High Blood Pressure  

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Finding a good herbalist

Much of what's written in this article is entirely suitable for a person to work through themselves but, especially if things are quite bad, or you just know that you need further help, then there may be a great deal of benefit to you to go to whatever lengths necessary to find a good herbalist to guide you on to a safe and strong treatment program. There's a short write-up to suggest how you might go about finding such a person here

What causes high blood pressure?

Less than 10% of the people who get high blood pressure have it as a result of medically identifiable issue such as some kind of kidney problem or hormonal imbalance, this is 'secondary hypertension'

The other 90% plus of people who get high blood pressure have what is called primary hypertension; also called 'essential hypertension which simply means that the high blood pressure is seen as the problem in itself, not as the secondary result of some other problem.

Of course, there still must be a reason, or a combination of reasons, that a person is getting high blood pressure, even if they are not immediately obvious, the most common ones being:

Genetics

Some people who get high blood pressure have a number of immediate ancestors who had heart disease or were also known to suffer from high blood pressures

You cannot change your genetics but you can certainly work with whatever you've got. If you have reason to believe that your genes are the main cause of your blood pressure, then the material linked at the end in the introduction to constitutional medicine may be of much help.

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Fitness

If you are already reasonably fit and active but still have high blood pressure, then this area is unlikely to be an issue however, for some, it is how fit they are that primarily determines whether their blood pressure is good or bad.

If you are seriously unfit then you might safely assume that this is at least playing a part in the problem, perhaps the only way to know for sure will be by starting into a fitness program and seeing what kind of difference it makes after a few weeks by doing some self-monitoring with a home blood pressure machine.

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Diet

The evidence for diet being a key driver for high blood pressure in some people is compelling however, theories from the mid-20th century that fat and salt were the main culprits have become increasingly discredited. In fact, a low salt diet even seems to increase the risk of heart disease! (more on that surprising suggestion here) A veritable war on fat and the promotion of cholesterol-lowering drugs to 'holy-grail' levels has long been the mainstay of the conventional system however, the science for this approach being truly beneficial simply doesn't add up, more here

What is clearly and demonstrably at the root of many people's high blood pressure is the excess consumption of refined carbohydrates in people who have something called the metabolic syndrome.

Signs of the Metabolic Syndrome

~ Carrying extra weight around your middle, i.e. the 'apple shape'
~ Low levels of the good (HDL) cholesterols and high levels of the bad (LDL)
~ Blood tests that have shown elevated liver enzymes
~ Any family history of diabetes

One or more of these signs means you may have the metabolic syndrome, more here


Signs of the metabolic syndrome

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Stress

Stress and tension are clearly a major cause of high blood pressure for some people. If you believe that stress may be a core issue behind the high blood pressure, one way to test this is to take your blood pressure before and after doing some simple relaxation exercise. If there is a significant drop, e.g. 15 or more points on the top number and 10 points or more on the bottom one, you can be fairly sure that stress really is a key driver. If you need some help with the relaxation exercise, there is a simple method that only takes 3 deep breaths to do, it is called '7-11 relaxation' and is found on the page here

For a person who is suffering from stress to the point of getting high blood pressure, the most practical and effective suggestions that can be relied upon to relax the whole system are described in detail in the article on anxiety found here

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Curing high blood pressure

The provocative word 'cure' is used deliberately here. There is a strong cultural belief in conventional medicine that once a person has high blood pressure then they must take drugs for the rest of their lives or there will be a dire outcome!

I recommend that, at least for the majority of people, it will be wise to challenge this belief. A person is not born with high blood pressure and there is an excellent chance that they can get entirely better if they treat the causes of the problem.

They may need to get fit, and/or change their diet, and/or destress, but many people have been seen to get off all blood pressure medications and to go on to stay well and remain within good, safe levels whenever tested.

Work on whatever seems to be the cause or causes as much as possible and, in the meanwhile and whilst reversing the condition naturally, it is recommended to use herbs to help. Especially, at the very least, Hawthorn.


Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn leaves & berries)

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Start with Hawthorn

Whilst treating the cause and curing your high blood pressure, anyone should take Hawthorn leaf and/or berries every day for as long as needed because

1) Hawthorn is an extremely safe herb that can be taken by any person, no matter what other medications they may be on, or what other health conditions they may have

2) Hawthorn usually has a significant blood pressure lowering effect itself, but an even greater benefit is in the way it strengthens and protects the heart; more about this great 'friend to the heart' here


Hawthorn leaf & berry, both are beneficial and can be used together

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Hypertension herbs

Anyone with high blood pressure can benefit from Hawthorn and, particularly if tension is a key part of the problem, there will also be much benefit in using those herbal medicines that relax the body without sedating the mind; 3 good examples include:

Motherwort relieves tension in the heart, more here
Skullcap calms an overactive mind, more here
Cramp bark releases tension in the muscles, more
here

Example formula

In practice, we always use combinations of herbs but the exact dose, the length of treatment and what other steps may be used at the same time, matter a great deal and vary a lot between different people. So, simply by way of example, here is a formula to help a person with blood pressure where stress and tension were a key factor:

Hawthorn 70 mls
Motherwort 40 mls
Skullcap 40 mls

Cramp bark 40 mls
Peppermint 20mls

To make 210mls of Fluid Extracts or Tinctures, the Peppermint is for flavour though it does have its own unique properties that may be of benefit. using Fennel is another option to improve the taste. The typical adult dose of this formula, depending on how bad things were, could be 5-8 mls once or twice a day but note that these amounts are based on tinctures that we manufacture ourselves from raw materials in our clinic. As the person improves you can expect to need to use less and less of the herbs until you don't need them at all.


Viburnum opulus (Cramp bark)

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Drugs

The thorny subject of drugs is left to the end because you firstly need to think about how to improve your blood pressure naturally and only then start thinking about getting off medications that are no longer required.

If and when you do go off some or all of your blood-pressure medications, you must have a home-use blood-pressure machine to keep yourself safe.

Focus on the bottom number, the diastolic reading, more than the top number. A reading in the 70s is excellent, but anything in the 80s is also perfectly acceptable. A reading that gets up into te 90s is a sign that all is not well. Steps need to be taken when someone consistently gets a higher than 90 reading but at this level it can usually be seen that herbs, dietary change, relaxation etc. are able to effectively reduce the level into the 80s over time.

A reading over 100 in the botton number is a clear danger sign. It cannot stay at a 100 plus without there being a significantly increased risk for something as catastrophic as a heart attack or a stroke. If one of my patients continues to have blood pressure readings over a 100 despite whatever other meausres we are taking, I will tell them that they must get on to new blood pressure drugs, or back on to their old drugs if they had stopped them, for their own safety.

More than one or two readings over 110 is a great worry and needs to be given urgent attention from mainstram medical science to use drugs to bring it down. A diastolic, bottom number reading over 120 is extremely dangerous and the person should consider this an alarm bell that is telling them to go to their doctor to get urgent medical attention.

The top figure on the blood pressure readings is naturally the one that people focus on but in fact it is really not so critical. That said, numbers that are consistently over 160 on the top are certainly a worry.

Check that you are ready to commit to the process because this is not quick-fix medicine, it will take time, patience and perseverance. But if you are ready to do the work then do not hesitate, many people have been seen to get their blood pressure within good, safe levels and to be able to go without drugs.

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Constitutional Health Note

Finally, you might benefit from learning about your constitution to know what kind of foods, herbs, exercises etc. will work especially well for your health in general.

Constitutional health is an old and fascinating way of understanding our differences. Of course, there will be plenty of exceptions, but from my own experience it appears that the hotter constitutions are much more prone to high blood pressure than cooler folk; Tigers especially because of the metabolic syndrome and Eagles especially because of excess tension, lack of sleep or rest etc.

Naturally, it is much more complex than that, but those are some broad strokes to encourage a further exploration into this most interesting and useful of subjects. There's a brief introduction to constitutional medicine here and a more detailed section on working out which constitution you are found here

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!

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© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd