Natural Medicine Overland Park, KS
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, affects nearly 75 million Americans. High blood pressure is also known as the “silent killer,” because there are no warning signs or symptoms that you may have it. Many people live their day-to-day lives not knowing that they have high blood pressure. According to the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/faqs.htm), having hypertension greatly increases your risk for heart disease, and stroke, which also happens to be the first and third leading cause of death in the United States.
There are many things that you can do to lower your high blood pressure. Current treatment guidelines for high blood pressure include antihypertensive medications, and lifestyle modifications such as reduced sodium intake, the DASH diet (http://dashdiet.org/default.html), increased physical activity, moderate alcohol consumption, low fat dairy products, and weight reduction.
In the ideal situation, lifestyle modifications would lower blood pressure. However, often times individuals also need to take antihypertensive medication to reduce blood pressure to optimal levels. One of the most difficult challenges with antihypertensive medications is adherence to taking the medication. Not to mention, these types of medications do not address the goal of reducing blood pressure to optimal levels. Studies continue to show the effectiveness of non-pharmacological therapies for blood pressure control. The potential use of mediation as a blood pressure lowering intervention is showing great promise.
The science behind meditation
Recent studies demonstrate that the relaxation response achieved through practices such as meditation and yoga have demonstrated significant reduction in high blood pressure for individuals who have hypertension. According to Harvard Health (https://hms.harvard.edu/), hypertension is traditionally treated with medication. However, not all people respond to drug therapy, and many may even experience side effects from this treatment. Alternative strategies such as mediation are crucial for such individuals.
Additional studies have also found the power of meditation to be extremely beneficial in lowering blood pressure for individuals who are not taking antihypertensive medication. One particular study performed by Libermann, Zusman and colleagues found that long term relaxation response practice also known as meditation is associated with increased brain cortical thickness as well as specific changes in gene expression that lead to a lower blood pressure. This means that meditation and yoga produces both a psychological and a physiological response in the body that ultimately lead to lowering blood pressure.
Meditation made easy
There are many different ways and techniques that meditation can be practiced. According to Harvard Health, here are a few tips to include in your everyday routine:
- Settle in: Find a quiet and relaxing place. Using a chair or pillow, allow your body to find a comfortable position, with your head and shoulders at rest.
- Breathe: Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and relax. Concentrate on the rise and fall of your breathing chest.
- Stay focused: Gently bring any wandering thoughts back and focus on your breath.
- Take 10: Daily practice of 10 minutes a day will provide benefits. However 20 minutes of meditation twice a day has shown to provide maximum benefit.
If you have a difficult time leading your own relaxation sessions, try some of these self-guided meditations.
- Websites: The mindfulness solution (http://www.mindfulness-solution.com/DownloadMeditations.html), UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (https://www.uclahealth.org/marc/body.cfm?id=22&iirf_redirect=1), Chopra Centerm (https://chopra.com/articles/guided-meditations)
- Phone apps such as: Headspace (https://www.headspace.com/) and Meditation Oasis (https://www.meditationoasis.com/podcast)
- Meditation teachers such as Tara Brach (https://www.tarabrach.com/guided-meditations/)
If you have hypertension, and would like to lower your blood pressure free of medication or try to include meditation into your life, consider consulting with a doctor of natural medicine Overland Park KS at in2GREAT Integrative Health, who can help you achieve your health goals.