Lower Blood Pressure Naturally – Part 1

by drnoel on September 6, 2011

Yesterday, I spend the day with the family at the Taste of Colorado, a food and music festival in downtown Denver.
As soon as we got there, I spotted the bungee trapeze ride and ran to get in line.  I was the only adult (past age 11) who was in line, but I didn’t care.  I’m a big kid and I’ll never grow up.
As soon as I got strapped in, my heart was in my throat.  I realized what I had gotten into.  I exploded into the sky and I could feel my blood pressure rise.  I bounced up and down into the sky for a several minutes.  It took me awhile to come off that high.

If I had measured my blood pressure right after that craziness, I’m sure it would’ve been sky high.

Unfortunately, for many of Americans, elevated blood pressure is happening on a daily basis – without the bungee trapeze.

The most common diagnosis at the doctor’s office is high blood pressure (hypertension).  This affects Americans at a staggering rate, now reaching 1 in 3 Americans.  Having a blood pressure reading that is greater than 140/90 on 3 occasions warrants the diagnosis of hypertension. 

Addressing this for one’s health is crucial because high blood pressure is the single most important risk factor for the development of heart attacks and stroke. 

 Health care costs related to hypertension reach several hundred billions of dollars per year, and that number probably won’t change anytime soon. Hypertension costs 12% of total US health care costs – more than $185 billion per year. Madness, isn’t it?

So, your doctor told you that you have high blood pressure.  All you need to do is avoid salt like the plague right?  Well, it’s a little more complicated that that. 

At your doctor’s office, besides being told to “watch what you eat, and exercise”, not much in terms of treatment is offered aside from medication.From a naturopathic perspective, there are many treatments that can be done naturally to effectively address hypertension.  However, as any good naturopathic doctor, I start at the cause.

 Why do Americans have high blood pressure in the first place? 

There are many causes of high blood pressure.  Here are some commonly missed causes:

1.  Hyperinsulinemia (basically, high blood insulin) – How does high insulin cause high blood pressure?  Here’s a scenario – you eat a meal of sugary goodness, it causes an influx of blood sugar.  This causes a spike in insulin, and sodium and water retention in the kidneys.  Your blood vessels are like hoses, having more volume in a closed container will create high pressure.  

2.  Vitamin D deficiency – I see this in 80+% of my patients.  Correction of this deficiency can cause a reduction in elevated high blood pressure that is comparable to taking medication.  (optimizing vitamin D levels also addresses depression, pain, auto immune disease, and cancer).  Plus it’s cheaper and safer than medication.  If you haven’t had your vitamin D levels checked, ask your doctor. 

3.  Taking NSAIDS (aspirin, ibuprofen) – these medications block your body’s production of some vasodilating hormones, called prostacyclins. Vasodilation is a process where your blood vessels relax and this creates lower pressure within them.  Blocking hormones that do this, can cause high blood pressure.

4.  Mercury Toxicity – This is almost never addressed at your typical doctor’s office.  Mercury has been shown in the research to be connected to high blood pressure, by preventing the breakdown of catecholamines (“fight or flight” chemicals).  If you have silver colored fillings in your mouth, eat sushi and/or received childhood vaccinations, you have likely been exposed to mercury.    

5.  Other drugs like Prozac, Adderall, Lithium, Sudafed, can all cause high blood pressure. Let’s not forget about the drug called caffeine.

6.  Estrogen, and oral contraceptives – Estrogens promote sodium and water retention at the kidneys, which promotes fluid overload and high blood pressure. There are natural ways to address this that I’ll discuss in next week’s blog.

7.  Food allergens –  Being exposed to foods that create a stress response can increase cortisol and potentially lead to high blood pressure over time.

8.  Spinal dysfunction – in the Chiropractic world, this is called subluxation.  Having a vertebrae out of alignment can put stress on the whole body and leave one more susceptible to hypertension.

As you can see, having high blood pressure is more than just eating salty foods, and often times it’s not even related to that.  It’s complex!

For treating hypertension, there are many safe and effective natural therapies that may be utilized.  These therapies are often safer and at least as effective as pharmaceutical medications.   For a list of these treatments, stay tuned to next week’s blog post!

In health,

     Dr. Lauren Noel 

 

Tune in to the next episode of Dr. Lo Radio!  

Topic:  Lower Blood Pressure Naturally with guest Dr. Alex Vasquez

September 13th at 5pm PT / 8pm ET

To listen live or the archived show, click here.

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Got Tough Times?

by drnoel on August 30, 2011

Let’s be honest. Life isn’t always butterflies and rainbows.

Even for the most positive and optimistic person, life can throw some serious curve balls. And even the most skilled ball player may have a hard time making contact.

The unpredictability of life can be incredibly exciting. You never know what’s right around the corner – the most amazing person you may meet, the unbelievable promotion you might get, a new baby that might be conceived.

That same uncertainty can try to knock you down with all its might. A relationship that falls apart, the loss of a job, the death of a friend or family member. We’ve all experienced difficult times – and while we’re going through it, it can seem like there’s no way pull through, or that the pain will never stop.

Just in the last couple of weeks, I’ve had patients and close friends go through some seemingly impossible circumstances. One patient had a best friend who appeared to be in perfect health, in her 20’s, suddenly die. Totally out of the blue. A family friend was diagnosed with a completely unexpected kidney disease, and just days later, her husband’s father suddenly passed away. It seems like when it rains – it pours.

Isn’t it interesting, though, how through difficult times, some of the best realizations are made? We learn some pretty insightful things about ourselves, our lives, and the people in our lives. And through the heart-wrenching pain, we discover how many people truly love us. Through hardship, people come through and deliver that love we need, often in abundance.

I remember back to the 1994 Northridge, CA earthquake – one of the most terrifying moments in my life. Our house had over $150,000 in damage, and the whole city seemed to be in a panic. But even in the midst of the frenzy, I remember meeting many of the neighbors for the first time, as everyone joined together to care for each other. Through that difficulty, we all experienced true connection and our neighborhood was never the same.

As a doctor, much of what I talk about with patients deals with mental/emotional well being. Often times their physical health complaints have deep roots in their inner world. Once the sources of stress/pain are alleviated or addressed, much of the physical complaints subside. A bad relationship can cause chronic headaches. Financial stress can cause digestive disorders. The mind-body connection is very real and often times forgotten in modern medicine, but it plays a crucial part of our health.

Going through a difficult time?

There is no quick fix to heart ache, but these tips can help make the healing a little easier:

Get an outlet. Some like to talk it out with someone, others prefer to get creative like writing, singing or playing an instrument,and others may need to sweat it out. Whatever resonates with you for an outlet, do it as much as you feel compelled to.

Volunteer. If things seem extra blue in your world, lend a helping hand to someone in need. Helping another person is medicine for the giver and the receiver.

Brain support. To get you through the tough spot, try some herbs or nutrients to boost neurotransmitters that may be out of balance. For example, the amino acid in green tea, L-theanine, can boost GABA (the calming chemical in your brain), and give you a greater sense of calm. To have your neurotransmitters assessed, contact me and I’ll send you a free questionnaire.

Get sunshine. Getting out in the sun not only gives you fresh air, but it also boosts serotonin, and supplies vitamin D. Who doesn’t feel better after spending a day in the great outdoors?

Flower essences are infusions of flowers in water, and have been used in some cultures since ancient times to promote awareness of emotional, mental, and spiritual imbalances. For example, honeysuckle can be used as a remedy when one is too nostalgic about the past. Beech is for when one is too critical or judgmental of others. Cerato is for when one continually doubts him/herself.

Energy work. There are some incredibly effective therapies that address the mind/body connection. Some examples include acupuncture, Bowen technique, Craniosacral therapy, Emotional Freedom Technique, hypnotherapy, Holographic Memory Resolution, and Neurofeedback.

Support adrenals. The adrenal glands are two thumb sized glands that sit on top of your kidneys and they produce certain hormones in response to stress. During extra difficult times, they can take a beating. Adaptogenic herbs help your body handle this easier. Examples include rhodiola, ashwaghanda, and eleutherococcus (Siberian gingseng).

Feel your emotions. Rather than trying to make your emotions like anxiety, sadness, or anger go away – identify what you’re feeling, and experience it. Feel what you feel.

Walk your blues away. Just 20 minutes per day of walking provides brain support that is similar to getting REM sleep. The motion of cross-crawling (right arm moving with left leg, and vice versa) helps to file memories of the day into their appropriate area of the brain. Consider it brain exercise.

As my mom always says, “When we make plans, God laughs.” Life can be as unpredictable as the weather, and with that comes joy and pain. But if it weren’t for the storms, we may not appreciate the sunny days as much. If you’re going through a tough time, stay strong. The sunshine is just around the corner.

In the words of grandma’s around the world, “This too shall pass.” It always does!

 

Live well,

Dr. Lauren “Lo” Noel

 

Next Dr Lo Radio!

Lower Blood Pressure Naturally with Dr. Alex Vasquez DO ND DC

Tuesday, Sept 6th, 2011 at 5pm PT / 8pm ET

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