalbhati -Skull Shining Breath –
Kapalbhati, a process of deep exhalation and jerky inhalation is another type of breathing useful in maintaining a flow of blood. Peculiar exhalation and inhalation contracts and relax the abdominal muscles and diaphragm.
Unlike in deep breathing, during exhalation, blood is pushed from an abdomen upward in the heart. While in inhalation, the blood from legs drain into abdomen and go to the heart in next round.
Dr. Mahesh Annapure M.Sc. D.N. M.D.(A.M.)