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Over and over people admit that stress is killing them. Does it every end? Nope. The secret to conquering stress is not eliminating it, but learning to manage it.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
From our book Bypassing Bypass, published in 2002
 

To the medical community, the causes of hypertension are not very clear, though the medical and pharmaceutical industries have recently begun focusing on those people with a high level of renin in their system. Why? Because it is treatable with drugs such as beta-blockers. As this is being written, the news media is reporting how Afro-Americans suffer from this disorder (high renin levels) more than other nationalities. On the average, though, only about 10% of people with hypertension have a high level of renin in their blood. This is why modern medicine coined the term essential hypertension, to cover all the rest of those suffering from high blood pressure for unknown causes.

The kidneys produce your renin. They produce renin when your blood pressure drops (e.g. internal bleeding due to an accident in which you lose a lot of blood), or when blood flow to the kidneys is restricted. Your doctor has a whole line of drugs to inhibit the effects of renin levels—none of which will extend your life any or increase the quality of it.

We’re basically dealing with prostaglandin chemistry here and we’re not about to get technical on you, only to mention that there are good prostaglandins and bad prostaglandins. Bad prostaglandins are produced by diets high in certain fats: polyunsaturated oils and trans-fatty acids called partially hydrogenated oils. These same “bad” prostaglandins are also responsible for many cancers. To reduce the bad prostaglandins and promote good prostaglandins you need your essential fatty acids. Flax oil, hemp oil, fish oils, olive oil (virgin or extra virgin), macadamia nut oil, and evening primrose oil all contain essential fatty acids. Of these, hemp oil is the best. Taken with protein, the oils become water soluble, thus more bioavailable.

Finally, avoid chlorinated water as if it was poison:

  • it destroys your essential fatty acids,

  • it attacks your arteries and causes arteriosclerosis.

You will hear a lot about essential fatty acids at this site and in our publications. They battle, and prevent heart attacks and strokes, and can help to reverse cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type II diabetes.

The main message in this chapter is: reduce bad prostaglandins and increase your good prostaglandins with a proper diet and you’ve got a better handle on your blood pressure.

But first an update:

UPDATE 2016

Since writing our book, Bypassing Bypass, we uncovered a lot of information we put into an article called Hypertension Update. Instead of linking to it, we're going to reprint it all here.

Hypertension drugs. Are they effective? Safe?

Lancet Oncology published in 2010 that angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) raise the risk of cancer. There was an overall 11% increase and as much as 25% increase in lung cancers.

These particular drugs have worldwide sales of around $25 billion with doctors writing out about 82 million prescriptions.

Of course drug companies are worried that sales might take a hit because of this research. Worried over people getting cancer? Not so much. [Lancet Oncology, 2010; doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(10)70106-6]

This is the latest study I found linking blood pressure drugs to cancer. In 1996, Hypertension [28: 321-4] published a study out of Canada that re-examined seven previous studies linking various cancers to blood pressure medications, eg., diuretics and antihypertensives, with researchers concluding that more research was needed. But with the beta blocker Atenolol, researchers noted that cancer was twice as common in people taking it compared to others who did not take it for hypertension.

In Bypassing Bypass, we pointed out two drawbacks to hypertension drugs. The first one was that they work only about 50% of the time; the second one being they pull B-vitamins from the body. B-vitamin deficiency can bring on congestive heart failure.

There seems to be another problem, and that is doctors seem to be choosing a one-size-fits-all approach to hypertension. In a study in which 945 patients were monitored, 16% of them actually found their blood pressure rose because of their prescription. [American Journal of Hypertension, 2010; doi: 10.1038/ajh.2010.114]

Additionally, it’s been found that diuretics and beta blockers increase your risk of diabetes, while ACE inhibitors and ARBs (the ones that increase your cancer risks) reduce the risk of diabetes. [The Lancet, 2007; 369: 201-7]

For years, doctors have assumed that blood pressure rises as we get older. Recent studies show that the reverse is actually happening, but in stages.

Researchers at the University College London discovered that when we reach our late fifties, blood pressure rises; after that, it just naturally falls. Our blood pressure also changes during the day, leading to doctors misreading our pressure levels. Thus the definition of “dangerous levels” has changed over the years. [PLoS Med, 2011; 8: e1000440]

In addition to aging (past 65), a low carb diet also seems to reduce blood pressure.

In one study of 146 people (with high blood pressure and overweight), nearly half lowered their blood pressure on a low carb diet. The latest diet drug, Orlistat, was given people who were overweight, and just 21% lowered their blood pressure. [Archives of Internal Medicine, 2010; 170: 136-45]

You might have heard of ACE Inhibitors. Let me explain.

The enzyme Angiotensin II constricts blood vessels while causing damage to the lining of those vessels as blood tries to “squeeze through.” The results are stiff and hard arteries. This enzyme also elevates sodium levels and you retain water (and your blood pressure goes up). You can get an ACE inhibitor from your doctor and risk all the drawbacks we’ve discussed above, or you can eat blueberries.

Yes, blueberries are ace inhibitors. However, a blueberry concentrated extract works even better. [Feeding blueberry diets inhibits angiotensin II-converting enzyme (ACE) activity in spontaneously hypertensive stroke-prone rats.]

Whey Protein & Watermelon

Though most sites will tell you that “more research is needed,” both of these have been found in studies to lower blood pressure.

Watermelon is high in the amino acid L-citrulline, which provides our body with nitric oxide, that miracle molecule that relaxes our blood vessels. [American Journal of Hypertension, 2010; doi: 10.1038/ajh.2010.142] Whey protein too has been found to lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure without affecting people with normal blood pressure. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22402472]

Fat Metabolism and Fatty Deposits

Science does not support the theory that eating saturated foods puts fatty deposits on your arteries but that doesn't stop people in white coats with ritual stethoscopes around their necks from telling us this myth. However, fatty deposits do happen and if we can clean the arteries early on, hypertension will be less of a problem.

Hypertension is the result of two main things: arteries not getting the nutrition needed and inflammation (caused by our poor nutrition).

A recent study out of Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute found that after a year on Aged Garlic Extract and CoQ10, they were able to reduce "soft plaque" in people with metabolic syndrome up to 80%. [Aged garlic extract and coenzyme Q10 have favorable effect on inflammatory markers and coronary atherosclerosis progression: A randomized clinical trial]

Additionally, your body needs more efficient fat metabolism and one great way to do this is by increasing your body's release of adiponectin. You need to read the article on adiponectin and how to get more of it into your blood stream.

Is Hypertension Genetically Inherited?

Now if you visit Dr Bernard Lown’s web site, the Lown Cardiovascular Center at www.lown.cc, you will find in an article on hypertension written by one of his physicians: “Scientists are still looking for the underlying cause of high blood pressure, but one thing is clear: It is a disease that travels in families. If both parents have high blood pressure, there is a strong likelihood that their children will develop the problem as well.”

Dr Lown has written an amazing book, The Lost Art of Healing. He invented the direct current defibrillator for cardiopulmonary resuscitation of a patient dying suddenly. He has had a glorious career in medicine. However, the above statement, made by one of his physicians, might lead you to believe that there is a genetic component to hypertension.

When something runs in a family, it does not necessarily have to have a genetic component. We learn our habits at home. Our eating habits are learned in the home. We eat what our parents ate. It is this simple. The reason some scientists don’t see this is that they are not paid to see it; and physicians are not taught to look for nutritional causes to diseases.

As we went to print (publishing Bypassing Bypass in 2002), we learned of a hypertension therapy that proved itself to be 88% effective. The work leading up to the study also discovered one of the main causes of essential hypertension. Here’s what we learned:

Researchers have realized that a significant number of hypertension patients share a condition of low blood calcium levels and elevated parathyroid hormone (the hormone responsible for maintaining blood calcium levels). Something was definitely wrong with this picture, but the answer evaded most scientists till a Dr Peter Pang from Canada (and his researchers) discovered a second hormone produced by the parathyroid gland responsible for depressing calcium levels. They named it parathyroid hypertensive factor, or PHF.

Next, Dr Pang—Yale trained with a background in both Oriental medicine and pharmacology—developed a product called Pressure FX, a combination of a mushroom (Cordyceps Sinensis) and shark cartilage. Shark cartilage contains a good amount of calcium and in animal studies, rats were given hypertension by injections of PHF and then were injected with shark cartilage which brought their levels right back down.

Pressure FX has not been widely tested, though the limited testing has shown one capsule taken three times a day to be 65% to 88% effective. It can be ordered from Optimal Health Resources, 550 Kane Court #100, Oviedo, FL 32765, 888.727.6388, or try this link: Pressure FX.

From Dr Rath’s Research

For hypertension, Dr Rath recommends adding the following to his basic cellular medicine program:

Vitamin C: like all antioxidants, your requirements are based on your lifestyle and where you live. If you breathe fresh air and drink clean water, your requirements are at the low end of Dr Rath’s recommendations. However, if you live in a polluted area your daily requirements can be up around 5 or 6 grams per day.

Make sure you get a Vitamin C Complex, with a host of bioflavonoids.  

Vitamin E: You can get mixed tocopherols or even mixed tocotrienols, or eat foods high in vitamin E; wheat germ, nuts, seeds, avocado. These antioxidants protect your arteries and your blood.

Magnesium: be careful with magnesium. Again, over 200mgs daily can cause your body to “dump” needed minerals.

Calcium: there are so many forms of calcium on the market that it is hard to tell which is best. Let’s start with Standard Process Labs. They have about 14 products with calcium. Calcium, besides being required for healthy bones and connective tissues, is a key nutritional factor in a healthy cardiovascular system, not to mention a healthy immune system (helps support white blood cell development). Standard Process Lab’s Calcifood™ is a very complete form of calcium, containing all the cofactors needed for strong healthy bones and teeth. Additionally, you will get your glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support in the best form possible. Taking these two things separately, without their cofactors, will result in depletion of those cofactors from other parts of the body. The other form of calcium SPL manufactures is calcium lactate (if you are a vegan and do not eat animal products, you are safe here as theirs comes from a vegetable source). Calcium lactate takes one chemical step to turn into calcium bicarbonate (the type the body uses and needs). Calcium carbonate (a very popular brand) takes twelve chemical reactions to do this and it requires stomach acid. SPL’s version is water-soluble and highly bioavailable.

Next you have shark cartilage, which is a very good form of calcium and its cofactors, and is a low grade anti-inflammatory, though it is a bit more expensive than NOW's Calcium Hydroxyapatite, which is very bioavailable.

Finally you have AquaLyte, which are sachets of Coral Calcium that you add to your water to "sweeten" it and raise the pH (to alkaline). Along with their other product, Ionyte, you're adding very needed minerals to your daily routine just by drinking water. These are both found at Simply the Best.

The Miracle Molecule

If you are at all paying attention, you must know about Nitric Oxide. Everyone in the universe is talking about it.

Nitric Oxide, or NO, is a “gaseous signaling molecule” in the lining (endothelium) of our arteries. Signaling is part of communication. Every system in our body works best when there is communication, and events are all perfectly orchestrated through this communication. When there’s a break in communication, say a necessary chemical is missing, a signaling molecule will communicate to all systems to get to work and either find this missing chemical or manufacture it.

Thus one of NO’s jobs is to communicate between the nerves and the brain. Additionally, it has a role in our immune system in fighting off invaders and playing defense against tumors. For this NO is generated by our phagocytes when signaled by interferon or TNF (tumor necrosis factor). NO also improves sleep, reduces inflammation, increases strength and endurance, and helps out in moving our food thru the digestive system.

What we focused on previously in two of our recent articles (last quarter of 2015) was how NO helps prevent strokes and normalizes blood pressure, though for us doddering old men, it has a sizable part in helping erectile dysfunction.

It’s the NO’s cardioprotective function we are most interested in for this discussion, but first here’s a little fun fact for you: NO was used in medicine more than 100 years before it was actually discovered.

In 1847, Ascanio Sobrero discovered that NG (nitroglycerine) caused almost an immediate headache when a small amount was applied to the tongue. Not long afterwards, NG was further diluted to produce a homeopathic remedy for headaches, following the doctrine of “like cures like.” [A short history of nitroglycerine and nitric oxide in pharmacology and physiology.]

The gas, Nitric Oxide, NO, was discovered in 1998 and the discoverers won the Nobel Prize in medicine because NO was a critical factor in preventing hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, and stroke.

These scientists went on to discover ways of boosting NO levels in the body and settled on the amino acid L-arginine which triggers an enzyme (eNOS) that makes NO.

Drinks all around.

However, there turned out to be a fly in the ointment.

There seemed to be a cut-off age for NO’s effectiveness. The L-arginine pathway has been found to lose its effectiveness in middle aged men (when hypertension and heart disease really starts taking its toll), and even worse it can do damage. People who’ve had heart attacks get no NO from this particular pathway, and people with heart disease can be pushed over the edge taking L-arginine supplements; we found a study in which six subjects died while taking large doses of L-arginine.

Luckily, there are other pathways to manufacturing NO in the body, and (you’re going to love this) one is called “nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway.” [Wikipedia] [The nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway in physiology and therapeutics.]

This pathway was first suggested to us by the father of medicine, Hippocrates when he said: “Let your food be your medicine . . . .”

The nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway takes foods rich in dietary nitrates and nitrites and converts them to NO.

And these foods will be found in the produce section or at your local farmer’s market for the most part. You’ll see that you can get an NO booster from the meat counter too, but the fewer chemicals the better when choosing meat and fish.

Shocking!

NO is a free radical! Once created, NO has a very short half-life of just a few seconds!

Having learned this, I came across an article that claimed orange juice would protect my NO against free radicals and I didn’t know what to think. Also, this short half-life occurs after NO hits the blood stream.

The thing is, in its short lifespan, NO attenuates quite nicely (spreads out) into the endothelial tissues to relax your arteries and lower your blood pressure.

And get this: the moment sunlight hits your skin NO is released into your bloodstream. [Sunshine could benefit health and prolong life, study suggests.]

So, let us go over all of the benefits for NO:

  • Anti-hypertensive (maintains healthy blood pressure by dilating arteries )
  • Oxygenation: elevates oxygen delivery during exercise and increases endurance and strength (you need less oxygen and improves “exercise tolerance”)
  • Anti-Acid: lowers lactic acid following exercise
  • Cardioprotective: slows vascular aging
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Immunosupportive: fights bacterial infections and tumors
  • Assists the transmission of information between nerve cells and the brain (better memory, better reflexes)
  • Improves quality of sleep

We’re going to end with foods (and a few supplements) that boost NO levels (nitric oxide potency). We’re listing them from the biggest producers to the least.

Very High

Arugula
Beet Juice/Super Beets
Bok Choy
Celery
Ginseng
Lettuce
Spinach
Swiss Chard

High

Chinese cabbage
Cranberries
Dark Chocolate
Ecklonia Cava Extract (found at Simply the Best)
Endive
Fennel 
Mustard leaf
Organ Meats
Pomegranate & Pomegranate Juice
Radish
Red Beet Roots
Watermelon
Wild Salmon (CoQ10)

Medium

Cabbage
Carrots
Cayenne Pepper
Green Beans
Grape Seed Extract
Leeks
Turnips

Low

Broccoli
Cucumber
Cauliflower
Honey
Potato

Very Low

Asparagus
Brussels sprouts
Garlic
Onions
Peas
Tomato

The Downside of NO

Yes, there is a downside. NO stimulates some viruses, like herpes. So you have to weigh the good and the bad.

Instead of me telling you all this, I’ll let Joey Lott tell you in his article: Is Nitric Oxide Good Or Bad?

He’s got some great things to tell you; however, we’ve prescribed, in the past, a lot of his recommendations, and if they’re not working for you, say, you still have a bit of high blood pressure, adding NO potentiating foods to your regimen might be something to consider. Additionally, since I play tennis and work out, I ignore the downside to NO.

Simply the Best sells both Beet Juice (organic) juice powder and Pomegranate (organic) juice powder.

More Supplements/Foods (Update 2016)

Pomegranate Juice ─ Studies show that drinking pomegranate juice regularly will lower your blood pressure. Above we show you that this provides nitric oxide, but something else important is going on here: it's cleaning the fatty deposits off your arteries.

Concord Grape Juice  ─ Does the same as pomegranate juice, just not as good. But mix in a raw egg and you've got a great shot of B-12.

Serrapeptase ─ An anti-inflammatory (used in European countries as much as NSAIDS) that has an interesting side effect: cleans your arteries.

MK - 7 ─ Have some patience. This is going to take a while to explain.

I've read an awful lot about vitamin K for years. It's just plain necessary to good health.

What few realize is that there are two forms, Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and Vitamin K2 (menaquinones) and the food sources for these are as dissimilar as Venus is to Jupiter. Additionally, menaquinoens come in a variety of forms: MK-4 (found in meats, highly processed meats like pepperoni) and MK-7, MK-8, MK-9 found in fermented foods and cheese. 

The one fermented food that has the most MK-7 (the acknowledged best form) is a fermented dish of soybeans known as natto. It's not on the menu anywhere I know of, and it doesn't look all that edible, but I would try it because I like to try new things. 

I've found one study in which higher levels of menaquinoens showed lower levels of C-Reactive Protein (inflammation index). As you should already know, inflammation and diabetes go together. 

In another study, people with high blood pressure turned out to also have low levels of vitamin K1 in their blood. K1, again, comes from dark green vegetables. Another study showed that people with the most calcium deposits in their arteries had the lowest serum levels of vitamin K1.  

Researchers pointed out in these studies that K2 (MK7) has a much longer half-life than K1, thus sustaining vitamin K serum levels longer. 

But most important is the role of vitamin K in keeping altherosclerotic calcium plaque off our arteries. 

“High dietary Vitamin K2 is associated with decreased coronary calcification and therefore is important to prevent cardiovascular [problems]” [Beulens J.W. et al. Atherosclerosis 2009 April, PMID 18722618]

It seems that K1 keeps calcium out of the blood vessels and K2 inhibits calcification, but out of all the thousands of studies (over 15,000), if you want to clear calcium out of your arteries and improve blood flow, lowering your blood pressure, MK-7 is the one that does this.  

Again, K1 is easy to get, but has a short half-life. We need our dark green veggies, but nobody (and I mean nobody) is going to go out and chow down on natto to get their K2/MK-7. 

Thus, if you want MK-7 in your regimen, you're going to have to supplement like I do, and of course, I like NOW Foods' version.

MK-7 Vitamin K-2 60 vcaps
This is the one I take. I'm getting up there in age and I've been told my my docs at the VA that I've got the arteries of a sixteen year old. I just hope he doesn't want them back soon. 

Natto also produces Natokinase, which is a natural blood thinner. It is enormously hard to find a product with both of these nutrients in them, even though they both come from the same source: Natto. 

Further Reading:

Vitamin K may affect arterial calcification for hypertensives: Multi-ethnic study

 

Volunteerism

In a recent study involving over 1,000 people over the age of 50, conducted between 2006 and 2010 by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, it was learned that people who volunteered over 200 hours a year were less likely to develop hypertension than non volunteers, and less likely than volunteers who performed less than 200 hours a year of volunteering. [A prospective study of volunteerism and hypertension risk in older adults. Sneed, Rodlescia S.; Cohen, Sheldon Psychology and Aging, Vol 28(2), Jun 2013, 578-586. doi: 10.1037/a0032718]

Hear and understand me.

Even if you disagree, please don’t make me wrong.

Acknowledge the greatness within me.

Remember to look for my loving intentions.

Tell me the truth with compassion.

Managing From the Heart ( Delacorte Press, 1990)

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