The concept of blood pressure is simple - it refers to the force of blood pressing against the walls of your arteries. Healthy blood pressure is around 120/80mm Hg. When your blood pressure reaches or exceeds 140/90 mm Hg, you may be diagnosed with hypertension by a doctor. High blood pressure is dangerous because it makes the heart work harder to pump blood and causes atherosclerosis, as well as increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. It can also damage other organs. Heart disease as a leading cause of death in America.
Many pharmaceuticals used to treat high blood pressure have strong side effects. Fortunately there are many foods, herbs and lifestyle changes you can implement to prevent high blood pressure, reduce the dosage of your medications, or bring your blood pressure back to a normal, healthy level. These home remedies are slowly gaining recognition as complementary choices to western medicine, however individual results may vary and it is always a good idea to check with your medical doctor before beginning any new health & wellness program.
What Does High Blood Pressure Feel Like?
Blood pressure is often referred to as a 'silent killer' because many people do not know they have it. Some individuals may experience a pounding feeling in their head or chest, a feeling of lightheadedness or dizziness, or nosebleeds. You may have a flushed face, or notice blood spots in your eyes where vessels have burst. It is important to note that these symptoms may not occur until your blood pressure has reached dangerous levels. If your blood pressure is extremely high you may experience:
Fatigue or confusion
Blood in the urine
Pounding in your chest, neck, or ears
When your doctor measures your blood pressure, he or she uses a sphygmomanometer. A sphygmomanometer measures systolic and diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure is the pressure on the blood vessel when the heart beats. When your heart relaxes between beats, the pressure in your arteries naturally drops. This is the diastolic pressure, and is the second number in your reading. For instance 120/80 Hg mm means that your systolic pressure is 120 and your diastolic pressure is 80. Doctors may also use an opthalmoscope, a device used to see if blood vessels in eyes are thickened, narrowed, or burst.
Prolonged high blood pressure causes damage over time to both your heart and vascular system, such as the following complications:
The heart can grow larger or become weak. This leads to heart failure, a condition in which your heart lacks the strength to pump enough blood to meet your body's needs.
Aneurysms. Continual strain on the walls of an artery causes the tissue to weaken and lose tone. This can result in an abnormal bulge in a compromised arterial wall. The bulge may burst, a life threatening condition. Common locations for aneurysms are the aorta, the arteries in the brain, legs, and intestines and the artery leading to the spleen.
Narrowing of blood vessels in kidneys. This results in kidney failure.
Heart attack. When a blood clot detaches from a vessel wall and lodges in the heart, thereby cutting off blood flow to the heart muscle itself.
Stroke. Similar to a heart attack. In a stroke, the blood clot lodges in the brain.
Amputation of part of the leg. When blood flow is cut off to a part of the body, the tissue dies resulting in amputation. The legs are the most common site for this complication.
Vision damage or blindness. Blood vessels in the eyes that burst or bleed cause damage to the eyes and even blindness.
Main Risk Factors
salt (sodium) sensitivity
alcohol intake or tobacco products
consumption of high fructose corn syrup.
Are older than 60
elevation of renin
sympathetic nervous system overactivity
vitamin D deficiency
Some additional risk factors include Cushing's syndrome (excess production of stress hormones), hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, kidney disease, obesity/metabolic disorder, pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, as well as certain prescription and illegal drugs. (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210006)
Home Remedies for High Blood Pressure
When your circulation is poor your heart has to pump harder to move your blood. The result is high blood pressure. Your heart literally pushes through resistance in the blood vessels. Like swimming up river against a strong current, "pushing through" is a strenuous undertaking. The river cannot be controlled, and life can't either. Learning to accept things as they are is a lifelong venture, but a worthy one. When you and your heart let go and accept reality for what it is, you'll notice less pressure in your life in general.
Example Client with High Blood Pressure
Client expresses that at any moment he can swing from okay to extremely angry and frustrated, usually when he doesn't understand what's going on or the plan is seemingly changed. Going with the flow is not this client's forte. Funny enough, the client exclaims, "I simply can't take the pressure." The intake reveals a history of frequent alcohol consumption, smoking, caffeine, and a diet high in sugar. Client has a temper like a loose cannon.
The first step to letting go of pressure inducing tension is to breathe deeply. When you breathe deeply, you release tension held in the muscles of your chest and abdomen. Deep breathing also calms your mind and gives you some perspective on life, and is guaranteed to reduce the pressure you feel in your life.
The emotions associated with high blood pressure include frustration, anger, worry, and impatience. Many people who experience high blood pressure are full of passion, opinions, and fire. Internally, these intense emotions wear down the very organ of passion, your heart. Whether boiling internally with unexpressed emotions, or overflowing with them into your life, the heart takes the hit.
If you are full of fire and passion, practice taking a reflective breath before responding to whomever has made you angry and do your best to speak softly. Shift your attenion towards nurturing love, affectionate touch, and tender softness. Live your life slowly, and be kind with yourself. It is not easy to bring calm into an environment that is traditionally difficult for you.
Speak the truth. Not only does lying require a lot of mental energy, it increases blood pressure. Finally, laugh more! Laughter is proven to decrease adrenalin and cortisol production, two hormones that increase heart rate and create a "fight or flight" reaction in your nervous system.
Here are some other lifestyle practices to incorporate into your daily routine for the new healthy-blood-pressure-you!
Moderate exercise strengthens your heart.
Slow down. Begin the day with a peaceful, quiet morning to set the tone for a gentle day (that's when stress hormones are highest). Avoid that cup of coffee - which will only increase your anxiety.
Good posture is essential to the smooth flow of blood. When you stand with poor posture, your blood gets stagnant in contracted parts of your body, causing your heart to work hard. Relax your muscles and stand tall. This elegant, yet strong stance can help you reduce your blood pressure.
Meditation - A helpful slogan in Alcoholics Anonymous is "living life on life's terms." Meditation, also encouraged by AA, is the best way to learn how to do this. Breathe in, breathe out, and accept life as it is in this moment. Desire nothing to be different, simply reside in the present moment. And feel the pressure subside in your veins, arteries, heart, mind, and spirit.
High Blood Pressure Due to Congested, Stagnant Blood (Kapha Type)
Typically, all three three doshas are involved in high blood pressure. Thick Kapha blood is often a root cause behind high pressure. Since blood is fiery in nature, high blood pressure is also related to Pitta. Circulation is governed by Vyana-vayu (a subdosha of Vata), making blood pressure fundamentally related to Vata dosha.
Kapha type high blood pressure is the easiest type of blood pressure to understand in Western terms. Kapha is associated with congested, thick blood. Thick blood moves through vessels with more difficulty. Sluggish blood means the heart has to pump harder to move it through your body, placing extra burden on your heart. Sometimes, the blood vessels themselves become hard, thick, and inflexible, a condition called atherosclerosis, which also translates to increased blood pressure. High blood sugar, high triglycerides, and high cholesterol are just some of the reasons why kapha blood is thicker than other body types. Blood thinning herbs, removing excess fluids and fats, and tonifying the heart are all very important when dealing with heavy kapha type high blood pressure.
Common Herbal Actions Useful for Kapha High Blood Pressure
Diuretic herbs reduces the amount of water in your body and blood vessels. Reducing the volume of water in your blood vessels is essentially equivalent to letting air out of a balloon, which reduces the pressure in the balloon, and in your blood. Diuretics are particularly useful to kapha individuals who suffer from edema and water retention. Reducing water not only lowers blood pressure in these cases, but also improves circulation in general, making you feel lighter and energetic. Examples include dandelion, hawthorne, and punarnava.
Cardiac Tonic herbs are helpful in all types of blood pressure as they improve tone and function of the heart itself. Examples include hawthorne, arjuna, and punarnava.
Blood thinners are herbs that reduce total peripheral resistance (TPR). It takes a lot of work to pump the blood through your blood vessels. Thick blood is even harder to push through the vessels. These types of herbs are especially useful for kapha type. Herbs that cleanse the lymphatic system, like CCF tea, inadvertently thin the blood. Examples include guggulu, turmeric, and neem.
Cumin, coriander, and fennel tea - Diuretic, detoxicant, cleanses lymphatic system
Healing Foods & Practices
Avoid wheat, dairy, red meat, sugar, and other 'blood thickeners'
Favor bitter green vegetables like kale, chicory, & red leaf lettuce to thin the blood
Eat a High fiber diet which cleanses the bowels, reduces cholesterol
Enjoy Garlic, a vasodilator that cleanses your lymphatic system, bowels, and liver.
Do "Breath of Fire" daily to improve circulation and cardiac function.
High Blood Pressure Due to Hot Blooded Emotions (Pitta Type)
Hot Blooded Pitta Types experience blood pressure spikes when frustrated or angry. If you have this type of high blood pressure, your face and ears becomes red and hot. This is the stereotype of steam coming out of someone's ears. Cooling herbs are especially useful, as well as alteratives and blood purifiers that renormalize blood chemistry.
Sadhaka Pitta, Ranjaka Pitta
Sharp, Hot, Oily
Common Herbal Actions Useful for Pitta High Blood Pressure
Anti-inflammatory herbs reduce irritation and pressure in the vascular system.
Vasodilators relax blood vessels. Many of these herbs are helpful for short term high blood pressure. They are most effective for stress (Vata) or emotionally induced (Pitat) blood pressure spikes.
Cholagogues pull heat, anger, and frustration out of the liver, cooling the blood. Examples include bitter tasting herbs like neem, sour foods like vinegar, and other foods like aloe vera.
Anxiolytic herbs calm down anxious emotions.
Muscle relaxant allow tight muscles including cardiac musculature to relax, allowing smooth blood flow.
Alteratives & blood cleansers - Renormalizes blood pressure so you feel less emotional. Examples include manjistha, neem, & red root.
2 Lemon Balm - excellent for calming emotions. Sweet and soft with a pleasing aroma that takes the edge off.
1 Rose Petal - Pleasant aroma calms pitta
Take with 1/4c Aloe vera juice. Aloe vera removes excess heat and is a cholagogue to draw heat & frustration out of the liver
Other Useful Herbs for Pitta High Blood Pressure
Mint - Cools blood, Relaxes blood vessels => person feels calm. Supporting herb not primary.
Cumin Coriander Fennel Tea relaxes blood vessels and calms the nerves.
Manjistha - Blood purifier and thinner
Brahmi - Cools the mind & blood
Healing Foods & Practices
Pomegranate Juice - a natural ACE inhibitor that helps keep blood vessels relaxed.
Favor bitter green vegetables like kale, chicory, & red leaf lettuce. These bitters cleanse the liver and bring hot emotions out of the head and blood back down into the body.
Coconut oil soothes an overheated liver, especially a liver that is exhausted and deficient.
Shitali Pranayama - a cooling breath practice that soothes a hot temper.
Lime - cleanses the liver and cools a hot blooded temper
High Blood Pressure Due to Heart Racing, Fear & Anxiety (Vata Type)
Tense, anxious vata types who suffer from anxiety and stress sometimes experience high blood pressure. Under stress, the heart races, blood vessels constrict and muscles tighten, leading to increase pressure in the vascular system. Sometimes known as "Ideopathic" hypertension, meaning there is no known physical cause, this is an anxiety based high blood pressure. Do you know someone whose heart races during stressful situations, say, at the doctor's office? This condition, lovingly referred to as white-coat syndrome, falls into this category. Antispasmodic, muscle relaxants, vasodilators, sedatives, and nervines are especially useful for acute high blood pressure spikes. The root cause of Vata anxiety, however, is deficiency. Therefore, include herbs that nourish Vata.
Augment your diet with these specially chosen ingredients below which may be useful for 'High Blood Pressure'.
Individual results vary depending the cause of your imbalance and by constitution.
Please research the ingredients below to find which are most helpful for you, and check with your doctor before making any changes to your health and wellness routine.
DISCLAIMER: The pathogenesis of each person's condition is unique, and so the diet must be fit to the individual and the unique root causes of the condition in your body.
The information on this page is for educational purposes only and should not be used to treat a medical condition. It is not a substitute for medical care.
Please check with your doctor before making any changes to your health and wellness routine.
HOW DOES AYURVEDA HEAL 'HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE'?
AVOID DIETS, LIFESTYLES & HERBS THAT AGGRAVATE THESE EFFECTS
According to Ayurveda, one or more of the following
and biocharacteristics may aggravate 'High Blood Pressure'.
If you have an excess of one of these doshas or biocharacteristics below, Ayurveda recommends reducing foods and lifestyle habits that aggravate them.
Click on the biocharacteristic to learn what foods and
lifestyle habits should be reduced.
Symptoms Tell A Story
The first step to healing is learning patterns from your symptoms.
Symptoms are clues that reveal underlying imbalances.
Symptoms show you where your body is weakened.
Ultimately, all disease has a root in tissues too weak to defend itself.
Ayurveda describes these patterns of weakness using doshas & biocharacteristics.
If you notice a biocharacteristic or dosha appears next to many of your symptoms,
it helps you establish a pattern that may be systemic.
FAVOR DIETS, LIFESTYLES & HERBS WITH THESE MEDICINAL EFFECTS
Everything you eat has an effect on your body, which Ayurveda categorizes in a simple and easy way, using biocharacteristics (gunas).
Biocharacteristics are qualities (like cold and hot) that describe the effect a food or herb has on your body.
Cooling foods like cucumber, decrease metabolism.
Heating foods like chili pepper, stimulate your body and increase metabolism.
For 'High Blood Pressure', you should select foods with the following biocharacteristics.
Individual results will vary, based on your body type and the root cause of your imbalance.
FOODS TO FAVOR
CONDITION IN YOUR BODY
ABOUT CLEAR BIOCHARACTERISTIC
Clear refers to anything that cleanses or flushes out wastes, or that digests ama.
Herbs that promote urine formation, thereby flushing the kidneys and urinary tract while eliminating any excess water retention. As diuretics reduce water retention, they are often used to reduce blood pressure.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE IS IN STAGE OF DISEASE 3 - ATTACKING TISSUE
If you have symptoms in this category it means that your imbalances are becoming stronger and weakening your body's resistance.
Most people have a weakness in one or more organs.
These areas of weakness are the 'weak link in the chain.'
They are first to succumb when an imbalance reaches a tipping point.
Repairing imbalances in this category often represent your last opportunity to prevent disease.
At any moment, these imbalances could overwhelm weakened tissue and develop into a disease.
You may feel pain or discomfort in the weakened area.
At this stage you will need to support the weakened tissue with specialized foods and herbs for the weakened tissue.
REDUCE THESE RELATED SYMPTOMS & HABITS
The following symptoms & habits may be related to 'High Blood Pressure'.
See your quiz results for a computerized assessment of your body type.
Please click on the symptoms below to learn more about them.
Biocharacteristics of the 5,699 People Reporting High Blood Pressure
On average the biocharacteristics
of people reporting High Blood Pressure were less aggravated than 68% of other symptoms.
From the 5,699 people who reported High Blood Pressure in this research study of 74,671 individuals,
average deviation in biocharacteristic levels were the following:
Ayurveda strengthens the body, in addition to addressing the disorder. It take a holistic,
systemic approach, instead of focusing only on the disorder in question. Ayurveda
shows a person how to interpret signs and symptoms of imbalance, and how to address them
using materials from home, so they can optimize their health on a continual basis. You can't
take the doctor home with you, but you can take Ayurveda home with you.
Ayurveda is the most advanced and easy to use home system for self healing with an
exceptional focus on digestion.
HOW DOES AYURVEDA WORK?
Ayurveda starts by identifying your body type,
which identifies certain tendencies in your body to get sick (as well as identifying your strengths).
It uses body type to determine the likely root causes of your disorders.
Next, Ayurveda analyzes the nature of your disorder.
It fits all your signs and symptoms into a pattern, expressed as a combination of biocharaceristics (gunas).
For example, you may have a heat disorder, a cold disorder, or an oily disorder, etc.
This simple categorical approach shows you how to correct systemic imbalances and strengthen your body as a whole.
On Joyful Belly, we've created an extensive categorization of food so you can easily match food to your imbalanced biocharacteristics.
By eating an optimal diet that balances your biocharacteristics, your whole body is strengthened
and the conditions that created the disorder are removed. Once the root causes of the disease
are removed, the disease lessens in strength or disappears altogether. Additional remedies -
such as herbs and lifestyle practices - focused on the specific disorder, can greatly enhance
To get started on your Ayurvedic journey, we first recommend that your find your body
type by taking our free quiz. In Ayurveda, every solution is based on your unique body type, so
by taking this quiz, you’ll get the best results.
John Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a
healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda.
His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful.
John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda
, which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition.
John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia.
John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion.
John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing.
In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots,
and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church.
Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick.
That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.