Palpitations or heart palpitations, to be more precise, can be a rather unpleasant sensation, but one that is not uncommon. The sensation is not always indicative of a disorder, but at times could be, so don’t jump to the conclusion that you suffer from some kind of heart disease. Even if your experience of palpitations is the result of some underlying condition, there is a good chance that the palpitations aren’t caused by heart problems as there are various possible causes of palpitations.

So What Exactly are Palpitations?

A palpitation is defined as an abnormality or irregularity in the heartbeat, where the heart rate is either too slow or fast, but more importantly it refers to the conscious experience of such an irregularity. Palpitations can be caused by various conditions or activities such as overexertion, the consumption of nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, caffeine, and various other drugs like amphetamines. Palpitations are also a normal sensation caused by the release of adrenaline, as would be the case when you are overcome by fear or any heightened state of emotion. The causes of palpitations may also be psychosomatic, as this is a common symptom of certain disorders like panic attacks. Palpitations may also be caused by conditions like hyperthyroidism.

All of us experience a conscious sensation of our heart beating at some time, but when this becomes a regular occurrence, then it could be indicative of a problem. In more serious cases, it may be indicative of heart disorders.

The frequency with which palpitations occur can vary greatly from sporadically through the day or very infrequently. Each occurrence may be referred to as an attack, and these could span just a few seconds or last for as long as hours. Because of the number of conditions that palpitations may point to, it could be hard to make a diagnosis, which is why it is important to get the condition investigated.

Symptoms of Palpitations

Palpitations are actually a symptom in themselves, but they may be associated with other symptoms. A palpitation is the feeling of a skipped heart beat that may feel like a flutter or strange sensation of fullness in the chest. If you do experience such a sensation you may have experienced palpitations, but here are some other symptoms that could accompany palpitations.

  • A sensation of fullness in the throat is not uncommon and may be associated with shortness of breath. This symptom often accompanies palpitations.
  • Dizziness and fainting may accompany some types of heart rhythm problems, and if you experience these symptoms it is advisable to seek immediate medical attention.

In cases where palpitations occur for prolonged periods you may also experience symptoms like chest pain, sweating, nausea, and vomiting.

Causes of Palpitations

We are aware that there are various possible causes of palpitations, but what triggers palpitations, and are there really any specific triggers? Some conditions that could aggravate or bring on palpitations include external stimulants, psychological factors, and hormonal or biological conditions. Some of the possible causes are:

  • Anemia and electrolyte imbalances due to abnormalities in levels of potassium, magnesium, and calcium
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • High levels of adrenalin, which could be due to stress, anxiety, panic, fear, or due to physical stressors such as from over exertion or strenuous exercise
  • Structural abnormalities of the heart and narrowing of the arteries can also affect the blood flow to the heart muscle resulting in heart beat abnormalities
  • The consumption of certain substances like caffeine, tobacco and alcohol
  • The use of illicit drugs like amphetamines, cocaine and marijuana, among others
  • The use of certain over the counter medications, particularly herbal and cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine
  • Certain prescription medications may also cause symptoms like palpitations. Asthma medications like albuterol inhalers and some thyroid replacement medications are also known to cause side effects that include palpitations. The use of certain anti-depressants may also cause various symptoms like nausea, indigestion, constipation and heart palpitations.

Palpitations during pregnancy, although worrying, may not be indicative of any serious problem. In most cases there is no dangerous rhythm present, but it is important to bring any development to the attention of your health care providers. Changes in hormonal levels and the blood flow pattern due to an increased supply of blood to the uterus are likely to cause such a sensation.

Remedies for Palpitations

Home remedies for heart palpitations are quite popular, but their effectiveness has not been verified with any scientific research. If you do wish to try out any kind of palpitation remedy, you need to keep in mind that the results can vary from individual to individual, as the treatment would naturally depend on the cause. Moreover, different people react differently to different drugs or natural products. Herbal remedies are said to help in some cases, but you should keep in mind that many herbal supplements contain compounds and toxins that are of a very potent nature. Inappropriate dosage can cause severe reactions. Individuals who suffer from any preexisting health condition or are on any kind of medication can also put themselves at risk from the consumption of herbal concoctions, as there can be severe drug interactions.

Many herbalists recommend the use of a tincture of valerian. You can simply add ten to fifteen drops of the tincture to a glass of water and consume it whenever you experience palpitations. Hawthorn is another interesting herb, as initial studies have found it to exert a beneficial effect against arrhythmias in rodents. According to some individuals the consumption of soft aloe vera gel can also help to control heart palpitations, but there have been no studies to support these claims.

Fish oil is known to offer tremendous health benefits, particularly for heart patients. Fish oils may also help to control heart palpitations. Their benefits may be because of the stabilizing effect they exert on cardiac cell membranes.

While there are many other natural remedies for heart palpitations the best way to control palpitations naturally would be through making changes to your diet and lifestyle.

Diet for Palpitations

There is no specific diet for palpitations, but it is important for you to follow a healthy diet to help control any other health condition that could be causing palpitations.

  • One of the most important dietary safeguards against palpitations is the avoidance of stimulants. Stimulants like caffeine and nicotine can cause irregularities in the heart beat, so you need to give up on those cigarettes and your cups of coffee or energy drinks.
  • Dietary deficiencies in magnesium may also contribute to the problem of palpitations, as magnesium is an essential nutrient for the functioning of the heart muscle. Include foods like pumpkin and watermelon seeds in your diet to boost your intake of magnesium. Nuts like almond and cashews are also a rich source of magnesium.
  • An excessive intake of alcohol can also aggravate the problem and increase the severity of heart palpitations.
  • Make sure that you consume an adequate amount of water, as dehydration can also be a cause of palpitations.

Suggestions for Palpitations

While it is essential for you to visit a doctor and get an accurate diagnosis, there are some steps that you can take to help deal with palpitation no matter what the cause is. Anxiety and stress may not always directly cause palpitations, but they invariably aggravate and increase the severity of the problem. Stress related disorders have become increasingly common today, and high levels of stress can contribute to various health conditions like heart disease and hypertension that may in turn cause palpitations. It would be a good idea to make a conscious effort to cut the stress and relax. Make it a point to take a break whenever you begin to feel stressed. Relaxation techniques and light exercise can help reduce stress levels tremendously. For this very reason, yoga can be one of the best disciplines for you to take up. Yoga does not just comprise of physical activities, but also of meditative practices. While the physical benefits and relaxation from meditation can help tremendously, the breathing techniques of yoga can offer significant advantages. Breathing exercises are an effective heart palpitations cure as they can give you greater control over subconscious functions and also the ability to consciously relax.

Avoid the use of any illegal substances, no matter how trivial your habits may seem. The use of substances like marijuana and cocaine can significantly increase the severity and risk of palpitations.

Physical activity can help to improve circulation and also helps to de-stress. Rigorous exercise and over exercising can be dangerous however as this can increase the risk of palpitations. So stick to light non strenuous exercises like yoga, Pilates or aerobics. Physical activities like walking, swimming and cycling can also help significantly.

If the causes of palpitations are psychological, as would be the case with panic attacks or anxiety disorders it may be a good idea to join a support group and seek counseling. You can also approach a cardiologist for information on how to stop heart palpitations naturally.

Keep your family or any of the members of your household informed about your condition. If you experience other symptoms as well like chest pain, severe fatigue, breathlessness or jaw pain, medical attention should be sought immediately.


  1. Elizabeth R Keeler, Robert K Morris Jr, Dolar S Patolia, Eugene C Toy, The evaluationand management of palpitations, Primary Care Update for OB/GYNS, Volume 9, Issue 6, November–December 2002, Pages 199-205, ISSN 1068-607X, 10.1016/S1068-607X(02)00118-X.
  2. Richard Mayou, Chest pain, palpitations and panic, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Volume 44, Issue 1, January 1998, Pages 53-70, ISSN 0022-3999, 10.1016/S0022-3999(97)00209-2.

Palpitation Treatments - more information
Palpitation - Frequently asked questions
4 Palpitation remedies suggested by our users
remedy for palpitations
suggested by Betty on Sunday, November 11, 2007

when palpitations occur, a simple cough when they start will stop the palpitation. It really works.

suggested by Tomi on Thursday, April 19, 2007

Read this book - it will open your eyes to the importance of minerals - especially magnesium. I had severe heart arrythmia, irregular and rapid heartbeat - I read this book and started taking magnesium supplements, and no symptoms are present

Essential Oil for Heart Palpitations
suggested by Marilee on Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I have palpitations of my heart every so often. I always make sure I am well hydrated (drinking enough water) and that I have plenty of minerals in my system (potassium deficiency can cause heart palpitations). Once I am okay in both of those areas, and if I am still having them, then I reach for my Ylang Ylang essential oil (only the therapeutic grade - not perfume grade). I put a few drops over my pulse points on my wrists and on the sides of my neck where my carotids are. Ylang Ylang always helps me. Don't think I am saying not to go to a doctor if you are having a problem - but here is an option you can try at home anyway. I have gobs of information about how to use the essential oils to help the body heal.

The Yeast Syndrome
suggested by [unspecified] on Wednesday, March 16, 2005

"The Yeast Syndrome" is a book written back in the 60,s or 70,s. I have read the book, and bought several copies that I gave out. I have recommended this book to many people with health issues. Several years ago I was told the book was no longer in print. My last copy had been loaned out and never returned. Everyone I have known that has gone on the yeast diet has talked of experiencing "amazing, life changing" results, including myself. This diet effects every aspect of our health, mentally and physically. After reading many books and research on health, this information was the "missing link" to everything I had learned about health. I feel that after reading this book, and experiencing the amazing results of the diet, it gave me a revelation about health. I believe that the "overgrowth" of yeast in the body is the number one "culprit" that is making everything go wrong. The overgrowth of yeast in the body is caused from too many chemicals, promoting this overgrowth of yeast that travels throughout the body and settling in different areas of the body, causing chemicl reactions, that causes chemical imbalances, that causes health problems... medications, chemicals, processed foods, alcohol, sugars(foods that turn into sugar in the body), flour products(we should eat grains in their whole form), basically, we are to eat the foods that our creator designed for our bodies, foods in their natural form.