Regulating Blood Pressure Naturally

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High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) affects about 65 million Americans, or about one in three adults. There are many potential causes of hypertension, but not necessarily any symptoms. In fact, 30 percent of the people who have high blood pressure don't even realize it.

But make no mistake about it: high blood pressure is dangerous. It is the number one modifiable cause of stroke. Lowering your blood pressure reduces the chance of stroke by 35 to 40 percent.

Of course, changing blood pressure numbers depends, in a large part, on the choices we make everyday--how much we exercise, the foods we eat, and our lifestyle overall. But, for those times we need extra help, there is a new, scientifically studied supplement to help us along our path to better health and lower blood pressure.

Blood Pressure Defined
When blood pressure numbers are written out, as in "120/80," 120 is the systolic pressure (pressure of the heart beating) and 80 is the diastolic pressure (pressure of the heart and vessels filling with blood). Normal blood pressure is now considered to be a systolic pressure under 120, and a diastolic pressure under 80. If your numbers are consistently higher than these after multiple visits to your healthcare practitioner, you may have either pre-hypertension or high blood pressure.

Preventing High Blood Pressure
The reasons for hypertension aren't always clear. However, there are lifestyle factors that contribute to high blood pressure that you can change:

* Weight Loss: increase your lean muscle mass and lose the fat, especially the fat around your middle

* Exercise: hearts in bodies that get regular exercise stay healthy and fit, just like any other muscle

* Salt: try to reduce your salt intake, and if you use salt in cooking, use healthier sea salt or Celtic salt

* Alcohol and tobacco use: moderate your alcohol intake, and if you smoke--stop.

Lowering Blood Pressure, Naturally
Dandelion leaf extract, lycopene, stevia extract, olive leaf extract and hawthorn extract are scientifically and clinically studied natural ingredients that lower high blood pressure separately, and work even better when they're combined. Stevia and olive leaf have been shown in scientific studies to lower blood pressure, hawthorn helps keep blood vessels flexible and elastic, dandelion (a diuretic) lowers blood pressure by encouraging the body to release excess water, and the antioxidant, lycopene, helps lower cholesterol and homocysteine levels and reduce your risk of heart attack. Every one of these ingredients has been studied and recommended for years.

In a small pilot study, 100 percent of participants taking the combination of nutrients listed above in a product called BP Manager by Enzymatic Therapy, Inc., showed lower blood pressure numbers in systolic and diastolic readings--some after only two weeks of use, with best results after eight weeks of use. The mean systolic blood pressure decreased 12 percent, while diastolic blood pressure decreased six percent. The greatest reductions were a systolic blood pressure reduction of 20 mm/Hg, and a diastolic blood pressure reduction of 10 mm/Hg. Although the study was small, the results were statistically significant. Additionally, none of the participants experienced discomfort or side effects.

Getting Started on Lower Blood Pressure
Many patients come to me for guidance on reducing or eliminating their use of prescription medications to lower blood pressure. Often this is due to side effects from the drugs that make them difficult to tolerate, including dizziness, dry mouth, headaches, and constipation. Some types of blood pressure drugs can cause erectile dysfunction (impotence) in men.

It is very important to never just stop taking a drug without consulting your doctor. There may be more than one reason why the drug was prescribed, and abruptly stopping use could endanger your health. As a naturopathic physician and expert on heart disease, I truly believe that high blood pressure, especially mild increases in blood pressure, should first be treated with lifestyle changes, healthy diets, and appropriate nutritional supplements. While I applaud anyone who is willing to make the changes necessary to reduce or avoid the use of prescription medications, I also encourage you to make your doctor your partner in achieving your healthcare goals.

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By Decker Weiss, ND, Naturopathic Cardiologist

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