Way back when I was fighting my high blood pressure, my doctor, my wife, my friends and even the next door neighbor sang me the same tune on having to go on blood pressure medications.
They wanted me well. They didn’t want to lose me. But as a natural health researcher (and one stubborn son of a gun), I decided not to give in till I’d done my homework thoroughly.
What I discovered about high blood pressure medications was so terrifying that I became even more determined to pursue a natural approach. Not only were the side effects scarier than the worst terror movie, many studies have found the medications useless at best to prevent diseases like stroke and heart attack. They may even contribute to the risk.
What’s more, there is no reason to believe that blood pressure can’t be completely managed naturally without side effects. Scientists have yet to contribute a rise in blood pressure of more than 5-6 points to genetic causes. And that’s in rare cases.
Even if high blood pressure quote “runs in your family” it’s more likely due to family lifestyle than to genetic causes. I was, for example, raised on a sheep farm and never saw fresh salad on the dinner table till I was a grown up. We worked hard day and night when needed and never complained. Even if my father had mostly turned to other business and the sheep farm was only a hobby for me, we kept in many ways the same lifestyle and mentality as had been for generations.
I’m sure you can find many similarities to your parents’ and grandparents’ lifestyles, even if the world has been completely turned upside down in the last fifty years.
But the fact was, that once I had been diagnosed with high blood pressure, I had made several drastic lifestyle changes to lower it. And although it had helped some, it didn’t do enough to get it under control- far from it. In fact, I often said I’d tried ‘everything’ and nothing worked.
So why was I still resisting blood pressure medications?
First of all, I’m not telling you not to take medications. I’m not a doctor. And you should never change your medication dose without consulting your doctor. The withdrawal symptoms of going cold turkey can be deadly. I’m only sharing what I consider the truth for me.
The real deal-breaker for me was reading up on the side effects of blood pressure medications. I’m not going to count them all (that would take pages). But some of the most common range from fatigue to risk of heart attack (wasn’t that what they were supposed to prevent?). In the long haul they can even raise blood pressure, which means you have to take more blood pressure medications to suppress it again.
Not only are the side effects often severe, they are also not isolated. Almost everyone I ask can name me at least couple of things they experience as side effects from their blood pressure medications. If I have to take medications, I want them to make me feel better not worse.
I admit that part of my resistance was due to the silent effects of blood pressure. You don’t feel the pain like you do if you had arthritis or migraine. You just have to trust the doctors that it’s true that blood pressure causes this and that disease in the future. But there is no immediate pressure. If I had realized back then just how serious high blood pressure really is, I may have been more flexible.
But then we have the studies showing that blood pressure drugs may not be that effective in preventing heart attack and stroke (the two main causes of death due to high blood pressure).
According to research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, for example, blood pressure medications did very little, if anything, to prevent stroke and heart attack unless people also applied drastic lifestyle changes. And then you have to consider- was it the medication that helped or the lifestyle changes?
Another study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine compared the positive effects (if any) of blood pressure and cholesterol drugs for diabetic patients to the side effects they suffered. That way they calculated what they called “quality-adjusted life-years” or QALY.
The QALY is a pretty neat term. It refers to the extended time on earth that we can truly enjoy. Where we’re not tied to hospital beds with tubes coming out of every artery. We have to die of something but I think we should make the most of it while we can.
The researchers only found an increase in QALY among type 2 diabetic individuals who took blood pressure and cholesterol medications among those with the highest, most severe levels of hypertension. For others, the side effects overwrote any length of lifespan the medications might deliver.
Now the risk level of high blood pressure is set at 120/80. What’s called pre-hypertension is between 120/80 to 140/90. Many doctors consider the upper limit acceptable for elderly. The fact is, however, that studies have found that the risk of heart attack begins for individuals with blood pressure exceeding 115/75.
What I’ve discovered since I began writing about high blood pressure and communicating with hundreds of people with high blood pressure is how seldom the blood pressure medications make a big dent. Yes, they almost always lower blood pressure somewhat but rarely do they bring it down to 120/80 or the preferable 115/75. The only time it does is in borderline cases where lifestyle changes could have done the same. So by taking blood pressure medications I would have been looking at severe side effects without even having the full benefits of bringing my blood pressure down to a preferred level.
The main reason, however, for why I resisted blood pressure medications with such a determination was quite personal. As I mentioned before, I was raised on a farm. And I was raised with the old fashioned thinking that every man and woman should stand on his or her own feet. We should provide for ourselves with honest, hard-earned money. And we should not be dependent on anyone else. I just hated the idea of putting my life in the hands of my doctor and the pharmaceutical companies. No matter how kind-hearted my doctor really was. I just couldn’t do it.
I think that since you’re reading this article and seeking natural methods to improve your health, you probably have a somewhat similar mentality.
The fact is, that once you’re on blood pressure medications, most people are on them for life. I later learned that it’s quite possible to get off BP medications and use natural methods instead. But back then my doctor put it to me bluntly that once I took the first pill, there would be a pill (or two or three) a day for the rest of my life.
What’s even worse is the mentality that we all have the tendency to develop once we’ve entered the medical realm. We begin to trust and rely on the medications and not take as much self-responsibility. It’s even been proven that people who take supplements tend to eat less healthy food because they trust the supplements will take care of all their nutritional needs (which they don’t).
But through my writings and communications I’ve also learned how many people are out there who are as terrified of this disease as I was. After all, high blood pressure has been determined to be the number 1 preventable cause of death in the world, according to the World Health Organization. Nothing else even comes close. And none of us are ready to die yet, are we?
And as with my example, people often claim they tried everything they could to lower their blood pressure naturally. I may sometimes sound harsh when I say “no you haven’t.” We can always do more.
This website and the whole Internet is loaded with all kinds of free information on lifestyle changes that have been proven to work. I often suggest to people who say they’ve tried everything that they make drastic changes for a couple of weeks and see how it goes. Maybe try to be a vegan for two weeks or go strictly on the cave man diet. Stick to it for some time because often things take time to work. If that doesn’t help, try something else for a couple of weeks.
My “aha moment” finally appeared with the discovery of the three easy Blood Pressure Exercises I teach in my Blood Pressure Exercises Program. I’ve since witnessed thousands (literally) of people having the same results as I had. Some used additional lifestyle changes but many without changing a thing. You can learn more about these simple exercises here…
No matter what natural methods you choose to use, if you’re on blood pressure medications, you should never change your medications without consulting your doctor. The results can be deadly. What I recommend instead is that with natural interventions, as you experience your blood pressure to go down, ask your doctor to lower your BP medicine dose. Then keep on doing the natural intervention as the blood pressure keeps on improving. Then ask your doctor to again lower your dose. Little by little you’ll be off medications.
Now as we reach the end of this long, very personal, philosophical article, I would love to hear what you think of this whole thing. What’s your opinion on BP medications and other drugs? What do you perceive as the side effects and positive effects. Remember that facts may be wrong but opinions never are.