Have you been told that you have high blood pressure? Often one of the few vitals taken consistently at the doctor’s office, this simple measurement has a significant impact on our health. But what if high blood pressure, and the subsequent medication(s) prescribed for it, were really a symptom of a larger issue? Could 30% of the country be living with this condition, and not know the underlying cause?
These questions lie at the heart of functional medicine, which has turned conventional medicine on its head. Utilizing accurate testing and a holistic approach, this growing healthcare shift aims to put control back into the hands of the patient, rather than the pharmaceutical company. In order to understand the misconception of high blood pressure, we must first understand what that vinyl cuff measures, and the cues our body gives to warn us of illness.
Blood Pressure and Your Health
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the most common health conditions, occurring in 1 out of every 3 adults. A blood pressure reading over 120/80mmHg is considered high, and is associated with several health risks, including the following:
- Heart attack
- Kidney disease
- Heart failure
In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) linked high blood pressure to over 360,000 deaths in America. Clearly, hypertension is something that must not be ignored. But does bringing the number down actually resolve the issue? To answer this question, we must first examine the causes of high blood pressure.
Salt-laden foods are part of the American diet. Most packaged foods contain added sodium as preservatives. Add to this the dash (or three) that is added to meals, and overly salty foods we snack on several times per day, and it’s no wonder our sodium intake keeps creeping up.
The danger of sodium lies beneath our skin, in our body’s reaction to draw water out of our blood. Ever feel bloated after a particularly salty meal? This elevates the level of pressure inside our bodies, as well, leading to a spike in blood pressure.
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is used in plastics, cans, and other food containers. It can be consumed and absorbed into our blood, and is similar to estrogen, which regulates blood pressure. This hormonal imbalance can throw our system out of balance, causing high blood pressure.
Prolonged stress has a devastating effect on our health. In addition to increasing inflammation, lowering immunity, and inhibiting digestion, consistently high stress levels increase cortisol, which elevates blood pressure.
About 40 million Americans experience insomnia each year. Those who do sleep often complain of fitful sleep, or wake up feeling exhausted. Inadequate nutrition and stress can prevent restful sleep, which in turn raises blood pressure.
As it is with many conditions, high blood pressure is often treated with a prescription for the latest medication. This “magic pill” may come with startling side effects, such as
- Excess urination
- Erectile dysfunction
- Leg cramps
- Chronic cough
- Loss of taste
- Heart palpitations
- Excessive hair growth
- Hypotension (abnormally low blood pressure)
While hypertension may subside, any of these new issues may be introduced, and the underlying cause will still be left untreated. Until the source of the problem is discovered and resolved, other health issues will continue to appear, many of which have their own prescription drugs and side-effects. It can become an endless cycle. Fortunately, there is a better way!
The Functional Medicine Approach
Instead of merely treating your symptoms, your functional medicine practitioner will address your entire health history, including your diet and lifestyle. He or she may order lab work to further evaluate your condition. Your treatment protocol will be tailored to your personal results, rather than a blanket approach that fits most.
Natural Remedies for High Blood Pressure
In addition to diet, stress-reduction, and sleep recommendations, your practitioner will determine which treatments are right for you. The following natural remedies are all effective treatments for high blood pressure:
- Folic Acid
- Coenzyme Q10
If you have had a blood pressure reading above 120/80 mmHg, be sure to evaluate your lifestyle. Are you eating a proper diet, free from processed, sodium-infused foods? Is insomnia sending your blood pressure through the roof? Does your lifestyle include stress-reduction techniques? Take steps today to remedy your health by focusing on minimizing stress, resting well, and consuming a diet rich in whole foods, organic fruits and vegetables, and free of added sugars and sodium. Avoid plastic containers, canned foods, and other sources of BPA.
Ready to take the next step? Contact me today for a FREE consultation! Together, we will get to the bottom of your most pressing health concerns.