Natural Remedies for High Blood Pressure - Hypertension Medication - Do You Really Need It?
I'm a recovering hypertension patient. I am. I am. . .
It is hard to recover from hypertension, but I'm trying, with the help of natural remedies. Doctors put high blood pressure patients on medication and throw away the key. It is supposedly a life sentence! But I'm stubborn. I want to recover. This lens shares details of my journey, thus far. I'm still in the recovery process.
I don't want to give you false hope. Doctors say recovery is very unlikely. I'm looking into natural remedies. I want to quit taking pharmaceutical meds!
Image above: My hypertension pills... photo by Linda Jo Martin.
This page was made by Linda Jo Martin, novelist and content writer.
You can connect with me on Google Plus.
This page was updated in January, 2013.
Why I wrote this hypertension medication lens
I've had high blood pressure for about fifteen years. This lens full of hypertension information is based on my own experience as a hypertension patient. My goal is to take charge of my own health care and find a way to get off the medication for good!
A family disease
They call high blood pressure "the silent killer" . . .
High blood pressure, hypertension, runs in my family. My grandmother (Mom's mom) had multiple strokes. My sister, a nurse practitioner who inquires about all health matters, once told me that our grandmother didn't take her high blood pressure medications regularly, and that's what caused the strokes. When my grandmother was almost eighty, right before we were to have a grand birthday celebration for her, she had the worst stroke of all. The party was canceled. She never was to walk or talk right again. She spent the last six years of her life in a wheelchair... a bitter pill for a formerly very active outdoors-woman to swallow.
After seeing that, I honestly can say I don't take my quest lightly. When I say I want to quit taking high blood pressure medications I don't mean that I'll simply quit taking them and risk my health. No, no, no, no . . . I am a cautious person. I am cautiously exploring natural remedies and treatments.
How I got hooked on Atenolol and Adalat.
I was surprised in 1994 when a doctor told me I needed hypertension medication. I was only 42 years old. I'd had high blood pressure problems with two of my pregnancies but at that time I didn't realize my family had a history of high blood pressure, and didn't know what that would mean for me. The doctor prescribed Atenolol and Valium. The Valium was supposed to help me relax as at the time I had the most stressful job ever - as mother to two preschool aged children. My stress level was extremely high.
I'd already heard that there were problems with the safety of Valium, so I never took any of those pills. I didn't want to take something that might cause brain damage. However I took the Atenolol, and then ran out. At that point I moved to another town and was living alone with my two children and never had any time to myself to go see a doctor. After months of worrying about my health, I got a chance to see a doctor. He didn't want to put me on the medication! He wanted me to try diet and exercise first. . . but I insisted on getting the Atenolol prescription. In retrospect I can see I did this to myself!
A month or two later a nurse practitioner noticed the Atenolol didn't have much effect on my blood pressure, so she prescribed a second pill, Adalat, also known as Nifedipine. Atenolol is a beta blocker and Adalat is a calcium channel blocker. I took them both together for years.
Nine years of medication before I finally realized
... that these high blood pressure pills were not good for me!
Flash forward from 1994 to 2003. I moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to the remote forest town of Happy Camp in far-northern California. I was taking a College of the Siskiyous class to be an Emergency Medical Technician - EMT1, basic level . . . and we were doing all sorts of things in class to learn what to do when we go out on calls. While there, I learned about heart rates, tachycardia and bradycardia. Yes, I was a newbie to medical instruction . . . my college degrees were in Early Childhood Education and Paralegal Studies. I took the EMT class on an impulse only because I couldn't find another class to take that semester!
So there we were in class, all gathered around taking each other's pulses, and people were having a hard time finding my pulse. When they did, it was measured to be about half the rate as most others. It was a clear case of bradycardia. To say it mildly - I was alarmed! How could it be that my pulse rate was only sixty beats per minute?
I tested myself often from that point on and it never got any faster. Unfortunately, at times it got slower - all the way down to forty beats a minute. I was worried it would just quit beating someday! How much slower could it get before I was dead?
I asked my nurse practitioner about it and found out it was considered normal because I was taking a beta blocker for hypertension. Atenolol.
About that time I realized that since my pulse was slow, all those aerobic exercises I'd been doing for years weren't able to work because I couldn't get my pulse rate up high enough for aerobic conditioning to take place. No wonder it was so hard for me to lose weight! I was mightily upset!
Next I did research on the Internet and discovered there are also problems and side effects with Nifedipine (Adalat), for example, headaches, which I had frequently. I went to the nurse practitioner and told her I needed to get off both the meds - and you know what she told me... that hypertension patients don't recover and must take medication all their lives.
I vowed to be an exception to that rule!
A change in medication - to ACE inhibitors
I confronted my nurse practitioner with my newfound realization that the Atenolol was keeping me from being able to lose weight, and convinced her that I had to change to another medication. She helped me wean myself off Atenolol and Adalat, and replaced those with ACE inhibitors and diuretics. Supposedly safer, but by now I trust the pharmaceutical companies as much as I'd trust an angry rattlesnake. I still haven't lost the weight, and I'm wondering if there's any Aspartame (poison) or Fluoride (poison) in either of these medications. Funny how pharmaceutical companies don't give you a list of ingredients.
To take control of your own blood pressure treatments you'll need a good blood pressure machine - ...be sure to get a cuff that is the right size for your arm!
I use my blood pressure monitor frequently. While not taking meds I was using it three times daily, to make sure my blood pressure didn't go too high. Now I take my blood pressure to make sure the meds are still working adequately.
How High Is Normal?
...what is high blood pressure anyway?
I've done a lot of research on the internet. One thing I discovered is that the definition of high blood pressure has changed radically over the years. In the old days people were expected to have blood pressure readings that by today's standards would be considered high.
See this article: Blood Pressure 100 Plus your Age
The new recommendation is to keep blood pressure at 115/75 or below, which is very hard to achieve for many people my age. See this hypertension chart.
The old formula:
100 + age = normal blood pressure (for men)
100 + age - 10 = normal blood pressure (for women)
Okay, I tried that for a while. I quit taking my blood pressure medications entirely - except for use of medical marijuana. My blood pressure fluctuated between about 125/80 to 170/90. Normal for me, at age 57, was (according to the formula) 100 + 57 = 157 - 10 = 147. When my blood pressure was 147/90 or less, I felt great - like everything was going to be okay because that was the old standard for "normal". However when my blood pressure was up around 170/90, ::gasp:: ...I felt panicked!
My friend kept telling me it was going up only because I was testing it too often and worrying too much. After a couple months of doing this, I started getting readings in the 180s fairly frequently! That's when I really panicked, and went back onto my meds. I do not want to have a stroke - especially since I live about 100 miles from the nearest hospital.
I wasn't ready to give up the meds, and I think a lot of the reason why is those two terrible words: Diet and Exercise. I need more of them... and to lose weight, before I'll be able to really make it without my blood pressure medication.
Why has the standard for hypertension changed? - ...why do doctors today say blood pressure should be lower than in the old days?
I have two theories for why medical researchers and doctors are telling us our blood pressure should be kept much lower than in the past. Take your pick:
1) Doctors today know more and are giving better recommendations for our health and well-being.
2) Pharmaceutical companies want to sell more pills so they're getting researchers to recommend blood pressure medications to more people by making the new standard for normal blood pressure much lower than before.
Which do you think is more accurate?
. . .
Why do you think the standard for normal blood pressure has been lowered?
Because doctors are better informed now.
Blood pressure can be lowered with a chiropractic adjustment - I would love to get this done...
I haven't done this yet because I live a long way from the nearest chiropractor - but as soon as possible, I will find a chiropractor to do this for me.
Natural remedies I have tried - I've tried so many things...
Potassium - ...some say this cured their hypertension!
Some people claim to have cured their hypertension by taking large doses of potassium. They say hypertension is related to potassium deficiency.
Mega-dosing on potassium isn't safe unless you can frequently see a doctor to have your blood potassium levels monitored. Using large doses is risky.
I use potassium (in moderation) whenever I eat too much salt - for example, if I decide to have nachos (salt on the chips). This is to balance the salt intake with potassium.
Leslie Sanson Walking Video --- I Use This One
If I can't get outside to walk or ride my bike, I exercise upstairs in our apartment community's exercise room, or I walk along with this Leslie Sansone video. I bought this through Amazon and it remains in "the cloud" for whenever I want to watch it. Of course, that won't work if there's no internet connection.
Exercise Really Helps
Everyone has the time for exercise.
I definitely love to exercise . . . and especially love walking or riding an exercise bike instead.
During this last year I've been doing a lot of bike riding outside, and walking. I find that when I get a lot of exercise my blood pressure goes way down.
Recently I took a nine mile bike ride. I took my blood pressure machine with me, and tested my blood pressure three times. Each time, my blood pressure was a bit lower. For example, before I started it was about 138/89, and a few miles later - I was down to 129/80. Several miles later, 115/72.
I very much recommend frequent strenuous exercise as a way to control blood pressure. It works for me. Consult your doctor before starting an exercise program, of course...
My current status...
...and plans for future success in getting off hypertension medications!
For now, I'm still taking hypertension medications - a pill that combines the ACE inhibitor with a diuretic.. The good news is that my blood pressure is usually controlled at about 125/80. The frustration is that I still want to stop taking high blood pressure medications. I long for natural solutions.
So, my intent is to find a way to lose the weight, exercise more, and get my body under control. If I still have a blood pressure problem when I'm at a "normal" weight for my height, I will try going off the medications again, and using only natural remedies at that time.
An Update! Fasting! My best recovery experience to date for my high blood pressure problem
...after 15 days of fasting my blood pressure was low, without the help of meds!
I am convinced that if I were able to fast for a week or two every month, I wouldn't have any problems with hypertension.
In 2011 I fasted for two weeks using the Master Cleanse "Lemonade Diet". During that time I monitored my blood pressure at home daily.
After about a week my blood pressure was low enough that I no longer needed to take my high blood pressure medication. I continued to fast after the minimum time for that fast, which is ten days. At fifteen days I became concerned about having blood pressure that was too low! It got down to about 75/50! No meds! Because I worried about it being TOO low, I quit fasting.
For a couple months after that, I didn't need the meds, but gradually my blood pressure went up again. At this time I'm taking about half the medication I was originally prescribed. So far, this is the perfect amount for me. I really do need to get back into fasting. I believe if I did it regularly, hypertension wouldn't be a problem.
This is the original book on the lemonade diet - the one everyone is supposed to read before actually doing the fast for the first time. All the steps are explained in this book by Stanley Burroughs.
The fast starts with a laxative tea the night before. The tea is to be drunk every night. In the morning there's a salt water flush, or more tea. This is all part of the cleansing of your internal digestive systems.
The lemonade turns alkaline in your stomach. This is extremely healing. It is said that cancer cannot exist in an alkaline environment. That's why I wanted to continue fasting after ten days. Many people stay on this fast for as long as 40 days. Some do it longer. This is explained in the book. It is very healing.
The recipe for the lemonade is explained in the book. Fresh lemons - organic if you can get them. Real maple syrup - not the flavored sugar water sold in stores these days, but the real maple syrup that comes from trees. This will help suppress appetite and keep your energy up. It works very well and hunger isn't often experienced with this lemonade diet. Yes, there will be some "hungry days" but for the most part it is very bearable.
The other ingredient, cayenne, is optional - but seriously, I loved mixing cayenne with the lemonade in a shot glass and drinking it down first... so spicy and tasty. Believe me, if all you're drinking for ten days is lemonade (and the evening tea, and peppermint tea) the cayenne shot is a serious treat! (Really, I'm not the only person who feels this way.) The cayenne opens your cell walls and lets the cleansing properties of the lemonade in.
Anyhow, this is the book. It can reverse your hypertension. It is not a difficult fast. It is healthy. It is yellow (at least the book and the lemons are). And it is cheap... and a short but helpful little book to read.
ONE CAVEAT . . . the book says that you should quit taking your meds when you start fasting. I do NOT do that and don't recommend you do. Instead, get a high blood pressure monitor to use at home, and don't quit the meds until you're sure it is safe to do so. Consult your doctor and see if you can get daily monitoring during your fast. My local health clinic would let me visit daily without charge to test my blood pressure. The only reason I didn't do so is because I self-test at home and feel confident about doing so.
Another update... I'm vegan now and my blood pressure is NORMAL...
...so how about that?
During the last couple of months I've been focusing on going vegan, and finally got to the point where I could give up the butter and Parmesan cheese (my last two dairy addictions) and guess what?
MY BLOOD PRESSURE IS SO LOW I CAN'T TAKE MY MEDS!!!
You heard it! I can't take those high blood pressure meds at all because my blood pressure dropped to the normal range.
WOW. I'm so amazed.
I'm not sure if this is because of the lack of dairy food, or because I added hemp seeds and nutritional yeast flakes to my diet. I've been sprinkling my pasta with nutritional yeast flakes just like I used to use Parmesan cheese!
I noticed because yesterday morning I was washing walls, and got so exhausted I nearly passed out. So I checked my blood pressure and it was way down.... 109/59... and right now it is only 129/65 and I haven't had any hypertension meds in at least three days.
I'll update again later.
Hemp seeds contain all 9 of the amino acids our bodies can't produce. They are a great protein food.
They contain no THC and won't get you high.
The have a perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 Linoleic Acid and Omega-3 Linolenic Acid.
They are already shelled; just pour from the bag directly onto your food, use on salads, in burritos instead of cheese, and as an addition to almost any recipe.
I got the brand pictured below - there are two bags included. I recommend this product.
Change of plans - the candida diet - My new diet as of February 2013 is intended to eliminate excess candida in my system
Did you know that excess candida can cause high blood pressure? I didn't know this until very recently. I was having problems with skin eruptions and after weeks of desperate research I found out about this book, The Candida Cure. In involves a 90-day candida cleanse diet.
I'm on that diet now, and am writing about it at My Candida Diet - 90 Days to Better Health.
So far I've lost 3 pounds... not much, but I have just now started the diet after about three weeks of transitioning off my slightly-more-normal vegetarian diet. The candida diet is much more restrictive. For example, yeasted breads, potatoes, caffeine, and most sweeteners are not allowed.
My goal in doing this diet is to end the skin eruptions. If my blood pressure normalizes, that would be an awesome additional benefit. I'd like to lose more weight as well.