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Causes of Hypertension
Hypertension or high blood pressure may be classified as primary or secondary.
High blood pressure due to pregnancy or diseases of the kidneys, heart and endocrine system is classified as secondary hypertension because it occurs due to a known pathological condition. Treatment of the underlying disease results in improvement of blood pressure.
Primary or essential hypertension is a condition where the cause of high blood pressure is unknown or uncertain, although certain lifestyle factors and genetics may be linked to it. Lack of exercise, poor diet and family history of hypertension are examples of these factors, for which changes in behavior and natural treatments have been shown to improve blood pressure.
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What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is based on the principles that:
- The body can naturally heal itself, and by identifying the substances or factors that work with the healing process of the body, health workers can help patients get better
- Underlying causes of illness may occur on the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual level; identifying and modifying these can help in the natural healing process
- Treatment of a person must be done on a holistic level, taking into consideration the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of the person
- Preventing disease and building health are more important than curing disease
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Naturopathic Treatments for High Blood Pressure
Taking these principles into account, naturopathic treatments for hypertension consist of modification of patients’ diet and lifestyle, nutritional supplementation and botanical medicine. In particular, these include:
- Promoting weight loss, decreasing abdominal girth and increasing muscle mass
- Adapting the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension):
- Avoiding foods that can cause increases in blood cholesterol and sugar levels – can also decrease risk of other diseases like diabetes and heart disease
- Avoiding foods that are loaded with salt, processed foods, junk foods, dairy products and caffeine
- Instead, one should take fresh fruits and vegetables, foods that are low in salt but high in potassium, whole grains, fish, seeds and nuts
- Taking dietary supplements (under medical advice) that can prevent diseases and act as antioxidants like calcium, magnesium vitamin C, coenzyme Q10, omega-3 fatty acids and flaxseed oil
- Taking natural diuretics, dandelion and parsley in large quantities may control hypertension
- Using herbal treatments for hypertension under physician supervision, such as Coleus forskohlii, hawthorne, mistletoe, rauwolfia, stevia extract and olive leaf extract. These have been shown to decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressures, cause dieresis and decrease the risk of stroke and heart attack
- Avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, and replacing this with an increase in activity levels by doing more exercise, particularly cardio exercises
- Practicing stress management to avoid increases in heart rate and blood pressure due to emotional and mental stress
- Promoting mental and spiritual well being
- Avoiding alcohol and cessation of smoking
Naturopathic treatments for hypertension involves an individual’s full commitment to a healthy lifestyle. It must be emphasized, too, that medical advice and supervision is necessary for taking dietary supplements, herbal medicines, diet changes and exercise plans.
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Healthcommunities, “Naturopathic Treatment for High Blood Pressure” accessed 1/10/11
American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, “Treating High Blood Pressure Naturally” accessed 1/10/11
Mayo Clinic, “DASH diet: Healthy eating to lower your blood pressure” accessed 1/10/11