In my research into approaches to dealing with blood pressure issues, and more specifically how to naturally lower high blood pressure… and even how to be proactive by taking actions to avoid the the development of hypertension in the first place, I am always on the lookout for interesting tidbits and snippets of information which may be of use.
The approach to managing blood pressure naturally is one which most often necessitates using a multi-pronged campaign since there are numerous options available.
If you sample some of the 80 posts I have already published on this website, you will soon see this!
I have always been of the belief that some approaches will work better for some individuals, than for others, and that the trick is discovering exactly which those effective strategies are, whether they are ones which target diet, dealing with chronic stress, losing weight or becoming more active. Most likely it will be a combination of approaches which will finally have the desired results.
And this is why it is important to give air time to some alternatives to naturally lower blood pressure which may seem at first glance too trivial to possibly be of any import.
Today this is what I am hoping to achieve by looking several less obvious aspects of BP management:
#1 – The Chiropractic Connection
The possibility that high blood pressure in some individuals could be associated with the misalignment of the bones in the neck really piqued my interest when I came across this recently. It had never occurred to me that physical misalignment of a critical part of the skeletal framework could actually be detrimental to blood pressure.
Well, apparently it can when it affects the vertebrae of the upper neck region!! The Cervical bones C-1 and C-2 of the upper neck are the culprits here and most especially the C-1 vertebra. Studies have shown that if this bone is even slightly misaligned, it can cause some nasty side affects, including contributing to conditions such as having one hip higher than the other, one leg shorter than the other and a twisting of the spine.
And a study conducted on test subjects who were on prescription medications to treat their elevated blood pressure was able to demonstrate that those subjects receiving upper neck chiropractic treatments did better than their counter-parts who were given “sham” neck adjustments.
Both groups went off their medications during the 8 week period of the trials. X-rays on the Atlas (C-1) joint – at the conclusion of the study – showed that the vertebrae were fully re-aligned in the test subjects who had been given actual adjustments.
So this should give hope to some BP sufferers, given the fact that even a minuscule misalignment of a half millimetre at the C-1 can cause the vertebrae to put pressure on the base of the brain, and this can lead to high blood pressure. Misalignment of the neck vertebrae can be caused by injury at birth, and also as the result of trauma to the neck and head area, as experienced in car accidents or sports injuries.
If you are dealing with hypertension, and nothing else seems to be helping, why not go and see your local cervical Chiropractor and have an X-ray taken of your neck to see if there is a misalignment issue which can then be easily corrected using safe procedures. It could make all the difference!!
#2 – The Mouthwash Conundrum
This one initially made my jaw drop because at face value it seemed too far-fetched to be believed. Could mouthwash actually be contributing towards high blood pressure when it is recommended by so many dentists as one of the array of at home treatments to keep oral bacteria and gum disease (Periodontal Disease) at bay? It just didn’t seem likely!!
Well, how about this for irony …
Researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine and at the University of Texas have discovered a connection between mouthwash and hypertension! And the significance of this research points to the damaging effect of using mouthwash on the body’s ability to produce nitric oxide (NO). It should be noted that one of several important functions of NO is to relax blood vessels, keeping them pliable which helps in the circulation of oxygen rich blood around the body.
So, why is mouthwash the problem? Well it turns out that not only does mouthwash kill all the nasty bacteria in the mouth which can lead to gum disease but the Chlorhexidine in most prescription anti-septic mouthwash also kills all the good bacteria in the mouth, including the bacteria which assist in the production of Nitric Oxide!
The researchers had 26 healthy people use a mouthwash containing Chlorhexidine for a week and saw a significant rise in blood pressure (systolic values). Then after 3 days without using the mouthwash, they saw test subjects’ BP drop back down again.
Nathan Bryan, Ph.D. from Baylor College reported in the study that:
“Twice-daily chlorhexidine usage was associated with a significant increase in systolic blood pressure after 1 week of use and recovery from use resulted in an enrichment in nitrate-reducing bacteria on the tongue”
… and the higher level of nitrate-reducing bacteria, the better the resting systolic BP levels of the subjects were.
Whilst it’s true that not all brands of store-bought mouthwash contain Chlorhexidine, if you are being actively treated for gum disease and inflammation there is a very good chance that your dentist will have prescribed an anti-septic mouth rinse containing Chlorhexidine.
And there are alternatives to using mouthwash with Chlorhexidine as its main ingredient…
One approach which derives from Ayurvedic medicine is called Oil Pulling and uses Coconut Oil. It is easy to do and involves putting about two tablespoons of coconut oil in your mouth and swishing it around for at least ten minutes, and as long as twenty minutes for those who can tolerate it! It is best to build up to this by starting with a five minute swish routine, experts recommend!
Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of this practice in killing streptococcal bacteria and its ability to produce results which are just as good as those using Chlorhexidine mouthwash..
#3 – “Three Strikes and You’re Out!”
Finally, I found this recommendation from a study conducted in India very interesting and a useful tidbit for anyone going for a medical appointment where a BP reading will almost certainly be taken. I know I am not alone in holding the concern that very often visits to the Doctor’s office can lead to a false diagnosis of elevate blood pressure and the consequential recommendation from the Doctor that BP medication is necessary.
IMHO any Doctor worth his salt would not be pushing blood pressure medications simply based on one elevated reading at his Office. And here is some important evidence to support my view. False BP readings can be obtained at a Doctor’s office for several reasons, the most common of which is the White Coat Effect, also known as White Coat Hypertension.
Well the research from India suggests that one way to overcome the risk of a false high reading is to always perform three BP readings when at the Doctor’s Office and interpret them in a specific way: namely that of the three readings taken, the mean of the second and third readings should be used as the clinical blood pressure measurement.
In the study, analysis of data from the participants of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) was used. This was a nationwide survey conducted in India from 2015 to 2016.
The researchers found that if just one BP (the first) measurement was taken, rather than three, then an astounding 63% of the subjects in the Survey would have been diagnosed with high blood pressure requiring treatment.
This approach definitely makes good sense to me, and is something that should be considered for introduction in Doctor’s clinics here in North America.
I hope this round-up of possible causes of high blood pressure are of help to those who are dealing with hypertension for which the more conventional approaches of Diet modification, Weight-loss, Increased Activity and Stress Management are just not working.
I would be very interested to hear back in the comments below from anyone who has actually encountered success with their BP because of an awareness of the topics discussed in the post today!