Here is Part 5 of our 6 part mini health series. Do you have high blood pressure?
You can achieve normal blood pressure levels,, and if you do suffer from high blood pressure you are certain to get a few good health tips from this article.
Your Blood Pressure – Part 5
We all know somebody with high blood pressure (BP). According to statistics, one in five Australians have high BP. In America, only 68 % are aware of their high blood pressure, thousands may not even know they potentially have it, and only 27 % actually have it under control.
High blood pressure is one of the most serious of health problems in this country; frequent symptoms such as mild headaches, dizziness, a sensation of dullness and difficulty thinking often go ignored. Some sufferers never even experience warning symptoms. And as a result, the disease slowly destroys multiple organs and tissues until a health crisis inevitably becomes apparent.
It is unfair in the 21st century for a medical doctor to tell a patient that they should see “a real” doctor if the patient has BP, and to avoid natural medicine. High blood pressure in most cases can be improved dramatically by adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle in general, because high blood pressure is a disease of “modern civilisation”, i.e; it is not really an issue in the underdeveloped nations.
Here are some good sensible BP treatment guidelines, but please, be sensible and work with your practitioner – medical or natural. BP is one condition best left to your health care professional, and definitely not a case of “DIY”. I am certainly not advocating “cures”, but have seen blood pressure in many people normalise once the cause was appropriately addressed; ie – being overweight, too stressed or anxious or other similar factors.
The Emotional Connection and BP
I will often tell patients with a known history of BP to take their own blood pressure at home, so reliably does it go up under the stress of being in the doctor’s office. You smell the medical office environment, you see the white coats, you get tense – and the stress is often subconscious. I think it probably stems back to stress you experienced (like having an injection, or some stitches, etc) as a youngster in the doctor’s office. Emotions rule – remember when you were waiting for your driving instructor to come and fetch you to do your driving test? I’ll bet your BP was elevated – we call this anticipatory anxiety, just like in the doctor’s office before your BP is taken.
By keeping a person with BP calm, the blood pressure elevations do not occur as frequently, and what is the point of just treating the high blood pressure symptomatically, without treating the cause long-term?. It is always important to treat the cause, not the symptom, and BP is no different. And guys – how many of you can you relate to staying cool, calm, and collected when the pressure is on? It probably comes as no news to most people that heart attacks and high blood pressure are closely associated with each other and also very much associated with the amount of tension in one’s life.
People who live in a tense home situation or have stressful and very demanding jobs tend to have much more cardiac and high blood pressure disease than people in more relaxed daily surroundings. Relaxed, calm and easy going people tend to have lower blood pressures that “A type” personalities.
• The diet: Should be low in refined sugar, fat, caffeine, and alcohol; high in fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Consumption of a vegetarian diet has been associated with lower blood pressure, compared with a diet containing red meat. The Mediterranean diet is probably the best one.
• Salt intake should be low-to-moderate; don’t stop salt – severe salt restriction may impair glucose tolerance and have other adverse effects. I always recommend a little Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt daily. Unbelievable but true, one patient I know actually lowered her BP by adding a little salt to her diet, she was told to strictly avoid all salt. Sodium regulates the body’s water balance (by causing the retention of water) – and, sodium helps to maintain a normal balance of water between the body’s cells and surrounding fluids, so don’t just STOP eating salt, just be careful how much you have.
• Consume garlic and onions daily – For example in one study, 40% of hypertensive subjects experienced a reduction of 20 mmHg or more in their BP after seven days of garlic consumption.
• Consumption of oily fish (e.g., mackerel, salmon, tuna and cod) helps lower BP – but monitor the mercury levels every now & then by way of a Hair Analysis.
• Work with food allergies if these perhaps may be an issue – this can be an amazing hidden source of BP problems for some.
• I know there is a lot of hype about soy, but ingestion of soy milk (500 ml twice a day for 3 months) was associated with a marked reduction in systolic (-18.4 mm Hg) and diastolic (-15.9 mm Hg) blood pressure in one major study.
• Got a sweet tooth? In one human study, after the ingestion of one dosage of Stevia, systolic BP fell by approximately 9.5% and usage of Stevia for 30 days caused a decrease in both systolic and diastolic BP. Like licorice? – forget it, it can increase BP.
Most Important Supplements in Blood Pressure
There is a lot of hype about all sorts of fancy potions for controlling BP, but good old calcium, magnesium and potassium work wonders for most people. Try them first – save your money. If your blood pressure does not decline after a month on calcium and magnesium alone, stop taking calcium and magnesium in higher doses and stick more with lifestyle changes (especially weight reduction).
800-1,000 mg/day (appears to be effective only for salt-sensitive hypertension). Always balance calcium with magnesium, 300-500 mg/day.If you have mild hypertension (140 to 159 systolic and 90 to 99 diastolic), always start making lifestyle changes first, then start taking calcium and magnesium. In several studies, calcium has been shown to lower blood pressure; it is also involved in muscle contraction, so it is good for the heart and blood vessels.
300-500 mg/day: Results with magnesium alone are variable; however, magnesium should be given if calcium is supplemented. Magnesium relaxes the muscles that control blood vessels, permitting blood to flow more freely. It also helps to maintain a balance between potassium and sodium in the blood, which has a most positive effect on blood pressure.
The diet is the preferred source of potassium. However, supplementation with 600-1,000 mg/day may be worthwhile if dietary intake of potassium is sub-optimal. Potassium is effective in reducing blood pressure – but check with your practitioner if you are on a diuretic. Potassium supplements are almost never necessary; eating more fruits and vegetables is sufficient for most people – try eating kumara and tomato paste regularly, they are the highest sources you will generally find, apart from vegetable juices. Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food!
4. Coenzyme Q10
60-200 mg/day, in divided doses, may produce substantial reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, particularly after 1-4 months of treatment. Your energy will increase as well. Take CoQ10 with foods for best absorption.
5. Essential fatty acids (EFAs):
Supplementation with Omega 3 fish oil or sunflower oil has lowered blood pressure in some, but not all, studies. One study showed that DHA supplementation lowered systolic blood pressure, while EPA did not. Flaxseed oil has been ineffective. There is little research on the use of a combination of EFAs. The decision of whether to supplement with EFAs is influenced by the EFA content of your diet, and by the presence of signs of EFA deficiency (such as dry, flaky skin, dandruff, poor nails, etc). Another tip with oils – did you have you gallbladder removed? – then take oil supplements with a digestive enzyme, you will feel much better for it, your bowels won’t be as messy and you will absorb more. The best dietary supplement to take with a low tolerance towards fatty meals (if say a meal of fish and chips makes you feel “sickly” or nauseous) the take Lipotropic Factors. A good tip to remember. People without gallbladders will absorb fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E & K) more effectively if they improve their digestion generally.
6. Vitamin C
500-1,000 mg/day: reduces systolic blood pressure in elderly individuals, it will do so by helping to widen blood vessels. Vit C also prevents abnormal blood-clotting, atherosclerotic plaque development, helps prevent ischemic heart disease, stroke & thrombosis, and improves congestive heart failure. Are you not a fan of vitamin C like me yet? You’d better be!
7 Vitamin E
Always supplement with Vitamin E (400 IU/day) with blood pressure. Vitamin E does not raise blood pressure, contrary to early reports. There are dozens of studies which validate Vitamin E and blood pressure. Just keep an eye on your BP. especially if start to take 800iu/Vitamin E daily.
500 mg twice a day on an empty stomachand Arginine1,000 mg twice a day on an empty stomach. (Don’t take arginine if you have genital herpes, or are prone to cold sores).Taurine helps to normalise the increased nervous system activity associated with high blood pressure, and arginine appears to widen blood vessels. These amino acids are not considered by me to be really essential in BP management on their own, they are often found in BP formulae which are available in health food shops or from your practitioner. I think they work better and more synergistically when combined for example with the herb hawthorn, CoQ10, magnesium, vitamin E and calcium. Use on their own in high dose with more advanced heart disease, e.g with congestive heart failure or particularly if one has BP along with macular degeneration or diabetes.
The herb hawthorn may help to BP by dilating the blood vessels by functioning as a diuretic and by enhancing heart function. It has a reputation for normalizing BP – i.e., if BP is low it helps to increase BP, if it is high it helps to lower BP. This herb has some reputation, and has been used since time immemorial with all manner of heart complaints.
The current use of hawthorn for heart conditions dates back to the 17th century, according to Dr. Green, an Irish doctor, is known to have used it extensively–though secretly–for heart ailments. After his death in 1894, his daughter revealed the famous cure to be a tincture of the ripe berries of Crataegus oxycanthus. In Europe, both homeopathic and medical doctors used the herb for various heart and cardiovascular ailments from the late 19th through the early 20th centuries and with great clinical success. Hawthorn had entered American clinical practice by 1896 only to fade from use in the 1930’s, the drug companies started coming into their own at this stage.
Conclusion: By working on your weight, your stress levels and your overall health and fitness you will be amazed at how quickly your blood pressure can improve. Isn’t it funny how we always want to “take” things to improve our BP, when what we really need to be looking at is improving the simple things first like our weight, our diet as well as our fitness level? High blood pressure affects so many people in this country, is high blood pressure affecting you? By following the above mentioned self help tips you will be surprised how quickly your cardiovascular health can improve.
Next article, the final in the series, we focus on your weight.