High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular incidents in Canada. High blood pressure usually takes many years or decades to develop and has many serious long-term consequences. Fortunately, blood pressure can be normalized with lifestyle modifications and natural therapies. Unfortunately, far too many people are placed on blood pressure medication before all the other routes are explored. While it is extremely important to take a comprehensive examination of the causes of a person’s hypertension this article focuses on the use of detoxification as one component of a more comprehensive approach for hypertension.
The Basics of Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is determined by 4 things:
- How much fluid is in the cardiovascular system – the more fluid in the system the higher the pressure. The basis of diuretic medication and many botanicals is to reduce fluid volume and thus decrease blood pressure.
- The size and elasticity of the blood vessels – the more rigid and tight the blood vessels are the higher the blood pressure. Medications like ACE inhibitors and supplements like magnesium increase the size and elasticity of blood vessels to decrease blood pressure.
- How hard the heart is pumping – the harder the heart pumps the higher the pressure. Medications like calcium-channel blockers decrease the force of the heart and thus reduce pressure. This often leads to a host of other side effects and other health issues.
- Resistance in the cardiovascular system – the more resistance there is in the vascular system the higher the pressure needs to be to deliver nutrients to the tissues and cells. Detoxification is one of the most important ways to decrease resistance in the cardiovascular system.
Detoxification Decreases Resistance
Detoxification helps to decrease and normalize blood pressure by reducing the resistance in the vascular system. There are two major ways detoxification reduces resistance. First of all, detoxification removes toxins from the bloodstream that were making the blood more viscous (thicker) than it needed to be. As the blood becomes less viscous it can be pumped around more efficiently with less force and pressure. To illustrate, picture two glasses filled with pure distilled water. Imagine that you put some gelatin or fiber in one of the glasses and let it settle. Now imagine that you put a straw in both glasses and tried to drink from them. Which would be easier and which would require more force? The thicker the fluid the more force required to move it through a tube (blood vessel).
Secondly, detoxification improves the function of the liver and kidneys and allows blood to move with less force. Picture the liver and kidney as two filters in a system. The more clogged the filters are the slower fluid moves through them and the higher the back pressure. As the toxins are removed and the filters clear up the fluid begins to move faster, requiring less force, and producing less back pressure. Therefore, as the liver and kidneys respond to the detoxification support the blood pressure decreases.
To learn more about natural treatments for high blood pressure and the cardiovascular system visit www.drbrentbarlownd.com or call 250-448-5610.
Circulation is the movement, distribution, and removal of all the nutrients and wastes in the body. Circulation is one of the most fundamentally important aspects of health and needs to be assessed and supported accordingly. Circulation does not just refer to the cardiovascular system but also refers to the lymphatic system, our organs of detoxification, the energetic system of Qi, and our mental-emotional health. When circulation of any of these tangible or intangible substances is inhibited systemic effects will evolve.
The importance of good circulation cannot be overstated. Many conditions and symptoms like headaches, tinnitus, chronic pain, fatigue, cold extremities, dry skin, and unwanted weight gain can be caused or worsened by poor circulation. If you are suffering from symptoms of poor circulation I strongly suggest you have your circulatory system evaluated by a naturopathic physician.
To illustrate the importance of good circulation imagine a beautiful and healthy river flowing through the mountains from the snowmelt and glacier runoff. This river is full of nutrients and minerals swept down from the rocks of the mountains. It is full of fish, small mammals, and other aquatic life. Its banks are teaming with lush vegetation. The water is pure and clean because the current moves the waste downstream to the ocean. Now imagine a few years of drought combined with the receding of the glacier. Also, imagine the river becomes blocked with some large trees and debris. What will happen to this once healthy river? It will turn into a stagnant pool of water, a swamp. This is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes and other pests. The natural species who used to thrive will move out while other species who can survive in this environment will move in. The waste created by the new critters will no longer be carried downstream to the ocean. And the lush vegetation that lined the entire river will dry up and cease to exist.
When circulation in the body is inadequate similar negative consequences occur. Nutrients no longer arrive at all of the tissues and cells of the body in optimal amounts. Metabolic wastes, toxins, and by-products no longer get swept away from the tissues and cells and get taken to the organs of elimination. The major filtering organs of the body like the liver, kidneys, lungs, and spleen no longer get optimal blood supply and are unable to cleanse the blood optimally.
If you are interested in learning more about cardiovascular health or would like to schedule a consultation please visit my website at www.drbrentbarlownd.com or call the clinic at 250-448-5610.
In next week’s column we will investigate the signs of poor circulation.
February is Heart Health month and last Friday was Valentine’s Day (the most important day for our hearts!). The Heart and Stroke Foundation and many other organizations are doing their best to raise awareness and empower individuals to live a heart-healthy lifestyle. Since heart disease is the number one killer in North America a lot of lives can be saved by supporting the cardiovascular system. Over the next few weeks my column will focus on the most important natural health tips for preventing and treating cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular System 101
In today’s column we will cover the most important aspects you need to know about how the cardiovascular system works. Knowing this information can help you keep the entire cardiovascular system healthy and prevent disease.
The cardiovascular system has two main components: the pump (heart) and the tubes (arteries, veins, and lymphatic vessels). The heart has 4 chambers, 4 major valves, and a lot of muscle it relies on for pumping blood. The heart drives de-oxygenated blood through the lungs to pick up oxygen and pumps the oxygenated blood to the rest of the body through the arteries to deliver oxygen and many other nutrients. Every artery eventually leads to a capillary, where the oxygenated blood leaves the vascular system and goes to the cells. The de-oxygenated blood then flows into the veins and is carried back to the heart. All of the other waste fluid from the cells and capillaries drains into the lymphatic vessels and travels back to the heart.
Some cardiovascular conditions affect the pump, some affect the tubes, and some affect both. This is very important to know because it helps you and your doctor pick the right treatment or preventative strategy. For example, atherosclerosis is condition where the arteries stiffen as plaque builds up inside them. The heart muscle is typically not damaged. Therefore, the most important treatments, natural or synthetic, should support the vasculature and treat the causes of the plaque build-up.
The cardiovascular system can be affected by other organs like the liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, thyroid, and nervous system. At any one point in time about 25% of your blood is in the liver and kidneys. When these organs are running sluggish or affected by disease they can create backpressure in the vasculature, which leads to high blood pressure. Over the course of time, high blood pressure leads to vascular damage and pathological changes in the heart muscle. In these cases, it is important to provide treatment for the liver and/or kidney in order to treat the cause of the hypertension.
The adrenal glands are responsible for producing the majority of your stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. We all know that too much stress negatively affects the cardiovascular system and these hormones are a major reason why. Adrenaline increases blood pressure by increasing heart rate and the amount of force the heart pumps with. Cortisol increases blood pressure by tightening the arteries and veins thus making the space inside them narrower.
The thyroid gland produces hormones that play a major role in your metabolic rate. If the thyroid gland is making too much hormone the heart rate can increase, the rhythm may become sporadic, and blood pressure can rise. This can lead to hypertension and arrhythmias.
The nervous system has a significant presence inside the heart and controls the heart rate. The sinoatrial node (SA node) and atrioventricular node (AV node) are the heart’s natural pacemaker. These nodes are richly innervated by autonomic nervous system fibers. If the nervous system signals are inappropriate the heart rate will be altered.
As you can see the health of your cardiovascular system depends not only on the heart and vasculature but also depends on the health of several other organs. When I treat people with cardiovascular disease I always examine the health of all these other organs and many other health aspects as well. Over the next few weeks, we will cover many of the most important lab tests, examinations, and natural treatments for having a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.
Skiing and snowboarding up at Big White and Silver Star sure makes you hungry! Good food can be a part of the mountain experience. However, many people are unsure of how to eat when they are up at the hill. In this week’s column we will look at how proper snacking and nutrition can improve your performance and enjoyment this winter.
First of all, timing is important. It is much better to eat more frequent snacks throughout the day than two or three large meals. Eat a snack or small meal every two to three hours to ensure stable blood sugar levels. When blood sugar drops mistakes and injuries tend to happen due to fatigue.
Secondly, ensure your snacks and small meals contain a mixture of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. If you are going to have some sugar as a treat make sure you have some protein and healthy fat along with it. This will prevent blood sugar peaks and valleys and help your muscles make it through the day.
Thirdly, consume small to moderate sized portions. Large meals take longer to digest and often cause afternoon fatigue by forcing the body’s resources to your stomach and away from your muscles. Overeating may also make you less tolerant to the cold by decreasing peripheral circulation to your hands and feet.
As a naturopathic physician, I work with most of my patients to help them establish a nutritional plan that works best for their bodies. The better your nutrition, the better your performance and enjoyment will be on the slopes. If you are concerned that your nutrition is holding you back I encourage you to seek advice. For more information or to schedule a consultation, visit my website at www.drbrentbarlownd.com or call my office at 250-448-5610.
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