Master Herbalist, Klaus Ferlow, outlines some easy and natural strategies we can do to reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure. These include lifestyle changes, nutritional supplements, herbs and a citrus hot drink to be taken before meals.
THE TYPICAL IMAGE of a person with high blood pressure (hypertension) is an overweight, overworked male executive with a very short fuse.
The truth is, high blood pressure affects people of all ages, races, social classes, sizes, shapes, women as well as men, and even children. An estimated of more than 80 millions Americans.
What is blood pressure?
Let's look first at the symptoms. The long-term effect of high blood pressure are serious and can cause heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and retinal damage. Unfortunately, most people do not notice they have high blood pressure until they develop one of the long the long-terms effects!
Every cell in the body needs a constant supply of blood to bring in oxygen and nutrients to remove waste products. Symptoms are masked since everyday fluctuations of blood pressure are usually minor and well compensated for by the body. A gradual rise in blood pressure over month and years is particularly dangerous, as it slips by the body's warning signal which are: nervousness, headaches, dizziness, nosebleeds and flushed cheeks. Stress, anxiety, anger and physical activity cause substantial changes in blood pressure readings.
The force that keeps blood moving comes from the heart, but a complex system of nerve signals, hormones, and other elements regulate the blood flow to each organ by widening or constricting small muscular blood vessels called arterioles, much like a faucet controls the flow how much water. Blood pressure depends on a number of factors, including how much blood is flowing through the arteries, the rate of blood flow, and the resiliency of the arteries' walls. Blood pressure fluctuates from moment to moment and factors influencing it are the time of the day, it is lowest in the morning, and your degree of physical exertion or anxiety and blood pressure tends to go up with age!
What are causes of hypertension?
High blood pressure means that the force with which the blood pressure onto the artery walls is higher than it should be and the most common reason for high blood pressure is arteriosclerosis. Narrowed arteries plugged with fatty deposits are usually linked to poor eating habits, junk fast food, pop drinks with artificial sugar, high stress, insomnia problems and little physical activity. A rich diet in saturated fats, red meat, refined sugar and salt, cholesterol-free commercial vegetable oils such as canola, shortening and margarine as they contain trans-fatty acids is to blame. Another unknown fact is that many people produce in their body too much bad cholesterol LDL that overtakes the good cholesterol HDL and creates plaques inside the arteries and as a result high blood pressure. High density lipoprotein, HDL, is capable of removing cholesterol from the blood to the liver and out through the bile. Low density lipoprotein, LDL, on the other hand carries cholesterol to the cells and contributes to the development of plaques and arteriosclerosis.
Interesting enough the medical profession came up with lowering the levels for high blood pressure and cholesterol and as a result millions of people take prescription drugs for lowering the blood pressure and cholesterol and the pharmaceutical industry loves it!
Hypertension is known as the "silent killer" because it does not produce any symptoms, at least none that most people are aware of, until considerable damage has already been done. Untreated high blood pressure is the leading cause for strokes and the added pressure also damages the artery walls increasing fatty plaque being deposit, leading to scarring and hardening of the vessels creating atherosclerosis. As a result it reduce the flow of oxygen to the kidneys, heart, and eyes, or allow a blood clot to form in a narrowed artery.
Measuring blood pressure
Blood pressure is commonly measured with a sphygmomanometer (I am using a type called Tensoval duocontrol I bought in Germany) and a variety of different commercial types are available. Lately more and more pharmacies and drug stores offer them so you could test your blood pressure yourself for three or you check with your health care practitioner an a regular basis, very important!
Normal blood pressure is usually said to be 120/80 (systolic/diastolic) or less, measured in millimeters of mercury, abbreviated in mm Hg. Both systolic and diastolic readings are very important, but diastolic pressure has traditionally been emphasized because it is less subject to fluctuations. Recent studies, including the ongoing Framingham heart study, have revealed that systolic pressure may be as significant a heart attack predictor as diastolic pressure.
Blood pressure is indicated by two numbers each referring to how in millimeters the pressure of the blood in your arteries can raise a column of mercury (Hg). The first number, the systolic pressure, represents the force of blood during the heartbeat. The second number, the diastolic, indicates the pressure between heartbeats. Here is the schedule:
Category Systolic (mm Hg) Diastolic (mm Hg)
Optimal <120 <80
Normal <130 <85
High Normal 130 – 139 85 – 89
Stage 1 (Mild) 140 – 159 90 – 99
Stage 2 (Moderate) 160 – 179 100 – 109
Stage 3 (Severe) 180 – 209 110 – 119
Stage 4 (Very Severe) >210 >120
Isolated Hypertension >140 >90
Take these steps to reduce your risk
Exercise regularly, keep your weight at a desirable level, moderate your intake of alcohol (studies have shown that a glass of read wine at a warm meal can prevent blood clotting which I use for over 50 years!), don't smoke (I never did) or quit smoking, moderate daily intake of can sugar and Himalayan crystal salt and avoid poisonous refined sugar and table salt, eat a diet with adequate amounts of calcium, magnesium and potassium.
There are supplements you can use for high blood pressure such as niacin, vitamin B5, C, E, beta-carotene, zinc, selenium, co-enzyme Q10, evening primrose oil, lecithin and also herbal remedies: ginger, cayenne, taheebo/pau d'arco, hawthorn, burdock, birch, stinging nettle, dandelion, mistletoe, Valerian tincture, liquid kelp, barberry, black cohosh, feverfew, ginger, garlic, motherwort, saffron.
And here is a recipe for high blood pressure from the book: “Ageless Remedies from Mother's Kitchen” by Hanna Kroeger, the “grandmother of health”:
Blood Pressure - High
Oranges and Lemons: 2 oranges, 2 lemons, cut into pieces, boil 1 quart of water for 14 minutes, then add 2 tablespoon of honey, boil another 10 minutes, strain and drink 6 ounces 3 times daily before meals (not for diabetics).
Doctors disagree about when to start drug therapy for people who have stage 1 and some experts prefer to avoid drugs at first. In any case, you should be monitored by your health care practitioner who will need to evaluate other factors, such as your age and family history. You will be told to adopt the lifestyle changes mentioned in this article. If you want to enjoy life in your later stage it is really necessary to check your blood pressure on a regular basis and act accordingly if you blood pressure is too high!
Copyright © 2008 (Updated 2015) Klaus Ferlow