by Baba Montu Ashshakir
When you think of circulation you probably think about cholesterol and your arteries and cutting out fried food. This is correct thinking and a wise choice. But you must realize that your blood flows through all your tissues and organs as well as your arteries. This blood flow has just as much to do with the lungs as it does your heart because they work together. Air is needed to oxygenate the blood that travels through the body. So approach improving your circulation holistically as your circulation travels everywhere in your body.
Some of the symptoms of poor circulation are varicose veins, cramps, leg ulcers, dark circles under the eyes and numbness or coldness of feet. Blood clots, cardiovascular disease and strokes all indicate compromised circulation. And for men, weak circulation can also cause the dreaded erectile dysfunction. Needless to say, your circulation is your lifeline and these issues are affecting our Afrakan people at an alarming rate.
There are many approaches to improving your circulation. Usually the most basic ones are the most effective and are the longest-lasting. For example, cutting out cholesterol-forming foods is easy to do and can have an immediate impact. This would include leaving out the fatty meats and poultry and stuff like French fries, pies and cheese cake. A healthy diet based around fruits and green vegetables is a start towards keeping your blood flowing the way it should. Plant-based diets are becoming more popular due to the failure of other dietetic models. And Afrakan people are waking up to the tricks and traps of the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet). There are other substances like caffeine, alcohol and salt that hinder the circulation when abused. It is our opinion that the first line-of-defense against the silent killers in our community is watching what you put in your mouth.
Another method of improving circulation is through exercise. This is something our Ancestors took for granted because we got plenty of exercise throughout our daily routines. Today it is a good idea to do at least some moderately paced exercise at least three times a week to get your circulation going. This could be simply walking or jogging for thirty to forty-five minutes, Afrakan dancing, Yoga, Martial Arts, or lifting weights. Even gardening will help. Bottom line is that movement ensures the circulation of not only the bloodstream, but the lymph fluid as well. Motion is necessary for optimal health.
Certain herbs have also been found to be useful. The easiest ones to remember are the ones you use as food. This would include herbs like garlic, cayenne and ginger which stimulate the circulation. It has even been suggested by some that a person having a heart attack can be orally given pinches of cayenne pepper to remove some of the blockage. We suggest getting immediate medical attention in a situation like this because time is of the essence. There are other herbs that also assist with circulation. Ginkgo biloba dilates blood vessels which increases blood flow. It is also thought to increase blood flow to the brain. Butcher’s broom is an herb that eases swelling, particularly in the legs. And bilberry, which is known for improving eyesight, also works to enhance general circulation. This is due to the active component, anthocyanidin flavonoids which function as antioxidants. These antioxidants not only protect, but work to strengthen the walls of blood vessels and capillaries.
Some treatment options can include deep-tissue massage with essential oils, elevating your legs where there is a known problem and hydrotherapy where you alternate hot and cold water in the shower or bath. Cold water sends circulation to the internal organs whereas hot water sends it back out the extremities. Skin brushing is also good. These are all effective modalities. But the old saying: “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” still rings true today. So be sure to manage your stress levels (which can affect the circulation over time due to stress hormones) and be proactive with implementing changes before you develop any issues with circulation.