Yogic Management of Hypertension or High Blood Pressure
Hypertension or high blood pressure, as it is more commonly known, is regarded as a silent killer. It is a disease of the modern age. The fast pace of life and the mental and physical pressures caused by the increasingly industrialized and urban environment have a role to play in the rise of blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of blood exerted against the blood vessel walls. Every time the human heart beats, it pumps blood to the whole body through the arteries. The higher the pressure the harder the heart has to pump. Hypertension can lead to damaged organs, as well as several illnesses, such as renal failure ( kidney failure ), heart failure, stroke or heart attack.
Blood pressure is measured with an instrument called sphygmomanometer in millimeters of mercury. The highest pressure in the arteries reached during each heart beat is called systolic pressure, and the lowest between two beats is known as diastolic pressure. The normal level of blood pressure is below 120/80 mm/Hg. Blood pressure between 120/80 mm/Hg and 139/89 mm/Hg is called pre – hypertension which denotes increased risk of hypertension and a blood pressure of 140/90 mm/Hg or above is called hypertension.
Symptoms and Causes :
The first symptoms of hypertension may appear as a pain at the back of the head and neck on waking in the morning, which soon disappears. Some of the other common symptoms are dizziness, palpitations, pain in the region of the heart, frequent urination, nervous tension, fatigue, difficulty in breathing, blurred vision and nose bleeds.
In over 90 % of cases , the cause of hypertension is unknown but several factors can increase the risk of developing the condition. Some of the risk factors are :
- Age : The risk of developing hypertension increases as one grows older.
- Family history : Children born to hypertensive parents are at high risk of developing than those born to non – hypertensive one. A shared environment in the family like diet, exercise, smoking habits etc. may have its implications for development of hypertension.
- Obesity : Higher the weight, greater the risk of development of hypertension.
- Excess salt intake: Salt contains sodium, which retains the fluid in the body that raises the blood pressure.
- Diet : A diet rich in saturated fatty acids and poor in vitamins and fibres increases the risk of hypertension.
- Addiction : Consumption of alcohol, tea, coffee, smoking etc. are linked with increase in blood pressure.
- Physical inactivity : Inactive people have higher heart rate. Higher the heart rate the harder the heart has to work wit each contraction putting a stronger force on the arteries. Lack of exercise increases the risk of being overweight.
- Mental stress : Stress leads to increased secretion of cortisol which raises the blood pressure.
- Other causes: Kidney disease, diabetes, hormonal problems, use of oral contraceptive pills, pain killers, herbal supplements, drugs, are some of the other causes of high blood pressure.
Hypertension is one of the most common lifestyle diseases today, with every third person we meet, having suffered from it. And experts say that even kids can be victims of high blood pressure. The fact is that in 90% patients there is no known cause for hypertension and this makes it even more important to be alert. Most are not even aware that they have hypertension,which makes the scenario rather grim. Hypertension is likely to end up being an epidemic in the near future, and approximately one-third of our population will suffer from it by 2020.
Yogic Management of Hypertension :
The aim of yogic management in the management of hypertension is to lower the blood pressure and to prevent it from further complications arising out of hypertension.
Necessary corrections in lifestyle following yogic practices will help the patient to manage the disease successfully. Some of the yogic practices are as under:
Shatkarma Kriyas : Kunjal, Neti, Enema, Kapalabhati, Agnisar, Nauli and Shankhaprakshalana
Asanas :Tadasana, Tiryak Tadasana, Katichakrasana, Trikonasana, Gomukhasana, Paschimottansana, Vajrasana, Suptvajarasana, Ushtrasana, Shashankasana, Ardhmatseyendrasana, Bhujangasana, Dhanurasana, and Shavasana
Pranayama : Deep and Long Breathing, Anuloma-viloma, Chandrabhedana, Bhramri, Sheetli, Ujjayi and Nadishodhana are effective and more useful.
Meditation : AUM chanting, Breath awareness, Thoughts Watching, World Peace Meditation or Loving Kindness Meditation
Other Yogic Methods : Yoga Nidra
Note : Topsy turvy postures like Sirsasana, Sarvangasana , hand stand should be avoided.
Garlic – Garlic is regarded as an effective means of lowering blood pressure. It is said to reduce spasms of the small arteries. It also slows down the pulse rate and modifies the heart rhythm, besides relieving the symptoms of dizziness, numbness, shortness of breath, and the formation of gas within the digestive tract. It may be taken in the form of raw cloves or two to three capsules a day.
Indian Gooseberry or Amla – Indian gooseberry is another effective remedy for high blood pressure. A tablespoon each of fresh amla juice and honey mixed together should be taken every morning in this condition.
Lemon – Lemon is also regarded as a valuable food to control high blood pressure . It is rich source of vitamin P which is found both in the juice and peel of the fruit. This vitamin is essential for preventing capillary fragility.
Grapefruit – Grapefruit is useful in preventing high blood pressure . The vitamin P content in the fruit is helpful in tonong up the arteries.
Watermelon – Watermelon is another valuable safeguard against high blood pressure . A substance extracted from watermelon seeds is said to have a definite action in dilating the blood vessels, which results in lowering the blood pressure. The seeds , dried and roasted , should be taken in liberal quantities.
Rice – Rice has a low fat, low-cholestrol, and low salt content. It makes a perfect diet for those
hypertensive persons who have been advised salt-restricted diets. Calcium in brown rice , in particular, soothes and relaxes the nervous system and helps relieve the symptoms of high blood pressure.
Potato – Potatoes, specially in boiled form are a valuable food for lowering blood pressure . When boiled with their skin , they absorb very little salt. Thus, they can form a useful addition to a salt-free diet recommended for patients with high blood pressure. Potatoes are rich in potassium but not in sodium salts. The magnesium present in the vegetable exercises beneficial effects in lowering blood pressure.
Parsley – Parsley is very useful in high blood pressure. It contains elements which help maintain the blood vessels, particularly, the capillaries. It keeps the arterial system in a healthy condition. It may be taken as a beverage by simmering 20gm of fresh parsley leaves gently in 250 ml of water for a few minutes. This may be drunk several times a day.
Rauwolfia – Among the herbs, rauwolfia is the best remedy for high blood pressure. Alkaloids of this drug, which have a direct effect on hypertension, have been isolated and are being widely used by practitioners of modern medicine, but they have certain unpleasant side effects which the drug, taken in raw form, does not have. Practitioners of the Indian system of medicine have, therefore , preferred to use the root of the drug in a powdered form. Half a teaspoon of this drug , taken thrice a day, is very effective in hypertension.
Vegetable Juices – Raw vegetable juices, especially carrot and spinach juices, taken separately or in combination, are also beneficial in the treatment of high blood pressure. If taken in combination,300 ml of carrot juice and 200 ml of spinach juice should be mixed to make 500 ml or half a litre of the juice,and taken twice daily, morning and evening.
Dietary Calcium and Potassium –Recent studies have revealed an important link between dietary calcium and potassium and hypertension. Researchers have found that people who take potassium –rich diets have a low incidence of hypertension even if they do not control their salt intake. They have also found that people with hypertension do not seem to get much calcium in the form of dairy products. These two essential nutrients seem to help the body secrete excess sodium and are involved in important functions which control the working of the vascular system. Potassium is found in abundance in fruits and vegetables, and calcium in dairy products.
Dietary Considerations – Persons with high blood pressure should always follow a well-balanced routine of a proper diet, exercise,and rest. Diet is of primary importance. Meat and eggs , more than any other food,cause the blood pressure to rise. The pressure can be lowered and blood clotting diminished by increasing the consumption of fruits,reducing protein intake, and sticking to a vegetarian diet. A natural diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables instead of a traditional diet, helps to get rid of the toxins from the body. Salt should be avoided; in any case, it should not exceed more than three grams or about half a teaspoon per day.
Other Measures- Persons suffering from hypertension must get at least eight hours of sleep , because proper rest is a vital aspect of the treatment. Most important of all, the patient must avoid overstrain,worries,tension,anger,and haste. He or she must develop a calm and cheerful attitude and develop a contented frame of mind.