Blood Pressure, High
As blood circulates through the body, it presses against the walls of the arteries. The force of this action is called blood pressure. When the pressure is too high, the arte- rial walls become distorted—they may narrow or thicken—and an extra burden of stress is placed on the heart.
Blood pressure may temporarily rise from exercise, stress, and emotions ranging from joy to anger. Usually, the pressure returns to normal once the situation has passed. In many people, however, blood pressure is high all the time. More than 50 million Americans have high blood pressure (also known as hypertension), including almost half of those over the age of sixty-ﬁve. The disorder can lead to very serious condi- tions, including stroke, heart disease, diabetes, eye damage, and kidney problems, so it is considered one of the country’s leading health problems.
Sometimes there are symptoms of high blood pressure. You may have unex- plained headaches, nosebleeds, or spells of dizziness or sweating. But most of the time high blood pressure is completely asymptomatic, so it’s vital that you have it checked
regularly. The disorder can strike anyone at any age, but it is most common among the elderly, African Americans, and people of all races living in the southeastern United States. If you fall into any of these risk categories, or if you have a family his- tory of hypertension, you should be doubly sure to have routine checks and to take preventative measures.
About 90 percent of all cases of high blood pressure are called primary or essen- tial hypertension, meaning that there is no underlying disease and no obvious cause. Most likely, a cluster of lifestyle factors is to blame: diet, lack of exercise, stress, and smoking have all been linked to an increase in blood pressure. If another disease or condition, such as cardiovascular disease or kidney, adrenal, or thyroid disorders causes the problem, it is called secondary hypertension. A very small percentage of people suffer from malignant hypertension, in which blood pressure can suddenly soar to extremely dangerous levels.
Essential hypertension can often be controlled with home treatment, but if you have any kind of high blood pressure, you must be under the care of a doctor. Talk to him or her about the strategies you want to employ for wellness.
High blood pressure does not usually produce symptoms. If, however, you experience any of the following, see a doctor:
• Recurring headaches
• Unexplained sweating
• Visual disturbances
• Shortness of breath
• Flushed cheeks
• Ringing in the ears
• A diet that’s high in fat, sugar, and/or salt
• Use of alcohol or caffeine and other stimulants
• * Smoking
• Pregnancy or birth-control pills
• Underlying medical disorders
• Heavy-metal poisoning
The following tests help assess possible metabolic reasons for high blood pressure:
Vitamin and mineral analysis—blood or urine Food allergy testing—blood or electrodermal Toxic metals (lead, cadmium, etc.)—hair or urine
The Western diet has a lot to do with hypertension. Following the suggestions here will make a real difference in your blood pressure and your overall wellness.
Then you have your blood pres- sure checked, the doctor or the nurse usually tells you the two num- bers of your reading and whether you have cause for concern. But most
health-care professionals don’t take the time to explain exactly what those numbers mean. Since this is one of the most important medical tests people receive on a regular basis, here’s a quick analysis.
The ﬁrst number is called the sys- tolic pressure. It is measured when the heart beats and indicates the highest amount of pressure against the arterial walls. Between heartbeats, the heart is at rest and pressure drops to its lowest level. This low reading is called the diastolic pressure.
Sample blood pressure reading of 120/80
systolic pressure = 120
diastolic pressure = 80
Blood pressure varies with age and ﬂuctuates many times over the course of a day; it often rises in a doctor’s ofﬁce, when many people feel nervous or tense. Blood pressure should be taken when you are calm and unstressed, and it is best to average a total of three readings, taken on different days. The consensus is that for most healthy adults, 120/80 is normal.
Readings are broken down into sev- eral categories:
High normal: 130–139/85–89
Mild hypertension: 140–159/90–99
Severe hypertension: 180 or higher/110 or higher
A diet high in ﬁber is an excellent way to control or reverse high blood pressure. Your meals should be based around fresh, raw vegetables; soy products; whole grains, like oats; beans; nuts; and seeds.
Dehydration increases the risk of hypertension, so drink a glass of clean water every two waking hours.
As you lower your intake of salt, you must also increase your consumption of potas- sium. A combination of excess sodium and a deﬁciency in potassium has been found in many people with hypertension. Good sources of potassium include apples, aspara- gus, cabbage, oranges, tomatoes, bananas, kelp (Ascophyllum nodosum), and alfalfa.
Apples are superfoods for people with high blood pressure. Not only do they have high levels of potassium, they’re also a good source of pectin, which is an excellent type of soluble ﬁber.
Onions, garlic, and parsley have been shown to bring down blood pressure. They also add ﬂavor to vegetarian meals, so take advantage of their healing properties daily.
Celery has been shown in animal studies to reduce blood pressure. Consume up to four stalks a day.
Food to Avoid
People with high blood pressure generally beneﬁt from restricting their intake of salt. Salt contains sodium, which causes water retention and increases the pressure inside the arteries. It is not enough to simply stop using table salt; you must also cut out all processed and packaged foods, as well as smoked meats and cheeses, as they are loaded with sodium.
Avoid the use of the herbs ephedra (Ma huang), Chinese ginseng (Panax ginseng), and large amounts of licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), as they may increase blood pressure.
randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of seventy- four people with type 2 diabetes found that 100 mg of coenzyme Q10 taken twice daily signiﬁcantly low- ered blood pressure over a period of twelve weeks.
Other studies have also found CoQ10 blood pressure– lowering beneﬁts.
• Saturated, hydrogenated, and partially hydrogenated fats cause high blood pressure and place a terrible burden on your arteries and heart. Eliminate ani- mal products, margarine, butter, shortening, and reﬁned vegetable oils.
• Sugar is linked to hypertension. If you do not eat packaged or processed foods, you will eliminate the largest sources of added sugar from your diet, but you should also avoid sugary baked goods and limit your intake of foods that are sweetened naturally.
• Overindulgence in caffeine is a cause of high blood pressure. Cut back on your intake of coffee, colas, chocolate, and caffeinated teas.
• Allow yourself no more than one alcoholic beverage a day.
Do a one- to three-day juice fast every month. Drink a wide variety of juices to sup- port your fast, including those made from apples, bok choy, carrots, onions, leafy greens, apricots, cranberries, cantaloupe, papayas, and red grapes.
Super Seven Prescriptions—High Blood Pressure
Super Prescription #1 Hawthorn (Crataegus oxycanthae)
Take 250 mg of a standardized extract three times daily. This herb dilates the artery walls and decreases blood pressure.
Super Prescription #2 Calcium and magnesium
These minerals have been shown in studies to lower blood pressure. Take a com- bination of 500 mg of calcium and 250 mg of magnesium twice daily.
Super Prescription #3 Coenzyme Q10
Studies show that this nutrient reduces blood pressure. Take 100 mg two to three times daily.
Super Prescription #4 Garlic (Allium sativum)
Several studies conﬁrm garlic’s ability to lower blood pressure. Take 600 mg twice daily of an aged garlic extract.
Super Prescription #5 Fish oil
Fish oil reduces blood pressure when taken on a long-term basis. Take 3,000 mg three times daily.
Super Prescription #6 Potassium
This mineral has been shown in repeated studies to lower blood pressure. Take as part of a salt-substitute product. Otherwise, use up to 2,000 mg under the super- vision of a doctor. Do not use if you are taking a potassium-sparing diuretic med- ication or have kidney disease or serious heart disease.
Super Prescription #7 Vitamin C
Vitamin C has mild blood-lowering effects and helps the body detoxify toxic metals, such as lead, which contribute to high blood pressure. Take 1,000 to 2,000 mg daily.
Passionﬂower (Passiﬂora incarnata) relaxes the nerves and is helpful for blood pres- sure that increases with stress. Take 250 mg or 0.5 ml two to three times daily.
Valerian (Valeriana ofﬁcinalis) is a strong nerve relaxer and may indirectly lower blood pressure. Take 300 mg or 0.5 to 1.0 ml two to three times daily.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and oatstraw (Avena sativa) are great herbal nerve relaxers. They can be taken as a tea throughout the day.
Taurine is an amino acid shown in research to lower blood pressure in humans and animals. Take up to 6 grams daily between meals.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) extract should be taken in 500-mg doses three times daily for a blood pressure–lowering effect.
Dandelion leaf (Taraxacum ofﬁcinale) acts as a gentle, natural diuretic to lower blood pressure. Take 300 mg of the capsule form or 2 ml three times daily.
Argentum Nitricum is for elevated blood pressure that occurs with anxiety. Symptoms often come on from a stressful event or “stage fright.” The person is usually very warm and has strong salt and sweet cravings.
Belladonna (Atropa belladonna) is for high blood pressure that comes on suddenly. The person has a ﬂushed face and dilated pupils and feels a great deal of heat, although the hands and the feet are cold. Pounding headaches may occur, and the person is sen- sitive to light.
Glonoinum may be helpful for high blood pressure that’s accompanied by a burst- ing headache and a ﬂushed face. The person is worse from the heat and sun exposure or from consuming alcohol.
Lachesis is for a person who is very intense, who feels suspiciousness and jealous, and who is very talkative. The person feels warm and is intolerant of anything touch- ing the neck.
Natrum Muriaticum is for high blood pressure that begins after an emotional upset. The person desires to be alone and often experiences headaches, heart palpitations, and insomnia. There is a strong craving for salt, a great thirst, and an aversion to being in the sun.
Nux Vomica (Strychnos nux vomica) is for high blood pressure that occurs from the effects of stress. The person feels irritable and impatient and has a strong desire for stimulants such as coffee, as well as alcohol. The person is usually chilly and is prone to constipation.
• Bladder 38 simultaneously lowers blood pressure and relieves nervous tension.
• If you tend to get heart palpitations when you’re agitated, take some time out
of a tense situation to work Pericardium 6. This spot is located at your wrist, so it’s easy to use even in a public place like the ofﬁce.
• People who feel chest tension when they’re upset or worried should use Con- ception Vessel 17.
• Encourage circulation to your heart and chest by working Heart 3 and 7.
Massage can be of great help to people with high blood pressure. It regulates the body’s rhythms, improves circulation, and promotes relaxation, so make a regular appointment with a good therapist, if possible.
If stress makes your chest feel tight and full, try a neck massage to relieve tension and steady your heartbeat. You can do this yourself or have a loved one do it for you.
Work the areas corresponding to the thyroid, the kidneys, the solar plexus, and the pituitary and adrenal glands.
Do not use saunas. The hot steam can make your blood pressure rise to dangerous levels.
Other Bodywork Recommendations
Acupuncture is helpful for high blood pressure, especially when the underlying cause is stress.
Osteopathic and craniosacral therapy can help normalize circulation.
Take advantage of the soothing effects of essential oils. Many oils will help you relax, but lavender, marjoram, and ylang ylang are those most often used to calm the body and bring down blood pressure. You can use them in any preparation that suits you.
When used in a massage, juniper oil will help break down fatty deposits in your arteries and elsewhere in your body.
General Stress-Reduction Therapies
Meditation is a cheap, portable technique that you can use anywhere for a calming effect. You can practice meditation on a regular basis in a quiet room at home. If you feel your blood pressure rise while sitting at a stoplight, during a meeting, or while waiting up for your teenager to come home, you can easily spend a few moments pay- ing attention to your breath. Meditative breathing won’t stop the stress, but it can help you take a few steps back and view the problem with detachment.
Stress can make your body constrict its blood vessels, making it harder for blood to get through and thus raising your blood pressure. Biofeedback, however, can help you identify when you constrict your blood vessels, and it can train you to relax them.
Bach Flower Remedies
Select the appropriate remedy, and place 10 drops under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.
When you feel panicked, upset, angry, or stressed in any way, take Rescue Rem- edy to help yourself calm down.
If you tend to cover up insecurity with aggressive, irritable behavior, Holly will help you feel more patient and gentle.
Rock Water is for people who work very hard and blame themselves for every problem.
Oak will help people who—whether for reasons of duty, responsibility, self- sacriﬁce, or ambition—refuse to give up or yield. Those who will beneﬁt from Oak tend to place themselves in high-pressure, strenuous situations.
Take Aspen if you have general anxiety or vague, unnamed fears.
• If you are obese, you must lose weight. The dietary suggestions in this section will help you take off the pounds safely, but if you’d like to learn more, see Obesity. Do not rely on stimulant diet products; they may contain additives that could make your condition worse.
• Moderate exercise is a reliable way to reduce blood pressure, but consult with your doctor before starting an exercise program. As a person with hyperten- sion, you may have special needs that should be addressed.
• Do not smoke or expose yourself to secondhand smoke.
• If testing shows that you have high toxic metal levels (such as lead, cadmium, and mercury), work with a doctor who is knowledgeable in chelation therapy.