Table of Contents
© Martyn Carruthers & Richard Diehl
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a common, deadly disease that is increasing in young adults. Over time, high blood pressure damages the heart and kidneys and increases the risk of stroke, aneurysm and heart attack. Hypertension is often symptomless, and may be untreated or undertreated. Hypertension is related to lifestyle and relationship choices and is largely preventable.
Richard Diehl (Ph.D. M.Ed. L.Ac) specializes in nutrition and gentle detoxification. He is a member of the American Association of Diabetes Educators and is a Certified Advanced Rolfing® Practitioner (he studied with Dr. Ida Rolf). Richard is a Certified Nutrition Specialist and Traditional Naturopath® and has lectured in 9 countries on 5 continents.
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Hypertension is more common with age; over half of all people over 65 have it. In the elderly, hypertension typically takes the form of high systolic blood pressure, low diastolic blood pressure and dizziness when standing up.
(Blood pressure readings are expressed by two numbers, e.g. 120/80. The first is the systolic blood pressure and the second is the diastolic.)
Symptoms of hypertension include:
- Chest pressure or pain
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
- Dizziness or fainting spells (syncope)
- Bluish color to lips and skin (cyanosis)
- Racing pulse / increased heart rate (tachycardia)
- Swelling in ankles, legs and later in the abdomen (edema)
Medical Risk Factors for Hypertension
Researchers have identified factors that increase the risk of high blood pressure:
- High salt diet
- African descent
- High alcohol intake
- Family history of hypertension
Commercial table salt may contribute to hypertension but a low salt diet may not help. Sea salt is better – most people are mineral deficient.
Health Coaching: Food/Diet to Control Hypertension
Healthy eating can reduce the risk of hypertension and lower high blood pressure. Vegetarians often have lower blood pressure and a lower incidence of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. A vegetarian diet (minimizing or excluding grains) usually contains more potassium, complex carbohydrates (from green vegetables), omega-3 oils, polyunsaturated fat, fiber, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin A, all of which may benefit blood pressure.
Vegetable diets that minimize grains and corn are beneficial,
but vegetarians who eat excess cereal grains may have a
higher risk of obesity and diabetes – leading to heart disease.
Also, protein deficient diets can diminish the rebuilding of healthy tissues
and neurotransmitters, leading to other problems. See metabolic typing]
High-fiber diets are known to be effective in preventing and treating hypertension. The types of dietary fiber are important – the greatest benefit to hypertension are water soluble gel-forming fibers such as oat bran, apple pectin, psyllium seed husks and guar gum. Such dietary fiber may also reduce cholesterol levels, promote weight loss and help remove heavy metals.
Consider including things such as powdered oat fiber, guar gum, apple pectin, psyllium seed, dandelion root, ginger root, fenugreek seed and fennel seed in your diet.
Sugar & Starches (Refined Carbohydrates)
Table sugar and refined carbohydrates elevate blood pressure (sugars may increase adrenaline production, which increase blood vessel constriction and sodium retention). Vegetables and fruits can provide a diet rich in potassium and essential fatty acids, while low in saturated fat, sugar and salt. Choose whole foods, with plenty of green vegetables, garlic and onions.
The “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)” study showed that elevated blood pressures were reduced by diets rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods and low in saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol. This diet included whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts; and low fat, red meat and sugar.
Artificial preservatives, sweeteners and other food additives can increase risk.
Consider a diet that is rich in high potassium foods (vegetables and some fruits – too much fruit may lead to diabetic risks) and essential fatty acids. Daily potassium intake should total 7 grams per day. The diet should be low in saturated fat, sugar and salt. In general, choose whole foods, emphasizing green vegetables and the garlic/onion family. (Fish oil can substantially reduce cardiac risks as well as reducing cognitive decline, arthritic conditions and depression).
Magnesium is needed for over 300 body processes – about 6 – 10 mg / kilo of body weight. Magnesium is easily absorbed and interacts with potassium, so magnesium supplements appear to work best with a high-potassium diet. People who drink hard water that is high in magnesium have lower incidence of hypertension. Consider taking 200 – 400 mg of magnesium oxide, 3 times daily.
Eating fresh garlic regularly may help prevent and control hypertension. Fresh garlic contains allicin (an antibacterial agent) and other sulfur compounds. Allicin is responsible for the pungent taste of garlic, but is deactivated by heat – cooked garlic loses taste and physiological effects. Allicin is activated when garlic is crushed and exposed to air for a few minutes – but it is destroyed within a few hours of opening, hence garlic pills may offer limited value.
Vitamin C can lower blood pressure by 5 mm Hg and increase “good” cholesterol. Clinical studies show that vitamin C can normalize blood cholesterol, decreasing cholesterol in people with high cholesterol and optimize it in people who have low blood cholesterol. Vitamin C helps blood maintain a favorable HDL/LDL ratio. Together with ascorbyl palmitate, and amino acids such as L-proline and L-lysine, vitamin C supports healthy blood vessels and helps decrease other risk factors for heart disease.
CoQ10, L-Carnitine & Lipoic Acid
CoQ10 (ubiquinone) is essential for healthy mitochondria. Some medications (e.g. statin drugs) inhibit CoQ10 production. CoQ10 deficiency has been found in 40% of patients with high blood pressure, showing a need for CoQ10. Two antioxidants work synergistically with CoQ10 to enhance mitochondrial function and reduce free radical damage – L-carnitine and lipoic acid.
L-Carnitine optimizes the production of ATP by mitochondria in heart cells to keep the heart properly functioning. It assists cells to utilize fatty acids and has anti-oxidant properties. In a double blind trial, 500 mg per day of propionyl-L-carnitine led to a 26% increase in exercise capacity after six months.
Lipoic acid neutralizes free radicals in cells. Lipoic acid is a “universal antioxidant” that can recycle both vitamin C and vitamin E in the body. It also helps break down sugars so that energy can be produced from them through cellular respiration. Lipoic acid is the only antioxidant that can boost the level of intracellular glutathione, an antioxidant that is essential for optimal immune response.
Meditation & Ho’oponopono
A study to determine if traditional Hawaiian Ho’oponopono with medical therapy might better control hypertension than therapy alone showed that Ho’oponopono was associated with a significant reduction in blood pressure. Ho’oponopono is an integral part of our systemic coaching. See Relationship Yoga.
Reduce Blood Pressure
Lower mild hypertension with an anti-aging diet…
- Maintain an ideal body weight. For females, ideal weight is equal to 100 pounds + 5 pounds for every inch of height above 5 feet. For males, ideal weight is 106 pounds + 6 pounds for every inch of height above 5 feet. (metric…)
- Follow an anti-aging diet high in plants. Most vegetarians have lower blood pressure and lower incidence of hypertension than non-vegetarians. Their diet contains more potassium, complex carbohydrate, fiber, calcium, and vitamin C and less saturated fat and refined carbohydrates.
- Celery is high in 3-n-butylphthalide. In animal studies, intake of the equivalent of 4 sticks of celery for humans was shown to lower blood pressure by 12%.
- Garlic can reduce blood pressure. Take at least 4 cloves a day of fresh garlic a day for a 10 mm Hg drop in systolic and 6 mm Hg in diastolic pressure.
- Avoid coffee, stimulants and stress – they constrict blood vessels which increases hypertension.
- Lower salt intake and increase intake of fruits, vegetables and legumes.
Sodium : Potassium Ratio
Many Westerners eat a sodium : potassium ratio of 2:1. For anti-aging, a 1:5 ratio is better. Optimally, this ratio can approach 1:100, as most fruits and vegetables have a ratio of 1:50. While it is better to restrict sodium intake, studies show that a high potassium intake is needed. Many salt substitutes contain potassium chloride which has about 500 mg potassium per 1/6 teaspoon.
Potassium supplements alone (2.5 – 5 gm/day) can lower systolic pressure by 10-12 mm Hg and diastolic pressure by14-16 mm Hg. This is especially effective for people over age 65 who do not respond well to common anti-hypertensive drugs. Fortunately, potassium is easy to come by in food (1 medium banana contains 400 mg of potassium, a slice of watermelon, or a tomato contains 530 mg. Note that banana and watermelon have a high sugar content and lack fiber.)
Most health programs include exercise, which can burn calories while reducing insulin resistance. Well-balanced exercise includes training in flexibility, cardiovascular and strength. Plan to burn about 2000 calories each week – a good mixture is 30 minutes of aerobics exercise at moderate intensity plus 15-20 minutes of stretching and 15-20 minutes strength training – all 3 times each week.
The wonders of modern medicine seem to pace a decline in human contact between helping professionals and their patients. Many medical doctors refer to patients by their symptoms – e.g. “Nurse – the heart attack in room 6 is upset – check it out“. Our coaching helps re-unite people with people, and people their world, while solving emotional, relationship and sense of life issues. (Read about Dr Patch Adams). We …
- help people find a purpose and reason to live
- provide many possibilities for improving relationships
- help people control overwhelming and negative emotions
- help patients and family members cope with emotional distress
- help people live full lives, promoting emotional well being and activities
- motivate and support healthy behaviors, such as diet and physical activity
Relationships, Passive Aggression & Hypertension
A healthy relationship with yourself is a foundation for sustainable living.
A study by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario showed that people in unhappy relationships who have mild high blood pressure ( hypertension ) experience a sustained increase in blood pressure when they are with their partners. But people with mild hypertension who are in loving, supportive, relationships experience a decrease in blood pressure when they are with their partners.
Many people who are diagnosed with hypertension could be called passive aggressive. Our coaching is particularly useful for resolving passive aggression and covert, hostile behavior. These symptoms are notoriously difficult to treat with classical psychotherapy or medication, yet often respond well to our systemic coaching.
In our experience, passive aggression and chronic anger are consequences of identifying with a victim, usually as a child. This type of identification may provide a volcano of unresolved anger. Strangely, many people who could be called passive aggressive may be afraid to express anger – even to themselves. During our relationship diagnosis, people often find that they feel their unexpressed anger centered in the heart region of their bodies. We offer solutions.