Hypertension has been a major cause of sudden deaths in many parts of the world, especially in Africa where people believe ‘ghosts slapped someone’ when a person suddenly slumps and dies. The act of checking one’s blood pressure is not common here except when a person goes to the hospital for a check-up. Many have died from this so-called ‘silent killer’ and without the performance of autopsy how many of these deaths has been attributed to hypertension?

Herbs can keep you away from hypertension

Hypertension or (high blood pressure) is a condition in which the long term force of the blood against the artery walls is high enough that it is sustained over a period. The pressure generated by the pumping action of the heart pushes the blood to the arteries. However, a certain level of blood pressure is needed to maintain an adequate flow of blood to all parts of the body.

Normal blood pressure regulation depends on a number of factors such as;

  • Contraction of the heart
  • Elasticity of arterial walls
  • Volume of blood.
  • Resistance of blood vessels to flow.

Blood pressure of different people varies during the course of a day, in response to emotions, actions, sleep and other physical and mental activities.

Blood pressure is measured with the use of a stethoscope, and normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg; where 120 is the systolic (active pumping phase) and so is the diastolic (resting phase between heartbeats).

Continuous high pressure may indicate a problem or damage to the circulatory system. Lower pressure could also mean shock from heart failure, dehydration, internal bleeding or blood loss.

Blood pressure is classified into different categories.

  1.  Normal: that is less 120/80 mmHg
  2. Pre-hypertension – 120 – 139 mmHg for systolic and 80 – 89 diastolic
  3. Stage 1 Hypertension – is a systolic pressure of 140- 159 mmHg and a diastolic pressure of 90 – 99 mmHg.
  4. Stage 2 Hypertension – is defined as 160/100 Hg or higher (Edmond W. A , 2008)

The kidney plays a major role in the regulation of blood pressure. It secretes the hormone renin which causes the arteries to contract thereby raising blood pressure. It also controls the fluid volume of blood either by retaining salt or excreting salt into the bloodstream, when salt is retained. It attracts water and there is an increase in blood volume, when a higher blood volume passes through the arteries, it increases blood pressure.

Hypertension is primarily caused by arteriosclerosis which is actually the thickening, narrowing and hardening of the walls of arteries caused by cholesterol deposits called plaques; it usually leads to loss of elasticity where the blood flow is gradually restricted and cannot flow to organs where blood is needed. It develops gradually and the mild versions does not produce symptoms.

Symptoms occur when an artery is so harden or narrowed that it cannot supply enough blood to organs and tissues. According to Mayo Clinic, sometimes a clot completely blocks blood flow or even breaks apart and can trigger a heart attack or stroke. Severity depends on the body part that is clogged or blocked.

It is important to know that high blood pressure or hypertension is only a symptom of other underlying problems such as heart diseases, angina, arteriosclerosis, etc. and that persistent high blood pressure if left untreated can cause many health problems such as stroke, heart failure, vision loss and kidney diseases. Symptoms of a raised blood pressure are;

  • Severe headache.
  • Fatigue or confusion.
  • Vision problems.
  • Chest pain.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • Blood in the urine.
  • Pounding in your chest, neck, or ears.

However, hypertension is generally symptomless, hence the name “silent killer.” This is why it’s so important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.

Herbs that lowers blood pressure and eliminate the underlying cause are;

  1. Mistletoe

Both African mistletoe (Tapinanthus species) and European mistletoe (Viscum album) lowers blood pressure efficiently. An infusion of dried leaves or a decoction of fresh leaves is taken 2 – 3 times daily. Only the leaf is used as the seeds are poisonous. This herb cleanses plaques from the arteries and stops palpitations.

  • Garlic

Garlic has the ability to lower blood pressure by causing blood vessels to relax and dilate. This lets blood flow more freely and reduces blood pressure. It also reduces cholesterol levels.

  • Ginger

Ginger may help control blood pressure, as it has been shown to improve blood circulation and relax the muscles surrounding blood vessels. 

  • Turmeric – reduces blood fat and blood pressure, it is best absorbed with black pepper in an oil like coconut or avocado oil.
  • Bilberry – Prevents damage to blood vessels which helps in keeping the arteries flexible.
  • Olive leaf, is also good for lowering blood pressure and enhancing blood circulation.
  • Hibiscus; Sedative and hypotensive. It reduces the level of blood cholesterol and help to ease palpitations.
  • Foods that promotes the removal of plagues on the arterial walls and therefore reduces or prevents arteriosclerosis are: –

Sesame seed: used as cooked seeds or oil

Soya beans: oils used in food or raw.

Pepper: in food it allows blood flow easily.

Have your blood pressure checked and exercise regularly to avoid this silent killer.

Written by

Anne Edun

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