Supplements for circulation


There are a number of supplements that can be used to help increase circulation. In order to select the right supplement it is important to know what aspect of circulation you need to support. For example, some supplements help to dilate blood vessels, some help to stimulate lymphatic circulation, and some help to decrease inflammation.

Blood Vessel Dilators

Blood vessel dilators are a category of supplement that increase circulation by increasing the size of the blood vessels. They relax the smooth muscle cells lining the arteries and the musculoskeletal cells that surround the veins and lymphatic vessels. Magnesium and arginine are the most often utilized vasodilators because they are both safe and effective at improving circulation. Magnesium is one of the most commonly deficient minerals in the soil and food supply. Magnesium can be used orally as part of your daily multi but should also be supplemented in excess. I use magnesium in most of the intravenous nutrient infusion formulas and often use relatively high doses to improve circulation and treat disorders resulting from poor circulation. Arginine can also be taken orally or intravenously to improve circulation and treat health conditions due to poor circulation.

Lymphatic Circulatory Stimulants

Lymphatic circulatory stimulants have been utilized for hundreds of years to support healthy detoxification and treat edema. Botanicals like Gallium, Phytolacca, Cleavers, and Lobelia are wonderful at stimulating lymphatic circulation. On a cautionary note, these herbs can be toxic in high doses and should only be utilized under the advice of a healthcare professional. I have seen a number of swelling and edema cases significantly improve and resolve with the use of lymphatic circulatory stimulants.


Systemic inflammation can be a significant cause of poor circulation. Anti-inflammatory supplements can help to decrease or modulate inflammation and thus improve circulation. Omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil, flax, hemp, and chia seed modulate inflammation by supplying the body with the types of fats that are not utilized for inflammation. Saturated fats, trans fats, and hydrogenated fats are utilized by the body to produce inflammatory enzymes and products whereas omega 3 fatty acids inhibit this pathway. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is a specific type of omega 3 fatty acid found in cold water fish and algae that is the most potent anti-inflammatory omega 3.

There are a number of very well researched and effective botanical medicines that help to decrease systemic inflammation and improve circulation. Herbs like turmeric, ginger, boswellia, green tea, and devil’s claw are wonderful for decreasing pain in part because they decrease inflammation and improve circualtion.

Enzymes like papain, bromelain, trypsin, chymotrypsin, serratiopeptidase, and nattokinase break down inflammatory products in the bloodstream and thus help improve circulation. They should be taken on an empty stomach away from food in order to be utilized most.


Anti-oxidants decrease or mitigate damage from oxidative stress and free radicals. Inflammation and oxidation are the most important causes of atherosclerosis, hypertension, and the resulting poor circulation. Anti-oxidants like vitamin A, C, E, zinc, selenium, CoEnzyme Q10, and glutathione work synergistically together to quench free radical damage and halt oxidative stress. Keeping the arteries healthy and plaque-free is very important for optimal circulation. Anti-oxidants help prevent injury to the arterial walls and thus decrease the risk of atherosclerosis and poor circulation.

Blood Flow Stimulants

Botanicals like Ginger, Cinnamon, Cayenne, Rosemary, and Ginkgo have been traditionally used for hundreds of years to stimulate blood flow. They work very well especially in tea form or topically.

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About the Author

Dr. Brent Barlow is a Naturopathic Physician practicing at The Kelowna Wellness Clinic in downtown Kelowna. Dr. Barlow has been in practice in Kelowna since graduating from the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in Vancouver in 2009.

Naturopathic Doctors are trained as primary care physicians, and primarily use natural medicine to treat disease and promote wellness. Dr. Barlow believes strongly in identifying and treating the causes of disease rather than focusing on the treatment of symptoms.

Naturopathic medicine utilizes diet therapy, botanical medicine, nutritional supplementation, acupuncture, spinal manipulation and other physical medicine treatments to treat the causes of disease. Dr. Barlow also trained in the specialized treatments of prolotherapy, neural therapy, intravenous nutrient infusions, and chelation therapy.

Dr. Barlow is in general practice and welcomes all individuals and families. As a naturopathic physician he is trained to treat all health conditions in the manner that best suits the goals of each individual patient. He also has special interests in natural treatments for pain management and digestive health.

To learn more about Dr. Barlow's treatments or to schedule a consultation, visit his website at www.drbrentbarlownd.com or call 250-448-5610.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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