High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a killer.  It affects around 65 million Americans.  It is largely responsible for heart disease being the number one cause of death in America.  High blood pressure creates abnormal stress on the cardiovascular system and all body tissues.  Regulating blood pressure should be a primary goal in our quest to maintain optimum health. 

       Blood pressure is simply the pressure or force of flowing blood against the walls of the arteries and veins throughout the body.   Every time the heart beats, blood is pumped through the arterial system creating pressure against the walls of the arteries. This is called the systolic blood pressure.   When the heart rests between beats the pressure against the walls of the arteries is less.  This is called the diastolic blood pressure.  Your pulse rate reflects the number of times your heart beats per minute. The rate and strength of your heartbeat and the amount of blood that passes through the blood vessels at any one particular time against the resistance of the blood vessel walls will give you a measurement of pressure.  

       This is comparable to connecting a hose to a water outlet and turning on the water.  The water will flow at a normal rate out the open end. If you turn up the pressure, the water will flow through the hose faster and place more pressure on the walls of the hose.  If some debris gets in the hose, the pressure will increase even more due to the blockage. 

       When your blood pressure is measured, you get a reading of systolic over diastolic. A typical reading would be 120/80.  Blood pressure guidelines from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute show normal healthy blood pressure to be 120/80 or less.  Prehypertension is 120-139/80-90.  Hypertension is 140/90 or higher.   Some researchers consider healthy blood pressure to be 115/75 as they found the risk of cardiovascular disease doubles at each increment of 20/10 over baseline 115/75.

       Blood pressure will vary considerably throughout the day in response to a variety of physical and psychological changes and challenges.  That is why it is best to take your blood pressure when relaxed.  If your relaxed blood pressure is shown to be above 120/80 on a consistent basis, there is a good chance that you have pre or full blown high blood pressure.   


The Sodium/Potassium Factor: 

       Two much sodium in the diet increases fluid retention which leads to higher blood volume and therefore increased pressure in the arterial system.   Having ample amounts of potassium in the diet helps regulate the amount of sodium in the cells by expelling excess sodium through the kidneys.  Americans tend to get too much sodium compared to potassium in the diet. 

       The RDA for sodium is around 2000 mg. per day.  The average American consumes from six to eighteen thousand milligrams of salt per day in the form of sodium chloride where about 40% of the salt is sodium and the remaining 60% is chloride. 

       This means that the average American is taking in between 2,400 mg. and 7,200 mg. of pure sodium on a daily basis. Sodium is found mainly outside the cell and potassium is found primarily inside the cell.  Potassium should be found in a ratio of approximately 2:1 over sodium in order to maintain proper fluid balance between the inside and outside of the cell.  Many Americans have a reverse ratio of 2:1 sodium over potassium. The recommended daily intake for potassium is between 3000 and 5000 mg. per day.

The Cholesterol Factor:

       Low density lipo protein cholesterol (LDL) and very low density lipo protein cholesterol (VLDL), the so called bad types of cholesterol, can oxidize and create free radical activity causing damage to the walls of the arterial system.  The body repairs the damage which can result in the buildup of plaque. Plaque buildup narrows the space through which blood can flow resulting in an increase in blood pressure. One way to guard against such oxidation is to insure that you are consuming a large variety of anti-oxidant nutrients on a daily basis.  High density lipo protein cholesterol (HDL), the so-called good cholesterol, helps to remove LDL and VLDL cholesterol by collecting it and returning it to the liver. Aerobic and resistive exercise is the best way to raise HDL levels. 

       You can lower LDL cholesterol levels in the body by moving bile through the colon and out the stool.  Bile is made in the liver from cholesterol and stored in the gallbladder. The body uses bile to break down fats in the digestive process.  Excess bile needs to be eliminated through the stole.  Since bile is largely made of cholesterol, failure to remove excess bile can result in excess cholesterol backing up into the liver and from there entering the arterial system.  This excess cholesterol may end up as deposits in the arteries. Consuming thirty to forty grams of water soluble fiber per day will insure the elimination of cholesterol waste.  Oat bran, rice bran, apple pectin, flax fiber and psyllium are all examples of fibers that will facilitate this process.

       Many people are using prescription Statin drugs such as Lovastatin, Lipitor and Mevacor to lower cholesterol levels. Statins lower cholesterol by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA Reductase which catalyzes the production of cholesterol in the liver.  The mechanism by which Statin drugs lower cholesterol also inhibits the biosynthesis of CoQ10 in the liver.  CoQ10 is absolutely necessary for proper function of the heart. Some doctors have observed a marked increase in heart failure, among those using Statin drugs.  It even has a name, “Statin Cardiomyopathy.”  Anyone using Statins should take a CoQ10 supplement.

       An extract of Red Yeast Rice contains similar compounds to that found in Statins.  Red yeast Rice extracts lower cholesterol levels by the same mechanism as Statins but because they are weaker, they don’t have the same negative impact on the liver or muscles that Statins tend to have.  Since Red Yeast Rice extracts interfere with CoQ10 production just like Satins, users should supplement with CoQ10.

       Cautionary note:  When Statins or Red Yeast Rice products are consumed in conjunction with Grapefruit juice, the blood concentration of their active ingredient Mevinolin is increased by up to 15-fold.  Such increases are dangerous.  Don’t drink grapefruit juice when taking these products.

       Another natural substance shown to lower cholesterol is Policosanol, a lipid alcohol derived from sugar cane wax.  A number of studies show this substance to effectively lower total cholesterol, raise HDL levels and guard against LDL oxidation.  This product is well tolerated and has no significant side effects.  Policosanol is available at Milk ‘N Honey along with Red Yeast Rice extracts.

       Since most of your cholesterol is made in the liver, the amount of cholesterol obtained from the diet has only minimal bearing on your cholesterol levels. Remember, cholesterol is only found in animal products. Triglyceride fat is more of a factor in raising cholesterol levels in your body as excessive triglycerides tend to push the liver into producing more cholesterol.  Lowering your intake of animal products will lower triglyceride fat.  All hydrogenated fats such as margarine should be eliminated from the diet.  Hydrogenated fats are man-made fats that create what are called trans fatty acids.  Trans fats are stickier than normal “cis” fats like found in butter. They encourage fatty deposits in the arteries.   These fats also make your blood clotting platelets more sticky and therefore increase the risk of stroke and heart attack. Trans fats have been shown to raise blood levels of both cholesterol and triglycerides and in general create free radicals.  Trans fats also interfere with the action of what are called the essential fatty acids.  Essential fatty acids, such as omega 3 linolenic, are vital to health.

Measuring C-Reactive Protein:

       C-reactive protein is produced in the liver and released in response to acute injury or bacterial/viral infection or other stimulants of inflammation.  C-reactive protein is a biomarker of atherosclerosis which means that its presence is indicative of destabilized plaque in the arteries. The body releases C-reactive protein into the bloodstream when blood vessels leading to the heart are damaged. C-reactive protein levels indicate the degree of inflammation occurring in the lining of the arteries. A decrease in C-reactive protein indicates there has been a reduction of inflammation which in turn can help to normalize blood pressure.  A blood test can determine the level of C-reactive protein in the blood.  At Milk ‘N Honey we offer this test through the company Life Extension.

Reducing inflammation:

       While a diet low in processed and refined foods and rich in nutrient dense foods is the most important consideration in reducing inflammation, adding certain herbs to the diet will help this process.  A number of herbs have been identified as helpful in this regard.  Herbs such as green tea, ginger, holy basil, rosemary, oregano and boswellia have all been found to be effective in reducing inflammation without unwanted side effects. 

       The king of anti-inflammatory herbs is turmeric. The herb turmeric contains compounds called curcuminoids which are phenolic compounds known to facilitate anti-inflammatory effects.  They appear to block inflammatory processes by inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins, downregulating the COX-2 enzyme and suppressing pro-inflammatory genes.  Turmeric’s most active and dominant curcuminoid is curcumin.  Research has shown that curcumin is an effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.  Curcumin has been shown to be effective in the treatment of a variety of health problems including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and arthritis.  Using herbs and herbal extracts will help reduce inflammation which in turn can help to normalize blood pressure.  At Milk ‘N Honey we offer a product called Curamin and another product called Turmeric Force.  Both these products have been proven successful in lowering levels of inflammation in the body.

The Exercise Factor:

       Regular aerobic and resistive exercise will strengthen the heart muscle and the entire cardiovascular system.  Exercise leads to dilation of the blood vessels and will almost immediately lower diastolic blood pressure.  Exercise creates a decrease in the resting pulse rate. It increases the level of hemoglobin and therefore facilitates better oxygen carrying capacity of the blood.  Exercise will increase HDL cholesterol, (good guys), and decrease LDL cholesterol (bad guys).  Exercise will increase the number of capillaries carrying blood throughout the body. This is very important.  A major cause of elevated blood pressure is peripheral vascular resistance.  This condition develops when small blood vessels (arterioles and capillaries) in the extremities of the body become plugged due to fibrin buildup resulting in channels of blood flow becoming blocked.  This condition results from failure to place demands on our muscular system because of inactivity.  Regular exercise helps to unblock these channels and even create additional channels which will reduce pressure. 

       Typical forms of aerobic exercise include walking, running, rebounding, swimming, biking and any other exercise that raises the heart rate above resting levels for an extended period of time.   While exercise will raise blood pressure while you’re exercising, it will lead to a lower resting systolic and diastolic pressure.  Exercise is critical to normalizing blood pressure.

Your Kidneys and Blood Pressure:

       Our kidneys have tiny ball-shaped structures called glomeruli which are composed of capillary blood vessels involved in the filtration of the blood to form urine.  Over time, the glomeruli build up scar tissue which results in a decrease in the surface area available for this filtering process.   This raises blood pressure as more pressure is needed to accomplish the same level of filtration in what has become a reduced surface area.  This scar tissue buildup results in part from kidney damage due to overloading our bodies with toxins derived from our diet, pharmaceuticals, and the environment. Kidney disease can also increase the production of a protein called angiotensin 2.  This protein causes narrowing of the small blood vessels resulting in an increase in blood pressure.  This protein also stimulates the release of the hormone aldosterone from the adrenal glands which raises blood pressure.  This protein is activated by an enzyme called ACE.  Many people with high blood pressure take pharmaceuticals called ACE inhibitors which block the activation of angiotensin.  Unfortunately, ACE inhibitors, like all pharmaceuticals, add toxins to the body which the liver and kidneys must filter out.  Making every effort to reduce toxic load and drinking plenty of water on a daily basis will help to prevent kidney disease and the loss of the kidneys filtering capacity. This will help protect against high blood pressure. 

Weight Control:

       The risk for elevation in blood pressure increases as weight increases.  As weight increases, the arterial system expands to facilitate blood flow to a greater area of body mass.  The heart must work harder to facilitate blood flow to this increased area.  Increase in muscle mass doesn’t generally result in increased blood pressure.   If increase in body mass is primarily an increase in fatty tissue, especially around the abdomen, blood pressure will tend to rise.  Maintaining proper weight for your body type is important to maintaining acceptable blood pressure.  For more information on weight management, go to: The Pathway To Weight Loss 

Life Style Considerations: 

       Smoking will raise blood pressure.  Nicotine constricts blood vessels.  Carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke replaces oxygen in the blood and reduces oxygen delivery to your cells.  Undue, sustained stress can lead to elevation in resting blood pressure.  Excessive consumption of alcohol will raise blood pressure.  Moderate use of alcohol has been shown to reduce blood pressure.  Caffeine can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure. There is some indication that caffeine blocks a hormone that dilates arteries.  Caffeine is also suspected of causing the adrenal glands to release the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline which then cause an increase in blood pressure.  Some women who use birth control pills experience elevated resting blood pressure.   It is wise to check your blood pressure more regularly if you fit into anyone of these categories. 

Diet and Blood Pressure:

       Like all other areas of health, diet is critical to maintaining normal blood pressure.  The quality of our diet must be a primary consideration in maintaining normal blood pressure. Our goal should be to shift from the consumption of processed and refined foods to the eating of whole foods.  Refined foods are your boxed, canned and packaged foods, along with most of your fast food restaurant offerings.  Whole foods are fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains such as rice, wheat, barley and rye berries, along with beans, nuts and seeds.  Meats and dairy products should be as unprocessed as possible.  You should strive to purchase organically grown food which will provide greater nutrition and freedom from chemical contamination.

       Increase your consumption of vegetables. Vegetables are a good source of nitrates which convert in the body to nitric oxide.  Nitric oxide provides circulatory and respiratory benefits for the body by relaxing smooth muscles and dilating blood vessels allowing for better blood flow.  Because nitric oxide dilates blood vessels, it can help to reduce high blood pressure.  Beets are an exceptional source of nitrate.  A number of studies have shown consumption of beet juice lowers blood pressure.  At Milk 'N Honey we carry a concentrated beet juice product called "Red Rush" which supplies 500 mg of nitrate per serving.  When young, our bodies produce ample amounts of nitrates. As we age, our bodies produce less and become less efficient at producing nitric oxide. By the time we reach forty, studies show we only make about half or less of what we made when in our twenties. As we grow older, vegetable nitrate becomes increasingly important to our health.

Supplementation and Blood Pressure:

       Green food concentrate:  Supplementing with a high quality green food concentrate will provide much needed potassium, magnesium, calcium and a wide range of other minerals, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids and antioxidants to protect the cardiovascular system and maintain normal blood pressure. The minerals potassium and magnesium are very important to the regulation of blood pressure.  Magnesium has a calming effect on the body which can reduce the effects of stress which in turn can lower blood pressure.  Magnesium is involved with the production of prostaglandin E1 which promotes the dilation of blood vessels.  Dilated blood vessels reduce vascular pressure.  We recommend the green food concentrate BarleyLife.  BarleyLife contains over 50 different minerals, around 15 different vitamins, 18 amino acids and dozens of important enzymes.

       Garlic:  Fresh garlic provides a collection of sulfur compounds of which allicin has been shown to be the most beneficial. When you chew a garlic clove, alliin, a primary substance in garlic, is activated by an enzyme in garlic called alliinase which produces allicin. Allicin has been shown to reduce inflammation, keep blood from clotting, reduce cholesterol, and lower blood pressure.  We recommend Garlinase 4000, from Enzymatic Therapy.  This is a one tablet per day supplement that provides close to 4000 milligrams of fresh garlic with 5000 micrograms of allicin from 11,000 micrograms of alliin. These enteric coated tablets are shown to protect allicin from being destroyed before reaching the small intestine.  This product does not cause “garlic breath.”

       Essential fatty acids: The important omega-3 fatty acids are very much lacking in the typical American diet.  These good fats lead to reduction in inflammation, play a role in the regulation of cholesterol, keep blood platelets from sticking together and facilitate normal blood flow.  To insure you are getting these important fatty acids in your diet, we recommend using a high quality flax seed and/or fish oil supplement.  Barlene’s flax oil and New Chapter’s WholeMega fish oil or Vectomega from EuroPharma are high quality omega-3 products that will provide expected benefits.

       Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10):   CoQ10 appears to lower blood pressure in hypertension patients by normalizing the body's sodium/potassium ratio in conjunction with other mechanisms. In human trials, an average daily dosage of 225 mg of Coenzyme Q10 caused a reduction in average systolic blood pressure from 159 to 147 mm/Hg and a reduction in average diastolic blood pressure from 94 to 85 mm/Hg within three to four months of initiating supplementation.  CoQ10 supports blood circulation and appears to facilitate the heart’s handling of blood clots. As we age, our bodies produce less and less CoQ10.  Supplementation with CoQ10 is highly recommended for anyone with high blood pressure or any type of cardiovascular problems. 

       Nattokinase:  Nattokinase is an enzyme that will break down fibrin in the blood and other body tissue.  It is derived from natto, a fermented soy bean food that is commonly eaten by the Japanese.  Fibrin is a protein that forms in the blood to stop excess blood loss associated with an injury or trauma to the body.  This protein also forms as a result of bacteria, viruses, fungi and toxins in the blood that trigger inflammation.  Under such circumstances, since there is no demand for clotting to prevent blood loss, this fibrin will circulate through the blood and stick to the walls of blood vessels.  This contributes to the formation of blood clots, slows blood flow and increases the viscosity of the blood and blood pressure.   The result is loss of oxygen to body tissue which can contribute to heart attack, stroke, and senile dementia.  While the body does produce enzymes that break down fibrin, it does not always do so efficiently, especially as we grow older. Nattokinase has been the subject of 17 studies.  These studies have shown Nattokinase to successfully dissolve clots, facilitate better blood flow and lower blood pressure. We recommend Nattokinase under the brand name Solaray.   

       Serrapeptase: (Pronounced: Serra pep tase), is a type of proteolytic (protein digesting) enzyme. It is produced in the intestines of silk worms in order to break down the walls of cocoons.  It can also be made through the fermentation process of certain bacteria. This enzyme has been shown to effectively dissolve fibrin and plaque in the arteries and thus improve blood flow leading to reduction in blood pressure. 

       L Arginine: L-arginine is an amino acid present in meats and dairy products along with grains, beans and some nuts and seeds. L-arginine converts to nitric oxide in the body which will dilate blood vessels as discussed above. This allows for less pressure in the arterial system. Research has shown mixed results as to the benefits of using arginine to lower blood pressure.  L-arginine is available in supplement form.

      Combination products:  For the individual who doesn’t care to take a variety of supplements but still needs to be proactive in reducing blood pressure, there are products that combine various ingredients that together will promote normalization of blood pressure. One such product, called Blood Pressure Factors from Michael’s Company, combines a variety of nutrients and herbal extracts that support normal blood pressure.  Several of the herbs in this product act as vasodilators which slightly dilate blood vessels, resulting in easier blood flow and therefore a lowering of blood pressure. 

Measuring Blood Pressure:

       High blood pressure not only adversely affects cardiovascular health but the health of all body systems.  Maintaining normal blood pressure needs to be a constant goal.  It is recommended that everyone purchase a blood pressure measuring device for home monitoring of blood pressure.  These can be purchased at most drug stores. The instruments with the automatic inflatable cuff are the most user friendly.  When using this equipment, be sure to measure your blood pressure after sitting down for a few minutes and relaxing.  By monitoring your blood pressure you will be in a position to take action when necessary to insure continued blood pressure regulation.