- Alternative & Natural Medicine
Healing High Blood Pressure & Hypertension Naturally
Potential factors in the development of high blood pressure:
- Increasing age
- Decrease in activity levels
- Increased stress
- High alcohol intake
- High sodium diet
- Excess caffeine
- Genetic predisposition
- It’s more common in men than women & more common in African-Americans
- Kidney disease
- Hormonal disorders
- Long term lead exposure (heavy metals)
- Oral contraceptives & corticosteroids usage
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
High blood pressure (or hypertension, which is persistent high blood pressure) affects at least 1 in 5 Americans. It can cause damage to the heart, arteries, kidneys, and eyes, sometimes leading to strokes or heart attacks. While our blood pressure is designed to rise, it is also designed to lower. For example it rises during exercise or stressful situations and lowers during rest.
High blood pressure is almost solely a lifestyle and diet disorder. Industrialized countries with stress, toxicity, and poor eating habits are one of the few things that all hypertension patients have in common. Individuals in remote areas of New Guinea, Panama, Brazil, China, and Africa have no traces of high blood pressure regardless of age and yet when relocated to an industrialized area, hypertension crept into their health statistics.
- Celery: 4 ribs a day has shown a 12-14% decrease in blood pressure levels. For some, this has been enough to prevent their need to take medication. There is also a celery seed extract that can be helpful.
- Avocados and asparagus: rich in L-glutathione (amino acid) which scavenges for harmful free radicals
- Garlic & onions: significantly reduce blood pressure
- Oatmeal: even one ounce cooked per day lowered blood pressure compared to those who didn’t
Things You Can Do To Help Yourself
If you or someone you love has high blood pressure, there are things that you can do to take back control of your health!
- Consume less salt and saturated fats
One study showed that the reduction of salt to 5g per day had a significant effect in blood pressure levels for individuals who had high blood pressure and those who did not. You can eliminate high salt products by not consuming foods in bags, boxes, and other packaged goods. Instead choose fresh, “real” food and cook without using salt (or very little).
- Consume more vegetables, fruit and oily fish
- Increase potassium levels
By increasing potassium, sodium is lowered. A potassium-rich diet has plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Combined with a low-sodium diet, a potassium-rich diet can lower blood pressure levels. Try avocados, bananas, and whole grains, food-based supplements like Vital-K or Bio-K, and salt-substitutes NuSalt or Nu-Salt, which provide 530mg of potassium per one-sixth of a teaspoon.
- Reduce caffeine
Coffee consumption increases blood pressure, contributing to hypertension. One study showed that the average 5 cups per day contributed to the increase in blood pressure. This blood pressure increase due to caffeine is greater in younger individuals.
- Drink alcohol in moderation (no more than 21 units for men per week, 14 for women
- Stop smoking
Slow, yoga-type breathing has been proven as effective as medication in lowering blood pressure in mild hypertensive cases. The movements in yoga have also contributed to the reduction in blood pressure, enough to eliminate or reduce the use of medication altogether.
- Use biofeedback
Try HeartMath or seek out a biofeedback practitioner, as it has been proven to reduce blood pressure levels and maintain them over extended periods of time. You will benefit from the relaxation strategies as well as the empowerment.
- Move – take a walk, bike ride, yoga class, anything to keep your body moving
- Reduce exposure to lead
Lead toxicity has been seen in enough hypertension cases to be considered a contributing factor. You can reduce your exposure by taking action now: reduce exposure to lead paint in older homes, run water for at least a minute to avoid lead solder in the pipes, filter your drinking water (always!), do not drink or eat out of leaded crystal or improperly glazed ceramics, make sure supplements like calcium are lead-free, and be cautious when using lead for soldering. Vitamins C, B6, and calcium help remove lead and other heavy metals from the body. You can also have your heavy metal toxicity levels tested by a qualified holistic nutrition professional. Contact me if you would like a test.
Medication doesn’t always work and has serious side effects. One professional in the field of health says that once medication has been chosen, people tend to need it for life. Whether you’re on medication for life or want to get off of it, please consider some of the cautions below.
- Magnesium should be monitored (no more than 300mg per day) if someone is taking spironolactone (a potassium-saving diuretic for edema and high blood pressure). This medicine may prevent the loss of potassium and magnesium, so all supplementation should be closely monitored.
- Quercetin should not be taken by individuals who are also taking felodipine (for high blood pressure); quercetin may inhibit the breakdown of the drug, thereby increasing the blood levels of the drug in the body, leading to side-effects.
- Vitamin D, while incredibly therapeutic, should not be taken by people who are taking erapamil (used for angina, arrhythmia, and high blood pressure).
- Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) may interfere with blood pressure treatment when taken in large doses. Should not be used long term.
- Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) and American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) may increase blood pressure, though it’s rare.
- Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) can cause abnormalities in potassium and should not be taken by individuals with high blood pressure.
- Schisandra (schisandra chineensis) should be avoided by those with hypertension.
Supplements & Herbs to Consider
Always consult your physician before beginning a treatment program, especially if you are taking any medication.
- Calcium (helps most in individuals whose blood pressure is salt-sensitive): 1000mg per day for 12 weeks.
- Magnesium: 300-500mg per day. (The calculation is 12mg of magnesium per kilogram of body weight – or per 2.2 pounds.) Please note that magnesium-aspartate, -malate, -succinate, -fumarate, and –citrate are easier to absorb and digest than others (-oxide, -gluconate, -sulfate, or -chloride).
- Coenzyme Q10: 50mg twice a day. Approximately 4 out of 10 people with high blood pressure are deficient in CoQ10. This supplement has shown reductions of 10%.
- Fish oil supplements: 3g daily (modestly lowers blood pressure)
- Flaxseed oil (instead of fish oil) in some cases is cheaper and effective: 1 TBSP per day has shown drops in systolic and diastolic readings by up to 9 points.
- Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus): antispasmodic, relaxes muscles in the walls of the arteries
- Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): traditionally used and clinically proven to be a diuretic that helps reduce blood pressure. This diuretic will not contribute to potassium-loss like conventional medicine because it is rich in potassium itself.
- Garlic: increases the elasticity of the arterial wall.
- Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.): food for the heart, contains antioxidants, dilates the blood vessels, and is particularly helpful in treating hypertension associated with atherosclerosis. This is used in Europe for the cardiovascular benefits. If you purchase it, it should contain 10% procyanidins or 1.8% vitexin-4’-rhamnoside. Take 250mg 3 times per day. Wait 2-4 weeks to see results.
- Linden flowers (Tilia europea): diaphoretic (promotes sweating) and relaxant; has the potential to lower systolic blood pressure.
- Mushrooms (Maitake & Reishi): Maitake mushrooms strengthen health and have healing abilities when applied to hypertension, showing a gradual reduction. Reishi mushrooms, “the elixir of immortality” is confirmed by research to be a cardiotonic. Take the extract 3 times a day for 4 weeks to experience the significant drop in blood pressure that participants did.
Homeopathy has also been proven effective in treating hypertension (consult a homeopath for more information).
For more information & free resources, visit http://www.freedomfromdiets.com !
In peace and health,
Goldberg, B. (2002). Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. Celestial Arts: Berkeley, CA
Murray, M. (2000). Dr. Murray’s Total Body Tune-Up: Bantam Books, NY, NY.
Pelletier, K. R. (2007). New Medicine: DK Publishing, NY, NY.
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Kundalini yoga works the body, mind, and spirit.