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Integrative approach to High Blood Pressure

December 12th, 2009

High blood pressure is a symptom, not an illness. Therefore, ways should be found to correct the underlying causes that triggered the symptom (rather than just treating the symptom alone). There are lots of possible contributing factors that lead to high blood pressure. Among these easily correctable factors include dehydration, nutritional deficiencies, heavy metal toxicities, stress, chronic inflammation and hormonal imbalances.

I am not opposed to the use of medications. It’s their indiscriminate use that I do not agree with. Medications have their place but they should be used only after other factors (dietary and lifestyle issues) have been addressed. Medications can be surely used for acute situations and long-term only if other correctable factors have been addressed and always looking out for possible adverse reactions.

There is a book written by Dr. F. Batmanghelidj called “Your Body’s Many Cries For Water” which explains how chronic dehydration can be a cause of a lot of symptoms that people experience such as high blood pressure, headaches, chronic fatigue and joint pains. Sometimes, just correcting these fluid imbalance could relieve a lot of these symptoms. My advise to my clients is to drink half of their body weight in ounces daily.

Nutritional deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals could raise blood pressure. Deficiencies in vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid could raise homocysteine levels which could then cause high blood pressure. A deficiency in Magnesium or Potassium could also raise blood pressure. It’s best to have tests for nutritional deficiencies. However, if this is not available in your country, try your best to get these nutrients from whole foods unless you could work with someone who’s knowledgeable in nutritional medicine, who then could prescribe supplements in correct form and dosages.

Heavy metals have no place in our bodies. There are so-called “normal” values, which just means that it’s found in a huge segment of the population. Normal however, doesn’t mean optimal.There are different ways to test for heavy metals and these include blood, hair, urine and fat samples. Heavy metals could be detected in the blood if there’s acute exposure (within 48 hours). Otherwise, tests for chronic exposure include a hair test, fat analysis or urine testing. Among these, the most accurate would be a pere- and post-provocative 6 hour urine sample.

Stress, whether it be physical, mental, emotional or environmental could trigger a series of reactions in the body that could raise blood pressure (by raising cortisol levels). Stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, visualization, prayer, massage, chi gong and yoga do help. Taking herbal adaptogens such as rhodiola, ashwagandha and ginseng also go a long way in improving blood pressure and other conditions related to chronic elevation of cortisol.

Chronic inflammatory conditions could cause high blood pressure as well. Having a plant-based diet has an anti-inflammatory effect. The addition of omega 3-fatty acids from the diet or taking either fish oils or flax seed oil could also be helpful. Certain herbs such as ginger, celery and turmeric all have anti-inflammatory properties.

Then finally, hormonal imbalances could also lead to high blood pressure. Chronic elevation of cortisol, insulin resistance, an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone in women and a lack of testosterone in men could all cause high blood pressure. Addressing these imbalances could help improve cardiovascular health.