Supplements For Better Heart Function

supplements-to-support-the-heart_300The heart muscle is a tireless worker. To support its efforts and help steer it from the possibility of failure, natural supplements can be an important part of your health program.

Nutrients and supplements can be especially important for those facing congestive heart failure (CHF).

The best nutrients to boost the wellness of the heart include:

  • CoEnzymeQ10: has been shown in multiple studies to improve symptoms of congestive heart failure [1] [2]. In most studies CoQ10 improved ejection fraction [3] [4] [5], pulmonary edema [6], and more CHF symptoms [7] [8]. It also improves survival rates when added to conventional CHF medications [9] [10].  A meta-analysis reported this year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [11] showed CoQ10 to be only mildly beneficial to reversing CHF at lower doses. I recommend 300 mg twice daily [12].
  • Fish oil (omega-3s): Chinese researchers reported [13] last year that a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials to date shows a definite benefit from fish oil supplementation in persons with non-ischemic CHF (from causes other than a previous heart attack such as cardiomyopathy).
  • L-carnitine and L-taurine: Deficiencies of these two amino acids result in dilated cardiomyopathy [14]. In double-blind studies [15] [16] L-carnitine has been shown to increase ejection fraction in CHF patients by 12.5 percent on average after just six months. When used more chronically, improvements in systemic vascular resistance and increased exercise capacity occurred [17]. I recommend 3 grams twice daily [18]. Also, L-taurine has been shown to reduce symptoms of CHF and in double-blind studies [19] [20]. I recommend 3 grams twice daily [21].
  • R (alpha) lipoic acid: lowers oxidative stress in the mitochondria of heart cells where energy is generated; heart muscle tissue has the highest energy demand of all tissue. R lipoic acid 250mg twice daily is recommended for CHF [22].
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus): has been shown to improve exercise tolerance and to lower mild to moderate CHF symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue [23] [24] [25] [26]. Hawthorn has also shown improved contractility, ACE-inhibition (like the main prescription medication used to treat CHF), rhythm-stabilizing effects and even mild reduction in systemic vascular resistance (the pressure the heart must pump against) [27] [28] [29]. Dosing is from 300 mg to 900 mg daily.
  • Berberine: is found in plants (Oregon grape, barberry, tree turmeric, goldenseal and more). Clinical studies [30] [31] [32] suggest that berberine is useful for patients with severe heart failure. Dosage is 300 mg to 500 mg four times per day [33].

Hormone Therapy

Several studies show that CHF patients have lower levels of DHEA, testosterone, estrogen and IGF-1 (indicator of growth hormone) compared to controls [34] [35] [36].

Therefore, it is now proposed that testosterone levels, for example, be in the highest ranges of normal for optimal heart muscle function. Testosterone could work, we know it can enhance blood flow to the heart muscle itself while relaxing blood vessels peripherally to reduce strain on the heart [37].


[1] Singh U, Devaraj S, Jialal I. Coenzyme Q10 supplementation and heart failure. Nutr Rev. 2007 Jun;65(6 Pt 1):286-93. Review.

[2] Fumagalli S, Fattirolli F, Guarducci L, Cellai T, Baldasseroni S, Tarantini F, Di Bari M, Masotti G, Marchionni N. Coenzyme Q10 terclatrate and creatine in chronic heart failure: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Clin Cardiol. 2011;34(4):211-7.

[3] Langsjoen PH, Langsjoen PH, Folkers K. Long-term efficacy and safety of coenzyme Q10 therapy for idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy. Am J Cardiol 1990 Feb 16;65(7):521-3.

[4] Judy WV, et al. Double blind double crossover study of coenzyme Q10 in heart failure. In Folkers K, Yamamura Y (eds): Biomedical and Clinical Aspects of Coenzyme Q, vol. 5. Amsterdam, Elsevier, 1986, pp. 315-22.

[5] Langsjoen PH, Langsjoen AM. Overview of the use of coQ10 in cardiovascular disease. Biofactors 1999 9(2-4):273-84.

[6] Morisco C, Trimarco B, Condorelli M. Effect of coenzyme Q10 therapy in patients with congestive heart failure: a long-term multicenter randomized study. Clin Investig 1993 71(8 Suppl):S134-6.

[7] Baggio E, Gandini R, Plancher AC, Passeri M, Carmosino G. Italian multicenter study on the safety and efficacy of coenzyme Q10 as adjunctive therapy in heart failure. CoQ10 Drug Surveillance Investigators. Mol Aspects Med 1994 15 Suppl:s287-94.

[8] Langsjoen PH, Langsjoen AM. Coenzyme Q10 in cardiovascular disease with emphasis on heart failure and myocardial ischemia. Asia Pac Heart J 1998 7: 160-68.

[9] Langsjoen PH, Folkers K, Lyson K, Muratsu K, Lyson T, Langsjoen P. Pronounced increase of survival of patients with cardiomyopathy when treated with coenzyme Q10 and conventional therapy. Int J Tissue React 1990 12(3):163-8.

[10] Judy WV, Folkers K, Hall JH. Improved long-term survival in coenzyme Q10 treated chronic heart failure patients compared to conventionally treated patients. In Folkers K, Littarru GP, Yamagami T (eds): Biomedical and Clinical Aspects of Coenzyme Q, vol. 4. Amsterdam, Elsevier Science, 1991, pp. 291-98.

[11] Fotino AD, Thompson-Paul AM, Bazzano LA. Effect of coenzyme Q₁₀ supplementation on heart failure: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Feb;97(2):268-75.

[12] Personal notes taken from the American Academy of Anti-aging Medicine fellowship module II training, 2012.

[13] Xin W, Wei W, Li X. Effects of fish oil supplementation on cardiac function in chronic heart failure: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Heart. 2012 Nov;98(22):1620-5.

[14] Jeejeebhoy F, Keith M, Freeman M, et al. Nutritional supplementation with MyoVive repletes essential cardiac myocyte nutrients and reduces left ventricular size in patients with left ventricular dysfunction. Am Heart J 2002 Jun;143(6):1092-100.

[15] Mancini M, Rengo F, Lingetti M, Sorrentino GP, Nolfe G. Controlled study on the therapeutic efficacy of propionyl- L-carnitine in patients with congestive heart failure. Arzneimittelforschung 1992 Sept;42(9):1101-4.

[16] Pucciarelli G, Mastursi M, Latte S, et al. The clinical and hemodynamic effects of propionyl-L-carnitine in the treatment of congestive heart failure. Clin Ter 1992 Nov; 141(11):379-84.

[17] . Caponnetto S, Canale C, Masperone MA, Terracchini V, Valentini G, Brunelli C. Efficacy of L-propionylcarnitine treatment in patients with left ventricular dysfunction. Eur Heart J 1994 Sept;15(9):1267-73.

[xvii] Azuma J, et al. Double-blind randomized crossover trial of taurine in congestive heart failure. Curr Ther Res1983 34(4):543-57.

[18] Personal notes taken from the American Academy of Anti-aging Medicine fellowship module II training, 2012.

[19] Azuma J, et al. Double-blind randomized crossover trial of taurine in congestive heart failure. Curr Ther Res 1983 34(4):543-57.

[20] Azuma J, et al. Therapeutic effect of taurine in congestive heart failure: A double-blind crossover trial. Clin Cardiol 1985 8:276-82.

[21] Personal notes taken from the American Academy of Anti-aging Medicine fellowship module II training, 2012.

[22] Suh JH, Shigeno ET, Morrow JD, et al. Oxidative stress in the aging rat heart is reversed by dietary supplementation with (R)-(alpha)-lipoic acid. FASEB J. 2001 Mar;15(3):700-6.

[23] Weihmayr T, Ernst E. Therapeutic effectiveness of Crataegus. Fortschr Med 1996 114(1-2):27-9.

[824] Eaton LJ, Kinkade S. Hawthorn extract improves chronic heart failure. J Fam Pract. 2003;52(10):753-753.

[25] Leuchtgens H. Crataegus Special Extract WS 1442 in NYHA II heart failure. A placebo controlled randomized double-blind study. Fortschr Med 1993 111(20- 21):352-4.

[26] Schmidt U, et al. Efficacy of the hawthorn (Crataegus) preparation LI 132 in 78 patients with chronic congestive heart failure defined as NYHA functional class II. Phytomedicine 1994 1:17-24.

[27] Schussler M, Holzl J, Fricke U. Myocardial effects of flavonoids from Crataegus species. Arzneimittelforschung 1995 45(8):842-5.

[28] Bahorun, T. Antioxidant activities of Crataegus monogyna extracts. Planta Medica 1994 60:323-8

[29] Busse W. Standardized Crataegus extract clinical monograph. Q Rev Nat Med 1996 189-97.

[30] Marin-Neto JA, Maciel BC, Secches AL, Gallo Júnior L (April 1988). “Cardiovascular effects of berberine in patients with severe congestive heart failure”. Clinical Cardiology 11 (4): 253–60.

[31] Zeng XH, Zeng XJ, Li YY (July 2003). “Efficacy and safety of berberine for congestive heart failure secondary to ischemic or idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy”. The American Journal of Cardiology 92 (2): 173–6.

[32] Wu M., Wang J., Liu L.-T. “Advance of studies on anti-atherosclerosis mechanism of berberine”, Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine 2010 16:2 (188-192).

[33] http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/heart-failure

[34] Kontoleon PE, Anastasiou-Nana MI, Papapetrou PD, et al. Hormonal profile in patients with congestive heart fail- ure. Int J Cardiol 2003 87(2-3):179-83.

[35] Moriyama Y, Yasue H, Yoshimura M, et al. The plasma levels of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate are decreased in patients with chronic heart failure in proportion to the severity. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2000 85(5):1834-40.

[36] Anker SD, Chua TP, Ponikowski P, et al. Hormonal changes and catabolic/anabolic imbalance in chronic heart failure and their importance for cardiac cachexia. Circulation 1997 96:526–34.

[37] Pugh PJ, English KM, Jones TH, Channer KS. Testosterone: a natural tonic for the failing heart? QJM 2000 93(10):689-94.

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Dr. Michael Cutler

By Dr. Michael Cutler

Dr. Michael Cutler is a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine and is a board-certified family physician with more than 20 years of experience. He serves as a medical liaison to alternative and traditional practicing physicians. His practice focuses on an integrative solution to health problems. Dr. Cutler is a sought-after speaker and lecturer on experiencing optimum health through natural medicines and founder of the original Easy Health Options™ newsletter — an advisory on natural healing therapies and nutrients. His current practice is San Diego Integrative Medicine, near San Diego, California.