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JUNE 30, 1997

Home & Garden

Ask Dr. Henry

Ask Dr. Henry by Henry Hochberg, M.D.
Questions and answers on health, wellness, and the doctor-patient relationship.

   Q: Are there any natural approaches to treating high blood pressure?

   A: Blood pressure is the pressure in your arteries against which your heart pumps its blood. It is considered high when it's consistently above 140 over 90 (that is, 140mm of mercury when the heart is pumping out the blood, and 90mm when the heart is relaxing and filling with blood for the next cycle). High blood pressure is a common condition in our country and is very serious if untreated.
   High blood pressure is mostly related to our diets, which tend to be high in fat and salt. Other factors that influence our blood pressure have to do with sedentary lifestyles that lead to obesity and deconditioning; cigarette and alcohol use; stress overload; nutritional deficiencies; and accumulation of certain toxic metals in our bodies.
   The most natural approach to treating high blood pressure would therefore be eating a healthy diet low in fat, salt, and sugar, and high in potassium, calcium, magnesium, and fiber; getting weight as close to ideal levels for your height and body build; and regular brisk physical activity. It is also important to avoid the harmful effects of stress overload by persistently practicing stress reduction techniques.
   Nutritional supplements that may be needed as part of a non-drug approach would include magnesium; calcium; oil sources of essential fatty acids (borage seed, flax, or evening primrose); Vitamins B3, B6, B12, C, E, and folic acid; Coenzyme Q10 and carnitine. Hawthorne berry and garlic, among other herbs, may also be helpful.
   Since the exact nutritional program would differ from person to person, it is always essential to consult a qualified health care practitioner for advice on which supplements are right for you.

Henry Hochberg, M.D., is a board certified family physician with a special interest in wellness and natural approaches to healthcare. Send your health and medical questions to: Ask Dr. Henry, c/o Woodinville Weekly; P.O. Box 587; Woodinville, WA 98072; or e-mail to kdiefendorf@woodinville.com.