By Lawrence Wilson M.D.
According to the CDC, hypertension affects 23% of Americans between the age of 20 and 75 and 70% of Americans over 75. In the year 2000 it accounted for 35 million doctor visits.
In spite of its prevalence, over 90% of high blood pressure is labeled "essential hypertension". This means the doctor does not know the cause. In most cases, however, trace mineral analysis can reveal causes for essential hypertension. They include excessive sympathetic tone, arteriosclerosis, nutrient deficiencies and excessive levels of toxic metals. Rather than cover up the problem with drugs or even herbs, these causes can be identified and corrected through scientific nutrition programs.
CAUSES OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
Common causes of high blood pressure include:
1) Excessive muscle tone in the arteries. Too much sympathetic nervous system tone constricts the arteries. The effect is like putting your finger over the end of a hose.
Excessive adrenal gland activity causes constriction of the arteries. Deficiencies of calcium, magnesium or copper can have the same effect. Lead or arsenic toxicity are one cause of calcium deficiency. These replaces calcium but do not have the same relaxing effect on the nerves as calcium.
Emotional or other stress will cause excess adrenal activity and high blood pressure by this mechanism. With this type of hypertension, often both numbers are elevated and the blood pressure is labile or fluctuating.
2) Loss of elasticity of the arteries. Zinc deficiency causes the arteries to become hard, brittle and often inflamed instead of soft and flexible. This loss of flexibility will raise the blood pressure, in particular the systolic pressure.
Cadmium replaces zinc and contributes to the brittleness and hardness of the arteries. Lead and arsenic may also replace zinc, contributing to this cause for hypertension. Often there is a large spread between the blood pressure numbers in these cases.
3) Calcium or fatty plaques in the arteries. Once the arteries become inflamed and britle, the body may coat them with calcium and fatty plaques to prevent rupture of the arteries. The plaque unfortunately reduces the interior diameter of the arteries which in turn raises blood pressure. More pressure is required to force the blood through the smaller diameter arteries.
Deficiencies of copper, zinc, bioflavinoids, vitamins C and E and other nutrients contribute to this problem. Excessive cadmium, lead, arsenic or aluminum may also play a role. Plaques in the arteries can cause both blood pressure numbers to elevate.
4) Kidney dysfunction. Toxic substances can build up within the kidneys and damage their ability to regulate water balance in the body. This can lead to water retention, salt retention and high blood pressure. Excessive mercury, nickel, lead, arsenic, aluminum or cadmium can cause kidney congestion and kidney damage. Standard blood tests for kidney function are often normal.
Other substances that damage the kidneys are prescription medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs and other chemical toxins. Usually this cause of hypertension results in elevation of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
5) Abnormal sodium or water retention for reasons other than kidney disease. Excessive renin or aldosterone raise the sodium level which can cause water retention. Circulating toxins in the blood can also increase water retention. Magnesium deficiency can contribute to water retention. These may cause a volatile blood pressure.
6) Stress. Acute or chronic stress from any source can induce a fight or-flight response that can result in elevated blood pressure.
Very often one has several factors contributing to high blood pressure.
SYMPTOMATIC NATURAL REMEDIES
Niacin, garlic, choline, inositol, taurine, vitamin B6 and sedative herbs such as valerian root and passion flower can help lower blood pressure symptomatically. To be effective, six to nine capsules of garlic must be used.
One thousand milligrams of choline may be required, but this appears quite safe. Doses of vitamin B6 or P-5-P may need to be 600 1200 mg per day. These remedies have fewer side effects than most prescription drugs and can often be used to keep blood pressure levels under control. They do not, however, reverse the causes of high blood pressure.
Weight control and regular exercise can have a moderating effect upon blood pressure. Stress reduction techniques including biofeedback and meditation can be very helpful for some cases of high blood pressure. A recent study showed that pet owners had lower blood pressures than those who do not own pets. Any technique or practice that reduces excessive adrenal activity or helps moderate the emotions, particularly anger and hostility, may help lower blood pressure.
Intravenous chelation therapy is also used to lower blood pressure. It removes calcium and other minerals from the artery walls. However, in some cases the problem recurs because when treatment stops the body again begins to coat the arteries with plaque. The plaque returns because the original cause of the plaque, weakened or inflamed arteries, may not be corrected by chelation therapy alone.
Simple dietary changes such as eliminating table salt and more vegetables in the diet help some cases of high blood pressure. Sea salt is less of a problem than table salt. Refined salt has been stripped of its trace minerals and often contains added aluminum. Kelp is an excellent condiment to substitute as it is also a detoxifier.
At times these measures are sufficient. However, they do not address basic causes and one may become dependent on a remedy for life. Eventually, the remedy usually stops working.CORRECTING FAST OXIDATION
Correcting biochemical causes of hypertension depends on determining the cause. This is a longer term process as toxic metals are often deeply buried and incorporated into body structures. Removal takes several years in some cases.
A properly performed and interpreted hair mineral test is an excellent starting point. The hair must not be washed at the laboratory. Only two labs do not wash the hair, Analytical Research Labs and Trace elements, Inc.
A pattern of low calcium and magnesium with high sodium and potassium is associated with excessive arterial tone and often sodium retention. This is a fight-or-flight reaction or alarm stage of stress, part of which is higher blood pressure. Increased thyroxine lowers calcium (Davis et al. 1983; Segal et al. 1985, 1989, Kervan, 1963) while excessive aldosterone secretion increases sodium retention in the tissues.
These individuals benefit from a diet that has a slowing effect on the sympathetic nervous system. Dr. George Watson called the condition fast oxidation and found that a diet with more fat and less carbohydrate is beneficial. Sugars, including fruit and juices, are the worst foods for this metabolic pattern, as they upset the blood sugar and worsen the sympathetic nervous system reaction.
These individuals also benefit from supplementary calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc. choline, inositol, vitamins A and D and bioflavinoids. The dosage will depend on the severity of the sympathetic reaction as indicated by the mineral imbalance.
Equally important is to avoid excessive vitamin C which lowers copper. Excessive B-complex vitamins are also detrimental, as they can further enhance sympathetic nervous system activity. Supplements or herbs that enhance thyroid and adrenal activity are also harmful for the same reason.
The patient needs to be rechecked in three-four months as the pattern will change. Many times another hypertension pattern will show up as one pattern is undone.
CORRECTING SLOW OXIDATION
Those with a slow oxidation pattern on the hair test (high calcium and magnesium, low sodium and potassium) have some degree of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). They also have toxic levels of lead, cadmium, arsenic, aluminum and other metals that may affect their kidneys. They require the slow oxidizer diet and extra vitamins B complex and C, zinc, manganese, adrenal, liver, kidney and at times thyroid glandular support.
Most often, the first test will not reveal all the contributing factors to the high blood pressure. This is because toxins are layered and a number of tests may be required over a period of time before deeper causes become evident.
Detoxification is also most important in many cases. I highly recommend infrared sauna therapy. Other methods are colonic irrigation and coffee enemas.
Often six months or more are required for correction. Toxic metals such as cadmium require at least six months to remove them from the kidneys and arterial walls. Cadmium is too toxic to be removed faster than this. If nutritional methods are pursued faithfully, many cases of high blood pressure can be permanently corrected without the need for drugs.
THE TIME FACTOR IN HEALING
At times, nutritional balancing will correct high blood pressure within weeks to months. This occurs when the cause is straight forward, toxins can be dislodged fairly easily or the deficiency or other factor can be corrected quickly.
In some cases, especially those that are longstanding, one may have to undo many layers of adaptations before blood pressure will return to normal. Symptomatic remedies have a place until full recovery occurs and the remedies are no longer needed. Correcting causes can take up to several years of nutritional balancing and detoxification therapy.Dr. Lawrence Wilson
P.O. Box 54
Prescott, AZ 86302-0054
Visit http://www.drlwilson.com/ for books, and audio tapes from Dr. Wilson.