In a Seattle PI article on April 21, Bob Condor writes that “As a naturopathic physician, Nancy Welliver calls herself “really conservative” about helping patients to lower blood pressure. There are some 70 million Americans considered to have borderline high blood pressure or greater, partly because 2005 standards shortened the range of what’s normal.”
“I work with people on lifestyle issues before even thinking about herbs or other nutritional supplements,” said Welliver, recently named chair of the botanical medicine department at Bastyr University in Kenmore, one of the leading natural-health medical schools in the country.
Notice Welliver didn’t even mention prescription drugs. Maybe that seems conservative to her but others might see it, well, differently. There is formidable advocacy in American medical circles that more citizens need to be on blood pressure or hypertension drugs. It’s estimated only about a third of adults with hypertension have it under control.
Based on lifestyle behavior research and the insights of Nancy Welliver, here are some changes you can make to reduce a borderline or high blood pressure reading:
- Drink plenty of water. Switch to herbal teas in the afternoon.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables to increase your potassium, magnesium and calcium intake. An underrated veggie for blood pressure: sweet potato.
- Cut down on your alcohol consumption. A couple of glasses of wine two nights a week is OK, a glass or two every evening can keep BP higher than healthy.
- Go to bed between 10 and 10:30 p.m. Welliver said studies show it is the optimal time to fall asleep and staying up later triggers a “second wind” and less healthy rest. “I tell my students people can’t be healthy if they’re not sleeping and pooping.”
- Invest $20 to $60 in a pedometer to gauge how many steps you take per day. Your goal for lower blood pressure is 10,000 steps per day.
- Work on your marriage. Research shows unhappily married people are prone to higher BP than happily married folks or singles.
- See your chiropractor. A 2007 study at the University of Chicago showed specific adjustment of the C-1 or atlas vertebra in the neck “is associated with marked and sustained reduction in blood pressure similar to the use of two-drug combination therapy.”
- Perform deep breathing techniques. Welliver said a sequence of deep-breathing work done in a physician’s office often can lower BP by 10 to 20 points and sometimes is even enough of a reduction to allow the patient to go home rather than be admitted to a hospital.
And of course, I would add to Welliver’s recommendations, hypnotherapy. With hypnosis you can learn to relax and lower your blood pressure. I once had a client who was an attorney and he had high blood pressure. One day while he was at the doctor’s office the nurse checked his BP and it was high. She told him she’d be back in a few minutes and check it again. He used the self hypnosis techniques that I had taught him and he was able to lower his blood pressure by the time she returned.
Do you have high blood pressure? What are you doing to reduce it?
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