Lowering Blood Pressure Naturally

The number one health issue in America is hypertension or high blood pressure. When I review a patient’s information, if I don’t see hypertension as part of the medical history, I search the records more closely to make certain that it was not overlooked. Many accept having high blood pressure as a way of life, and they believe that unless there is a miracle, they are relegated to a lifetime of medication consumption. Now, I DO NOT advocate stopping your medication without the approval of your healthcare provider. However, today I am going to share with you three of many natural ways to lower your blood pressure. The results can be astounding, and your doctor may even suggest that you adjust or even eliminate some, if not all of your high blood pressure medication.
• Many believe that the only way to achieve blood pressure control is through medication. These medications are not without potential side effects. Let’s look at one popular medication that has been used for a long time, Lasix or furosemide which lowers blood pressure by causing the body to eliminate salt and water. Drugs.com lists the side effects as:
• ringing in your ears, hearing loss;
• itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
• severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting;
• weight loss, body aches, numbness;
• swelling, rapid weight gain, urinating less than usual or not at all;
• chest pain, new or worsening cough with fever, trouble breathing;
• pale skin, bruising, unusual bleeding, feeling light-headed, rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating;
• low potassium (confusion, uneven heart rate, leg discomfort, muscle weakness or limp feeling);
• low calcium (tingly feeling around your mouth, muscle tightness or contraction, overactive reflexes);
• headache, feeling unsteady, weak or shallow breathing; or
• severe skin reaction — fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling

Not everyone experiences all or even most of the side-effects, but to think about the potential harm is rather daunting.
I was diagnosed with hypertension a number of years ago, and my doctor started me on a popular medication. Shortly after starting the drug, I noticed that my feet would swell, and this was not only unappealing, but it was very uncomfortable. However, I took it for a number of years, until I began to research for more natural alternatives.
The first non medicinal option that I tried was apple cider vinegar. Potassium is very effective in achieving and maintaining normotension (normal blood pressure), and apple cider vinegar is rich in potassium. Organic liquid vinegar should be used, and my favorites are Mother’s Apple Cider Vinegar or 365 unfiltered Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (365 is Whole Food’s brand). 2 teaspoons in an 8 ounce glass of water 1-2 times a day is recommended. I recommend taking it with meals because apple cider vinegar can also lower your blood sugar (I will discuss this more in another article when I talk about how to control blood sugar spikes on your diet cheat day). Personally, I can only take apple cider vinegar once a day or my blood pressure becomes too low. This will make you do something that I have been encouraging you to do since I began blogging years ago and that is to know your own body. Also, if you have diabetes, taking apple cider vinegar will likely lower your insulin requirements; so, let your doctor or healthcare provider know that you are also taking apple cider vinegar. You will want to make certain that you are regularly monitoring your blood sugars (just a reminder, because I know that you are already on it!). Also, when you supplement with apple cider vinegar, check your blood pressure at least twice daily so that you can monitor the change. If you have not already done so, please invest in a blood pressure monitor; I personally have an Omron Arm Blood Pressure Monitor, and I have had it for years. I have found it to be accurate and easy to use. I just looked on Amazon, and it costs about $40; having this or a similar product at home is worth the investment in your health.
Secondly, the combination of calcium and magnesium is really effective in lowering blood pressure. Please use a product that contains vitamin D3 because this will aid in the bone absorption of calcium. Often a liquid preparation is better because it is more easily absorbed by the gut. I would recommend a calcium citrate-magnesium citrate product because of bioavailability. Daily, women should have 1200 mg and men 600 mg with 500-600 mg of magnesium  and at least 700 – 800 IU of vitamin D3. Find a product that you like and that works for you. Personally, I accomplish this by trying different products, and I actually ask my family which flavors or products they like best.
The last, but not least, tip of the day to lower blood pressure is beet juice. I can hear you saying, “ew” but there is a way to make it palatable and yet experience the benefits. One can certainly use organic beets from the produce section and include it in salad or eat it alone. However, I found a product called Super Beets, and the active ingredient is powdered beets. Upon first learning about the health benefits of beets, I thought that it was going to be nearly impossible to incorporate it into my diet because beets are high on my list of least favorite vegetables. However, adding powered beets to a smoothie first thing in the morning is a very pleasant way to start the day, and if used daily, you can reap the benefits!
Okay, I have shared three effective alternative ways to lower your blood pressure, but I would be remiss if I did not remind you that there is no substitute for lifestyle management; weight control, exercise, adequate amounts of restful sleep and stress management are also extremely important (please refer to previous blogs for detailed discussions). To optimize your health, you need to have all four. As you already know, I want you to have your best life!
As Always, Be Well

I Don’t Know What’s Wrong With Me 2016

My most popular blog “I Don’t Know What’s Wrong With Me” which I wrote 5 years ago has been visited by hundreds of readers. I hope that it has been helpful. However, just like in the movies, it’s time for the sequel. I am so excited to share this with you because I think it will make a positive difference in your life.

As I evolve, my approach towards health changes as well.  I am now more interested in getting to the root of a problem or issue. If you want more information about what specifically happens when there is hormonal imbalance, please refer to my blog dated May 29, 2011; it’s really informative.  Since that time, I have discovered the benefits of the herb maca. Recently, I was introduced to a product, Femmenessence when I was searching for supplemental support for a relative who was experiencing major PMS. Her symptoms included cramping, bloating and mood swings which were so severe that the possibility of demonic possession became a consideration (I’m not kidding!).  Previously, her physician made the recommendation of OBC (Oral Birth Control) or “The Pill” which was respectfully declined. She started taking a product called MacaHarmony which is part of the Femmenessence product line by Natural Life Health. It has not been a full cycle yet, but she has noticed less cramping, a lighter period, and her family has noticed a significant improvement in her demeanor. I know another patient who is going through menopause, and she was experiencing hot flashes, insomnia and irritable. In less than a week after beginning MacaLife (also part of the Femmenessence product line), she reported that the number of hot flashes had decreased to only occasional episodes,  that she was able to get a good night’s sleep and that she wasn’t as petulant.

Maca is an herb that has been used by Peruvians for centuries. It has long been touted as an aphrodisiac, and it has been used by both men and women for reproductive health. However, what is not widely known is that there are several different maca genotypes or species, and certain types are more appropriate for specific problems than others.  Also, maca is not a phytoestrogen, and it works by balancing one’s own hormones. It works at the level of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (brain/central nervous system-body level) by adjusting hormonal imbalances, and hence, addressing the cause of one’s symptoms. Maca does not introduce other hormones which can mask the symptoms.

The product Femmenessence has three products to address each phase of a woman’s life, MacaHarmony for reproductive years when one may experience PMS, MacaLife for perimenopause or the decade or so prior to menopause and MacaPause for those who are experiencing the symptoms of menopause.  The genotypes of maca that are used are specific to the reproductive health of women. Also, they provide the services of a medical support team to answer questions that are related to your hormonal issues and your concerns. Their website is very informative and provides extensive product information. Their products are readily available; when writing this blog, I wanted to make sure that they would be easy for you to find. They are available at Whole Foods, Amazon and The Vitamin Shoppe, just to name a few. However, I will add this word of caution; if you have experienced breast cancer or any form of cancer for that matter or if you have medical concerns, please consult your health-care provider. It may be of benefit to consult one who is well-versed in herbal supplements and their use; some allopathic physicians still pooh-pooh complimentary or nonconventional therapies. So please find the health-care provider that’s right for you.

I want you to be the best you, and I have made a personal vow to share with you knowledge that I obtain through my professional or personal experiences that may help you in your journey.

Be Well

It’s Up To You!

I am currently writing the companion book for my latest book, So What! My Kid Is A Little Plump and would like to share an excerpt with you.

Many of the adult patients that I encounter have illnesses they could have prevented. I would like to tell you a story to drive my point home. Let’s use a fictionalized patient, and let’s call her Helen. Helen was in her 50s. She loved to bake, and her specialty was her butter pound cake. Helen’s problem was not necessarily cooking; she also liked to eat what she baked and in large amounts. Like most adults, as she aged, her metabolism slowed down, and she didn’t exercise regularly. Helen was “heavy set” as her friends referred to her, but in actuality Helen was 55 pounds overweight. When she last saw her doctor six months ago, he told her that both her blood sugar and blood pressure were high, and that he wanted her to come in for more tests because she had become diabetic.  He was also concerned about her blood pressure; he suggested that she join a class that he conducted to help some of his overweight patients. Helen told the doctor that all the women in her family tended to put on a few pounds after menopause, and that she was just “big boned”. Helen said that she felt pretty good for her age.

However, about 4 month later, Helen had a medical emergency; she had just gone to bed one evening, and shortly after falling asleep, she was awaken by severe left jaw pain. Her husband called the paramedics, and she was taken to the closest hospital. Upon arrival to the emergency room, it was determined that Helen had had a heart attack. As a result of her being overweight, her body’s cells had become less responsive to the insulin which her body made, and she had developed diabetes. Also, better control of her weight would have likely help to lower her blood pressure. Because of the diabetes, the blood vessels in her body were unable to effectively supply oxygen and nutrients to her organs such as her heart, brain and kidneys. As a result of damaged blood vessels and lack of oxygen, Helen had a heart attack.

Helen was of course admitted to the hospital for treatment of her heart attack. However, as the doctors did more tests, it was discovered that Helen apparently for over a year was having increased thirst and was urinating more, and that she had had diabetes for quite some time. Helen was also in kidney failure and had high blood as well. You see, the diabetes and persistently elevated blood pressure damaged her blood vessels; this not only resulted in the heart attack but had resulted in kidney disease as well. Helen’s kidney disease was quite serious, and about a year later she was started on dialysis where she had to attend a dialysis center three times a week to have a machine to do the work that her failing kidneys were now unable to do.

About six months later,  she gradually developed severe shortness of breath.  She was no longer able to play with her grandchildren for long periods of time or to take the after dinner strolls with her husband that they had enjoyed for many years. She would develop severe swelling of her lower legs, and the “water pills”  were becoming less effective. She even had to use three pillows at night in order to breath while she slept.  After about a couple of weeks, she visited her doctor who diagnosed her with heart failure.  When Helen had suffered the heart attack earlier that year, her heart muscle was severely damaged and did not beat as well. The combination of the malfunctioning heart and the kidney failure resulted in too much fluid in her body; in particular, fluid was backing up in her lungs resulting in her inability to breathe normally.

After about five years of multiple hospitalizations, amputation of her left leg below her knee because of the diseased blood vessels resulting from diabetes, two more heart attacks and a stroke due to the damage blood vessels to her brain, Helen died at the age of 63, a very sick, broken women who had a very poor quality of life and who was robbed of what could have been some of the best years of her life.

Let’s trace this back to maybe 5 to 7 years earlier when Helen was told by her doctor that she needed to address her weight issue. She could have prevented most if not all of the subsequent diseases that she ultimately developed. She had such a poor quality of life, and although the story is fictionalized, I have encountered more patients than I care to number with this or very similar stories.

The human body is such a wonderfully, awesome entity. In medical school we were taught about the body by systems (e.g. circulatory, nervous, gastrointestinal, etc); however, everything is so intricately interwoven. In laymen’s terms, everything is connected. Referring back to our patient, Helen, the obesity led to the diabetes and contributed to the high blood pressure both of which contributed to the heart attack and led to the leg amputation and the kidney failure which led to the heart failure, to her inability to function with her family and ultimately, to her premature death.
For a long time, Helen had the opportunity to determine her own destiny and to choose a good quality of life. Don’t rely on your doctor for good health. Your doctor is a partner with you, but YOU are ultimately responsible for your health. It is your obligation to do everything that you can to take care of yourself. We have for too long looked to the medical profession to give us a pill or to provide whatever is the latest quick fix for issues that we could have prevented ourselves. I am not talking about congenital/ genetically linked diseases or disease to which we are unclear as to the cause. But come on! Obesity has reached epidemic levels in both the adult and child populations. The associated diseases are ALL preventable.

Food for thought: What could Helen have done differently right after that initial visit with her doctor when he told her that she was overweight and that her blood sugar and blood pressure were high?
A very doable option comes to mind. Let’s paint an alternative picture of Helen, one in which she took her doctor’s advice, and she scheduled the recommended follow up testing. She also joined the weekly class that her doctor offered in which he helped to educate participants about healthy eating and exercise. Helen enjoyed the classes very much, and she learned how to substitute many of her unhealthy habits for better ones. She made friends with several of the ladies in the class, and together they joined an exercise class at the local YMCA which met three times a week. As a result of changing her diet and beginning to exercise regularly, Helen lost 20 pounds over a six month period. When she followed up with her doctor, her blood pressure had normalized. Her doctor was so pleased that he was able to decrease her blood pressure medication, and 3 months later, as Helen continued to exercise and to lose weight, he was able to discontinue it all together. Also, as Helen lost weight, her body began to respond to the insulin it naturally produced, and her blood sugar normalized as well. Helen learned something about herself; she still enjoyed baking, but previously much of her overeating was done because she was bored, and she used food to comfort herself. Now, she was far from being bored! She met with her new friends several times a week for their exercise classes. They also met for other activities during the week. She continued to bake, but only once a week, and she no longer desired to binge on her butter pound cake and other sweets, and she only ate it on her “cheat day”. She was able to eat a slice or a modest portion and be satisfied.

Helen gradually lost the remaining excess pounds. She felt so good physically and emotionally. She and her husband, Jack began a daily routine of taking a brisk 30 minute walk , 5 days a week. This not only helped them physically, but this shared activity was something that they both looked forward to because they did it together. Also, because physical activity made them feel more vibrant with an enhanced sense of well being, they were more romantic and intimate.

One of the high points of Helen’s week was Saturdays which she spent with her grandchildren with whom she became very close. Helen attended all of her grandchildren’s graduations from high school and college. She lived to see all of her great grandchildren graduate from college as well, and she attended all of their weddings, birthday celebrations and holiday gathering. She was around for the birth of her great, great grandchildren as well. Holidays were memorable times when the entire family gathered at Helen’s home. There was always the sounds of laughter, feeling of love and the smells of good food.

Helen continued her healthy lifestyle of eating well and exercise throughout her life. In her late 50s, she learned the importance of adding strength training to her exercise routine; the strength training helped her to maintain balance and flexibility. She was therefore able to remain agile, active and vibrant her entire life. Helen maintained good health because she made it a priority. She never bought into the idea that aging meant debility. She saw her doctor for her yearly physicals; she really got a kick out of hearing her doctor comment on how healthy, young and alive she looked.

Needless to say, Helen had a very healthy and fulfilling life. Just prior to her death of natural causes at 106, one of her grandchildren asked her if she had any regrets. Her response was, “No sweetie, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I lived my best life.”

I want you to have a wonderful, healthy and fulfilling life. That kind of life just doesn’t happen. We have to make a conscious decision to have a healthy life by doing what we can; by chosing to eat a piece a fruit over the cookie or by taking a walk instead of sitting on the couch all evening or at the computer for hours. The choice is yours.

Be Well!

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