Hypertension or high blood pressure is the leading cause of death in the world today. The bigger danger with hypertension is that the person suffering from this condition may not even realize that he is suffering from this condition until it may become too late.
Hypertension itself is a very dangerous condition. It can cause serious damage to the liver, brains, kidneys and the heart. The damage to these vital organs is the most important cause of death.
The human heart beat has two distinct phases – the systole when the heart is beating, and the diastole when the heart is at rest. During both the times, the heart exerts pressure on the blood vessels.
Hypertension is a situation in which the blood pressure is elevated. It is also referred to as high blood pressure or shortened to HT, HTN or HPN. The word “hypertension”, by itself, normally refers to systemic, arterial hypertension.
Hypertension can be classified as either essential (primary) or secondary. Essential or primary hypertension means that no medical cause can be found to explain the raised blood pressure. It is common. About 90-95% of hypertension is essential hypertension. Secondary hypertension indicates that the high blood pressure is a result of (i.e… secondary to) another condition, such as kidney disease or tumours (adrenal adenoma).
Persistent hypertension is one of the risk factors for strokes, heart attacks, heart failure and arterial aneurysm, and is a leading cause of chronic renal failure.
Hypertension in Ayurveda
Ayurvedic texts does not explain hypertension as it is, probably because hypertension was not a major disease at that time. To find out the correlation of Hypertension in Ayurveda we should first identify the factors of hypertension like symptoms and progression and structural and functional factors that got imbalanced in the diseased patients.
Secondly when these factors are correlated with diseases already mentioned in the Ayurveda texts, thus helping them to apply the treatment & medicines of correlated diseases in a new unexplained condition.Now, Ayurveda sees hypertension as a dysfunction of all the doshas, viz. vata, pitta and kapha. In Ayurveda, Hypertension is referred to as Rakta gata vata and it sees the vitiation of vata and pitta doshas as the main cause.People with Pitta and Vata predominant constitution and Pitta and Vata imbalance, are more prone to hypertension than any other.
A recent classification recommends blood pressure criteria for defining normal blood pressure, prehypertension, hypertension (stages I and II), and isolated systolic hypertension, which is a common occurrence among the elderly. These readings are based on the average of seated blood pressure readings that were properly measured during 2 or more office visits. In individuals older than 50years, hypertension is considered to be present when a person’s blood pressure is consistently at least 140 mmHg systolic or 90 mmHg diastolic.
Ayurveda says that all the three doshas are considered responsible for rakta gata vata, i.e. hypertension. For the three different types of vitiation, there are different symptoms observed.
Vata Hypertension: Hypertension caused due to vata dosha can be increased due to mental anxiety, tensions, stress and worries.
Pitta Hypertension: Hypertension caused due to pitta dosha can be increased due to strong emotions such as anger, shock, hatred and jealousy.
Kapha Hypertension: Hypertension caused due to kapha dosha can be increased. due to malignant factors such as malfunctioning of the vital organs
Vata Hypertension (symptoms)
The blood pressure may rise suddenly and fall suddenly with nervous tension. Irregular or erratic pulse both in rhythm and strength. An increase in blood pressure will be followed by worry, strain, overwork, anxiety or insomnia.frequently associated with nervous system disorders.
Pitta Hypertension (symptoms)
Flushed face,Red eye Violent headaches,Sensitivity to light, Nose bleeds,anger,irritability,burning sensations,wiry and tight pulse associated with liver disorders and the accumulation of internal heat.
Kapha Hypertension (symptoms)
The blood pressure remains continually high, (no fluctuation as in Pitta hypertension.), obesity, tiredness, edema, high cholesterol.
Symptoms of hypertension (modern aspect)
- The person will feel regular headache, giddiness, dizziness and a feeling of instability, confusion.
- Palpitations are common.
- visual disturbances, and nausea and vomiting (hypertensive encephalopathy)
- Hypertension sufferers are generally insomniacs, i.e. they cannot sleep well at night.
- Slight exertion can cause dyspnoea.
- Even the digestive system may play truant and there may be regular constipation.
Hypertension can affect several regions of the body when the blood. pressure become too high. i.e bleeding inside the eyes, cerebral haemorrhage,heart attack.
Transmission – Run in families.
Most of the antihypertensive drugs have their own side effects like low libido, anxiety, renal toxicity etc. So the best approach is live with a preventive mindset and if you find yourself in the pangs of hypertension, use by all means one or alternative approaches – Ayurveda, herbs, yoga, relaxation, exercise and diet to get rid of high blood pressure.
Prevention and Basic Care during Hypertension
Mild Hypertension: This is the first stage or first warning sign of a disorder s most people don’t feel any sign or symptom. Patient need only dietary and lifestyle modification.
Moderate Hypertension: Patient must take some medication under some medical expert if his blood
pressure levels are in this range and he advised to follow ayurvedic remedies and lifestyle along with modern drugs.
Severe Hypertension : Patients with severe and flactuating blood pressure. Usually ayurvedist might not provide much benefit by simply suggesting some dietary or herbal supplements.Such persons are on multiple drugs and they might need hospitalization,they do need monitored dietary and lifestyle regimen over a period of several months.
Useful herbs in Treatment
Garlic (Allium sativum) – Garlic is the most effective herb used in the treatment of hypertension.It reduces the pressure and tension in the arteries, and slows the pulse down and modifies the heartbeat rhythm. It relieves dizziness and shortness of breath brought on by high blood pressure. It also relieves gas that can. form in the digestive tract due to high blood pressure. Garlic can be included in the daily diet. About two to three cloves before every meal can go a long way in the home treatment of high blood pressure.
Sarpagandha (Rauwolfia serpentina) Rauwolfia is another acclaimed remedy for the treatment of high blood pressure. It is considered as the best remedy and is also used quite popularly in the western countries. Half a teaspoon of its powder taken thrice a day is very beneficial in reducing high blood pressure. But its use must be under supervision because the alkaloids present in rauwolfia are known to have some undesirable side-effects.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)- The fresh leaves of the alfalfa when taken in conjunction with carrot juice are known to have immense curative benefits on all kinds of heart ailments, included those brought on by high blood pressure. Rosemary (Achillea millefolium) – It induces sweat, which brings blood towards the skin. Better circulation helps to reduce high blood pressure.
Ambarbaris (Berberis vulgaris) – It brings down high blood pressure by dilating the arteries.
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) Parsley helps in maintaining the small arteries and the capillaries in healthy circulatory condition. It can be taken as a beverage skimmed with water several times a day.
Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna) – Arjuna is a coronary vasodilator. It protects the heart, strengthens circulation, and helps to maintain the tone and health of the heart muscle. It is also useful in stopping bleeding and to promote healing after a heart attack.
Guggul (Commiphora mukul) – It has been shown to lower blood-fat levels while raising levels of HDL, the so called “good cholesterol”. It is useful in atherosclerosis, psoriasis and cardiac ischemia. It has been shown that Guggul can lower blood cholesterol by 14-27% and can lower triglycerides by 22-30%.
Indian gooseberry A tablespoon each of fresh amla juice and honey mix together should be taken every morning as an effective Ayurvedic treatment for hypertension.
Lemon-The vitamin P found in lemon is essential for preventing capillary fragility.
Grapefruit – The vitamin P content in the fruit is helpful in toning up the arteries. Watermelon- The seeds of watermelon, dried and roasted, should be taken.
Asava/Arishta Arjunarishta, Ashwagandharistha, Punarvarishta, Saraswatarishta.
– Ghrita Arjuna Ghrita, Shadanga Ghrita.
– Vati Amarsundarivati, Sarpagndhaghanvati, Brahmi vati
Churana Saraswata churan, Ashwagandhadi churna, sarpagandha churna.
Dhara therapy Therapy is performed every morning for about half an hour with medicated oil boiled with bala and milk.
Diet All the three doshas are responsible for the aggravation of blood pressure causing hypertension in the human body. Hence the diet to be taken must be a tridosha pacifying diet. The following dietary guidelines must be followed:-
A vegetarian diet including the following is ideal for hypertension – Garlic, Lemon, parsley, bitter gourd, drumstick etc…
Carbohydrate-rich vegetables must be taken in order to facilitate easy movement of bowels. This will reduce constipation, which aggravates the vata. Useful vegetables for people with hypertension are bitter gourd and drumsticks.
Rice: It makes a perfect diet for hypertension patients who have been adviced of 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, especially in boiled form, are a valuable food for lowering blood pressure.
Among fruits banana, guava, apple and orange are considered to be beneficial. Vegetable juice, especially carrot and spinach, taken separately or in combination, are also beneficial in the treatment of high blood pressure. Dietary calcium and potassium: These two essential nutrients help the body expel excess sodium and are involve 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.
- Hot and spicy food which will be difficult to digest must be avoided.
- Salt should be reduced in the diet. Chocolates and sweets must be kept as far away from the patient of hypertension as possible.
- Hydrogenated oils must be totally eliminated from the diet. But ghee and butter prepared from cow’s milk can be given. Buffalo milk is to be avoided.
- Cereals and pulses must be reduced.
- Coffee should be avoided because of its caffeine content. Coffee, which contains caffeine, enhances the action of adrenaline and noradrenaline both are important in increasing blood pressure levels.
- Cigarette smokers tend to have high blood pressure. Nicotine increases the resting heart rate and increases the release of the adrenaline.
Improving our lifestyle by adoption of ethical elements mentioned in ‘Achara Rasayana’ is must if we really want to stay away from mental and physical stress and from eventual hypertension.
- Regular exercise is the best way to keep hypertension at bay. Walking/jogging is a good exercise as it helps in reducing weight.
- Practicing yoga and meditation is very effective. Regular yoga practice and meditation will help in leading a stres free life.
- Sound sleep and proper rest is very essential. Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep and proper rest
- Avoid anger, tension, anxiety and loud speaking as all these increases blood pressure.
- Laughter therapy is considered a good medicine for the treatment of hypertension.
- Avoid smoking as cigarette smokers tend to have high blood pressure due to is nicotine content.
- Simple breathing exercise will help in calming down the mind. Adopt breathing exercise whenever we are tensed, nervousness or anxious.
1 Nelson, mark. “Drug treatment of elevated blood pressure” Australian prescriber (33):108-112 Retrieved Aug 11,2010.
2.Charak Samhita by Pandit Kanshinath, Chaukamba bharti academy,Varansi 3.Acharya priyavrat sharma-Dravya guna vigyan
4 Sushruta samhita (vata vyadhi & rakta vyadhi) Uttrakhanda part. 5.www. Hypertension-wikipedia 6 www.Medicine net.com 7.Science direct.com
8 CG34 Hypertension- quick reference guide (pdf) National institute for health and clinical excellence.