Categories
Treatment

Acupuncture

When most people hear the word acupuncture they immediately think of the insertion of needles in various parts of the body. While this is the most common type of treatment, acupuncture can refer to a variety of different stimulation techniques.

It has had a long history as part of traditional Chinese and Asian medicine before growing in popularity in the United States in the early 1970s. Frequently used for pain relief, the Chinese philosophy believes by putting needles in certain locations the body’s energy flow or qi can be rebalanced and provide relief. Many Westerners think the stimulation of certain nerves, muscles and connective tissues increases the body’s blood flow and release of endorphins which can lessen discomfort.

How It Works

An initial evaluation can take about an hour. Exact details depend on the practitioner and his or her approach but it may include examinations of the area in pain along with the tongue, face color and wrist pulse. Discussion of general health, lifestyle and behavior factors may also occur. After the first meeting, treatments generally last about 30 minutes. Depending on the problem 6 to 12 appointments over several months is often typical. Between 5 and 20 very thin needles are inserted in various locations of the body (sometimes some are nowhere near the area in pain). Discomfort should be very minimal or nonexistent. Once the needles are in the practitioner has a variety of options from twirling them to heating them to applying light electrical pulses to them. After 10 to 20 minutes the needles are removed.

Benefits

Acupuncture can by tried for a number of painful ailments ranging from headaches, back pain and dental pain to fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and even labor pain.

Accupuncture is beginning to emerge as a combination therapy across western medicine that has been shown to show relief for patients after surgery.

When approaching menopause, accupuncture has been shown to significantly reduce the duration and intensity of hot flashes and other symptoms associated with that phase of life.

Precautions

Acupuncture is generally considered pretty safe but there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, practitioners should always use sterile, disposable needles to prevent infections and exposure to serious diseases. A little bit of soreness or even small amounts of bleeding or bruising where the needles were inserted is possible. In rare cases needles can puncture organs if they are pushed in too far. Individuals with bleeding disorders or who take a blood thinner may not be good candidates for acupuncture. Similarly anyone with a pacemaker should likely avoid this treatment as the electrical impulses to the needle could affect the pacemaker. Finally, acupuncture in some forms may trigger labor so pregnant women may need to avoid it.

Summary

Acupuncture is an ancient Asian treatment that involves very thin needles inserted in certain locations to help relieve pain.

References

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine nccam.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/introduction.htm

Mayo Clinic mayoclinic.com/health/acupuncture/MY00946

Categories
Condition

High Blood Pressure Natural Treatments

Written by Dr. Rich Snyder

High blood pressure (or hypertension) relates to a significant risk factor for a heart attack and heart disease, congestive heart failure (CHF), stroke, and kidney disease.

The holistic treatment of high blood pressure concerns evaluating for factors that can cause high blood pressure and bringing the body back into balance. This includes correcting nutrient deficiencies, promoting meditation-based therapies to reduce stress, and detoxification and supplementation when needed.

Often, there are multiple imbalances occurring simultaneously elevating the blood pressure that need to be managed. Applying a holistic approach and focusing on ways to correct body imbalances, can be successful in getting your blood pressure under control. The information that follows are high blood pressure natural treatments.

Overview

High blood pressure (or hypertension) is a significant health concern in many industrialized countries. In the United States, one out of every four people is diagnosed with high blood pressure. While genetics and a family history of high blood pressure do play a role in the development of hypertension, more significant influences include a high sodium, pro-inflammatory Western diet, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and long-term exposure to environmental toxins. Of note, this last risk factor is often overlooked by Western medicine, but elimination of toxins from the body remains an important aspect of treatment.

What exactly is blood pressure?

It is the measurement of the force of the blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps out blood into the arteries. When your heart beats, your blood pressure is at its highest. This is called the systolic blood pressure, and represents the top number on a blood pressure cuff. When your heart is at rest, in between beats, this is referred to as the diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number on a blood pressure cuff). Your blood pressure reading is a measurement of these two values. Usually they are written either one above or before the other.

How do I know if I have high blood pressure?

The numbers on the blood pressure cuff can tell you if your blood pressure is low, normal, or very high. A normal blood pressure is defined as 120/80 or lower.

  • Between 120 and 139 for the top number, or between 80 and 89 for the bottom number is called prehypertension. This stage is important because dietary and lifestyle changes can dramatically decrease the risk of developing hypertension.
  • A blood pressure measurement of 140/90 or higher is referred to as hypertension. If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, adopting a healthy lifestyle is vital to lowering your blood pressure.

Why is having high blood pressure dangerous?

High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for a heart attack and heart disease, congestive heart failure (CHF), stroke, and kidney disease. Understand that uncontrolled blood pressure over time causes damage to the arteries and blood vessels over the entire body. They can cause significant damage to the inner lining of the blood vessels called the “endothelium.” This “endothelial damage” causes oxidative stress, the formation of toxic substances called free radicals, and worsening total body inflammation. Over time this can cause “narrowing” and “hardening” of the blood vessels through the formation of atherosclerotic (cholesterol) plaques in the blood vessel wall.

What are risk factors for hypertension?

There are other risk factors, in addition to those mentioned already, that increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. Some of these risk factors, you may not even be aware of. These can include:

  • Cigarette smoking

    Tobacco smoke contains nicotine, which can acutely “constrict” or narrow your blood vessels and raise blood pressure. Cigarettes are also filled with toxins, including the heavy metals mercury, cadmium, lead, and arsenic. Finally, tobacco is toxic to the blood vessels. It dramatically increases inflammation and exponentially increases the risk of atherosclerosis.

  • Poor sleep

    Sleeping less than eight hours a night as well as sleep apnea can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. In fact, sleep apnea is one of the most underdiagnosed causes for high blood pressure.

  • Pain

    Untreated pain, in addition to affecting quality of life, can be a significant cause of high blood pressure.

  • Increased Stress

    Stress naturally stimulates our body’s natural “fight or flight” instinct which can dramatically raise blood pressure.

  • Diabetes

    If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, this increases your risk of developing high blood pressure. Having diabetes also increases your risk of developing heart disease, vascular disease, and kidney disease.

What are other causes of high blood pressure?

Often, having one or more of the risk factors described above, in addition to your particular genetic susceptibility often can be a cause of hypertension. It is important to be aware of other causes high blood pressure as well. These can include kidney disease, sleep apnea, adrenal gland dysfunction, hyperthyroidism and hormonal imbalances. If you are younger than the age of eighteen or older than sixty-five and suddenly develop very high blood pressure, these may be potential causes of why you developed high blood pressure and should be further investigated.

What are some conventional treatments of high blood pressure?

The traditional treatment of high blood pressure includes the prescription use of medications. Commonly prescribed drug classes of anti-hypertensive medications include Beta-Blockers, Calcium Channel Blockers, Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors, Alpha blockers, and Diuretics.

  • Beta Blockers: These medications can slow your heart rate; other potential side effects can include fatigue, dizziness, and depression. If you have a history of a heart attack (myocardial infarction) or congestive heart failure (CHF), you may have been prescribed these medications as studies have shown them to be heart protective.
    Caution: Beta-Blockers can deplete the body of ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10), a potent anti-oxidant that is important not only for maintaining a healthy heart but also for maintaining cellular health as well.
  • ACE Inhibitors: These medications are used in the treatment of high blood pressure, CHF, and diabetes-related kidney disease. Studies have demonstrated that ACE Inhibitors have beneficial effects on your heart and kidneys. This class of medications can cause a cough anytime while you are taking this medication (not just when starting it). They can also cause high potassium levels as well. Rarely, this medication has been associated with an allergic-type of reaction called angioedema. Swelling of the tongue and face are signs of this potentially life-threatening condition.
    Caution: If you are experiencing nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea for any reason talk with your health care provider about temporarily stopping this medication until the above symptoms resolve. In this type of situation, this medication can adversely affect your kidney function. Blood tests to monitor your potassium and kidney function should be followed if you are taking this class of medications.
  • Calcium Channel Blockers: These medications can cause constipation and edema, or swelling especially of the legs, especially at higher doses of this class of medication.
  • Alpha Blockers: This medication is not only prescribed for high blood pressure, but it also is prescribed for men with Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy as it relaxes the bladder muscle and makes it easier to empty the bladder. This medication class can cause a condition called postural hypotension, meaning that when you stand up you can experience dizziness due to a drop in your blood pressure.
  • Diuretics: In addition to being used in the treatment of high blood pressure, medications such as Lasix (Furosemide) are often prescribed for the treatment of CHF and/or edema.
  • Caution: Diuretics, especially as we get older, can cause significant nutrient and mineral depletion, including low sodium, potassium, and magnesium levels. If you are taking this class of medications, your health care provider may ask you to have routine blood work done to monitor your electrolyte levels.

Nutrition

One of the most important changes necessary in the treatment of high blood pressure is changing your diet.  A diet higher in fruits and vegetables is recommended. Did you know that the new Food Pyramid actually recommends five to seven fruits and vegetables each and every day?

DASH Diet

One of the well-studied diets is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. The DASH diet not only lowered blood pressure it increased longevity and reduced the risk of developing other complications of high blood pressure, including congestive heart failure (CHF) as well as dramatically reducing the risk of developing diabetes.

This diet advocates the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It emphasizes reducing foods high in polyunsaturated fats as well as significantly reducing the amount of meat-based protein in the diet. Notwithstanding the chemicals, toxins, food additives, and antibiotics that may have been used in the preparation of the meat, high animal protein intake increases total body inflammation, which plays an important role in the development of high blood pressure.

Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean Diet

Another diet that has been extensively studied in the treatment of high blood pressure is the Mediterranean diet. Like the DASH diet, this diet stresses the consumption of fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats, particularly promoting the use of olive oil instead of butter. Eating fish, especially salmon twice a week is recommended for its high Omega 3 content. Much research has been done advocating the many benefits of the Mediterranean diet, especially for its heart protective effects.

A plant-based diet can reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure as well as lowering high blood pressure once diagnosed. It also has many other significant health benefits.

Treating high blood pressure successfully also means reducing the consumption of the following:

  • Caffeine

    Coffee and other caffeinated beverages should be avoided as they can elevate blood pressure. The first morning cup of coffee can be stressful not only on the heart, but also on your adrenal glands as well.

  • High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)

    Foods high in fructose corn syrup not only have the ability to increase high blood pressure, but can also cause your body to produce more insulin than it needs. Excessive consumption of foods high in HFCS can increase the risk of developing diabetes as well. As a consumer, it is very important to read food labels carefully.

  • Sodium

    As a society, we consume a lot more sodium than we need.  For the general population, it is recommended that you consume no more than 2000 mg of sodium a day in your diet. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, then you should lower the amount of sodium to a maximum amount of 1500 mg a day. Again, be observant of the sodium content of the food you buy. Did you know that some canned soups can have up to 1000 mg of sodium per can?  It is also important to limit the salt shaker. One-fourth of a teaspoon of salt contains about 600 mg of sodium.

Supplements

Key nutrient and mineral imbalances can dramatically increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it is essential that this aspect of treatment be addressed. Be aware that some prescription medications can cause nutrient deficiencies that need to be supplemented, including ubiquinone (see below) and low potassium and magnesium levels.

  • Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone)

    Replacement of this antioxidant is necessary to help improve blood vessel health and lower high blood pressure. Be aware that several classes of medications, including the statins (prescribed for the treatment of high cholesterol), beta- blockers, and a group of medications used in the treatment of diabetes (oral sulfonylureas) can deplete your body of this vital anti-oxidant. If you are on a typical Western based diet, you need to add Coenzyme Q10 to your regimen.  Begin at low doses, starting at 50-100 mg daily and increase to twice a day after several weeks. Smaller doses taken during the day maximizes its absorption. Monitor your blood pressure closely. If you have diabetes, this nutrient can also help lower your blood glucose levels and need to be monitored as well.

  • Magnesium 

    Many, if not all of us in Western countries are depleted of this vital nutrient. Magnesium helps to dilate the blood vessels and helps keep them pliable and flexible. It again is important for maintaining the health of our blood vessels. By eating vegetables, seeds (sunflower and sesame for example), and nuts (almonds and Brazil nuts for example) you can get a lot of magnesium. If needed, magnesium can also be supplemented either orally or in a gel or oil formulation applied directly to the skin.  Chelated magnesium is a form of magnesium taken orally without the heavy metals. This can be started once a day and increased to twice a day for a total dose of 400-600 mg. Note that very high doses of magnesium can cause diarrhea. An alternative is to apply Magnesium gel to your skin once or twice daily. Applied at night, this can help you get a great night’s sleep as well (Low Magnesium levels can also affect your quality of sleep). If you have been told that you have kidney problems, you may need to monitor blood magnesium levels and limit your magnesium intake.

  • Olive Leaf Extract

    In addition to treating high blood pressure, this is a potent anti-oxidant that can reduce total body inflammation and maintain intestinal health (by decreasing Candida overgrowth). In one study, Olive leaf extract was comparable to the ACE Inhibitor Captopril in lowering blood pressure. Start at 500 mg daily and slowly increase to 500 mg twice a day over the course of several weeks. A “usual” dose for the treatment of high blood pressure can be 1000 mg twice a day. Again, be sure to monitor your blood pressure closely.

  • Pomegranate

    This is great not only for maintaining and improving the health of your blood vessels, but also for keeping your heart healthy. This supplement comes in many forms. One way to keep track of what you are taking is to purchase this supplement in capsule form starting at 500 mg daily.

  • Hawthorne Extract

    While this can be used in the treatment of high blood pressure, significant research has demonstrated its beneficial effects in the treatment of CHF. It does have blood pressure lowering effects. Start at 250 mg twice daily; this dose can be increased slowly.

  • Calcium

    It is not recommended that calcium be taken as a supplement.  Recent studies show that calcium taken in supplement form may increase the risk of developing a heart attack. It is better to increase your dietary intake of calcium. Many of the same foods that are high in magnesium also contain significant amounts of calcium as well. These include the leafy greens, such as broccoli and kale, seeds, and nuts.

  • Garlic

    Not only is garlic excellent for keeping the blood vessels soft and pliable, it is an-antioxidant. It is also excellent for the treatment of high cholesterol as it decreases the inflammation of “cholesterol plaque.” Aged garlic extract can be taken in capsule form starting at 400-600 mg a day. As garlic is a natural blood thinner, be careful if you are on prescription blood thinning medications such as aspirin, Plavix, or Coumadin.

  • Grape Seed Extract

    This is a great anti-oxidant, and also has blood-pressure lowering properties. In one study, those taking grape seed extract compared to placebo experienced a decrease not only in systolic but also diastolic blood pressure. While there are various preparations in capsule form, start at 200 mg daily and increase slowly.

Reducing Pain & Treating Inflammation

Reducing pain and keeping the body in alignment is so important in the treatment of high blood pressure. While traditional therapy often involves prescribing a medication to “lessen the pain,” the goal should be to get to the route of the problem as to what is causing the pain. Pain is often a result of inflammation and a body that may be structurally out of alignment. Conversely, pain can also be a cause of the body being out of alignment. When your body is not structurally aligned, altered spinal mechanics can increase the activity of the body’s “sympathetic nervous system” which can raise blood pressure. Back pain, which is a common reason that people visit their health care practitioner, can be debilitating.

Choosing the Right Practitioner

There are various practitioners  that can help you not only identify body alignment issues, but also help you develop a plan to structurally get your body back into balance, identify the source of your pain, and then work with you to develop a treatment plan.  They include practitioners of osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, chiropractic care, and structural integration specialists.  Getting your vertebrae in alignment can dramatically help in the treatment of high blood pressure.

Considering Supplements for the Relief of Pain and Inflammation

There are several supplements that you should consider that can help with pain, but as with many natural treatments, provide other health benefits as well, including blood pressure lowering effects. Omega 3 fish oil is tremendous, not only for reducing inflammation and helping with pain, but it can also help with blood pressure and maintain the health of the blood vessels.

Omega-3Omega 3 fish oil supplementation is especially important if your diet is a typical Western diet which is often low in Omega 3 and high in Omega 6, which can promote inflammation and pain. In one study, omega 3 supplementation was as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (like Motrin) at relieving pain. You can start at 2000 mg a day and increase slowly to a maximum of 4-5 grams a day. Be aware that Omega 3 fish oil can thin the blood, so you may need to decrease your dosage if you are taking any blood thinners.

Turmeric is a great anti-oxidant that can reduce inflammation and pain. It can be taken as a 400 mg capsule daily or simply buy Turmeric powder and sprinkle a little on each meal. In one study, Turmeric was as effective as an analgesic in controlling post-operative pain.

Concerning magnesium, note that low magnesium levels can not only exacerbate high blood pressure but also promote pain and inflammation. For sore muscle and/or joints, the use of Magnesium gel or oil applied directly to the area can promote healing and reduce inflammation and increase joint and muscle mobility and flexibility.

Exercise

Our bodies were meant to move. Beginning an exercise regimen is crucial in lowering blood pressure. Walking thirty minutes four times a week has benefits of not only improving endurance, but also strengthening the heart as well as helping you lose weight. Other forms of exercise include jogging, biking, swimming and aquatic-based therapy. Exercising in the water is not only rejuvenating, but as it reduces the wear, tear, and constant pounding on the joints, it is an ideal choice, especially if you are suffering from arthritis or have difficulty walking. Depending on your health issues, it is recommended that you see your health care practitioner to develop a personalized exercise regimen that matches your likes and limitations. Don’t forget to include muscle resistance training into your exercise regimen.

YogaYoga

Yoga is a great way to increase total body flexibility but also reduce pain (especially back pain) and reduce stress. It is important to start slowly and work with a certified instructor to learn the right way to do each exercise. Yoga and tai chi represent a form of exercise that not only improve muscle strength and flexibility and does not require the use of expensive equipment but are also great stress relievers and can lower blood pressure.

Reducing Stress and Meditating

Meditative deep breathing is a great way to relieve stress and lower blood pressure. It only takes five minutes to do and you should try to incorporate this several times into your day. Meditation on a daily basis reduces stress and brings the body back into balance. Yoga can also be a great way to reduce stress. Don’t forget the role of exercise in stress reduction as well.

Detoxification

Detoxification is the process of eliminating the toxic substances and heavy metals from the body. Chronic exposure to heavy metals and the buildup of these toxins in the body tissues over time is an unrecognized cause of hypertension. Eliminating these toxins through detoxification is an excellent way to bring balance back to the body, as well as restore and rejuvenate. Detoxification should not occur quickly; slower detoxification regimens over several days to a few weeks are recommended as it allows you time to adjust.

Keeping yourself properly hydrated, as well as the use of anti-oxidants and chelation agents such as green tea, Vitamin C, garlic, and alpha lipoic acid are kidney friendly and allow your kidney to slowly eliminate the heavy metals and other toxins slowly. The use of a probiotic to replenish intestinal flora and a greens supplement is recommended to supplement nutrients and anti-oxidants during your detoxification regimen.


Updated: March, 2013

  • Agarwal KA, Tripathi CD et al. “Efficacy of turmeric (curcumin) in pain and postoperative fatigue after laparoscopic cholecystectomy: a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled study.” Surgical Endoscopy. 2011 Dec;25(12):3805-10.
  • Bolland MJ, Avenell A et al. “Effect of calcium supplements on risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular events: meta-analysis.” British Medical Journal. 2010 Jul 29;341:c3691
  • Champagne CM. “Dietary interventions on blood pressure: the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) trials.” Nutrition Reviews. 2006 Feb;64(2 Pt 2):S53-6.
  • Kretowicz M, Johnson, RJ. “The impact of fructose on renal function and blood pressure.” International Journal of Nephrology. 2011;2011:315879.
  • Kumar A, Kaur H. “Role of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) in cardiac disease, hypertension and Meniere-like syndrome.” Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 2009 Dec;124(3):259-68
  • Marroon JC, Bost JW. “Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain.” Surgical Neurology. 2006 Apr;65(4):326-31.
  • Pittler MH, Guo R, et al. “Hawthorn extract for treating chronic heart failure.” Cochrane Database of System Reviews. 2008 Jan 23;(1):CD005312
  • Sauaslit E, Agus N et al. “Olive (Olea europaea) leaf extract effective in patients with stage-1 hypertension: comparison with Captopril.” Phytomedicine. 2011 Feb 15;18(4):251-8.
  • Sivaprakasapillai B, Edirisinghe I et al. “Effect of grape seed extract on blood pressure in subjects with the metabolic syndrome.” Metabolism. 2009 Dec;58(12):1743-6.
  • Youssef AA, Al-Deeb AE. “A double-blinded randomised controlled study of the value of sequential intravenous and oral magnesium therapy in patients with chronic low back pain with a neuropathic component.” Anesthesia. 2013 Mar;68(3):260-6.
Categories
Treatment

Meditation

There are many different types of meditation, from mindfulness meditation to walking meditation but the goal is usually the same: to cultivate a quietness of mind enough so as to hear the still small voice of the soul.

It helps one to bring focus to the present moment, to let go of all attachments, to push the pause button on fear and worry and learn to trust that life will provide for you. With regular practice of meditation, one will cultivate an inner peace that will remain in moments of any stress.

How it Works

It works by stilling the thoughts in the mind through the practice of several techniques such as focusing on the breath, chanting, and practicing detachment from all outside influences with non-resistance, while sitting in a relaxed comfortable position for a period of time that one feels is sufficient.

Benefits

The benefits of meditation are reduced stress, more present moment awareness, feelings of calm, and a greater flow of energy.

In a study that was initiated by Jon Kabatt-Zin it was found that the group of meditators that were studied had an increase in the frontal lobe areas associated with greater happiness and calmness than before they began to meditate.

Summary

Meditation is a wonderful healing modality that can be done at home for free, or you can choose to join a group meditation as found at some yoga centers.

It is highly known to reduce stress and enhance more mindfulness of the importance of present moment awareness. Regular practice of meditation is wonderful for healing.

References

  • Real Happiness by Sharon Salzburg
  • Awakening to Joy 10 Steps that Will Put you on the Road to Happiness by James Baraz and Shoshanna Alexander
  • Quiet Mind a Beginner’s Mind to Meditation by Sharon Salzburg
  • Getting into the Vortex by Esther Hicks

 


Categories
Treatment

Detoxification

No matter how careful we try to be, exposure to chemicals is inevitable. From the preservatives and pesticides in the food we eat to the fumes we breathe on the freeway, we are surrounded by unhealthy substances that invade our bodies.

Fortunately, we have multiple lines of defense—namely our liver, kidneys, colon and lungs–each with its own biological mechanism for keeping us healthy. Many alternative medicine practitioners believe cleansing (also known as detoxification) can aid these vital organs in their work.

How It Works

There are two main types of cleanses that have gained popularity in recent years—colon cleanses and diet-related cleanses. Both have options available for purchase or for doing it yourself.

With colon cleanses the idea is to rid the body of any food that may remain rotting in the intestines. This can be done using an enema or a specially designed mixture that is ingested. One example can be made with 1 tablespoon of bentonite clay, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1 tablespoon psyllium seeds and 8 ounces of water.

Diet-related cleanses focus on changing the way one eats for varying lengths of time. Examples of these include The Master Cleanse (or The Lemonade Diet), The Elimination Diet and Juice/Soup Fasting.

Benefits

Proponents of cleanses believe they offer a number of health benefits. By ridding the body of toxins they feel people will experience optimal functionality and performance with improvements ranging from increased energy, stronger immunity and better processing of nutrients to better colon functioning.

Precautions

Cleanses of any sort should not be undertaken lightly. They can interfere with medications and anyone with health concerns should always check with their doctor before beginning one.

Even completely healthy people should be careful and do their homework to make sure they choose a cleanse that is safe. While The Master Cleanse may be all the rage in Hollywood to lose weight, it is not a good option due to its very limited calories (it recommends drinking two quarts of water, one-half teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 14 tablespoons of lemon juice and 14 tablespoons of maple syrup a day for 7 to 10 days).

The Elimination Diet which centers around removing certain foods including but not limited to dairy, red meats, gluten-containing foods, all processed foods, etc is another choice that is less restrictive as it is less restrictive of calories and allows some kinds of protein, vegetables and limited servings of fruit and gluten-free grain.

Juice fasting is another possibility which focuses on fruit smoothies and soup with vegetables. While lacking in some food groups it does contain more calories than The Master Cleanse and can help give the digestive system a break.

Other cleanses exist for purchase that may include everything from vitamins and supplements to ingredients for shakes.

Summary

Practitioners of alternative medicine believe cleanses can help purify the body from the toxins we are exposed to every day. However, it is important to select the right type of cleanse, use common sense and check with a healthcare provider if there are any doubts.

References

  • Super Cleanse by Adina Niemerow
  • Clean by Alejandro Junger
Categories
Treatment

Herbal Medicine

An herb is a plant or plant part used for its scent, flavor or therapeutic properties.

Plants have the ability to synthesize a wide variety of chemical compounds that are used to perform important biological functions, and to defend against attack from predators such as insects, fungi and herbivorous mammals.

Many of these phytochemicals have beneficial effects on long-term health when consumed by people, and can be used to effectively treat diseases. At least 12,000 such compounds have been isolated; a number estimated to be less than 10% of the total.

How it Works

Chemical compounds in plants mediate their effects on the human body through processes identical to those already well understood for the chemical compounds in conventional drugs; thus herbal medicines do not differ greatly from conventional drugs in terms of how they work. This enables herbal medicines to be as effective as conventional medicines, but also gives them the same potential to cause harmful side effects.

Benefits

The use of herbs to treat disease is almost universal among non-industrialized societies, and is often more affordable than purchasing expensive modern pharmaceuticals. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80 percent of the population of some Asian and African countries presently use herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care.

Studies in the United States and Europe have shown that their use is less common in clinical settings, but has become increasingly more in recent years as scientific evidence about the effectiveness of herbal medicine has become more widely available.

Precautions

Chemical compounds in plants mediate their effects on the human body through processes identical to those already well understood for the chemical compounds in conventional drugs; thus herbal medicines do not differ greatly from conventional drugs in terms of how they work. This enables herbal medicines to be as effective as conventional medicines, but also gives them the same potential to cause harmful side effects.

To use an herbal product as safely as possible:

  • Consult your doctor first
  • Do not take a bigger dose than the label recommends
  • Take it under the guidance of a trained medical professional
  • Be especially cautious if you are pregnant or nursing

Summary

Herbal medicine products are dietary supplements taken to improve one's health. Many herbs have been used for a long time for claimed health benefits. They are sold as tablets, capsules, powders, teas, extracts and fresh or dried plants.

Source:

  • Wikipedia contributors. Herbalism. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. November 26, 2012, 22:12 UTC.
    en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Herbalism&oldid=525028532. Accessed November 27, 2012.
  • NIH: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
    nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/herbalmedicine.html
Categories
Natural Health News and Articles

Herbs and Spices that Can Lower Blood Pressure

Herbs and spices have proven to be beneficial to our food, health, and overall well-being. These days anything that we can do to naturally treat disease and conditions is one step closer to a healthier lifestyle. One condition in particular that could benefit from homeopathic treatment is high blood pressure.

Costing more than $90 billion dollars in health care services and affecting nearly 1/3 of all US adults, high blood pressure is one of the costliest conditions to treat. Common medicines that are used to lower blood pressure are expensive and can cause major side effects that may be as dangerous as the condition itself. What if there was a way to treat high blood pressure that didn’t require heavy medicines and could provide proven success in lowering blood pressure? The answer is some common spices and herbs that can be found and grown almost anywhere and can make dinnertime interesting and fun.

  • Garlic – Garlic contains allicin which has antibacterial, lipid lowering, and antioxidant properties.
  • CinnamonCinnamon has major antioxidant properties that are directed connected with lowering high blood pressure.
  • Onions – Onions contain the antioxidant flavonol, quercetin, a preventative for high blood pressure and strokes.
  • Oregano – Oregano contains carvacrol which is proven to reduce heart rate, arterial pressure, and blood pressure.
  • Olives – Oil produced from olives contains strong polyphenols that can significantly reduce blood pressure.

Adding these common elements into a daily diet can greatly reduce high blood pressure and even lead to a full weaning off of other blood pressure medications when used with a heart healthy diet and exercise routine. Simply putting more flavors in your food could save your life.

[themedy_toggle icon=”plus-sign” heading=”Reference:” onload=”closed”]

  • Natural News Network, LTD., 2013
    naturalnews.com/035689_medicinal_herbs_spices_blood_pressure.html

Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/37884983@N03/3723407479/

Natural Treatments for High Blood Pressure

Categories
Treatment

Supplements

We all know how important a varied diet is to our overall health but sometimes even good eating habits can use a little boost. Fortunately that’s where supplements come in.

Supplements exist in a variety of shapes and sizes from pills and powders to beverages and bars. Contents run the gamut from vitamins and minerals to herbs and enzymes to fish oils, probiotics and more.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, use of dietary supplements increased by over ten percent from 42 percent in the late 1980s to mid 1990s to 53 percent by 2003-2006.

How It Works

Different supplements provide different benefits. Folic acid, for example, is important for pregnant women to take as it can lessen the chance of birth defects while calcium and vitamin D can help encourage bone health. Multivitamins which contain at least three vitamins are the most commonly taken supplement though many vitamins and minerals can also be purchased individually.

Supplements are not strictly limited to vitamins and minerals, however. Echinacea is an herb many swear by to help lessen cold symptoms and duration of illness. Fish oil can usually be found in a softgel tablet and may help with heart health. Probiotics may assist in improving digestive issues.

Benefits

Benefits of supplements vary depending on the type and its designated purpose. It is important to note that the best way to meet daily nutritional needs is through a healthy diet featuring a variety of foods. When eating habits fall short, however, supplements can provide a useful nutritional edge.

Precautions

Just because supplements can be purchased over the counter doesn’t mean buyers shouldn’t do their homework. Some can interfere with medications or increase the chance of bleeding.

Many are water soluble with extra amounts simply being excreted but a few exist that are not and can build up in the body to dangerously high levels. In addition, some foods like cereals and breads are fortified with extra vitamins and minerals so beware how much is being ingested through the daily diet before beginning supplementation.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the same way over-the-counter medications are and are not intended to actually prevent or treat diseases. To ensure the supplement contains what it says it contains (and not harmful contaminants), look for the seals of approval from U.S. Pharmacopeia, NSF International or ConsumerLab.com.

If in doubt be sure to discuss use of supplements with a medical professional.

Summary

While there is no substitute for a healthy diet, supplements can be useful for a variety of purposes including providing a nutritional benefit and addressing a specific issue like building stronger bones or fighting a cold.

References

  • Dietary Supplements: What you Need to Know from the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements
    ods.od.nih.gov/HealthInformation/DS_WhatYouNeedToKnow.aspx
  • Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know from the FDA
    fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm109760.htm