High Blood Pressure & Naturopathic Treatment
High blood pressure is experienced by one in three adults in North American and over 50% of those over age 65. Chronic, untreated high blood pressure can lead to very serious conditions including stroke, heart disease, diabetes, eye damage and kidney problems. Sometimes there are symptoms that blood pressure is elevated such as unexplained headaches, nosebleeds, dizziness or sweating. However, most of the time people are not symptomatic.
There are many potential root causes for high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Diets high in refined carbohydrates, fats, sugar and salt are a common cause, as well as excess alcohol or caffeine intake. Smoking and obesity are important risk factors, along with inactivity and stress.
Naturopathic treatment for hypertension/high blood pressure involves dietary and lifestyle changes as well as nutrient supplementation and herbal medicine. Dietary changes include increasing fibre, water and potassium consumption while simultaneously decreasing intake of salt, sugar, bad fats, refined carbohydrates, alcohol, caffeine and processed foods. Your Naturopath can recommend specific meal plans to lower your blood pressure. In addition to a diet high in plant based foods, there are specific foods that work to lower blood pressure including celery, onions, garlic, parsley, apples and olive oil.
In addition to dietary changes, natural treatment for hypertension typically involves achieving a health weight and levels of regular exercise. In one study, participants involved in an 18 month weight loss intervention program who were followed up after 7 years had a 77% reduction in the incidence of hypertension.
Weight loss and increased exercise levels are equally important in lowering blood pressure. The general recommendation is to maintain at least 30 minutes of aerobic physical activity most days of the week. The activity should be moderate in intensity which means a noticeable increase in rate and depth of breathing, while still being able to talk comfortably.
Apart from dietary and lifestyle changes, there are specific natural supplements that can effectively treat mild to moderate hypertension. For example, studies have shown that Coenzyme Q10, magnesium, taurine and potassium work to reduces blood pressure. A randomized trial assessing the effects of COQ10 on hypertension in those with diabetes found that 100mg of COQ10 taken twice daily significantly lowered blood pressure. Dosing of these and other nutrients varies between individuals so you should consult with your Naturopath before taking these supplements.
In terms of herbal support, there are a number of herbs that effectively work to lower blood pressure. Hawthorn and hibiscus have been shown to lower blood pressure. A study in the Journal of Nutrition found that hibiscus tea lowered blood pressure by eight points.
To find out more about how naturopathic medicine can treat high blood pressure, contact your local Naturopathic Doctor or book your appointment with Dr. Andresen at one of her Toronto Naturopathic Clinics.