High blood pressure is a condition in which the force of blood against artery walls is higher than normal. People who suffer from hypertension or high blood pressure tend to have difficulty managing it and its associated symptoms. Whether its headaches, weakness, vision problems, chest pain or difficulty breathing, it can be quite a task to get relief. At the same time, many people experience little or no symptoms at all. While that might sound okay, its actually not, since hypertension can lead to various complications including renal failure, retinopathy, erectile dysfunction and during pregnancy, pre-eclampsia, and eclampsia.
Causes of high blood pressure
There are several causes of high blood pressure, such as high sodium consumption, overeating, being overweight, lack of physical activity, smoking, old age, etc. However, the most important factor responsible for high blood pressure is stress.
Stress has been proven to trigger what is known as the HPA axis (HPA = Hypothalamus, Pituitary, Adrenal). This causes a number of problems in normal physiology and is linked to the development of almost all chronic illnesses. The diagram below explains a few ways in which stress causes disease, including high blood pressure.
1. Stress Relief
One of the biggest problems is without a doubt, stress. Activities like playing sports, meditation, massage, sexual intercourse, laughing, taking a vacation and listening to music tend to do the trick. However, some people just can’t let go of stress-provoking thoughts. For them, the use of medicinal herbs can aid in calming the mind.
In Ayurvedic medicine, herbs known as Nootropics and Adaptogens such as Ashwagandha, are advised as they work directly on the brain and adrenal glands, and have been proven to reduce stress hormones such as Cortisol (see study).
(*Always take medicinal herbs under the proper medical supervision*)
Yoga has also proven to reduce stress and blood pressure quite effectively (see study).
2. Reduce Water Weight (Safely)
The next thing advised to do is reduce the excess fluid in the body also known as “Water weight”. Foods rich in potassium as well as diuretics (less preferred) help in this matter. Sodium and potassium maintain the fluid volume in the body. Sodium increases water retention and potassium reduces it. This is why doctors advise patients of Hypertension to use less salt (Sodium) in their diet.
Personally, I recommend increasing the consumption of potassium-rich foods rather than diuretics, in order to reduce excessive fluid in a safer, less nutrient-depleting manner. Potassium is also a very important electrolyte and is responsible for proper neuro-muscular function including both nerve conduction and muscle contraction. In fact, according to research, Potassium is also an effective option for managing Angina pectoris (see study).
Usually, Ayurvedic doctors recommend consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, Chicken, nuts, as well as at least 2 liters of water a day. Getting enough water is essential as the body tends to hold on to water weight if it is not constantly getting adequate hydration. Drinking water and eat raw fruits and vegetables will let the body expel excess fluids. Temporarily following a paleo or vegan diet may also help.
A good (clinical-tested) fruit for controlling high blood pressure is Pomegranate.
In multiple clinical trials, pomegranates have been found to be highly effective in treating multiple cardiac disease risk factors including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inflammation, and impaired endothelial function. (see study).
3. Anti-hypertensive Herbs
Also known as “Snakeroot” and “Sarpagandha”, this herb has been used in Ayurveda for hypertension, insomnia, hysteria, and urticaria. In clinical trials, this herb has been used effectively to treat hypertension (see study). Allopathic medicine has started using alkaloids extracted from this plant, specifically “reserpine” to effectively treat hypertension too. As I’ve said before, extracts tend to come with side effects, unlike whole herbs which are less likely to have adverse effects. This herb is also a sedative and must be used under proper medical guidance.
Other Herbs for Hypertension include:
–Tribulus Terristris – Anti-hypertensive (see study)
–Embelica officinalis – Anti-hypertensive & Anti-hyperlipidemic (see study)
–Beet Root – Anti-hypertensive (see study)
4. Essential Vitamins
– Vitamin D3
Studies have shown that Vitamin D3 plays an important role in cardiac health, including blood pressure (see study). Some studies suggest that people who are deficient in vitamin D are at risk for heart attacks, congestive heart failure, peripheral arterial disease, and high blood pressure. I have personally witnessed that supplementing Vitamin D3 together with K2 can effectively reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients. Natural sources include Cod liver oil, beef liver, whole eggs, and fish. Sunlight is the easiest and best source. Supplementing Vitamin D3 with between 2000-5000 IU is more than enough.
– Vitamin K2
This vitamin plays an important role in vascular elasticity and preventing calcification of plaques within the arteries by assisting in increasing Matrix Gla Protein (MGP) which inhibits calcification within the arteries (see study). Vitamin K2 should be taken together with Vitamin D3. Natural sources of K2 are whole eggs, butter, milk, natto, cheese, chicken liver, and cheese. When supplementing with K2, a dose between 60-100mcg is enough
(Always use medicinal herbs under the supervision of a doctor)
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by Dr. Nishal R.
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