Good evening everyone! Per usual I do my blogging late in the night with a cup of coffee (this time decaf), paranormal or inspirational podcast playing through headphones, mere hours before needing to head into work. I guess you could say the former Tina is slowly making an appearance.
I've taken a little over a year off from my business and y'all know my blogging was basically dead before even that (a sure sign I was needing a hiatus). As I'm slowly coping and returning (a blog post for another time), I've been accepting a few consultations here and there lately as a way of re-emerging myself back into my work as an herbalist. One consultation in particular I felt was needed to become a blog post as it could benefit many.
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
According to the CDC, nearly half of the population of adults in the United States have been diagnosed with hypertension. This puts many at risk for heart attacks and strokes. As we would with any illness, we need to understand the possible cause of the high blood pressure in order to better understand it prior to using herbal medicine. There are multiple causes for hypertension:
Your genetics can also be a determining factor of whether or not you are at risk of developing hypertension. Diabetes, kidney disease (renal hypertension), thyroid disfunction (hypo and hyper), and more illnesses with a genetic influence can be an underlying cause to developing blood pressure issues.
While genetics are still a possibility, for most the main underlying causes of hypertension are lifestyle and diet. Being in a stressful atmosphere or lifestyle can negatively affect your blood pressure levels. Whether you deal with stress on a consistent basis or not, a lack of sleep can heighten your stress levels and lower your threshold to cope - often being a factor in raising blood pressure over time. A poor diet, especially what is considered the "American diet", can also increase the chances of developing high blood pressure. Greasy, fried food, excess salt, caffeine, alcohol, large amounts of red meat, and general lack of nutrition. A lack of physical exercise and weight gain will compound the risks and increases with age.
Discuss with your primary healthcare provider on the possibility of any of these factoring in as a possibility for your high blood pressure. Also discuss your medications side effects as many medications can run the risk of heightening blood pressure such as certain antidepressants, hormonal birth controls, certain herbal supplements, and pain medications.
Holistic Steps to Take
A great place to start is your diet. I hate the term "diet" because it tends to come with negative connotation of the struggle to lose weight. In reality, your diet is the sum of your eating habits. Do you find yourself more likely to go out for lunch rather than packing it? If you do, do you lean towards fast food? Are you often using the excuse of not having the time to fix lunch the night before? Or perhaps you simply just admit that you find fast food better tasting than healthy.
In reality we all use excuses to find ways around what we need to do. I'm not a fast food kind of gal, never really was, but for a long time I found myself swinging by the dollar store on my lunch break to purchase my lunch: a can of garbanzo beans mixed with Italian dressing or the occasional frozen lasagna. I know, I know...disturbing...(and let's not forget the pile of salt I have dumped on my tomatoes in the past!)
The truth is this: if something truly matters to you then you will find a way to make a change for it. I'm a recovering caffeine addict (as I'm sure most of us are) and if I could snort coffee grounds I would've found a way to do it but I have recently come to a health related conclusion that I needed to learn moderation and as an American that is very hard to do! Now while I don't have hypertension (trust me, I still got my own issues though), those with hypertension would benefit in lowering their caffeine intake.
Increasing the amount of vegetables and fruit in your dietary habits can lessen your hypertension and decrease the risk in those that have yet to develop it. There is actually a diet that was developed to target hypertension called D.A.S.H. (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and was developed by the National Heart, Lunch, and Blood Institute. This diet is made up of lean meat such as cold water fish and includes a variety of vegetables (particularly green leafy veggies such as kale), and low fat diary options. The point for it is weight loss, lowering cholesterol, reduce sodium intake, and increase nutrition. For a more comprehensive understanding of the D.A.S.H. diet you can visit DashDiet.org for more, but I'll list examples of healthy options to add to your meals:
While the vegan and vegetarian diets may not be for everyone, people who live by those dietary habits have been shown to have lower blood pressure. Just some food for thought...
Next, you want to become more active. I'm not saying run all the miles and take up cross country cycling (is that a thing? That sort of torture probably does exist...) but perhaps take the stairs instead of the elevator. Maybe park where all the nice cars are and walk further to the store - I do it because I like to think my dinged up trail blazer makes the fancy people sweat nervously. The point is to get more active and increase that metabolism! It also can help relieve stress, and speaking of:
We live in a fast paced age and it's filled with work-aholics like me. Even if you aren't constantly being driven by the internal motor to constantly be on your feet working you are more than likely still in a stressful atmosphere, you are more than likely dealing with deadlines, family drama, a hectic schedule with societal pressure and a bad memory (oh my gosh did you forget a kid at the store...again?!)
We need to chill out.
On top of that, many people are having sleeping issues. According to the American Sleep Association, up to 70 million people in the US alone have a form of sleeping disorder. Lack of proper sleep can increase our stress and lower our threshold of coping with it. This can be a supporting factor in the cause of hypertension. So see your doctor if you suspect that your spouse may not be lying about your sleeping problems. I mean, they might actually be telling the truth about you breaching like a whale when you turn over 50 times in the night, awakened by your own snoring.
Here are a two of my favorite herbal supplements that lower high blood pressure.
Hawthorn Crataegus sp.
Garlic Allium sativum L.
Goldenrod Solidago spp.
As always, consult your primary healthcare provider before making any large adjustments to your lifestyle and before adding or changing any medications - herbal or otherwise.
Thank you for reading my posts and stay tuned for an update blog post on what I've been working on behind the scenes with Survival Ember, a podcast I'm developing with a friend, and finally the return of classes and select products in the apothecary (like these herbal Detox and Weightloss Aid capsules below).
See you again soon, everyone!
The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Third Edition. Murray, Michael T. (N.D.) ;Pizzorno, Joseph (N.D.)
Author: Tina Potter
Master Herbalist, I've graduated as an American Healthcare College Alumnus, I've become a member of American Herbalist Guild and soon to be author of survivalist series Survival Ember co-authored by professional survivalist Kenny Dietrich of Ashland, KY. I've been beyond blessed with the constant desire to learn and teach.
COMMON SENSE NOTICE: I do not claim to diagnose, treat, or cure disease. What you do with the information I post is up to you, but it is advised to consult with a doctor before acting on alternative methods of medicine. I wish you all the best!