Hypertension is persistently high blood pressure in the arteries that can, over time, cause damage to organs such as the kidneys, brain, eyes and heart.
The level of blood pressure depends on the force with which the heart contracts and the resistance to the flow of blood through the arteries which depends on the elasticity and diameter of the smaller blood vessels and the volume of blood passing through them.
People with high blood pressure (greater than 140/90) and no definable cause are said to have primary or essential hypertension. This type accounts for 95% of cases and often develops before the age of 35 years or after 55 years. The less than 5% of cases for which the cause is known are defined as having secondary hypertension. Secondary hypertension may be an effect of a range of conditions including kidney or adrenal disorders.
Mild hypertension is often symptom free, or sufferers may experience dizziness, palpitations or fatigue. Morning headaches localised at the back of the head may also occur but usually only in more severe cases.
Although it may not be possible to identify the causes of primary hypertension, there are several things that are known to increase the risk of developing hypertension and that are known to make it worse it when it is present. These include obesity, a sedentary life lifestyle, smoking, stress, excessive alcohol intake, excessive dietary salt (sodium), use of oral contraceptives (rarely) and the use of drugs such as steroids, cocaine and amphetamines.
The best possible time to seek natural treatment for hypertension is before any pharmaceutical drugs have been prescribed. Often a patient seeking a natural solution will already be taking anti-hypertensive drugs and want to wean themselves off the drugs in order to avoid the many undesirable side-effects. In these cases the natural therapist will work with them, and in consultation with their doctor, to progressively reduce the need for the medication with the ultimate objective of ceasing all medication.
A natural approach to managing hypertension will involve lifestyle changes including adequate exercise, better management of stress, dietary modification, weight reduction if appropriate, reduced intake of sodium, a range of vitamin and mineral supplements and the use of herbal medicines. It may be several months before these measures have the desired effect of reducing blood pressure but they are designed to correct underlying causes so any improvements are likely to be sustained in the longer term.