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Natural Treatments for Myocarditis

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Myocarditis occurs when part of the heart (the myocardium) becomes inflamed. The myocardium is the thick muscular layer of the heart. Symptoms range from mild to severe, including fatigue, fever, lightheadedness, chest pain, shortness of breath, fast or irregular heartbeat, and flu-like body aches. Some people experience no symptoms at all, while others feel like they are having a heart attack.1Myocarditis. Accessed September 1, 2023. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/myocarditis

Myocarditis affects about 1.5 million people worldwide each year. In acute cases, symptoms dissipate after two weeks; in chronic cases, they continue longer. Children, pregnant women, and those who are immunocompromised are most at risk for myocarditis, but this condition also affects generally healthy people. Because there is a risk of progressive heart failure with severe myocarditis, timely diagnosis is a priority. A qualified healthcare practitioner will assess symptoms and diagnose the condition.

Potential Causes and Complications of Myocarditis

In 50% to 80% of myocarditis cases, there is no clear cause. However, infections, viruses, autoimmune disorders, and medications may contribute.

Viral and Bacterial Infections

In North America, viral infections are the leading cause of myocarditis. Common culprits are coxsackieviruses, parvovirus B-19, and human herpesviruses. Up to 5% of acute viral infections involve the myocardium.2Kang M, Chippa V, An J. Viral Myocarditis. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2023. Accessed September 1, 2023. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459259

COVID-19 is a well-known virus making myocarditis headlines. The virus itself can induce mild to severe symptoms. Vaccine-induced myocarditis is usually rare, but young males appear more vulnerable.3Rout A, Suri S, Vorla M, Kalra DK. Myocarditis associated with COVID-19 and its vaccines — a systematic review. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2022;74:111-121. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcad.2022.10.004 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes the benefits of mRNA COVID-19 vaccination outweigh myocarditis risk, adding that most patients who reported myocarditis after vaccination responded well to medicine and rest and swiftly recovered.4CDC. COVID-19 Vaccination. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published February 11, 2020. Accessed September 1, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/adverse-events.html

But how does a virus cause myocarditis? The virus invades the myocardium and makes copies of itself, destroying normal heart cells. When the immune system attempts to fight the virus, severe cardiac damage can result. Although most people fully recover from viral myocarditis, some cases worsen. Myocarditis can enter a chronic phase characterized by scar tissue formation and persistent heart inflammation. The heart becomes enlarged (dilated cardiomyopathy) and weakens, eventually leading to end-stage heart failure.5Martens CR, Accornero F. Viruses in the heart: Direct and indirect routes to myocarditis and heart failure. Viruses. 2021;13(10):1924. https://doi.org/10.3390/v13101924

Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Wegener’s granulomatosis, and giant cell arteritis are associated with myocarditis.6Kang M, Chippa V, An J. Viral Myocarditis. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2023. Accessed September 1, 2023. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459259 According to a 2023 review, SLE increases the risk of myocarditis, coronary artery disease, and pericarditis.7Nor MA, Ogedegbe OJ, Barbarawi A, et al. Systemic lupus erythematosus and cardiovascular diseases: A systematic review. Cureus. 2023;15(5):e39284. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.39284

Medications and Recreational Drugs

Behavioral health medications such as tricyclic antidepressants, some antipsychotic drugs, and lithium (often prescribed for patients with bipolar disorder) may cause myocarditis over time. Experts believe drug-induced toxic myocarditis permanently changes the heart. Patients become more susceptible to abnormal heart rhythms, which may lead to cardiac arrest or sudden death.

Herbs and Supplements for Myocarditis

Astragalus Root

Astragalus root has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for stress management and heart conditions. Research shows cardioprotective Astragalus fights viruses and reduces inflammation, oxidation, and scar tissue formation.8Zheng Q, Zhuang Z, Wang ZH, et al. Clinical and preclinical systematic review of Astragalus membranaceus for viral myocarditis. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2020;2020:1560353. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/1560353

Hawthorn Berry

Hawthorn berry is a potent herb that supports heart health. This wild berry can improve circulation, control heart palpitations, and increase coronary artery blood flow. It may even protect against congestive heart failure, which can occur with untreated myocarditis.9Nawrot J, Gornowicz-Porowska J, Budzianowski J, Nowak G, Schroeder G, Kurczewska J. Medicinal herbs in the relief of neurological, cardiovascular, and respiratory symptoms after COVID-19 infection a literature review. Cells. 2022;11(12):1897. https://doi.org/10.3390/cells11121897

Green Tea

Superfood green tea is a protective powerhouse for the heart. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a polyphenol in green tea, could alleviate viral myocarditis by slowing the virus’s ability to replicate.10He X, Gao B, Zhou L, Xiong S. Green tea polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate-alleviated coxsackievirus B3-induced myocarditis through inhibiting viral replication but not through inhibiting inflammatory responses. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2017;69(1):41-47. https://doi.org/10.1097/FJC.0000000000000439

Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) has been used throughout China, Japan, and Korea for more than 2,000 years. The mushroom’s potent antioxidant properties may reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, and increase the efficacy of heart medications.11Shaito A, Thuan DTB, Phu HT, et al. Herbal medicine for cardiovascular diseases: Efficacy, mechanisms, and safety. Front Pharmacol. 2020;11:422. doi:10.3389/fphar.2020.00422

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Conventional Treatments for Myocarditis

Conventional myocarditis treatments include supplemental oxygen and fluids management (as the heart may be unable to pump fluid out of the body quickly). With a second- or third-degree heart block, a doctor may implant a pacemaker to control the heartbeat. ACE inhibitors are commonly used to treat heart failure. In the most severe cases, a heart transplant may be needed.

Footnotes

This article is provided by

The Institute for Natural Medicine, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. INM’s mission is to transform health care in the United States by increasing public awareness of natural medicine and access to naturopathic doctors. Naturopathic medicine, with its person-centered principles and practices, has the potential to reverse the tide of chronic illness overwhelming healthcare systems and to empower people to achieve and maintain optimal lifelong health. INM strives to fulfil this mission through the following initiatives:

  • Education – Reveal the unique benefits and outcomes of evidence-based natural medicine
  • Access – Connect patients to licensed naturopathic doctors
  • Research – Expand quality research on this complex and comprehensive system of medicine

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Institute for Natural Medicine Staff

Our dedicated content team of professional staff writers represents decades of experience covering essential natural health topics in an accessible, evidence-based, and engaging way. Guided by a shared passion for holistic well-being, each and every one of our writers strives to empower our readers to take charge of their health.

Supported by a rigorous fact-checking and medical editing process from licensed naturopathic doctors that examines the latest in peer-reviewed research, our team brings their in-depth knowledge of natural health practices into every piece of content we produce. We strive to be the gold standard for evidence-based natural medicine, providing trustworthy information and inspiring narratives to help you live your best health, naturally.

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