Natural support for blood pressure (Part 1)

Anyone with higher than normal blood pressure (hypertension) will have been told that it can significantly increase risk of vascular (blood vessel) disease by accelerating arteriosclerosis, causing weakness of blood vessels causing strokes and other problems.

The most common form of hypertension has no specific cause and normally appears in middle age and often worsens. It is essential to know your blood pressure and if in doubt you should visit your family doctor.

Nutritional therapy can help

Today we want to focus on some of the less known aspects of hypertension and look at some complementary strategies that can help manage this potentially life threatening problem. Nutritional medicine and conventional medicine are usually complementary this is especially true with hypertension where medicines help lower blood pressure while intensive micro-nutrient therapy can support blood vessel health and may even help to normalise blood pressure.

Protect and strengthen your blood vessels

The walls of our blood vessels (capillaries, veins and arteries) are comprised of the proteins collagen and elastin. Elastin provides the suppleness while collagen with its twisted strands providing strength to blood vessels.
Collagen fibres are much like the twisted fibres of a rope which provide its strength and the state of our collagen will largely determine the health of our blood vessels and of course our blood pressure.

This twisting of collagen fibres is called cross linking. This is normal and gives our blood vessels their strength. The problem occurs when this cross linking becomes excessive making the collagen become too hard.

These excessive cross links show up on the outside as wrinkles but in our blood vessels it causes them to harden making our heart work harder to push blood thus increasing blood pressure. The main reason for this hardening is prolonged oxidative stress caused by insufficient levels of the specific antioxidants responsible protecting the vascular wall.

Help is at hand

The most amazing thing about our bodies is that wherever there is a natural and often critically important weakness there are invariably compounds in food that act as protectors. In this case collagen must be cross linked to give us strength but this exposes our blood vessels to becoming excessively cross linked thus damaging the blood vessel walls creating the opportunity for hypertension.

OPC for blood vessels

One particular antioxidant has an attraction to collagen and with vitamin C and other antioxidants it exerts a powerful effect on helping maintain the integrity of blood vessel walls. This compound is called oligomeric proanthocyanadins or OPC for short and is one of the most researched natural compounds.  OPC is so effective at supporting blood vessels that in France it has been registered as a vascular medicine.

I have seen so many people with middle age onset hypertension make real progress by adding OPC and various supporting nutrients as part of a comprehensive vascular health plan. I normally recommend 400 mg of OPC daily reducing to a maintenance level of 200 mg in 3-6 months.

Supplements for Blood vessels

The base of most blood vessel support programmes is a combination of Cell-X and Omega 3 fish oil. Cell-X contains OPC and other antioxidants to protect the structures that make up blood vessels.I will often recommend an antioxidant booster such as Acai Plus or OPC Plus and or Magnesium.

The OPC works on the proteins and blood components to improve blood flow while the Magnesium helps relax the muscle (smooth muscle) that is a major component of blood vessels. Next edition we look at the humble beetroot and see that this is probably the best food for those with hypertension. Click here to read about these products.

John Arts (B.Soc.Sci, Dip Tch, Adv.Dip.Nut.Med.) is a nutritional medicine practitioner and founder of Abundant Health. If you have questions or need help you can contact John 0800 423559.  You can email John at john@abundant.co.nz.

Please note that the health advice given through this column is for general educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any health problem. © John Arts 2019

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