Herbal medicines have been effectively used for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases for many years. Herbs such as Convallaria (Lily of the Valley) root and Crataegus (Hawthorne) have shown significant benefits as adjunctive or stand alone therapies for the treatment of cardiac disorders such as arrhythmia, mitral valve prolapse and shortness of breath. Convallaria has been used for the treatment of congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy, whereas Crataegus contains flavonoids with anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and protective cardiac effects. Crataegus functions as a natural angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor, and it is therefore beneficial for the treatment of hypertension. Convallaria and Crataegus have been used in combination with other herbal remedies such as Selenocereus (Night Blooming Cereus), Leonorus (Motherwort), Melissa (Lemon Balm), Lepidium (Maca), and Ginkgo (Ginkgo). Convallaria may interact with digoxin and should not be used during pregnancy, whereas Crataegus is a safe herb when used as indicated. Although accidental poisoning resulting from the ingestion of Convallaria has been reported, toxicity from this medicinal herb is rare because of its poor absorption and short half life. Studies have shown that at the appropriate doses, Convallaria and Crataegus are safe and effective alternative treatments for the management of cardiac dysfunction.
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