5 Alternative Therapies You Need to Try

5 lesser-known ways to keep your ticker strong. (Start trying these out today!)

November 6, 2014

What do walking around barefoot and spirituality have in common? They're both great add-on treatments for an ailing heart. If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you recently suffered a heart attack, or you've undergone open-heart surgery, there are a plethora of what doctors call "integrative therapies" for you to try.

"Today, doctors are much more open to the idea of a holistic approach to health care that incorporates the tools used in integrative or complementary medicine," says Michael Miller, MD, author of Heal Your Heart. "In a sense, they're following consumer interest; the use of alternative therapies in many countries is steadily on the rise."


With consumer interest high, researchers—along with some big names in the medical field—are taking a better look at holistic therapies and how those natural techniques can improve your well-being, specifically by benefitting your heart.

Here are 5 alternative treatments to try. A few you may have heard of, and a few you may not be able to even pronounce. But regardless, these treatments, along with others, have doctors and researchers turning their heads in astonishment:

1. Ayurveda
You may be wondering what Ayurveda is, and don't worry, you're not alone. Not only is Ayurveda one of the oldest forms of holistic healing, but it's also hard to research and hard to explain. At the same time, it's a modality that's commonly used throughout the world and was first practiced about 3,000 years ago. 

Ayurveda is focused on what it calls our three doshas ("life energies" or "forces") and claims that when our doshas are off balance, we are more likely to become ill. Dr. Miller explains, "Our doshas become imbalanced due to external or internal factors such as stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, injury, and changes in climate. The goal of Ayurveda is to bring us back into balance. This balance brings us into harmony with ourselves physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually."

The practice of Ayurveda has been found to soothe away stress and help with depression.  Also, ayurvedic practices help you to maintain a healthy lifestyle that will in turn help your heart stay healthy.      
2. Grounding
Grounding is the act of walking barefoot. And while it does seem like a simple treatment, it can do wonders for the heart. "There is even scientific
evidence that grounding may be good for your heart, as studies on grounding have shown significant reductions in the stress hormone cortisol," Dr. Miller explains. Walking around barefoot can stabilize your mood and help you to forget your stress. It's hard to imagine that something so easy can be so beneficial. And while Dr. Miller does state that there needs to be more research on the topic, it can't hurt to occasionally kick off your shoes and walk through the grass or sand and feel the earth beneath your toes.  
3. Spirituality
There is an unexplainable correlation between good health and faith. Faith often keeps people calm and at peace in stressful situations. And that kind of calm and peace are extremely beneficial for the heart. Also, people who identify themselves as spiritual tend to lead healthy lifestyles. For example, people who are spiritual or religious don't normally smoke or live risky lives. They also tend to be socially involved in a community and volunteer, and both of those factors have many benefits for the heart. And while the correlation between spirituality and cardiovascular health has not been thoroughly researched, there is no denying that spirituality can (in some way) greatly benefit your health, especially your heart's health.          


More: 5 Ways to Heal a Broken Heart

4. Touch Therapy
Touch-based therapies (things like healing touch, therapeutic touch, and reiki) can be used to "release pain, stress, and toxins for the body," explains Dr. Miller.  "[They] are used for stress reduction, relaxation, and the promotion of overall health and well-being. They each involve directing the universal life energy in each person to bring the energies back into balance and promote a person's natural healing ability." 

Touch therapies are used to address a myriad of ailments and are even promoted by the American Cancer Society. To learn more about reiki and other forms of touch therapies, visit the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine's website.

More: The Best Reason to Get a Massage

5. Yoga
You may already practice yoga to help your back, to cure your food cravings, or maybe to help you with intimacy (really, yoga's healing powers seem endless), but did you know that yoga is also beneficial for your heart? The American Heart Association promotes yoga as a way to manage stress and prevent future heart complications. Yoga can help you to relax and feel calm, which can lower your blood pressure and ease stress on your heart. Dr. Miller touts the benefits of yoga, adding, "Studies have found reduced coronary blockage with reduced heart attack risk and need for heart bypass surgery following two years in a yoga program." The question remains: What ailment or health problem can't yoga fix?