Blood pressure basics
Blood pressure is the force of the blood against the artery walls. A Blood pressure reading includes two numbers, the first being systolic, which indicates the pressure during contraction, and the second is diastolic, which indicates the pressure of your heart while at rest. It is standard practice to consider a systolic rate of 120 to 139mm Hg. and a diastolic rate of 80 to 89mm Hg. as pre-hypertension, whereas 140/90 or higher is considered to hypertension. Blood pressure fluctuates during the coarse of a day, so borderline readings should be observed over several days or weeks before drawing conclusions as to wither or not one truly has hypertension.
According to the CDC, Center for disease control, one in every three adults in the United States are diagnosed with hypertension, which is considered to put one at risk for heart disease and stroke. No doubt this is a matter of great concern, but simply giving medications is not a long term solution. And in many cases medications can be avoided if one takes action towards better health. Diet and exercise as well as herbal medicine can play a valuable role in the healing process and in many cases reduce the need for pharmaceuticals.
An Ayurvedic appoach
In Ayurveda, hypertension is classified according to constitutional imbalances relating to the three bodily humors, or doshas.
Vata related hypertension is caused by excessive mobile or erratic quality of vata affecting the mind and nervous system. This is characterized by symptoms such as increased anxiety, worry, mental tension, hyperactivity, fear, restlessness and insomnia. Here the blood pressure readings will often vary and change quickly. This is seen with what is referred to as “white coat syndrome,” where the blood pressure goes up just from having a doctors examination.
One of the best aids for calming vata dosha is the practice of gentle or restorative yoga and the daily practice of meditation. Here calming or sedative herbs such as tagara, jatamansi, sarpagandha, Saraswat churna, and bhringaraj have a relaxant effect on the mind and nervous system. Also, nutritive herbs including ashwagandha and dashamula compound can be added to a heart formula. Additionally, a clove of fresh garlic can be crushed and mixed with raw honey and eaten twice daily.
Vata Heart Formula:
Ashwagandha- 4 parts
Jatamansi- 3 parts
Saraswata churna- 2 parts
Pitta related hypertension is aggravated by excess physical and psychic heat. It involves the hot, sharp, and spreading qualities of pitta that can cause volatile emotions such as anger and irritability as well as severe headaches, and light sensitivity. Here calming and cooling herbs like Brahmi, bhringaraj, skullcap, shankapushpi and passionflower can be taken along with cooling diuretics such as punarnava, and gokshura. A tasty ayurvedic Rose petal jam called Gulkhand is great to sooth and cool the heart, both physically and emotionally.
Pitta Heart Formula
Punarnava- 3 parts
Passion flower-3 parts
Arjuna- 4 parts
Kapha related hypertension is associated with weight gain, lethargy, and poor metabolism of the water element. Kapha predominate individuals are often sedentary by nature and gain weight easily. It is of great importance that kapha predominate types get plenty of exercise and eat light, healthy meals with lots of vegetables. “Eat less and exercise more” is the best remedy to reduce kapha. Eating a low sodium diet with no refined grains or sugar.
Herbs that stimulate the digestive fire and burn fat and ama (toxins) from the system are an important aspect of kapha treatment. Here ½ tsp of Trikatu churna can be taken after meals 2-3 times daily in hot water. Also, herbs having a diuretic action such as punarnava and gokshura, along with condition specific herbs like sarpagandha, arjuna, hawthorne berry, pushkaramula (elecampane), and passionflower are useful.
Kapha Heart Formula
Punarnava- 4 parts
Chitrak- 2 parts
Hawthorne Berry- 3 parts
Passion flower- 3 parts
If a condition is dual-doshic, meaning a mixture of two or more doshas, treatments can draw from the approaches mentioned above.