Here are the best natural ways to treat high blood pressure.Dr. Surya Bhagwati
Hypertension is widely regarded as the ‘silent killer’ because of its insidious nature. Hypertension or high blood pressure can develop as early as in your 20s or 30s, causing no visible symptoms until it causes serious problems. This is a huge concern, as the condition is estimated to affect 1 in 8 Indians, significantly increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, and other life threatening diseases. While this can be disheartening, the good news is that hypertension is a lifestyle disease, which means that you can protect yourself by simply modifying your lifestyle. Ayurveda gives us some of the best insights into the management and prevention of hypertension as one of the fundamental tenets of Ayurveda is disease prevention rather than disease treatment.
Hypertension: The Ayurvedic Perspective
Despite the comprehensive nature of knowledge in classical Ayurvedic texts, there is no single disease that matches perfectly with hypertension. This is most likely because early stage hypertension does not present any symptoms and would not be considered a disease. Nevertheless, this does not mean that the individual is considered healthy. An Ayurvedic physician must examine the condition through the concepts of dosha, dushya, and samprapti. Ayurvedic hypertension treatments would depend on these findings. From this perspective, hypertension has been linked primarily to vitiated vata dosha, as the “dhatu gati or vikshepa is achieved by vayu itself”. This is not to say that vitiation of vata is the only cause, as this effect is complemented by pitta and kapha too. In fact, some sources regard hypertension as the Prasara-Avastha. This means that the vitiated doshas are spread from “Vyana Vata, Prana Vata, Sadhaka Pitta and Avalambaka Kapha along with rakta in their disturbed states”. The occlusion of normal vata function is visible in the rasa-rakta dhatus, adversely affecting the srotas or blood vessel function.
While all of these Ayurvedic concepts can be confusing to the uninitiated, there is a simple takeaway. Vitiation of the doshas is regarded as the underlying problem, triggered through faulty dietary habits, a modern sedentary lifestyle with little physical activity, and a family history of the condition. Although conventional anti-hypertensive drugs can be effective at keeping blood pressure in control, the need for this constant medication comes with its own set of side effects. As the main focus of Ayurveda is the maintenance of good health and disease prevention through healthy living that preserves the natural balance of doshas, the Ayurvedic treatment of hypertension is a safer alternative.
Ayurvedic Approaches to Manage or Prevent Hypertension
As vitiation of vata dosha is a major contributor to the onset of hypertension, dietary and lifestyle changes are vital to managing the condition. Because of the light and active qualities of vata, excessive exposure to stimulants must be avoided. This includes both dietary stimulants and lifestyle choices that increase stress.
It is imperative that you follow a diet that is personalized for your unique balance of doshas, but it is also advisable to limit your intake of salt and fats. An Ayurvedic diet for hypertension is not rigid and restrictive, but emphasizes moderation and balance. This means that your nutrition should come from healthy sources, with a focus on whole foods rather than processed foods. Most processed foods are loaded with salt and trans fats, which are major contributors to hypertension and heart disease.
2. Daily Routine
Ayurveda recommends adherence to the dinacharya or daily routine with well-structured days. This means that your daily routine should sync perfectly with the ebb and flow of the doshas in nature through the course of the day. This would include optimal sleep timings, meal timings, and adequate time for rest, relaxation, and physical activity. The importance of strengthening your circadian rhythm through lifestyle habits is now well-documented in modern studies.
Yoga is an important prescription in the Ayurvedic treatment of hypertension, helping improve circulation and lowering stress levels. It is also part of the dinacharya and certain poses are regarded as particularly beneficial for managing hypertension, such as Shavasana, Mayurasana, Tadasana, Bhujangasana, and Vajrasana. Clinical studies have found yoga to be so effective at managing hypertension that the practice is now often recommended in conventional medicine too.
Meditation is an important component of yoga, but is often neglected to focus on the physical exercise element. However, meditation and breathing exercises like pranayama are increasingly regarded as crucial to better managing blood pressure. Meditation has proven stress reduction benefits, lowering heart rate and blood pressure levels, making it one of the most effective strategies to deal with the condition.
5. Ayurvedic Herbs
Herbs play an important role in Ayurveda, forming the basis of numerous treatments. Some of these can be used as culinary ingredients, with garlic and ginger serving as effective hypertension remedies that you can include in your diet. Other Ayurvedic herbs for hypertension include jatamansi, amalaki, shankapushpi, and brahmi, among others. These herbs are commonly used in Ayurvedic medicines for hypertension, with some like working directly to improve blood vessel function, while others like brahmi are noted for stress reduction effects that help lower blood pressure.
In addition to these generalized approaches to managing hypertension with Ayurveda, there are other therapeutic practices that can help. Abhyanga or massage therapy and Panchakarma detox procedures have shown great promise in the management of lifestyle diseases like heart disease and diabetes. These procedures are not only intensely relaxing, but they also help to eliminate toxins from the body and preserve the balance of doshas. If you need specialized treatment and recommendations, you should consult an Ayurvedic practitioner.
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