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Low Blood Pressure

What is Low Blood Pressure or Hypotension?

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps out blood. If it is lower than normal, it is called low blood pressure or hypotension. ´╗┐Hypotension is the opposite of hypertension, which is high blood pressure. ´╗┐

Although hypotension may not be a cause for concern in many people, in others it may indicate nutritional deficiencies. Other symptoms may include fatigue, lack of endurance or sensitivity to heat and cold. Anaemia should also be investigated.

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Is it just the elderly who have hypotension?

Elderly people are prone to orthostatic hypotension - temporary low blood pressure and dizziness when they rise suddenly from a reclining or sitting position. Because the ageing sympathetic nervous system does not respond as quickly as it once did to postural changes, blood pools briefly in the lower limbs, reducing blood pressure and consequently blood delivery to the brain. Fainting may occur accompanied by paleness, a weak pulse, and dilated pupils. Making postural changes slowly to give the nervous system time to adjust usually prevents this problem. People taking hypotensive medication may also experience problems.

Hypotension and nutritional deficiencies

Chronic hypotension may hint at poor nutrition, because the poorly nourished are often anaemic and have inadequate levels of blood proteins. Because blood viscosity is low, blood pressure is also lower than normal. The blood vessel walls of a person with hypotension are usually very relaxed and possibly flabby or stretched. Few nutrients can reach body tissues from this condition.

Low Blood Pressure Symptoms

A light-headedness occurs, the body aches and restless sleep are normal patterns but for a correct assessment use a blood pressure gauge.

Other symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Lack of endurance
  • Sensitivity to heat and cold
  • Development of a rapid pulse on exertion
  • Little interest in sex
  • The individual requires more sleep than normal people

Hypotension and adrenal problems

Chronic hypotension may warn of Addison's disease (inadequate adrenal cortex function), hypothyroidism, hypoglycaemia, anaemia, or severe tissue wasting.

Acute hypotension is one of the most important signs of circulatory shock and a threat to patients undergoing surgery and those in intensive care units. It can result from severe haemorrhage, burns, gastroenteritis, or dehydration.

Hypotension and low mineral levels

Too little sodium has been purported to cause low blood pressure. Symptoms of Sodium deficiency include leg cramps at night, apathy, low energy, constipation, aching joints and muscles, dizziness and vomiting. Excessive amounts of salt may be excreted because of an under supply of Vitamin B5. Low blood pressure can occur with a drop in Iron and Magnesium levels in the body, combined with stress. Mild deficiencies of calories, protein, or Vitamins C and B complex (especially B5) have produced low blood pressure.

Adrenal exhaustion is commonly associated with hypotension

There are 2 parts to the adrenal glands - the cortex and the medulla. The adrenal cortex helps to maintain salt and water balance in the body. The medulla of the adrenal gland produces the hormone epinephrine, also called adrenaline, when the body is under stress. The functioning ability of the adrenal glands is most often impaired due to excessive use of cortisone & steroid treatment for disorders such as arthritis, eczema and asthma. Long term use of cortisone drugs causes the adrenal gland to shrink in size. Adrenal cortical failure is also caused by pituitary disease and tuberculosis. In conditions of stress, they can shrink and become smaller or when they are overworked, they can become 4 times larger. The adrenals can become damaged from continuous stress, which goes beyond their ability to recover from, before the next stressful period comes along.

Adrenal fatigue symptoms, chronic fatigue and low blood pressure causes

People with adrenal insufficiency are the type who usually lead fairly stressful lives. If they also worry a lot, are fatigued or if they do not eat well and have low nutritional levels, these poor glands will not be able to cope. The profile of a person with under active adrenals includes a person who is meticulous in their work. They tend to be perfectionists who often drive themselves to exhaustion, since they are unable to relax easily. Sluggishness and a lack of concentration can occur just before lunch when their blood sugar level is low.

Severe personality and emotional changes can occur, but in most cases these are reversible. The skin on these people may be thickened and their nails may be brittle. Their blood pressure is usually low or subnormal - 105/60 or less. As well as this, these people can be the ones who get swollen ankles, which are worse in the afternoon and at night, that then return to normal after a good nights sleep.

Other symptoms found in 75% of people with adrenal insufficiency include fatigue, nervousness and irritability, feelings of depression, muscle weakness, light headedness and headaches, cravings for salt, PMT, allergies, sparse body hair, poor memory, confused states, feelings of frustration, fears and an intolerance to alcohol.

Your diet and hypotension

Your diet is essential to support your adrenal glands and feel better. It is vital that people who suffer from adrenal problems stick to a strict dietary regime that eliminates rapidly absorbed carbohydrates and sugars. This includes sweets, cakes and biscuits and foods made from white flour. Eating these causes a sudden rise in blood sugar, with a subsequent sudden drop.

Small meals that are correctly combined, as well as small snacks of nuts (almonds) between meals is advisable. This will help to prevent the drop in the blood sugar levels, which occur two to three hours after eating. A protein deficient diet, with emphasis on simple carbohydrates, especially refined sugars, depletes adrenal function and fails to restore adequate nutritional support to these glands.

Stress, stimulants and hypotension

In order to keep the adrenal glands functioning properly stress and stimulants such as coffee, tea, and chocolate must be avoided. Continuous and prolonged stress from troubled marriages, bad job conditions, illness or feelings of low esteem or loneliness can be detrimental to the adrenal glands. Because the adrenals must work harder under stressful situations, continuous stress will impair their functioning ability. Poor nutritional habits, smoking, stimulants, alcohol and drug abuse can also contribute to adrenal failure.

What you eat is important for those with hypotension

Avoid alcohol, caffeine and tobacco, as these substances are highly toxic to the adrenal and other glands. Stay away from fats, fried foods, ham, pork, highly processed foods, soft drinks, sugar, white flour and refined salt. These foods put unnecessary stress on the adrenals. Consume plenty of fresh vegetables - particularly green, leafy ones. Brown rice, legumes, olive and safflower oils, nuts, seeds, wheat germ and whole grains are healthy additions to the diet. Eat deep water fish such as salmon and tuna - at least 3 times a week.

If you are a vegan or vegetarian, we recommend Nuzest Clean Lean Protein.  This gluten and dairy free protein powder comes from Golden Pea, and provides a high quality, alkaline protein powder, with a huge 21 grams of actual protein per 25 gram serve.  Clean Lean Protein comes in Vanilla, Chocolate and Natural, which has no flavour or sweetener.

Supplements to help in hypotension and chronic fatigue syndrome treatment. Low blood pressure treatment.

B complex vitamins are essential, but especially Vitamin B5 or Pantothenic acid. 100mg of B vitamins should be taken twice a day.

A correctly combined Magnesium Supplement is an essential addition for anyone who has adrenal problems. Superior Magnesium is our preferred choice, as our Naturopath Leanne James formulated this, using highly absorbable minerals, with the addition of P5P, a special form of Vitamin B6. We also like Mega Magnesium powder and Endura, a magnesium rehydration powder. The amino acid L- Tyrosine aids adrenal function and helps relieve the excess stress put on these glands.

Vitamin C, plus Bioflavonoids, are essential for a healthy functioning of the adrenals. Between 4,000-10,000mg has been used daily, split into many small does throughout the day. We love the Vitamin C with Hesperidin complex, which not only contains vitamin c and bioflavonoids, but also some homeopathic forms of minerals, which can help with the uptake of these.  We add this to water and enjoy its lemony taste, sweetened with natural stevia. We often put this into a drink bottle and drink this throughout the day.

Adrenal Support provides important vitamins, essential minerals & adaptogenic herbs that help improve the body's ability to handle stress, protect against stress-induced oxidative (free radical) damage, enhance immune & nervous system functions & combat stress & fatigue. Adrenal support also contains adrenal glandular substances (from New Zealand) that provide additional nutritional factors to nourish & strengthen the adrenals.

Multi-Vite - A formulation by Leanne James. One a day Multivitamin, formulated with New Zealanders in mind, taking into account our soil depletion of low Zinc, Boron & Selenium. Using the most absorbable forms of minerals available & 25mg of most B Vitamins.

Stress & Energy Support - A well combined supplement specifically to support proper adrenal function. Provides herbs that help the body cope better during stress, improving circulation, soothing irritated tissue and restoring a balanced hormonal output.

Multivital - Multivital contains 15 specialised herbs and is a totally herbal multi vitamin. Great tonic. Assists when stressed, helps build stamina, assists in the maintenance of peripheral circulation, acts as a liver tonic and aids digestion.

Superior Iron  - A readily absorbed Iron supplement containing Iron Bisglycinate, Vitamin C, Folic acid, Vitamin B12. Ideal for Iron deficiency and anaemia. Non constipating.

Hawthorn berries - Hawthorn possesses a unique balancing effect on the heart and circulation, thus qualifying it as a reliable support tonic in cardiovascular care. Several recent German studies verify that Hawthorn will increase coronary circulation by dilating coronary vessels and strengthen heart and muscle tissue. It also contains components which have been shown to improve tone and elasticity of arteries and veins making it useful for hypotension.

Heartcare - While many hawthorn extracts contain 2% vitexin extracted from hawthorn berries, natures Way HeartCare™ contains 18.75% oligomeric procyanidins extracted from the herb’s potent leaves and flowers, not the berries.  Extracting from this different plant part provides up to 10 times more of the key active bioflavonoids necessary for efficacy.

Strauss Heartdrops - Formulated in 1980 by Jim Strauss, a seventh generation herbalist, this is a unique herbal blend, specifically for advanced heart support. It contains unique combination of garlic oil, cayenne pepper, bilberry, motherwort, hawthorn berry & white willow bark. 

Whey Protein - This product is an excellent source of quality bio-available protein, that has one of the highest absorption ratios (able to be used by the body). Provides a complex array of essential building block amino acids, including BCAA's.

Licorice - Licorice can be used in a variety of conditions but primarily it is used to help support adrenal glands which have become overworked due to stress, excess coffee, alcohol or other stimulants or inadequate nutritional intake.

Adrenal insufficiency and the importance of a balanced diet

We have found that just by improving the diet - to one that is high in protein and lower in carbohydrates, has helped dramatically with adrenal problems. Controlling blood sugar levels is vital.  To do this, we suggest eating this way - Ideally eat every 2 ½ hours throughout the day. Strive for no less than 15 grams of actual protein per meal and for many, 20 grams is a better amount to have. Most packaged foods have a nutritional panel on the back, which will give you an idea of the amount of ACTUAL protein contained in the product. In a "nut shell", protein is anything that comes from an animal (meat, fish, eggs, dairy products) also nuts and seeds and soy products. As an example of portion size, 1 x 85 gram tin of tuna meat, provides approximately 25 grams of actual protein.

Hypotension and a Deficient Qi

According to Chinese medical tradition, low blood pressure is caused by Deficient Qi in the circulatory system. Symptoms may be alleviated by Ginseng and Chinese Angelica. Broom is useful for treating low blood pressure, as it tones the arteries. Ginger, Hawthorn, and Rosemary will also be useful as they are stimulating and work to encourage circulation.

Essential oils for hypotension

Hyssop essential oil has hypertensive properties, making it useful in the treatment of low blood pressure, and has a general tonic effect on circulation. It also helps to relieve fatigue, and increase alertness. Refreshing Rosemary essential oil is a circulation stimulant, excellent for low blood pressure and poor circulation. It also relieves stress related disorders, mental exhaustion, and promotes mental clarity. Regular massage with oils of Black Pepper, Lemon, Sage, or Rosemary which stimulate and warm, can be useful.

Homeopathics for hypotension

Homoeopathic treatment would be constitutional, but the following remedies may help if you have a tendency to faint. Veratrum is for fainting caused by anger. Coffea is for fainting brought on by excitement. Ignatia is for fainting caused by an emotional shock or trauma. Aconite is for fainting caused by fright, and characterised by tension and pale, clammy skin. Cocculus, when caused by lack of sleep. Gelsemium, when you feel weak and shaky.

A test for low adrenal function and symptoms of Chronic Fatique

Adrenal gland function self test: The normal systolic blood pressure (the higher number of the reading - 120/80) is approximately 10mm higher when you are standing than when you are lying down. To test adrenal function, take and compare two blood pressure readings - one while lying down and one while standing. Rest for 5 minutes in the recumbent position (lying down) before taking the reading. Stand up and immediately take the blood pressure again. If the blood pressure is lower after standing, suspect reduced adrenal gland function. The degree to which the blood pressure drops while standing is often proportionate to the degree of the hypoadrenalism.

Salt and hypotension

The main cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or CFS (also known as ME or Tapanui Flu) appears to be long term stress combined with an inadequate diet and lack of restful sleep. Some doctors believe this disorder is nature's way of enforcing rest when we burn the candle at both ends. It is reported to be notoriously hard to cure quickly, but a combination of a nutritious diet, peaceful lifestyle, and patience seems to work in most cases. Nevertheless, in a 1995 study of 23 sufferers at John Hopkins University it was found that 22 of them had lower than normal blood pressure, they therefore decided to put them on a high salt diet. 19 of the sufferers agreed to do this. The result was that 9 were completely cured and all of the others improved in varying degrees.

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The Naturopathic Team
Ideal Health

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered and is intended to be used for educational and general information purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or as a means to diagnose, treat, cure or prescribe for any particular condition or disease. You assume all responsibility for the treatment which may be undertaken as a result of the information on this site, or treatment recommended by any other party. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.

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