High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a significant risk factor for developing heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and circulatory disease. The condition itself usually has no symptoms and is often undiagnosed and silent while it is damaging the heart, blood vessels and kidneys. This is why there is such an emphasis on regular BP assessments. Early intervention may help prevent damage to your body's organs. Once high blood pressure develops, it usually lasts a lifetime. You can prevent and control high blood pressure by taking action.
Blood pressure describes the force of blood against the walls of the arteries. Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers—the systolic pressure is higher because it measures the heart as it works. The diastolic pressure is lower and measures the heart as it relaxes between beats. For example, a blood pressure measurement of 120/80 (where 120 is the systolic and 80 is the diastolic measurement) is considered normal.
- High blood pressure is the most important risk factor for stroke.
- High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for congestive heart failure (CHF), a serious condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to supply the body's needs.
- High blood pressure can eventually cause blood vessels in the eye to burst or bleed. Vision may become blurred or otherwise impaired and can result in blindness.
- High blood pressure is associated with hardening of the arteries and this causes the heart and kidneys to work harder.
- Almost anyone is at risk of hypertension at some point in their lives. It is not a normal condition of ageing but an abnormal response to the way that we live. Some ethnic groups such as African Americans are more at risk (compared to white Americans) while other ethnic groups tend to maintain healthy blood pressure all their lives.
- After the menopause women lose the protection of oestrogen (which thins blood) and need to be extra vigilant after that time.
- The contraceptive pill may mildly raise blood pressure.
- Pregnancy is a known risk factor: a condition called pre-eclampsia can cause high blood pressure in pregnancy. Prevention includes routine BP monitoring to protect a pregnant mother and her unborn child.
- Women smokers over 35 are at greater risk than men smokers.
It may be helpful to understand 10 heart health commandments:
- Know your risk factors for heart disease and heart attack.
- Talk to your doctor about reducing your risk of heart disease and then get started.
- Check your blood pressure regularly.
- Know your cholesterol numbers: total cholesterol, HDL or "good" cholesterol, LDL or "bad" cholesterol and triglyceride levels. These are influenced by the food you eat and liver health and genetics.
- Have your blood sugar level checked for diabetes.
- Stop smoking (smoking remains the biggest killer).
- Eat for your heart (see below).
- Get regular physical activity: at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most or all days of the week.
- Aim for a healthy weight and maintain it.
- Know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and be focused on the need to seek immediate emergency help (see below). It is also desirable to understand how to perform basic resuscitation techniques.
Hypertension can either be hereditary or acquired through lifestyle factors. High blood pressure is made worse by poor kidney function and poor hormone balance. Mineral deficiencies (especially calcium or magnesium), obesity, stress and high cholesterol levels will all play their part. The autonomic nervous system, kidneys, brain and adrenal glands all have a role in the homeostatic management of blood pressure. These systems are very much helped by good living practices and this provides reassurance that there are a variety of ways to manage early BP changes. You can learn more about the cardiovascular system here. Consider BP holistically and develop a heart strategy that will be effective for the whole circulatory system as well as the nervous system.
Foods & herbs for the home
- Follow a healthy eating plan: one that emphasises richly coloured fruits and vegetables, and low or no animal fat.
- Use less salt as pure sodium chloride (try small amounts of sea salt which contains other minerals including magnesium).
- Minimise alcohol.
- Avoid coffee as this can raise BP.
- Avoid hot cooked spices that can over-stimulate. Use instead the cool spices like cumin and Organic Turmeric and add these to the food preferably after cooking.
- Include lots of garlic in your diet, together with cool herbs like thyme, chives, marjoram, coriander, basil and mint. "Garlic" by Jill Davies is available as a free download for you to learn about a food that has a traditional reputation for assisting heart heath.
- Another book by Jill Davies explores the traditional use of Hawthorn as a gentle preventative herb for heart and circulation support.
- Some oils and fats are better for the heart than others. The best ones are rich in omega 3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids, such as flax seed oil or hemp seed oil. Coconut oil is excellent, as is extra virgin olive oil. Coconut oil is a good choice for cooking as it can withstand a higher cooking temperature than olive oil without spoilage.
- Search out potassium-rich foods: a key one is apple cider vinegar. You can use it in salads, on potatoes, in stews or simply drink 2 tablespoons mixed with 2 tablespoons of apple juice daily. Also bananas, dried fruit, nectarines, melons, potatoes (with skins), broccoli, and pumpkins have high potassium levels.
- Ask us for a sample of PumpBeet Capsules and an information sheet.
- Foods that are high in absorbable plant calcium include dark green vegetables and Superfood Plus, which is easy to prepare and digest and also rich in other essential minerals and vitamins to support whole body health.
- Drink calming teas such as organic Chamomile Herbal Tea and add some extra lavender flowers from your garden in the summer months.
- Natural healing pays significant attention to the interaction between the body, mind and spirit. Balance your life in such a way that that you value all aspects of yourself.
- Meditation and other stress reduction techniques may help to lower blood pressure.
- Massage is one method to reduce stress – use Relaxing Massage Oil which is a blended mix of essential oils.
- Mix your own soothing blend and add a few drops to a bath – try organic Lavender and Petitgrain essential oils.
- If anxiety and depression follow on from a heart episode then speak to your doctor about a course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and allow your mental equilibrium to return.
- Learn more by watching a video presentation by Jill Davies discussing heart health.
- Read the newsletter by Jill Davies on cholesterol from summer 2012 – this can be found at the bottom of the Circulatory System page.
Additional help is available by phoning the free product advice line at Herbs Hands Healing between the hours of 9.00am to 1.00pm. Tel: 01379 608201.
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Learn more about Dr. Richard Schulze’s Superfood Plus and why we believe this is such a wonderful food by following this link on our website, where extensive information is available. Also please visit our Superfood Plus facebook page for articles and current news.
To learn more about natural healing for this and other ailments, visit Dr Schulze's blog.
If you would like to see videos of Jill Davies showing you plants growing in their natural settings and discussing their medicinal attributes then visit us on facebook. You can also explore additional herbs and their traditional uses by linking to Herbs Info & Photo Gallery and Herb Profiles. Useful additional information can also be found at the Herbs Hands Healing information pages on Detox & Cleansing and Natural Healing.