Natural, Non-toxic Alternatives to Treating Hypertension – Natural Beta Blockers (Part 2) by D. Carestia

Now that we know a little more about the wonderful world of beta blockers, and how they are revered all around the world (especially in the U.S. where Jerry’s cardiologist thinks they ought to be added to our drinking water), the question becomes, “How can we avoid these toxic drugs and still address the adrenaline pump and negative ‘fight or flight’ influences on our blood pressure”?  When it comes to natural diuretics for replacing the drug diuretics like hydrochlorothiazide, for example, there are numerous good natural food and supplement options.  Even when it comes to replacing ace inhibitors there are natural alternatives like pomegranate and cocoa that can do the same thing in a healthy fashion.

When it comes to beta blockers, the direct replacement just isn’t readily available.  Indeed, that ought to tell us something!  That is another thing that makes this particular toxic drug so insidious.  It is often the drug of choice with physicians in the U.S., it has no direct natural replacements, and it has negative side effects and a whopper of a rebound effect that render it pure torture for many people.  Since there are no foods that are natural beta blockers, at least none that I have been able to find, then the question becomes “What can I do as an alternative to beta blockers”?  That certainly became a big question in my mind when it became abundantly clear to me that I did not want to live with this oppressive, toxic drug in my system!

Fortunately, there are many ways of dealing with the “adrenaline factor” that can help reduce or even eliminate beta blockers.  For purposes of discussion, I am dividing these up into four general categories:  1)  Food and supplements, 2) Exercise, 3) Relaxation Techniques, 4) Adrenal Therapy.

First, there are foods and natural supplements that can help with relaxation and turning the “fight or flight” mechanism down a notch or two.  One of the reasons, in addition to overeating perhaps, that we get sleepy after that turkey dinner is that turkey contains L-tryptophan, a very relaxing amino acid.  But eating lots of turkey every day is not a practical answer.

As one example of effective supplements, studies indicate that the amino acid Taurine reduces epinephrine (adrenaline) in the human body and is sympatholytic (inhibits the postganglionic functioning of the sympathetic nervous system).  Sympatholytic drugs have been used to treat generalized anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and PTSD.  I have taken Taurine, in combination with 5-HTP, and have found the combination to be very calming and relaxing without any sluggish or “foggy brained” negative effects.

That brings me to the second supplement that I have used for it’s calming effect, the amino acid 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan).   5-HTP is a precursor to biosynthesis of both serotonin and melatonin from tryptophan.  So, why do I care about that?  Well, both serotonin and melatonin are important in rest, relaxation, and healthy sleep.  In addition, the hormone serotonin is known to modulate mood, EMOTION (my emphasis), sleep, and appetite.  Melatonin is important to restorative sleep and is a powerful antioxidant to boot.  Taking the combination of taurine and 5-HTP before going to bed has resulted in calm and peaceful sleep for me, and at times I have also taken them during the day for their calming effect.

There are other supplements which can have a calming effect that I have not taken, so I cannot offer a first-hand personal experience regarding their effect on me.  These include GABA, kava, aswhganda, valerian, and passion flower.  The interesting thing about all of these supplements is that are all used for their calming effect, and there are a variety of mechanisms associated with them, such as inhibitory neurotransmitters, precursors to serotonin production, or increasing GABA in the brain as with passion flower, for example.  There are studies which have shown the effectiveness of these supplements to reduce anxiety, and I would recommend the guidance of a good naturopath to determine what might be most helpful in any given case.

Second, we can deal with anxiety and stress by relieving it through exercise.  Our own exercise program consists of at least one hour of exercise at least 5 days per week.   We like to take at least a day completely off on the weekend for just plain old fun!   Our exercise is varied, and occurs outdoors whenever possible.   These include swimming, hiking, aerobics, weight training, walking……….and wading fishing!    There are lots of places you can get good information on exercise programs, so we won’t spend a lot of time on this subject.  We do like to incorporate weight training because it maintains muscle mass and increases metabolism.  After a weight workout, however, I always do an additional 30 minutes of aerobics to bring my blood pressure back down if it has been elevated by weight lifting.

Third, as an alternative to beta blockers, we can utilize relaxation techniques to help calm the anxiety and the flow of adrenaline.  These include breathing techniques, meditation, and imagery.  I have not used imagery, but there are some excellent books on the power of imagery.  I suspect some could argue that it is a form of meditation.  As far as breathing techniques go, there are many.  I was never sure what to try regarding breathing techniques which included varieties of eastern breathing techniques for hypertension, yoga techniques, and others.  There was fast breathing and slow breathing, there was alternative nostril breathing, there was seetkari and pranayama, and so many variations that I lost count.  As a result, I did not become an expert on yoga or eastern breathing techniques.

I tried transcendental meditation, and I found it effective for lowering blood pressure and just helping to relax.  At the same time, meditation was sort of an effort all its own, either trying to concentrate or not trying to concentrate for 20 minutes twice each day.  Over time, I lost interest in twice daily  meditation.  I tried BP down, which is a combination of squeezing “squeezy balls” and breathing at the same time.  It was also effective in lowering my blood pressure but it incorporated what I felt was a “fast” breathing technique which was less comfortable for me from both physical and psychological perspectives on my desire to become more calm and lower my blood pressure.  The simple fact is, while it has nothing to do with resperate being associated with this blog,  my resperate machine became my favorite method of breathing to relax and lower blood pressure.  I can vary the time I spend on each session, I like the idea of breathing slower to calm, and not faster, and I have the older machine and I like the musical tones (the older machine which has a better sound, I believe).  I can do my resperate when I lay down to go to bed, take it off when I am done, and just slip right into sleep.  I have measured my blood pressure after using resperate, and it gives me the best reduction of those things I have tried.  For those reasons, resperate is my choice.  So, there you have it, and nobody paid me anything for saying it.

Finally, I want to mention another therapy that I have utilized with success in calming my adrenal glands and lowering my blood pressure.  This therapy is “specific frequency microcurrent”.  SFM is an interesting approach to many health issues in that it is essentially an electrical model of the human body.  This electrical model goes back to at least the late 1800’s and early 1900’s when Dr. Albert Abrams founded the Electromedical Society and Electromedical Digest.  Of course, there were those who thought he was a quack, but the technology has been given a new lease on life in more modern times, and today Carolyn McMakin is probably the authority on the use and efficacy of frequency specific microcurrent today.  Now, the interesting aspect of fsm for me was the two specific frequencies that deal with the adrenals.  Through the use of this extremely low lever of electrical current, at the right frequencies, the adrenal glands can either be stimulted to produce adrenaline, or can be calmed to not produce so much adrenaline.   As you can perhaps tell from my articles so far, I am about as skeptical and about as in-depth into the knowledge of any potential treatment as you can imagine.  What I discovered when I first tried fsm, and more specifically the “calm adrenals” setting, was that I became much calmer after the 15 minute treatment.  I also took my blood pressure and it was considerably lower.  Additional treatments yielded the same results.  I also learned that many therapists utilize this machine for treatment of hypertension.

I first learned about fsm from my doctor at Whitaker Wellness Clinic.  I also discovered that the company which makes the machines also makes a home unit, and I bought one.  Thanks to lifestyle changes in many directions, I no longer use the machine regularly.  I have to say, however, that it was definitely helpful to me in overcoming the anxiety and adrenaline component of my hypertension.  Today, thankfully, I live with normal blood pressure without any drugs, including the one I Iove to hate the most………..atenolol!

I am very interested to see how others handle the anxiety/adrenaline factor in hypertension.  As always, I look forward to your helpful comments and I hope others will be assisted by them as well!

Until next time…………all the best………..naturally!

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