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Blood pressure (high)

General characteristics

General characteristics

Blood pressure is the the force that the blood flow exerts on the inside of artery walls.
When the heart beats it forces the blood out of the heart and into the arterial vessel network and blood pressure is naturally at its highest. This pressure is known as systolic pressure.
While the heart is momentarily resting and refilling with blood, the blood pressure is at its lowest and is known as the diastolic pressure.
Blood pressure readings will show how high the body's blood pressure is by giving two numbers. If a blood pressure reading is 120/80 mm Hg (millimetres of mercury) this means that the pressure as the heart beats is 120 mm Hg and the pressure as the heart rests is 80 mm Hg.
High blood pressure is defined medically as any reading above 120/80 but this is quite misleading as higher readings can be 'normal' for a larger person for example and the blood pressure tends to rise with age as the arteries become less elastic. When blood pressure is high for longer periods of time the heart muscle can become enlarged due to its increased workload and the arterial walls can become damaged by the increased pressure on them leading to scarring and subsequent narrowing and hardening of the arteries. This then increases blood pressure more as the blood flow encounters greater resistance and the heart works harder to attempt to move the blood to all parts of the body.
Blood pressure rises temporarily and is a normal response when exercising or during emotional excitement or anxiety but then returns to normal when the body/emotional state is recovered.
The causes for chronic (long term) high blood pressure are many and can include stress, tension and anxiety, physical exertion and exercise, weakened or failing kidneys, hyperthyroidism and other hormonal problems, damage to the arteries, increased blood viscosity, inactive lifestyle, poor diet, obesity, high alcohol intake, diabetes and as a result of many other medical disorders (known as secondary hypertension), too numerous to list.
Herbal remedies and natural treatments should be aimed at remedying the underlying cause of the hypertension if possible, supporting the heart muscle, soothing the nerves (if stress is implicated), strengthening the kidney function, thinning the blood if needed and restoring the arteries and blood vessels to their optimum health.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Adopt a wholefood diet based on eating a wide variety of fresh foods and avoid processed foods (packets, tins, ready meals, crisps etc) which contain high levels of salt, sugar and unnatural fats.

Avoid stimulating drinks like tea, coffee, cola and alcohol in excess.

Avoid low fat dairy foods as the stripping away of normal fats has been linked to an increased risk of diseases such as a variety of cancers, teenage acne and heart disease, to name but a few. Full fat dairy contains far more nutrients such as vitamins D, B and A which give many beneficial health effects. Use organic whenever possible to avoid hormones and other nasties.

Excess table salt raises blood pressure by increasing the volume of blood in the vessels. Avoiding processed and packaged food will go a long way to reducing your processed salt intake. Use pure sea salt in your cooking instead.

Include plenty of plant fibre in the form of whole grains and fruit and vegetables. See also 'fibre' in the 'natural healing' section of this site for more food ideas.

Buckwheat contains a compound called rutin (part of the vitamin C complex) which helps to repair damaged blood vessels and restore some of their elasticity. Use it several times a week in soups or as a flour for baking.

Potassium plays a crucial role in keeping the whole of the body in good shape but is particularly beneficial to the blood vessels. It slows down the hardening process and keeps all the soft tissues of the body healthy, supple and capable of speedy healing. Foods high in potassium include bananas, cider vinegar and apples, potatoes (with skin on even higher), avocado, yogurt, black beans, lentils, lima beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, cooked spinach, swiss chard and nearly all green leaves including culinary and medicinal herbs, oranges, winter squash, artichoke, dried apricots and dates, sun dried tomatoes etc. See also 'minerals' in the 'natural healing' section of this site for more food ideas and a recipe for potassium broth.

Eat 3 bananas everyday for their high potassium content which is used in the body to open and regulate blood vessels.

Eat plenty of garlic and onions and the other members of the allium family such as leeks, chives, shallots etc for their artery dilating, plaque dissolving, blood clot prevention, blood thinning and purifying effects.

Cayenne or chilli balances blood pressure in the body by thinning the blood and therefore taking strain and stress away from the worse affected vessels.

Exercise moderately by taking a daily walk for instance.

Find ways to relax regularly by doing activities that make you feel good.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Avoid using the herbs liqourice, hyssop, ginseng (american and asian) and goldenseal as these can all raise blood pressure.

Nettle tea contains a good deal of iron, calcium and other vitamins and minerals, lowers excessive cholesterol, stimulates and tones the kidneys, dilates blood vessels and cleanses the blood of other impurities. Drink at least 3 strong cups daily using a tablespoon of herb per cup.
Chilli powder or tincture when taken regularly will help to lower blood pressure. start with a pinch of powder in a herbal tea 3 times daily and add a pinch more every week, up to a teaspoon 3 times daily.
Hawthorn flowers and berries are both excellent heart protectors and used regularly will help prevent heart attacks and restore elasticity to blood vessels. Use them both in tincture from (1 teaspoon three times daily) or add to a herbal tea mix.
A useful formula for high blood pressure where stress and nervous tension are a likely cause is equal parts of hawthorn flowers, motherwort, lime flowers, passionflower, yarrow and nettle. Use the dried herb and make a mix to use as a tea, one teaspoon per cup 3 times daily. Other relaxing herbs include chamomile, lemon balm, mistletoe leaves, crampbark and valerian. See also 'stress' in the 'common ailments' section of this site for further ideas.
Add a little buchu leaf from time to time to the above formula for the beneficial effects on the kidneys and the resulting blood pressure reduction they produce.
Barberry can also be added to formulas for its mild sedative and vessel dilating activity.
Where kidney weakness is suspected or if you have been told you need a diuretic then use dandelion root as a tincture (1 teaspoon in water twice daily, last dose in early evening) or add a teaspoon of dandelion leaf to each cup of herb tea mix. Diuretics are prescribed to force the kidneys to excrete more urine and lessen the volume of fluid in the vessels thereby reducing blood pressure somewhat.
Celery seeds are another very useful remedy when water retention and kidney weakness accompanies hypertension. They are diuretic in nature and also relax the blood vessels, reducing pressure and improving blood flow.
Cornsilk and cleavers can also help with eliminating excess water.
Astragalus root can be used when fluid is in excess in the body and the heart is weak.
 
Add a little irish moss to tea formulas or sprinkle on food occasionally to help lower blood pressure.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Take a teaspoon of cider vinegar in water before each meal. You may have to start with one a day and increase slowly as you get used to the taste. This will help your digestion and increase weight loss slowly and healthily.
Take evening primrose oil capsules or flaxseed daily as many of the  plant oils have beneficial effects on the heart and circulation.
Take 60mg of co-enzyme Q10 daily.
Gently and slowly loose weight if you need to by increasing exercise and adopting a regular healthy diet.

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