Healing From Myocarditis: Could Astragalus or Ashwagandha Be Helpful?
by Nils Osmar. November 12, 2022. Medical Disclaimer
This article is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. I’m not advocating or advising that people follow any particular protocol, eat any particular diet, or take any particular supplements or medications. All supplements and medications can have side effects; I would encourage people to research both possible benefits and side effects and consult with their doctors before starting on any regimen. See full Medical Disclaimer
Myocarditis is definied as “inflammation of the heart muscle (myocardium).
This inflammation can reduce the heart’s ability to pump blood, and has numerous causes. One cause, according to Johns Hopkins University, is infection from viruses. A recent article on their website states:
Myocarditis is rare, but when it occurs, it is most commonly caused by an infection in the body. Infections from viruses (most common, including those that cause the common cold, influenza or COVID-19), bacteria, fungus or parasites can lead to myocardial inflammation.
Another cause (for some people, in some cases) may be the mRNA vaccines intended to be protective against Covid.
From an article in The Lancet
According to an article in The Lancet: COVID-19 mRNA vaccination and myocarditis or pericarditis:
Vaccination against COVID-19 provides clear public health benefits, but vaccination also carries potential risks. The risks and outcomes of myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccination are unclear…
Notably, the new study uses data from four health plan databases, covering more than 100 million individuals. Of these, 15 148 369 were aged 18–64 years and registered to have received a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine (53·1% male and 13·0% aged 18–25 years). Similar to previous studies, Wong and colleagues observed higher than expected rates of myocarditis (and pericarditis, a closely related clinical presentation), specifically in individuals younger than 35 years, with the highest risk among men aged 18–25 years after their second COVID-19 mRNA vaccine dose…
JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, addressed this same issue in an article entitled: Myocarditis Cases Reported After mRNA-Based COVID-19 Vaccination in the US From December 2020 to August 2021 From the JAMA article:
Based on passive surveillance reporting in the US, the risk of myocarditis after receiving mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines was increased across multiple age and sex strata and was highest after the second vaccination dose in adolescent males and young men.
Among 192 405 448 persons receiving a total of 354 100 845 mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines during the study period, there were 1991 reports of myocarditis to VAERS and 1626 of these reports met the case definition of myocarditis. Of those with myocarditis, the median age was 21 years (IQR, 16-31 years) and the median time to symptom onset was 2 days (IQR, 1-3 days). Males comprised 82% of the myocarditis cases for whom sex was reported. The crude reporting rates for cases of myocarditis within 7 days after COVID-19 vaccination exceeded the expected rates of myocarditis across multiple age and sex strata….
Both sources emphasize that myocarditis can also be caused by infection with the virus in question, and make the case that infection is more likely to trigger myocarditis than prophylaxis against it. And of course it can also develop spontaneously from many other causes.
Whatever the trigger, a growing number of people are looking for ways to be proactive in protecting themselves against this condition.
Healing from myocarditis
Whatever the cause, people with myocarditis, or who have concerns about it, are understandably interested in interventions that might support healing from it.
This article suggests that a large proportion of patients spontaneously recover from vaccine-induced myocarditis: Recovery from mRNA COVID-19 vaccine-related myocarditis,
However, it notes that a fairly large percentage do not. In these people, the condition may persist or get worse over time, and interfere with their ability to return to living normal lives. Some researchers have suggested that it may also be a factor in sudden death in adults from cardiac inflammation.
Could astragalus help?
Both human and animal studies suggest that the herb astragalus might (possibly) be helpful in normalizing heart function in those with this condition, and might possibly support healing. The evidence from human studies is not of the best quality; more studies are needed. But I found the studies interesting and promising.
From a study called “Total Flavonoids of Astragalus Plays a Cardioprotective Role in Viral Myocarditis“:
Using a mouse model of viral myocarditis, we observed that CVB3 infection compromised heart function. Hemodynamic parameters indicated LV function decreased, +dp/dt fell and –dp/dt values were higher as compared to control animals (Figure 1).
This decline in heart function parameters was rescued by treatment of TFA as LV function, +dp/dt and –dp/dt values were observed to be comparable to control values.
From a human study: “Herbal medicines for viral myocarditis” (emphases mine):
Astragalus membranaceus (either as an injection or granules) showed significant positive effects in symptom improvement, normalisation of electrocardiogram results, CPK levels, and cardiac function. Shengmai injection also showed significant effects in symptom improvement. Shengmai decoction triggered significant improvement in quality of life measured by SF-36. No serious adverse effects were reported.
Some herbal medicines may lead to improvement of ventricular premature beat, electrocardiogram, level of myocardial enzymes, and cardiac function in viral myocarditis.
However, these findings should be interpreted with care due to the high risk of bias of the included studies, small sample size, and limited number of trials on individual herbs. Further robust trials are needed to explore the use of herbal medicines in viral myocarditis.
Could ashwagandha be helpful?
According to this animal study, an ingredient found in ashwagandha, Withania somnifera, may have a general cardioprotective effect: Mechanisms of cardioprotective effect of Withania somnifera in experimentally induced myocardial infarction
From the study:
Our data show that Withania somnifera… exerts a strong cardioprotective effect in the experimental model of isoprenaline-induced myonecrosis in rats. Augmentation of endogenous antioxidants, maintenance of the myocardial antioxidant status and significant restoration of most of the altered haemodynamic parameters may contribute to its cardioprotective effect….
Other supplements that may support heart health
Some studies suggest that Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish may support heart health in a general sense. According to a Penn Medicine article: The Truth About Fish Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Heart Health:
The most consistent evidence for omega-3s and heart health is their ability to lower triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood and are stored as body fat. High levels of triglycerides have been linked with fatty build-up in the artery walls, which increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Reduced Risk of Arrhythmia
When your heart beats abnormally, it is referred to as an arrhythmia. Some arrhythmias are harmless but others, such as atrial fibrillation (AFib), can increase the risk of stroke or other serious heart issues. Some studies have shown a link between increased intake of omega-3s and reduced risk of arrhythmia, though this is not an effective medicine to treat heart rhythm problems
Slower Rate of Plaque Buildup
Plaque — made up mostly of fat, cholesterol, and calcium — can accumulate in your arteries, limiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. A diet rich in fish and seafood has been associated with a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. Fish are low in saturated fat and high in omega-3 fats. Omega-3s have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and may also improve the function of the endothelial cells that line blood vessels, so intake might have benefit for cardiovascular disease, but this has not been well-established in clinical trials yet.
Slightly Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can lead to heart attack and stroke. The effects of omega-3s on blood pressure can be favorable. Systolic blood pressure (amount of pressure in your arteries during the contraction of your heart muscle) and diastolic blood pressure (amount of pressure in your arteries between beats) have both been shown to be reduced when individuals have been given higher doses of omega-3s…
To say that taking a fish oil pill will cure all of your ailments, or even cure all of your heart-related ailments, is a stretch. Preventive care — including regular check-ups, a healthy diet, and exercise— is your best bet
What I’m doing
- I don’t have any evidence that I’ve contracted myocarditis; my hear seems fine. But like many people, I have concerns about (possibly) developing it, either due to exposure to the virus in question or exposure to the mRNA vaccine.
- To protect my heart in a general sense, I’m focusing on exercising, eating a diet rich in both plant-based and animal-based foods (including lots of fish and other foods from the sea), and taking some specific supplements, including fish oil.
- To protect my arteries, I exercise and take resveratrol, partly because it has been shown in some studies to clear plaque from arteries. and astragalus.
- I’m also currently taking both Gaia Herbs’ Astragalus Supreme and Ashwagandha Root and many other supplements.
- Herbs and other supplements have been known to interact with medications. They are bioactive compounds and can have desirable and undesirable effects.I am not making any claims in relation to any of these practices or supplements, and I’m not recommending that others follow my protocol, just reporting what I’m doing.
More about myocarditis
One interesting, independent source of information is Dr. John Campbell’s Youtube channel.
Campbell has been accused of being an anti-vaxxer, but this characterization is inaccurate; he continues to advocate for innoculation with tested vaccines with a good safety record.
In this video, he discusses myocarditis with Dr. Aseem Malhotra, who gives a good explanation about the function of the heart and some of the ways that myocarditis can develop.
You’re welcome also to check out my Youtube channel (Pathways to Longevity) — and the Anti-Aging and Life Extension Facebook group