Ayurvedic treatment for Hypertension

Hypertension

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  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
  • FAQS
  • References

Definition

Hypertension Ayurvedic treatment

High blood pressure (Hypertension) is a very common and serious medical condition.1, 2 High blood pressure is the main reason for around 50% of deaths in patients with brain attack/stroke and 24% of heart disease deaths in India.3

Hypertension simply means that the force of the blood pumping through the arteries is too strong. The blood pressure goes up when the blood pushes harder against the walls of the arteries. It is normal to have high blood pressure for short period of time, but when the pressure stays high for most of the time, it leads to serious health problems.2

According to Ayurveda, heart is the seat of consciousness. Therefore, elevated blood pressure indicates a crisis of consciousness, feeling and identity. Dysfunction of Vata and Pitta doshas and vitiation Rasa, Rakta & Medovaha srotasa are the main causes for hypertension. Therefore, Ayurvedic treatment of hypertension mainly involves balancing of these two doshas and cleansing these channels.4

Causes

Hypertension

The causes of high blood pressure are not always clear, but certain factors may increase the risk. They include:

  • Age more than 65
  • Overweight or obese
  • Relative with high blood pressure
  • Consuming excessive salt
  • Not having enough fruit and vegetables
  • Less exercise
  • Drinking excessive alcohol or coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
  • Smoking
  • Less sleep or disturbed sleep

As per Ayurveda, Avyayam – sedentary life style, Ativyavaya – overindulgence in sex, Guru – aharar or rich diet, Atibhojana – diet leading to obesity are the conditions that may lead to Dhamnipratichaya (atherosclerosis) and Dhamnikathinya (hardening of arteries) and lead to increased internal pressure in sira and dhamani.

Symptoms

Hypertension

In most people, high blood pressure will have no signs or symptoms even if it reaches dangerously high levels. General symptoms of hypertension include:

  • Headache
  • Insomnia (anidra)
  • Fatigue (klama)
  • Irritability (krodha prachurya),
  • Anxiety complex (buddhi sammoha, arti, mad santap)
  • Sub-conjunctival / retinal hemorrhage (akshiraaga)
  • Drowsiness (tandra)
  • Anorexia complex (agnisad, aruchi)

Diagnosis

Hypertension

Doctor will usually place an inflatable arm cuff around the arm and measure the blood pressure using a pressure-measuring gauge. The blood pressure reading has two numbers; upper number (systolic pressure) measures the pressure in arteries at the time of beating of heart whereas lower number (diastolic pressure) measures the pressure between two beats.

Blood pressure measurements fall into four general categories:

 

Systolic pressure

Diastolic pressure

Normal

Below 120 mm Hg

Below 80 mm Hg

Prehypertension

120 – 139 mm Hg

80 to 89 mm Hg

Stage 1 hypertension

140 to 159 mm Hg

90 to 99 mm Hg

Stage 2 hypertension

160 mm Hg or higher

90 to 99 mm Hg

Other recommended tests include:

  • 24-hour blood pressure monitoring test
  • Urine test (urinalysis)
  • Blood tests
  • Cholesterol test
  • Electrocardiogram — a test that measures the heart's electrical activity.

Management

Hypertension

Nidana Parivarjana (avoidance of aetiological factors):7,9

In Ayurveda prevention by avoiding the causative factor is the first line of treatment for all diseases. Too much oily and salty food increases the risk of high blood pressure. Also long term drug dependence can be harmful for heart health hence should be taken carefully. Nidana parivarjana helps in stopping the further progression of the disease, by restricting vitiation of doshas. Biopurificatory techniques like Shirodhara and mrdu abhyanga may be beneficial in this condition

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

  • Reduce salt intake in food. Lowering sodium intake reduces excessive water retention, thereby maintaining normal blood pressure.
  • Increase potassium rich diet. A high potassium diet helps rid the renal system of excess sodium and restore sodium/potassium balance.
  • Adopt a diet which is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products
  • Reduce consumption of refined sugar and heavily processed food,
  • Reduce caffeine intake
  • Limit alcohol consumption.

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

  • Perform weight reduction and regular exercises such as brisk walking, jogging running etc as per your doctor’s advice
  • Abhangya (Massage) can helps to increase elasticity and flexibility. It correct and enhance the blood flow in healthy manners.
  • Upvasa (fasting), Yoga, Meditation and relaxation techniques may also beneficial in management of hypertension

FAQS

Hypertension
  1. What is angina?

Angina is a chest pain that occurs when the blood supply to the heart muscles is restricted. It happens when the arteries supplying the heart become hardened and narrowed due to build-up of fatty substances known as plaques. This restricts the blood supply to the heart and triggers the symptoms of angina. Angina attack is the pain mostly triggered by physical activity or stress and typically only lasts for a few minutes. There are two main types of angina. During stable angina, the attacks occur due to obvious trigger (such as exercise) and improve with medication and rest, while in unstable angina, the attacks are unpredictable, occurring with no obvious trigger and continuing despite resting. Angina is more common in older adults, affecting men more than women.

In Sanskrit, angina is derived from two words – hriday meaning ‘heart’ and shool meaning ‘thorn’. So hritshoola means ‘a thorn in the heart’. In angina, Ama accumulates in Hirdayvahi channels and cause blockage. Due to the blockage of heart channels Vata dosha is aggravated. Vata symbolizes air or wind. It is dry, mobile, and cool in nature and it causes pain in heart.

  1. What can I do to prevent/manage angina?

Ayurveda gives following tips to prevent/manage angina:

  • Avoid fatty foods like fried food, milk products such as butter and cheese, full cream milk, oils, etc.
  • Include fermented milk products like curds in diet
  • Use only vegetable oils for cooking like sunflower, olive, groundnut and rapeseed oils.
  • Avoid red meats such as mutton, beef and pork.
  • Poultry and fish are beneficial. Fishes with high body oil content must be preferred. Avoid canned fish.
  • Mild exercise such as walking, is recommended in patients which good exertion tolerance and stable angina.
  • Avoid competitive exercising.
  • Meditation and shavasana help restore the tranquility, peace and manage stress
  • Pranayam (breathing exercise) should be practiced.
  1. What are the causes of high cholesterol?

Many different factors can contribute to high blood cholesterol. They include:

  • Unhealthy diet
  • Lack of exercise or physical activity
  • Obesity
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and smoking
  • Underlying conditions like kidney disease, liver disease, hypothyroidism
  • Family history of early coronary heart disease, stroke or cholesterol-related condition
  1. What physical activities can help better my cholesterol?

Ayurveda recommends following activities to keep your cholesterol in check:

  • Yoga asanas and surya namaskara should be performed twice daily for ten minutes each.
  • Pranayama, or yogic breathing exercises, helps digestion and cleans the srotas, or channels.
  • Sleeping during the day, causes the metabolism to slow and the srotas or channels to fill with Ama. Wake up before six o'clock, and avoid daytime naps.
  • Eat meals at the same time every day, and plan to eat the largest meal at lunchtime, when digestion is strong.
  • Eat light to avoid indigestion at night
  • Transcendental Meditation technique reduces stress and improves mental clarity, making it easier to follow a healthy diet and make healthy lifestyle.
  1. What is atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is a serious condition wherein arteries become clogged with fatty substances called plaques, or atheroma. It causes the arteries to harden and narrow, restricting the blood flow and oxygen supply to vital organs, and increasing the risk of blood clots that could potentially block the flow of blood to the heart or brain. Atherosclerosis may lead to life-threatening problems such as heart attacks and strokes.

According to Ayurveda, in atherosclerosis there is an increased Vata in blood vessels causing its degeneration thus making it hard, thin, and rough. Deposits of lipids and calcium represent increase in Kapha (water & earth element) in the degenerated vessels resulting in irregular thickening of blood vessels.

  1. What are the causes of atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is a slow, progressive disease. The exact cause is unknown but the damage may be caused by:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • High triglycerides, a type of fat (lipid) in your blood
  • Smoking and other sources of tobacco
  • Insulin resistance, obesity or diabetes
  • Inflammation from diseases, such as arthritis, lupus or infections, or inflammation of unknown cause
  1. What is coronary artery disease?

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. In India, over one fifth deaths occur due to CAD. There are an estimated 45 million CAD patients in India. An increasing number of young Indians are falling prey to it.

CAD occurs when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed due to buildup of cholesterol and other material, on their inner walls. As these deposits continue to grow, less blood can flow through the arteries causing less blood and oxygen reaching the heart muscles. This can lead to chest pain or heart attack. Over a period of time, CAD weaken heart muscles and contribute to heart failure or arrhythmias (abnormal beating of heart).

Ayurved scholars have mentioned that diet, anger and emotion are causative agents of CAD and patients who are diagnosed or wants to prevent coronary artery disease should keep a check on all these factors.

  1. What puts me at risk of coronary artery disease?

CAD begins with injury to the inner layer of a coronary artery, which may occur sometimes as early as childhood. The damage may be caused by various factors, including:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes or insulin resistance
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  1. What kind of exercises I can do to reduce blood pressure?

Ayurveda recommends the following exercises to manage and help reduce blood pressure:

  • Weight reduction and regular aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, jogging running etc.
  • Sarvanga Abhangya (Massage) with specially formulated oils helps to increase elasticity and flexibility. It correct and enhance the blood flow in healthy manners
  • Upvasa (fasting), Yoga, Meditation and Gayatri or Omkara uchhara have significant role in management of hypertension
  1. How can one identify if one has stroke/brain attack?

The signs and symptoms of a stroke vary from person to person. Main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the word FAST: Face-Arms-Speech-Time.

  • Face – the face may have dropped on one side; the person may not be able to smile or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
  • Arms – the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there.
  • Speech – their speech may be slurred or the person may not be able to talk at all.
  • Time – dial the hospital immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms

References

Hypertension
  1. High blood pressure. CDC 2016. https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/
  2. Measuring Your Blood Pressure at Home. PubMed Health. 2012. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0041082/#conssmbp.s3
  3. Anchala R1,Kannuri NKPant H, et al. Hypertension in India: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prevalence, awareness, and control of hypertension. J Hypertens. 2014 Jun;32(6):1170-7. doi: 10.1097/HJH.0000000000000146.
  4. Charak samhita trimarmiya chikista. Chaukhambha bharati academy. Varanasi 221001. Reprint 2011.
  5. Lokhande at al. Natural remedies for heart diseases. IJTK 5(3)2006.
  6. Ayurveda and hypertension. Deep P. Ayurveda Today (6 – 17)
  7. High blood pressure (hypertension). NHS 2016. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Blood-pressure-(high)/Pages/Introduction.aspx#causes
  8. High blood pressure (hypertension). Symptoms. Mayo Clinic 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/basics/symptoms/con-20019580
  9. Choudhary Kshiteeja, Sharma Parul, Sharma Ved Bhushan. Hypertension and its management through Panchakarma, J of Ayurveda and Hol Med (JAHM).2015;3(3):28-31
  10. High blood pressure (hypertension). Tests and diagnosis. Mayo Clinic 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20019580
  11. Sharma T, Ramamurthy A, Anand P, et al. Hypertension: management through Ayurveda herbs. World Journal of Pharmacy And Pharmaceutical Sciences 2016; 5: 7 (468-480), 2016
  12. Lalitkumar V, Dalvi SA, Lele VT, et al. HYPERTENSION - AN AYURVEDIC PERSPECTIVE. IAMJ 2015; 3:11 (2322-2329)

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