The Natural Physician: High Blood Pressure

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The Natural Physician: High Blood Pressure

Dear Dr Stengler:

I have recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure. My doctor has agreed to wait and see if a natural treatment can lower it. What would you recommend? TH

Dear TH:

High blood pressure is usually related to diet and lifestyle imbalances. Prolonged high blood pressure leads to damage of the vessel walls. As a result, one is more susceptible to cardiovascular illnesses such as strokes and heart attacks.

Dietary recommendations include whole, unprocessed foods with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables. Include meals that are high in potassium and low in sodium. (Incidentally, a high-sodium intake is not a cause of high blood pressure; it is the imbalance between potassium and sodium.) Foods high in potassium include bananas, grapes, peaches, plums, pumpkins, squash, potatoes, zucchini and green vegetables. Juicing is an excellent way to incorporate potassium-rich foods. Avoid fatty foods, alcohol, tobacco, red meat and refined sugars. Garlic, ginger and onions are excellent to help lower blood pressure. Celery has also been shown to effectively lower blood pressure.

As with many health conditions, a lifestyle that incorporates stress-reduction techniques is very important. Regular exercise is a must, at least three days a week. I recommend patients choose exercise activities they are interested in and consistently follow them. Examples are walking, swimming, aerobics, aqua-aerobics, biking, dancing and light weight training.

Using herbal supplements is a safe and effective way to help reduce blood pressure. My favorite is hawthorn berry. This herb has a relaxing and dilating effect on the blood vessel walls so as to reduce blood pressure. It also has a mild diuretic action. It is generally taken at a dosage of 250 mg or 30 drops of tincture twice daily.

Another herb, dandelion leaf, has a natural diuretic action comparable to pharmaceutical drugs. It excretes excess water in the body which lowers blood pressure. Unlike some pharmaceutical diuretics, dandelion does not cause the loss of potassium. A typical dosage of dandelion would be 250 mg of a 4:1 extract or 30 to 60 drops of tincture twice daily.

I often add valerian root to hypertension formulas as a nerve relaxant. Many people with this condition are very tense from stressful jobs or social circumstances. Valerian relaxes the nerves and thus lowers blood pressure. 300 mg or 30 drops of an extract three times daily is a dosage I recommend. Other excellent herbal supplements indicated for this condition include ginkgo biloba, flaxseed and garlic extract.

Vitamin and mineral supplements that help to lower blood pressure include:

- magnesium: 500 to 1,000 mg daily

- calcium: 500 to 1,000 mg daily

- coenzyme Q(10): 60 mg twice daily

- vitamin C: 1,000 mg twice daily

- potassium: 300 mg daily

- vitamin E: 800 IU daily

Oils that contain the essential fatty acids such as evening primrose oil, flaxseed oil and salmon oil are important as well.

I suggest consulting with a naturopathic physician in your area. In addition, I recommend one or more of the following therapies: acupuncture, chiropractic, herbalism, homeopathy and massage therapy. In my experience, these can be very powerful therapies as part of a comprehensive program for high blood pressure. Remember to have your blood pressure monitored closely by a physician.

Recommended Reading:

The Natural Physician

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by M Stengler 218pp (SC) $15.95

Hypertension and Nutrition

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by E Braverman, MD 207pp (SC) $19.50

Canadian Health Reform Products Ltd.

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By Mark Stengler

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