Do you frequently get cold hands and feet or feel lightheaded when you stand up too quickly? If so, you might have poor circulation, which means your blood isn't flowing like it should be.
The good news is that there are ways to boost circulation naturally, including by using certain herbs and spices. You can also try taking specific vitamins and minerals or creating some new habits to improve blood flow.
Here's more about why good circulation is so important, plus the top remedies and herbs for circulation and better blood flow.
Why Circulation is Important for Good Health
Your circulatory system is mainly made up of your heart and blood vessels, but it's connected to your entire body.
Basically, your heart starts the circulation process by pumping blood to your lungs to pick up oxygen and continues the process by pumping this now oxygen-rich blood throughout your whole body. To finish the cycle, oxygen-depleted blood is carried back to your heart to start the whole process over again.
Circulating blood carries not only oxygen, but also water and nutrients to every muscle, organ, and tissue in your body, including your brain, kidneys, liver, and digestive system.
In addition, blood also carries certain waste products out of cells and organs, so it plays an important role in detoxification.
As you can see, this makes circulation incredibly important for overall health. Poor circulation means that you may get cold extremities because not enough blood is getting pumped to them, and it also may affect your brain, skin, stamina, and more.
Best Herbs for Circulation
Cayenne is a spicy herb that will warm your body while it boosts circulation. It contains a compound known as capsaicin that is thought to be responsible for improving circulation and other benefits like lowering inflammation.
Because of its ability to improve blood flow, cayenne is also supportive for heart health and may even help to keep your arteries clear. It eases congestion, particularly in the sinuses, as well. (1)
If cayenne is too spicy for you, try using it in a muscle rub or to make a footbath (1/2 teaspoon in a bucket of warm water).
Butcher's broom has traditionally been used as a blood vessel toner in herbal medicine. It improves circulation and contains compounds that help veins to contract and promote blood flow back to the heart.
Butcher's broom has been specifically studied for its effect on vein conditions and has been found to help with issues like chronic venous insufficiency, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids. (2)
For a circulation boost, try it in this Vascular Toning Tea.
Ginkgo biloba is most known for its brain-boosting benefits, but it has also been used by herbalists to improve circulation for thousands of years.
According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), ginkgo leaves stimulate blood flow and increase circulation in the lungs. This helps to get rid of stagnation that may be contributing to respiratory issues.
Some experts believe that ginkgo may also improve circulation to the brain, which could partly explain its benefits for memory and cognition.
Hawthorn berry is an herb for the heart and also happens to be one of the best herbs for circulation.
It improves blood flow (particularly coronary artery blood flow according to studies) and acts as a vasodilator to relax constricted blood vessels and lower blood pressure. (3)
In TCM, hawthorn berries are also used for indigestion that is related to stagnation and are supportive of the stomach, spleen, and liver.
Gotu kola is a close relative of parsley and commonly used as a brain tonic to boost memory, concentration, and alertness. It also improves circulation and is sometimes used to help with leg swelling from venous insufficiency. (4)
Another benefit of gotu kola is that is can reduce inflammation, which lessens the load of stress your body has to deal with. You can take it as a tea or extract.
Like cayenne, ginger root is a spicy herb that can boost circulation. It's especially beneficial if you have a cold type constitution (like cold hands and feet) due to its warming nature.
As you may know, ginger is also great for digestion and one of the most used herbs for nausea. It can even help with menstrual cramps by stimulating blood flow to the pelvic region and boosts your immune system as well.
Cinnamon is another spice that is naturally warming and stimulating, which is what makes it one of the best herbs for circulation. Cassia cinnamon tends to be warmer than true cinnamon, but both have similar benefits.
Along with boosting blood flow, cinnamon also helps to clear congestion and can stimulate a sluggish digestion.
A cup of cinnamon tea is great for circulation (and digestion), but you can also use in externally in a foot bath or create a massage oil with the essential oil.
Prickly ash is an herb that has been most utilized by certain Native American tribes and comes from an evergreen plant that forms a large shrub or small tree. The bark can be used to support healthy circulation and is also a digestive aid.
Along with boosting blood circulation, prickly ash can be used to stimulate a stagnant lymphatic system, which aids detoxification.
(You can read about more herbs for lymphatic drainage and cleansing here.)
And though it has benefits all on its own, you can get more out of garlic by combining it with other herbs for circulation, like in a fire cider recipe.
Bilberry is a cousin to blueberries and most known for its vision benefits.
However, it's also used in Europe for certain vascular disorders (like venous insufficiency, varicose veins, and various encephalic circulation disturbances) because of its ability to improve circulation.
The antioxidants in bilberry, which are known as anthocyanins, may also help protect damaged capillaries and improve platelet function. (6)
Other Ways to Naturally Improve Circulation
Exercise is one of the best and easiest ways to get your blood flowing. In fact, you've probably noticed that you feel colder (especially in your hands and feet) after sitting for a long time because circulation is slower when you are at rest.
Add regular exercise like walking, bouncing on a mini trampoline, dancing, bike riding, etc. to your everyday routine to immediately increase circulation and also improve it long term.
Vitamins and Minerals
There are three specific vitamins and minerals that may help with circulation, although this may only be the case if you are deficient in them.
Iron is an important mineral that is needed by your body to produce hemoglobin, the component of red blood cells that carries oxygen. Because of this it may also improve blood flow and "strengthen" your blood.
B vitamins can also help with circulation-- particularly B3, folic acid (B9), and B12-- because several of them are involved in the production of different types of blood cells.
Finally, vitamin E is thought to boost circulation and may also support blood vessel health.
Massage is a good way to stimulate both circulation and lymphatic decongestion. Plus, it's very relaxing and stress-relieving!
For the best results, opt for massage therapy by a professional, but keep in mind that self massage can also be helpful for getting your blood flowing. You can add in essential oils like rosemary or sage for an even greater circulation boost.
Some herbs for circulation may not be the best choice if you are taking blood thinners or have a specific medical condition. Do your research before using them and consult a professional as necessary.
Also, poor circulation may be a symptom of a serious underlying disease, so be sure to visit a qualified healthcare professional as needed.
Get Your Blood Flowing with Herbs
If you want to improve your circulation, you may need to look no further than your kitchen cupboard. Common herbs and spices like cayenne, cinnamon, ginger, and garlic are excellent for getting your blood flowing and will warm you up in the process.
Don't forget to add in regular exercise to boost circulation even more!
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice and should not be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your health care provider, herbalist, midwife, or naturopathic physician before taking herbs, supplements, etc. Here's the link to our full disclaimer.