Daniel Crisafi, PhD, MH
High blood pressure may seem like a minor inconvenience, but we shouldnâ??t downplay its dangers. It is directly or indirectly responsible for about 35,000 deaths in North America every year.
High blood pressure may seem like a minor inconvenience, but we shouldn’t downplay its dangers. It is directly or indirectly responsible for about 35,000 deaths in North America every year. About four million Canadians suffer from high blood pressure at varying degrees. The problem with high blood pressure, or hypertension, is that major warning signs may not appear until the disorder is advanced.
Physicians use a device called a sphygmomanometer to determine whether the blood pressure is high, low or normal. Two numbers are superimposed with the highest on top-120/80. The larger number gives the pressure when the heart beats, the systolic pressure; the smaller number gives the pressure when the heart is at rest, the diastolic pressure. The average blood pressure range is about 120/80 for men and is slightly lower for women.
Early visible signs of hypertension include dizziness, fatigue, headaches, insomnia and nervousness. Frequent temporary increases in blood pressure may also be an indicator. Later symptoms can include myocardial infarction, senility, brain hemorrhage and paralysis. If none of these visible signs is present, the only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have it monitored regularly.
An increase in the thickness of blood is one of the many reasons for high blood pressure. It is also caused by:
Many of these factors are controllable with supplementation and lifestyle. It’s best to take preventative steps right now.
Treating High Blood Pressure
Drink one and a half to two litres of pure water daily, more if you can. Increased hydration will help thin the blood. It’s fascinating that conventional physicians still recommend diuretics for patients with hypertension, a measure which will reduce the amount of water in the body and make the blood even thicker!
Adopt a diet that is high in plant-based foods. Legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains will supply abundant amounts of roughage and protective phytonutrients, many of which are involved in controlling cholesterol or dilating arteries. Should animal-based foods be consumed, these should be low in fat and organically/humanely raised whenever possible. Eggs are also a good source of both proteins and lecithins.
It is important to consume one or two tablespoons of cold-pressed vegetable oils daily. Ideally, these should give you both the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as oleic acid. Flax seed oil is an excellent choice and there are now oil blends that provide a combination of these good fats. Of course, avoid fried, saturated and hydrogenated fats as much as possible.
If you want to spread something on your food, blend one part butter with one part cold-pressed oil, such as olive or flax seed oil. This mixture will stay soft, even in the fridge. Do not heat this butter/oil blend and keep it refrigerated.
Certain substances can also have a negative effect on blood pressure. These include refined sugar, alcohol, caffeine and refined salt (regular table salt). Use celtic salt or coarse sea salt instead.
Supporting Heart Health
Several herbs are useful in treating hypertension. Garlic promotes positive vascular changes and blood lipid (fat) levels. It also reduces blood pressure so it should be part of the daily diet, either raw, fresh or in a good quality supplement.
Ginkgo biloba counteracts one cause of hypertension: the narrowing of blood vessels. It works by dilating or opening up the blood vessels and improving blood flow.
Hawthorn is one of the most common herbs used for high blood pressure. Even though its action on blood pressure is probably indirect, traditional use and clinical studies have demonstrated that hawthorn does, in fact, lead to lower blood pressure.
Magnesium plays an important role in dilating blood vessels. In one Japanese study, magnesium intake was singled out as the most important dietary factor for controlling blood pressure. Taking 600 milligrams of magnesium daily will have a favorable effect on hypertension.
Potassium supplementation has been shown to help patients with hypertension, especially if they are on diuretic medication. Take 200-300 milligrams daily.
I have recommended vitamin E with garlic to my hypersensitive patients and produced excellent results. The rationale is simple: since more viscous blood doesn’t flow well, it can increase blood pressure. And since most people with hypertension have somewhat "thicker" blood, vitamin E’s blood-thinning effect should help. Start with 100--200 international units (IU) daily for two or three weeks. Then increase to 400 IU daily. Some people may need more as recommended by their health professional.
Exercise also helps reduce blood pressure by improving the heart’s ability to pump blood and reducing blood lipids. Exercise should be undertaken gradually, taking your present level of health into consideration. Remember that over 80 per cent of patients can be cured of high blood pressure by changing diet and lifestyle. It is important to be proactive and take control of your health.