May 07

Natural Strategies For Preventing and Reversing Hypertension/Hypotension

  1. What is hypertension?


  • When blood pressure is higher than 120/80.
  • Systolic number of 120 is when the heart pushes blood out of the heart and into the body.
  • Diastolic number 80 is when the heart has pushed all of the blood out and is at rest (starting to refill).


  1. What are the levels of hypertension?


Heart Status                           Systolic                                Diastolic

Normal                                      120                                          80

Prehypertension                     120-139                                   80-89

Stage 1 Hypertension              140-159                                   90-99

Stage 2 Hypertension                160+                                      100+


  1. What is low blood pressure, or hypotension?


  • Anything below 120 systolic and 80 diastolic.
  • Some people can go as low as 89/50 and be fine.
  • It’s a very individual thing for your doctor to decide.
  • Low pressure can cause some people to go into shock.


  1. What causes high blood pressure?


  • Genetics – Possibly a number of genetic factors, not just one.
  • Ethnicity – African-Americans are at higher risk.
  • Obesity – Strong risk factor for hypertension and other diseases.
  • Low physical activity – Primary risk factor for hypertension.
  • Excess salt in diet – A major risk factor for hypertension.
  • Advancing age – A significant risk factor.


(NOTE:  If you do not have hypertension by the age of 55, you have a 90%

chance of developing it sometime during the remainder of your life.)


  1. What diseases/illnesses are caused by high blood pressure?


  • Kidney disease – Kidneys help to control blood pressure. If they sense blood pressure is too low, they produce a hormone called renin.  This increases blood pressure.  The kidneys can be fooled by blockage of the renal artery from scars or plaque build up.  This causes blood pressure to increase unnecessarily.  Poor circulation can lead to kidney disease as cells lose their ability to do their job of cleaning the blood (removing toxins).
  • Dementia – High blood pressure leads to plaque build up, which can impede blood flow to brain cells. When brain cells get less blood, it means they get less oxygen and nutrients also.  This can lead to declining mental function.


  • Coronary artery disease – High blood pressure can cause small tears in arteries near the heart, leading to inflammation and plaque. The plaque either builds up and blocks blood flow or ruptures, causing blockage and a heart attack.


  • Congestive heart failure – Higher blood pressure means the heart is working harder to push blood to all parts of the body. The heart muscle gets bigger or the heart muscle thickens as it works overtime.  Eventually, the heart weakens and cannot pump efficiently. This causes lungs to fill with blood because they cannot be emptied.  Also, the ankles may swell because there is not enough pressure to send blood back to the heart.  The heart becomes exhausted and fails.


  • Stroke – High blood pressure causes tears in arterial linings in the body and the brain. Plaque is formed, but if a piece of plaque breaks off and travels to the small arteries in the brain, it can block blood flow causing a stroke.  (Embolism).


  • Peripheral artery disease – High blood pressure causes aorta or arterial tears or ruptures. This can lead to plaque build up or hemorrhaging.  Atherosclerosis is impaired circulation, which leads to high blood pressure.


  • Vision impairment – High blood pressure can lead to accelerated deterioration of vision if the eyes cannot get the blood, oxygen and nutrients they need.


  1. What are the conventional medical treatments for hypertension?


  • Diuretics – Causes the kidneys to expel more water/urine, which also takes out more salt and lowers blood pressure.



  1. Potassium depletion can disrupt heart muscle.
  2. Magnesium depletion can disrupt heart muscle.
  3. Elevation of uric acid can cause gout.
  4. Dehydration is a possibility with many health implications.


  • Beta-Blockers – Reduces the force of the heart’s contraction, thus lowering the pressure of blood pushed into the body.



  1. Can trigger asthma attack in people with asthma.
  2. COPD patients can have their heart rate lowered to a dangerous level.
  3. Low heart rate people may become dizzy when the heart rate lowers too much.
  4. People with arrhythmia may experience dangerous heart stoppage.
  5. Diabetics on insulin should take care since beta-blockers can mask or hide low blood sugar.
  6. Could make people with depression worse.


  • ACE Inhibitors – Angiotension Converting Enzyme Inhibitors are drugs that block the kidneys attempt to increase blood pressure by constricting blood flow in the body. The kidneys often try to increase blood pressure when it thinks it sees low blood pressure.  This is often a false response.  ACE inhibitors go to the cells on our arteries and block the chemicals made by the kidneys, thereby keeping blood pressure balanced.



  1. Can produce dry mouth and cough (15-20% of patients).
  2. Deterioration in kidney function is possible.
  3. A significant increase in potassium levels is possible.
  4. An allergic reaction is experienced by 1% of users.


  • Calcium Channel Blockers – These drugs block calcium from getting into muscle cells. Calcium is needed for the contraction of muscles, which is one of the ways blood pressure is increased.  By blocking the entry of calcium, muscles cannot contract and blood pressure cannot be increased.



  1. Edema or swelling of the ankles can occur because blood cannot be sent back to the heart by the dilated blood vessels.
  2. Rapid heart beat can occur, as the heart attempts to compensate for blood not circulating as well as it would like.
  3. Flushing can also occur if blood pressure drops too low.


  • Aldosterone Blockers – Aldosterone is made in the adrenal glands and both saves salt in the kidneys and constricts blood vessels. Both reactions raise blood pressure.  Blocking this substance lowers blood pressure.



  1. A higher potassium level is a common side effect.


  • Vasodilators– This category of medications cause blood vessels to dilate, thus relaxing their walls and lowering blood pressure.


(NOTE:  The current health care system is based on treatment.  Doctors learn about drugs, but not natural therapies.  Drug companies promote their drugs to make profit.  People want quick and easy solutions.


  1. What are the common risk factors for high blood pressure?


  • Being over the age of 35
  • Being overweight
  • Foods high in salt or fat or both
  • Not being physically active
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Drinking excess alcohol (more than 2/day)
  • Under high stress
  • Pregnant
  • African-American
  • Family history of high blood pressure
  • Take oral contraceptives
  • Women after menopause



  1. Natural methods of reducing high blood pressure.


  • A vast majority of people with hypertension can lower their blood pressure , as well as, or even better, with natural approaches. The science behind these natural approaches is as good or better than the science behind prescription medications and there are few, if any, side effects.  The areas we will focus on include:


  1. The DASH Diet
  2. Foods to include
  3. Specific nutrients for hypertension
  4. Additional suggestions mentioned from various health publications.
  5. Stress control and emotional balance
  6. Exercise


  1. The DASH Diet

The most scientifically tested and proven “diet” for lowering blood pressure is the DASH Diet.  In fact, this diet was evaluated in a study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and is recommended by the American Heart Association.  In this study, 459 participants adhered to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy products, moderate fish, poultry and nuts and very reduced levels of red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened drinks.


The results were impressive.  After eight weeks, systolic pressure dropped an average of 11.4 points and diastolic pressure dropped an average of 5.5 points.  When salt was also restricted, these results got even better.  Some of the side benefits were as follows:


  • Total cholesterol was lowered 14 points or 7%.
  • Homocysteine was lowered between 7 and 9%.
  • Blood sugar and insulin levels stayed the same, which is good since higher levels of carbohydrates were being consumed.
  • There were increased levels of antioxidants in the blood of

participants, including beta-carotene, lutein, crypotzanthin and zeaxanthin.  This strengthens immune function and slows the aging process.


  1. Foods to Avoid

There are some very specific foods to avoid if you have high blood pressure, and excellent reasons why to avoid them.


  • Salt – Sodium or salt in your blood attracts water and causes fluid retention. Extra fluid expands the volume of blood in blood vessels, puts pressure on the walls of these vessels, and thus increases blood pressure.


  • Saturated Fats – These fats can raise cholesterol levels, which then stick to arterial walls when damage occurs. This hardens blood vessels and causes higher blood pressure.


  • Sugar – Sugar causes the pancreas to work overtime, making insulin, which exhausts this organ and can eventually cause it to not make sufficient insulin. Excess sugar causes oxidative damage to arteries, leading to plaque build up and higher blood pressure.  Excess sugar is also converted to fat and stored causing an overweight condition, which leads to even higher blood pressure.


  • Processed Foods – Processed foods are often low in key nutrients, such as antioxidants, B vitamins, omega 3 fats and minerals, such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. These minerals help maintain the body’s acid/alkaline balance and facilitate functions such as bone building, muscle efficiency and brain function.  Deficiencies in any of these key nutrients contributes to hardening of the arteries, weakening the heart muscle, water retention and kidney dysfunction, all of which can increase blood pressure.
  1. Foods to Include


  • Vegetables – Contains high levels of vitamin C, vitamin A (carotenoids), calcium, magnesium and potassium. These foods are important for immune function.


  • Fruits – Contains high levels of vitamin C, flavonoids and phytonutrients, all of which are important for immune function.


  • Whole Grains – Contains high levels of vitamin B, folic acid and vitamin E. These are important for energy, immune function and cellular reproduction.


  • Poultry and Fish – Contains high levels of omega 3, zinc and amino acids, which are crucial for cellular repair, cellular replacement and biochemical production.


  • Nuts and Seeds – Contains high levels of vitamin E, vitamin B, selenium, omega fats, zinc and magnesium. Supports cellular health in many ways.


  • Unsaturated fats and Oils – Contains high levels of omega 3, 6 and 9, as well as phospholipids, which support brain health, joint health and heart health.


  • Low or No Fat Dairy – Contains high levels of vitamin D, calcium, amino acids, B vitamins and folic acid. Good for bone health, immune function and brain health.
  1. Specific Nutrients for Hypertension – Certain vitamins, minerals, fats and amino acids have been shown to have specific benefits in the reduction of high blood pressure. The following are the most significant nutrients to consider.


  • Magnesium – This mineral plays a vital role in many biochemical reactions in the body. A critical role for magnesium is the transportation of glucose and insulin through the cell membrane for delivery to the energy center of the cell (mitochondria).  Without energy cells in the kidneys, the heart and arteries could not do their jobs, which means blood pressure could go up.


  • Co-enzyme Q10 – This enzyme is also crucial for energy production in the mitochondria of the cell. The heart shows improved ability to pump out blood when CoQ10 levels are increased.  CoQ10 also acts to protect cells from free radical damage, which keeps them healthy and functioning properly.


  • Vitamin C – This vitamin protects arteries from free radical damage, which allows them to retain their flexibility to expand when necessary. This elasticity prevents blood pressure problems, as does the ability of vitamin C to improve nitrate intolerance. Nitrates impact the ability of arteries to dilate and vitamin C improves this vasodilation factor.


  • Fish Oil – This nutrient is high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to soften cell membranes, decrease stress hormones and increase the release of ATP from the cells, which improves vascular cell function and lowers triglycerides (fat) in the blood. The combination of these actions has been shown in clinical studies to keep blood pressure lower.


  • Garlic – Regular consumption of this herb has been shown to prevent arterial stiffness, improve blood platelet function, lower blood lipids (cholesterol), lower triglycerides and increase HDL (good cholesterol). Several studies shown the ability of garlic to lower blood pressure and improve overall arterial function.


  • Arginine – This amino acid is needed to make nitric oxide, a substance that allows blood vessels to dilate. This elasticity allows blood vessels to expand and contract as needed, thus avoiding high blood pressure.  Clinical trials have verified the ability of arginine to lower blood pressure.


  • Other nutrients shown to help lower blood pressure:

–  Calcium                                    – Lecithin

–  Potassium                                 – Vitamin E

–  L-carnitine                                – Vitamin D

–  Selenium                                   – Onion

–  Taurine                                     – Fiber


  1. Additional Suggestions Mentioned in Various Health and Medical

Publications – Yoga, biofeedback and meditation have been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, depression and other emotional conditions that can increase blood pressure.


  • Acupressure (ear area) has been shown to be helpful for some people with high blood pressure.
  • Drinking distilled water periodically is often recommended.
  • Avoiding alcohol, caffeine and tobacco is often recommended.
  • Avoiding foods, such as aged cheeses, aged meats, anchovies, avocados, chocolate, fava beans, sherry, picked herring, sour cream and yogurt is also recommended by James Balch, M.D.
  • Avoid the artificial sweetener, aspartame.
  • Avoid all animal fats.


  1. Stress Control and Emotional Balance – The emotional component of

hypertension is indisputable.  Yoga, biofeedback and meditation have already been mentioned as possible remedies to this emotional component. In one study, it was it was found that people with negative emotional states or mood are two to three times more likely to develop hypertension.  (Jones, Franks and Ingram, 1997).  These are the primary steps in the emotional – blood pressure connection.


  1. A stressful emotional event or mood sets off an alarm system that triggers up to 1400 biochemical reactions.


  1. Signals are sent through the nervous system to the heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, intestines, stomach, brain and the organs of HTP axis (hypothalamus, thyroid and pituitary).


  1. Feelings of anxiety, panic or anger are produced.


  1. Our adrenal glands release hormones, such as cortisol, to help signal needed changes in our body.


  1. Blood vessels are constricted, which increases blood pressure.


  1. Heart rate increases to send more blood to our muscles.


  1. Arteries constrict also to control any bleeding.


  1. Blood is directed away from the kidneys and digestive tract.


  1. Pupils in our eyes dilate to improve vision.


  1. The brain shuts down long-term analysis to concentrate on immediate matters.


  1. The liver releases sugar for energy.


  1. Our muscle cells release sugar for energy.

These changes can stay around for up to two hours and can have long-term negative consequences if repeated too frequently. Heart Math is a three-step process designed to stop and reverse this reaction in the body in order to bring it back to a healthy place, and these three steps can and should be used even when there is not a stressful or emotional event occurring.  The regular application of the Heart Math process has been clinically proven to help lower chronically high blood pressure and should be used along with nutrition and exercise as a comprehension program to control hypertension.  The three steps area as follows.


  1. Heart Focus – This involves shifting your attention away from other things and concentrating on the area of the heart. These should be calm and positive thoughts designed to begin to create a state of relaxation.


  1. Heart Breathing – In this step, while continuing to focus on the heart, there is also a focus on breathing. The heart is near the lungs so it is important to begin a gentle pattern of longer breathes, perhaps five seconds long, drawing air in and five seconds letting it out.  This can be done several times until you begin to feel even more relaxed and centered on your heart.


  1. Heart Feelings In this step, it is important to introduce very positive thoughts, such as recalling a time when you were very grateful or appreciative. Thinking of a kind person or an event with that person is also useful.  This positive thinking helps, along with continued heart focus and breathing, to bring you into a sustained state of calm.

Heart Math is very similar to meditation, which has been practiced for thousands of years.  Dr. Herbert Benson, from Harvard University, has also studied the impact of these calming techniques and reached similar conclusions regarding their potential to improve heart health, as well as many other aspects of our health.


All of these mind-body techniques require practice in order for someone to become truly effective in bringing their bodies into a calm and healthy place.  It is also important to note that this is not just about relaxation because worrisome thoughts can still persist in a relaxed state.  Of equal importance is the achievement of a changed mindset.  Keeping your worries or stressors in proper perspective is equally important.  By shifting to a calm and positive place, it should then become more feasible to begin the problem solving or the healing process, which can be very crucial in the avoidance of future stressful or emotional events.


Psychologists and psychiatrists use talk therapy as a means of repositioning or reframing our mindset to a more positive and productive place.  Heart Math, meditation and yoga can also be self-help tools for resetting or adjusting our mind frame.  If we can learn and consistently apply these tools with effect, then we will have gained more control over our emotions and our internal thinking.  This creates a healthier pattern of behavior and thinking that will control blood pressure, and help many other organs and systems in our bodies.


  1.   The Importance of Exercise – 


  1. Why Exercise?


  • There are many well-established reasons for someone to incorporate exercise into their overall health and wellness program.


  • Strengthens the cardio vascular system.


  • Helps flush toxins from the body. (Detoxification)


  • Builds muscle, which burns more calories than fat.


  • Helps to strengthen bones.


  • Stimulates insulin receptors on cells to improve glucose absorption.


  • Produces endorphins, neurotransmitters in the brain that help to produce positive mood.


  • Encourages food and waste to move through the digestive tract. (Better metabolism)


  • Helps the body to maintain good balance, which helps older people to avoid falls and bone fractures.


  • Burns calories to help maintain a healthy weight.


  • Helps balance the body’s hormones, such as the stress hormone, cortisol, as well as other hormones.


  1. What type of exercise does the body need?


Most exercise specialists agree that there are four key types of exercise needed to optimize physical fitness and overall health.


  • Aerobic exercise – This type of exercise rises the heart rate and expands the lungs due to the strenuous nature of aerobic activities. Typical aerobic exercises include running, biking, swimming, tennis, basketball, trampoline, jumping rope and rollerblading.


  • Weight bearing exercise – This type of exercise includes activities, such as weight lifting, gymnastics, rock climbing, heavy gardening swimming and calisthenics. The key is to work muscles to the point where they are nearly exhausted and will grow in size and strength.


  • Flexibility exercises – These exercises help the body to maintain a free and wide range of movement through controlled stretching. Typical flexibility exercises include yoga, Pilates, tai chi and stretching.


  • Core exercises – The core is our body from the hips to the chest. The muscles of the stomach and the small of the back are crucial to good posture, ease of movement, good bone structure and the protection of our spine and internal organs.  Good core exercises include sit-ups, leg raises, controlled twisting, back exercises and balance ball exercises.


  1. Some Key Recommendations for Quality Exercising


  1. Safety – Always put safety first. Never do an exercise without considering the risks involved.


  1. Form – Always follow the proper form when doing any exercise. Runners should observe the heel to toe technique.  Weight lifters should observe the directions on the equipment, in books or provided by instructors.  Proper posture is always a key consideration.  Over working your body can cause form to be compromised, which can lead to injuries.  And, finally, good form produces the best results, which helps to encourage us to continue with our exercise program.


  1. Variety – The body likes variety. Changing your routine periodically confuses the muscles, which actually helps them to perform better.  That is why athletes use cross training when trying to reach higher levels of performance.  Muscles need to be worked in many different directions in order to produce strength, flexibility and endurance.  Variety is also a good strategy for maintaining your interest level to continue exercising.


  1. Consistency – The body appreciates it when it gets to work on a regular basis. A day of rest is good, at least one each week, but doing some serious exercise of at least thirty minutes every day is crucial for cardiovascular health, burning calories, building muscle and stimulating insulin receptors to burn glucose.  Exercise should be a non-negotiable factor in our lives, just the same as good nutrition is.


  1. Good Nutrition – If we exercise without eating the right foods, we can actually do harm to our bodies. There are articles online with guidelines for good nutrition for people who exercise at every level from moderate to extreme.  Some important factors are as follows:


  • Amino acids – The body needs protein to build new cells and repair damaged ones caused by exercising. Protein from any source, except red meat, is acceptable because red meat induces inflammation, it is difficult to digest and causes cancer.  Whey protein powder is also good.


  • B-vitamin – This group of vitamins is crucial for breaking amino acids down into useful nutrients for our cells. Good sources are nuts, whole grains, eggs, cheese, healthy meats and green vegetables.  Supplements are also good.


  • Antioxidants – Vitamins, such as vitamin C and vitamin E are very important, as are all antioxidants. Exercising causes an increased production of free radicals within our cells by as much as 400%.  These free radicals can damage our cells unless they are neutralized by antioxidants.  Fruits and vegetables are good sources, but supplements are the only way to get the quantity of antioxidants needed by the body.  Moderate exercising requires 12,000 mg of antioxidants per day, while heavy exercising, such as long distance running, may require 16,000 mg or more per day.


  • Vitamin C – This vitamin deserves special attention because it is crucial to the formation of connective tissue, such as collagen. Without sufficient levels of vitamin C, injuries are almost inevitable.


  • Completeness – All parts of the body need exercise. Just working the legs, the heart and the lungs is not good enough.  Even the neck needs exercise so it can support our head and help maintain good posture.  Working all body parts ensures good bone density everywhere, as well as good circulation and nerve transmission.  Even the spine needs exercise, such as rebounding, because this is the only way that nutrients get pushed into our discs and waste gets pushed out.  Our discs have no blood vessels of their own.








  1. Some Tips for Effective Exercising


  • Try to consume some complex carbohydrates before exercising, such as

whole grain bread and almond butter, brown rice or nuts and seeds.  This will provide a slow and steady release of glucose for energy.

  • Consume an antioxidant drink, such as Emergen-C, during exercise in order to get the necessary antioxidants to neutralize free radicals produced.


  • Consume a whey protein drink within 30 minutes of completing your

exercise in order to have enough amino acids in the body to repair muscle cells.


  • Get a physical exam prior to beginning any exercise program beyond walking, biking or other non-strenuous exercise.


  • Stop exercising if you experience any pain.


  • Usually slow and controlled movements are the best (especially weight lifting).


  • Set goals in order to consistently strive for improvement.


  • Do warm up and cool down exercises, such as stretching, to help prepare the muscles and allow them to recover properly.


  • Remember your breathing and try not to hold your breath while exerting yourself, except while swimming, obviously.


  • Pace yourself and don’t become obsessive. There is a danger in doing too much exercise or not resting at proper intervals.  Listen to your body and it will usually tell you when you are doing too much















Different Types of Exercise

At Home

Jumping Rope




Roller skating




Running in place


















Downhill Skiing

Cross-country Skiing



Mountain Climbing

Rock Climbing


Scuba Diving




Take a Class




Kick Boxing

Water Aerobics



Martial Arts


Tai Chi


At the Gym

Rowing Machine


Stationary Bicycle

Weight Room

Stair Machine




















Your Weight  – 









Talking on the phone










Shooting baskets










Wheelchair basketball





Touch football





Golf, carrying clubs















Water aerobics (fast)





Softball (general)





Mopping floors





Mowing lawn





Washing car







Calories burned in 30 minute


Developed by:


Charles K. Bens, PhD.

Healthy at Work

Sarasota, Florida


Copyright December 2011