Blood pressure is the pressure of blood against the artery walls as it circulates around the body. A blood pressure reading is the measurement of this pressure. It is the measure of how hard your heart as to work to pump blood arund your body.
The reading consists of two parts, both of which are measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
The higher number is the ‘systolic’ reading and this reflects the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts (beats) to force the blood around the body.
The lower number is the ‘diastolic’ reading and this reflects the pressure in the arteries when the heart is relaxed after a beat.
It is normal for blood pressure to vary throughout the day in response to factors in daily life (work, stress, exercise etc) however it should quickly return to normal.
Hypertension is diagnosed if a person has a blood pressure consistently higher than140/90 mm Hg.
Ideally blood pressure should be less than 130/80.
However average blood pressure tends to increase with age as the arteries become less efficient in allowing blood to flow, so whereas at 20 years of age 140/90 would be classified as high, by 50 years of age 150/95 would be high.
The exact etiology of human essential hypertension remains unknown but several factors are known to influence it.
– Kidney disorders can contribute to high blood pressure.
– Also the over production of Angiotensin, (an enzyme that affects constriction of blood vessels and also has an effect on water and blood volume).
– Various hormones influence blood pressure. For example, insulin can affect blood pressure by influencing sodium balance and blood glucose levels.
– Magnesium has significant effects on cardiac excitability and vascular tone.
– It is also thought that low grade, chronic inflammation may play a significant role in the development of hypertension by impairing the capacity of the endothelium to generate vasodilatory factors (particularly nitric oxide). Also, I have often noticed that blood pressure can increase when the body is fighting viral infection.
– Stooped posture can greatly influence blood pressure by the sternum putting pressure on the heart muscle.
– Other contributing factors can be genetics, stress, food sensitivities, high sodium intake, toxic chemical exposure, smoking and low fibre intake.
Many people don’t realise that they suffer from hypertension as symptoms can be mild and/or intermittent. Common symptoms include swollen ankles, breathlessness, blurred vision, mild but persistent headache, a feeling of a band around the head or ringing in the ears.
All of these can also occur for other reasons so it is important to have the blood pressure checked over a period of time before coming to any conclusions.
Long standing hypertension puts significant demands on the left ventricle, which eventually becomes enlarged. This hypertrophy may be indicated by a forceful and sustained atypical impulse.
The complications of hypertension principally involve the central nervous system, the retina, the circulatory system and the kidneys. When the CNS is involved the complications can lead to cerebral ischaemia or cerebral haemorrhage. The retina also can be affected by haemorrhages or poor circulation, both of which can affect vision.
The key to treating hypertension is to find and treat the causative factors. It is seldom a disease arising from a single cause and may arise from a multitude of factors.
Orthodox treatment for hypertension, depends on the supposed cause of the hypertension.
Commonly used drugs are:
-Diuretics, which act by inhibiting the absorption of some electrolytes, mainly sodium and chloride and increasing the absorption of calcium and uric acid. They usually increase the excretion of magnesium and potassium.
-Calcium channel blockers, reduce smooth muscle tone by blocking calcium uptake by the cells. This reduces peripheral resistance and blood pressure.
-ACE inhibitors. Angiotensin II is the active hormone that raises blood pressure by causing blood vessel restriction, and stimulating the hypothalamic thirst centre to increase water consumption. Angiotensin II also stimulates the production of aldosterone from the adrenal cortex. Aldosterone increases sodium and water reabsorption in the kidney, to further increase blood volume. Angiotensin is formed from angiotensin I by the enzyme angintenosin converting enzyme (ACE). By inhibiting the action of ACE blood pressure can be reduced.
-B-adrenergic receptor blockers. Adrenalin and noradrenalin stimulate heart rate, cardiac output and blood pressure. By blocking the receptors for these hormones cardiac demand and oxygen consumption can be reduced.
Therefore there is seldom a single ‘good natural remedy’. Any natural treatment always includes holistic look at the problem.
Natural methods of treating blood pressure obviously have to include lifestyle changes such as carefully watching the diet and eliminating all hard fats and excess sugars and increasing exercise regimes. The amount of stress creeping into the life style also needs to be looked at, and in cases where the blood pressure is not exceedingly high and only tends to rise during busy times, this is the area I would be looking at.
Herbal remedies are great for helping reduce stress on the body and also the effects of stress.
Such herbs would be Passiflora, Valerian, Hops, Kava, Chamomile and Californian Poppy. These can be used in conjunction with ‘heart herbs’ such as Hawthorn, Ginkgo Biloba, Mistletoe, Yarrow and Garlic.
You need to check with a herbalist as which of these herbs apply to you, as some such as Yarrow (and Dang Shen) will help thin the blood, others such as Garlic and Hawthorn act as natural Angiotensin inhibitors others improve the function or rhythm of the heart.
‘Contact us’ if you would like me to make you a specific herbal blend.
To improve the metabolism of the heart you need to make sure all minerals are adequate. Use Colloidal minerals, 1 tbsp daily, but extra magnesium and potassium may be indicated.
Magnesium is especially important as it helps prevent spasms of the coronary arteries and can also help prevent irregular heart rhythm as well as high blood pressure. It is important to maintain the correct balance between calcium and magnesium. In some cases of hypertension it has been found that intracellular free calcium is elevated and intracellular free magnesium is deficient. Increasing potassium levels, especially in conjunction with lowering sodium (salt) levels has also been associated with a lower blood pressure
Colloidal minerals already contain zinc and selenium but you may also need to supplement with vitamins A, C and E to add to anti-oxidant levels.
Coenzyme Q10 improves many aspects of heart function. It needs to be taken at the correct dose (at least 90-120mg daily), so can initially be quite expensive but once the blood pressure has reduced the dose can be reduced as well, usually to around 60mg, as a maintenance dose. Its effect is probably based on a diminution of peripheral resistances.
Coenzyme Q10 should always be used if taking statin type preparations.
See page on ‘ Coenzyme Q10’.
Flaxseed oil also, taken at around 1-3tbsp a day, will very effectively improve blood flow through the arteries (as it makes platelets less sticky) and can help generate the electrical currents that make the heart beat correctly. If poor blood flow is the cause of your problem then it works well, but will not affect angiotensin levels.
Another factor involved in the possible causes for high blood pressure is folic acid. Folic acid along with vitamin B6 and B12 lower blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that has been found to be a heart disease risk factor. Folic acid occurs naturally in many plant foods, including beans and green leafy vegetables and is also included in many B vitamin supplements.
I have also found that magnetic necklaces of at least 1500-2000 gauss rating are useful and in some cases of very mild blood pressure problems can be all that is needed.