High Blood Pressure
The blood pressure goes up; high blood pressure is dangerous, so we need to use medication to force it down and keep it down. That is the basic logic that mainstream medicine uses to manage the ‘disease’ called Hypertension.
In Functional Medicine we regard the body as a complex, self-regulating, adaptive system, in which the blood pressure can only rise as a compensation for some deficit, or as a response to some trigger stimulus. It may have several driving mechanisms that are very different from one person to the next. Hypertension is not a disease, it is a response to a dysfunction. Treating hypertension will always be more effective if we start by addressing the underlying dysfunction(s). And if the dysfunctions are left uncorrected, other diseases are likely to arise sooner or later.
You already know that stress can drive blood pressure up; lack of minerals and important nutrients, inflammation, insulin resistance, hormonal imbalances, lack of exercise, overweight, unbalanced gut bacteria, unregulated breathing and many other correctable factors can also contribute to hypertension. When we correct them, drugs either work better, in lower doses and with fewer side-effects, or the blood pressure remains normal without needing drugs at all.
Your blood pressure is very dynamic, it changes from minute to minute, in response to the cycles of day and night, activity and rest etc in the body, and many other factors. However, in a healthy individual, it remains in a relatively narrow range, and seldom rises above 120/80. If you have had any high readings, I strongly recommend measuring your own blood pressure regularly at home, and keeping a written record, preferably in a dedicated book. Twice a month is adequate unless you are on medication or you are seeing figures above 140/90, in which case you need to do it more often.
Your home readings are very helpful when doctors need to decide how to treat you.
What can you do about high blood pressure?
Worry is a thought pattern, largely based on your capacity to imagine the worst and hold on to it as if it were a reality. Anxiety is the feeling that you get when you are worried – tense, palpitations, sense of pressure, feelings in the stomach. Stress is the response in your body resulting from worry and anxiety – unbalanced hormones, inappropriate messages in your nervous system, impaired digestion, and – yes – raised blood pressure.
And what do you do when your blood pressure is high? You worry about it!
Breaking the cycle of worry is essential, and there are some simple tools that help a lot
Getting enough good quality sleep, getting regular, effective exercise, shifting your diet to green vegetables and unprocessed foods, are also important self-help strategies that will make a difference.