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Blood vessels

General characteristics

General characteristics

The blood vessels are a network of veins, arteries and capillaries that transport blood around the entire body. The arteries are the first to receive nutrient rich blood from the heart which then flows into the capillaries, deposits the nutrients and picks up the waste, which then flows into the veins and back to the heart.
The arteries carry oxygenated blood that has just been pumped from the heart out into the network of smaller vessels to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and cells via the tiny capillaries. The pressure in the arteries is high as the blood is forced out from the heart and exerts its force on the inner artery walls. The diameter of the arterial vessels becomes narrower as they reach the tiny capillaries . Arteries are made up of thick, strong, elastic muscular walls which help to pump the blood along and have a very smooth inner lining surface to provide minimum resistance to blood flow.
Problems in the arteries can occur when the lining starts to develop a sticky, plaque like coating on their inner surfaces. This begins to stiffen or 'harden' the arterial walls leading to an increase in blood pressure and slower blood flow which can present as a variety of cardiovascular diseases.
The capillaries are very delicate vessels that are only one cell in thickness and it is from them that the oxygen and nutrients pass into the cells whilst carbon dioxide and waste products pass from the cells back into the capillaries.
The veins carry de-oxygenated blood and other wastes from the capillaries and take it back into the heart (via the lungs) to begin the journey once again. The pressure in the veins is much less as the veins fill more slowly with blood. Veins are quite different in structure to arteries, they have thinner layers with no muscle in their walls. They need to carry blood full of waste products 'uphill' so to speak so have a series of one way valves inside them which encourages the blood flow to progress towards the heart in small steps (with the aid of nearby muscle contractions) and also prevent the blood from running backwards.
Problems in the veins occur when blood pools in a section of the vein due to a malfunction of some of the valves. The healthy valves won't allow blood to flow backwards so blood collects and cannot be moved upwards and onwards and waste rich blood remains in one area. The delicate vein walls become stretched and distended leading to the appearance of raised blue varicose veins in the leg for example and can become very painful.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Prevention as always is better than cure so ensure your diet is based around fresh fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, seeds and nuts and juices, herb teas and water.

Fibre is incredibly useful for keeping cholesterol balance in check. It also helps reduce existing plaque build up and prevent it from forming in the first place.

Apples are full of pectin which both prevents and helps dissolve arterial plaques. They also have a cholesterol balancing effect which means they remove unhealthy fats from the system.

Buckwheat contains rutin which is a substance that strengthens all the blood vessels and therefore prevents them from rupturing and bulging. Use it as a grain in soups, in muesli or as a flour for baking.

Avoid processed foods, junky snacks, highly sugary foods and anything with hydrogenated fats or oils. These foods are very damaging over time and contribute greatly to the laying down of sludgy layers on the inner linings of arteries which then harden.

Eat plenty of garlic (thins blood, dissolves plaque), onions, ginger and all the other culinary herbs and spices like turmeric, basil, coriander, parsley. Use them in all your cooking for their flavour and health giving properties.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Drink buckwheat tea daily to keep vessels strong and flexible.
A tea made from equal parts of nettle, alfalfa, oatstraw, ginkgo, hawthorn berries and flowers will help to dilate the vessels, keep the blood flowing, start to dissolve plaque build up and lower unhealthy fat levels in the blood. Drink at least 1 cup daily as a preventative or 3 cups daily if you have hardened arteries or other cardiovascular problems.
Cayenne has a powerful regulatory effect on the entire cardiovascular system. It strengthens the vessels themselves and improves circulation. Start by taking a pinch of cayenne powder in a little water or juice and increase gradually to a teaspoon daily.
Berries, such as elderberries, are rich in bio-flavanoids which help to strengthen blood vessel walls so include plenty in your diet and herb teas.
Crampbark is very good at relaxing and dilating the arterial vessels and so increasing blood flow and lowering blood pressure,

Natural healing

Natural healing

Regular moderate exercise such as walking or swimming is vital to keep the blood flow circulating well and will improve the condition of bulging or weakened veins.
Avoid smoking.
Serrapeptase is a natural product made from a digestive enzyme present in silkworms. It is known to dissolve any non-living tissue such as plaque deposits, blood clots and cysts and will also shrink varicose veins.

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