Ounce of Prevention | Handling hypertension naturally
Hypertension is a medical disorder commonly known as 'high blood pressure' or 'pressure' that affects millions of people worldwide. Research indicates that about one third of Jamaicans over age 35 have high blood pressure, and its prevalence increases with advancing age.
But what is high blood pressure? Blood circulates through the body along a series of pipes (arteries) by the pumping action of the heart. The pressure created in the arteries is measured and expressed in millimetres of mercury (mm. Hg) as two figures. The top figure is called the systolic pressure. It represents the pressure in the arteries when the heart pumps or beats.
The lower figure is called the diastolic pressure, and represents the pressure in the system when the heart relaxes in between beats.
A blood pressure reading may be represented as follows:
140 - systolic pressure
80 - diastolic pressure
Blood pressure is currently considered normal when the systolic pressure is below 120 mm. Hg and the diastolic is under 80 mm. Hg.
There is however an ongoing debate among doctors as many factors like age, stress levels and gender may influence 'normal' blood pressure.
What causes hypertension?
Contrary to popular thinking I consider high blood pressure as more of a symptom than an actual disease.
Underlying medical conditions like kidney disease, hormonal imbalance or medication cause less than 10 per cent of the cases of hypertension. The other 90 per cent results from an unhealthy lifestyle. Common lifestyle culprits include:
• A diet high in unhealthy fat, processed carbohydrates and salt and low in fibre and nutrients.
• Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle
• Chronic stress and cigarette smoking
I regard hypertension as a symptom of a sick circulation. In any plumbing system, if the pipes become corroded, narrowed or blocked, the pressure must increase for flow to be maintained. So with the human circulation, hardening of the arteries, narrowing and blockage of blood vessels by a process called atherosclerosis is a major underlying cause of high blood pressure.
The actual high blood pressure reading is a signal, a warning light that the pipes (arteries) are unhealthy. People do not just die from high blood pressure. They suffer and die from the results of the diseased circulation that contributed to the elevation in pressure.
The main organs that suffer are the brain - brain damage and strokes, the heart - heart enlargement and heart failure, the kidneys - kidney disease and renal failure and the eyes - visual impairment and blindness.
Treat the cause
Most cases of hypertension can be treated effectively by changing one's lifestyle. This is the first line of treatment and along with nutritional supplements and herbs is an effective and safe way of correcting high blood pressure.
Blood pressure medication is sometimes indicated, but in my opinion should only be used as a secondary line of treatment.
Just taking 'pressure tablets' as soon as one is diagnosed with high blood pressure is rarely indicated and only in very severe cases, as this approach only treats the symptoms and does not address the underlying cause.
These drugs may sometimes lower the blood pressure reading, but do not correct the underlying circulatory dysfunction.
The chronic use of blood pressure medication is associated with many problems and more drugs often needed to treat the side effects of the ones originally prescribed.
Take these actions for 90 days and be inspired by the results
A natural plan: Start by believing that your high blood pressure can be naturally managed and reversed and commit yourself to make the following changes in your life for the next 90 days. The shift in your blood pressure will inspire you to continue.
Change your diet: Switch to a diet of healthy protein, low animal fats, and lots of fresh vegetables, fruit and whole grains. Restrict or eliminate meats, dairy products, sugar, white flour and fried foods. Use sea salt in moderation. Drink lots of water.
Control your weight: Correct abdominal obesity. Excess fat around the waistline predisposes you to high blood pressure. A waist measurement of over 34 inches in a woman and over 39 inches in a man increases your risk for hypertension by 500 per cent. Start a weight loss programme that places a major emphasis on balanced nutrition. I recommend 'The Cellular Nutrition Programme.
Detoxify the body: Do a cleansing programme to detoxify the body of harmful impurities - a combination of herbal cleansers and/or colon irrigation is an effective approach. Avoid polluting your system with cigarettes, excess caffeine, alcohol, highly processed foods, unclean air and water.
Exercise regularly: Exercise is vital and has many benefits. I recommended that you do some form of aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, cycling, swimming) for 30 minutes, three times per week. On the other days, do some resistance exercise, such as weight training, yoga or floor exercises.
Take supplements: Supplements have an important role in blood pressure control. Take a full spectrum multivitamin and the antioxidants A, C, E and Selenium (ACES). Add magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, garlic, Hawthorne berry and coenzyme Q10.
Manage stress: Learn to manage stress, as it is a very common, often overlooked cause of high blood pressure. Yoga, meditation and relaxation techniques are extremely useful strategies for high blood pressure. They help correct the underlying imbalance in the nervous system. Herbs that help with stress include Kava, Valerian, Tang Kuei, Siberian Ginseng and St John's Wort.
Consider Chelation Therapy: This is an alternative medical treatment that effectively reverses the hardening of the arteries associated with high blood pressure. It removes excess calcium from the blood vessel walls and promotes the elimination of harmful heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and aluminium. It is also a powerful anti-ageing therapy administered by physicians trained in chelation therapy.
Monitor your blood pressure: If your pressure is elevated, check it once per week and keep a record to share with your doctor. This is more useful than single occasional readings done at the doctor's office. Invest in your own machine and learn how to use it. Avoid the temptation to obsessively take your blood pressure several times per day.