Tag Archives: blood pressure

Using herbs and natural treatments for circulatory system problems

Generally, the last Thursday of the month, I hold a free lecture series at the local library regarding Herbs, Herbalism, Shamanism, folk medicine, natural and alternative treatments to common health issues.

Last week’s discussion was at the request of one of the participants. Requested was a discussion focused on natural treatments of high cholesterol and high blood pressure problems. I want to share some of the things we discussed.

The Circulatory System

Understanding the basic body mechanics

Blood is the body’s life force.  Blood is needed in every system for the body to survive. Blood carries Vitamin C and E and other necessary nutritional needs and vital oxygen to every cell. Blood also carries out and removes waste material from every cell.  Blood is carried to the cells by way of the circulatory system. The circulatory system consists of a network of veins and arteries and smaller vessels known as capillaries.

Arteries, smaller arterioles and capillaries carry oxygen enriched blood to the cells.  The veins carry waste material away from the cells and back to the heart to be pumped to the lungs to be re-oxygenated. They all work together to complete the circuit.

With that said, we discussed some of the more common medical issues people have with their circulatory system.


Cholesterol is a fatty compound present in the blood to maintain normal structure and function of the cell membrane.  Cholesterol is also important to sheath and protect the nervous system. However, too much cholesterol is not a good thing.  High cholesterol is almost epidemic in Western culture because of our bad eating habits and poor quality food.

 There are two types of Cholesterol

  • High Density Lipid (HDL) considered to be the ‘good cholesterol’.
  • Low Density Lipid (LDL) considered to be the ‘bad cholesterol’ and which is the main cause of arterial plaque build up and narrowing of the artery walls.

The body’s natural cholesterol regulator is Vitamin B3 (Niacin).  Proper daily intake of Vitamin B3 keeps cholesterol in check.

Because of our generally bad ‘SAD’ diets many people are symptomatic of Hypercholesterol – too much fat in the blood and the inability of the body to break down these fats with bile.  When this occurs, we generally take medical advice to reduce the cholesterol by taking medications (other than Vit.  B3) like Statins.  Taking Statins opens us up to a whole bunch of unpleasant side effects.

I recommend treating hyper cholesterol with natural supplements.

Recommended supplements to control High Cholesterol are:

  • Niacin: A time released formula of Vitamin B3 is recommended
  • Fish Oil: High in Omega 3 Essential (short chain) Fatty Acids (EFA)
  • Flax Seed Oil which is high in Lecithin and breaks down fatty proteins.
  • Evening Primrose Oil also high in lecithin drops the LDL
  • Soy Isoflavones: a compound found in Soy products

Hypertension, aka High Blood Pressure:

High blood pressure is known as the silent killer.  Many people have high blood pressure and aren’t even aware of the condition.  High Blood pressure can be caused from a number of different factors. Understanding your own symptoms will determine how you may treat the condition.

High blood pressure is determined by measuring the pressure exerted on the blood vessel walls.  When the heart is contracted and at full ‘pump’, this is known as the systolic pressure.  The pressure measured when the heart is relaxed (between beats) is known as the diastolic pressure.

This gives you an upper (systolic) number and a lower (diastolic) number.  The pressure is measured in millimeters of Mercury by a cuff and gauge called a sphygmomanometer.

Causative factors that will raise the blood pressure are:

  • Narrowing of the blood vessels from age and build up of arterial plaque (hardening of the arteries)
  • Genetic anomalies, i.e.: Family history
  • Stress/ anxiety
  • Chemical imbalances from poor nutrition and supplementation, i.e.: Inadequate Serum Magnesium levels

That brings me to the importance of maintaining a proper blood serum Magnesium level.

The mineral Magnesium is responsible for hundreds of chemical autonomic functions throughout the body’s systems. One of Magnesium’s primary functions is to control the dilation and contraction of blood vessels.

Magnesium must be absorbed every day for proper autonomic functions. Normal magnesium levels are usually provided in the food we drink or eat. But industrial farming methods in this country have depleted Magnesium in the soil over the last 100 years. Most people today are Magnesium deficient because of this and supplementation is almost imperative.

Magnesium is also poorly absorbed when taken in pill/ capsule form. Magnesium is mostly destroyed in the stomach and alimentary system (80%).

Two effective methods of Magnesium supplementation are:

  • Transdermally: absorbing magnesium directly through the skin. One way to do that is by soaking in an Epsom Salt Bath. Epsom salt is 100% Magnesium sulfate. Soaking 20 -30 minutes a day in a warm water bath will absorb enough magnesium to elevate ones serum Mg levels. An alternative to this is just a simple foot soak in warm water with Epsom salt. Magnesium is absorbed directly through the skin on the soles of the feet.(Search article on my web site at Belfirebotanicals.wordpress.com)  ‘Transdermal Magnesium Therapy’.
  • Internally: Another method of Magnesium intake is taking a warm infusion of ‘Harmonic Tea’

Harmonic tea is formulated to support the Musculoskeletal system and also the nervous system.

My recipe for this amazing tea is:

2 parts Oat Straw

1 part Red Clover herb and flower tops

1 part Nettle leaf

1 part Comfrey leaf

1 part Hibiscus flowers

Blend herbs. Add 1 TBS of the herb mixture to 1 cup of hot water. Steep 10 – 15 minutes.  Sweeten as desired.


These are some of the herbs you may use to help deal with your own issues of the circulatory system.

Cayenne Pepper, aka African Bird Pepper

  • It is warming to the system, improves blood flow, acts as a vasodilator


  • Metabolic stimulant, natural blood thinner, inhibits blood platelet aggregation.

Bilberry – Vacinnum myrtylis, aka Blueberry

  • Improves vascular integrity especially in small blood vessels and coronary arteries and also helps repair small blood vessels especially around the heart and the middle ear.

Devil’s Claw – Harpogophytum Procumbens, an African Orchid

  • Softens / removes arterial plaque, tones the vascular wall, great anti-inflammatory.

Oat Straw

  • Strengthens the arterial wall

Rosemary – Rosemary officianalis

  • Warming, stimulates and tones the ‘myocardium’ heart muscle

Eleuthro – Eleuthro Senticoccis, Siberian Ginseng

  • Improves and tones the entire circulatory system, improves the body’s ability to withstand heat and cold.

Gingko Biloba

  • Improves vascular integrity, repairs small blood vessels, capillaries, especially around the heart (coronary arteries) eyes and ears.



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Transdermal Magnesium Therapy

The use of Magnesium to stabilize and control Blood Pressure


I just completed a medical experiment on myself.  The results were so dramatic that I had to share them with you.

I plan to do this once a day, every day, for a week to determine if this is just a fluke or if I really may be on to something here.

Those of you who know me personally know I’m dealing with some issues over my blood pressure spiking randomly, seemingly without precursor or cause.  I’ve asked my doctor about this and all he said was, “He didn’t know”.  So, again, I find myself looking for answers that the experts either don’t care to know, don’t know, or both.  The experts whose interests only seem to revolve around supplying me with pharmaceuticals to correct an unknown problem, of unknown origin, expecting unknown results.

Blood Pressure.  We all have it, and sometimes it seems to get a little out of control for our own good. Lately mine has been elevated.  My doctor has prescribed medication for me, an ACE inhibitor (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme). This type of medication inhibits my body from producing this enzyme, causing vasoconstriction.  This makes sense, so I’m taking it.  The drug is Benazapril Hydrochochloride 40Mg. QD (once a day).  My doctor also recommends that I take a Beta Blocker, which decreases heart muscle contractions allowing the heart to work less as it slows and eases the beat.  It also helps with fluid retention.

This combination has not worked well……..

I complained to my Doctor that it wasn’t working, as my BP is still elevated and now occasionally spiking into a red zone that could be dangerous if prolonged.  It’s also kicking my ass. I feel fatigued, no energy, wiped out by mid-day, experiencing brain fog.  So, I complained to my Doctor.  I didn’t feel the Beta Blocker was doing anything positive, as my BP was still elevated and I feel like a wrung out wash cloth.  My doctor increased my dosages (Doubled) and now wants to add another diuretic to relieve additional fluid from the body.  He recommends Hydrochlorothiazide, which acts directly on the kidneys and pushes fluids through me like a five year old at a water park.  No, thank you.  I refused a thiazide diuretic for a couple of reasons.  Thiazide drains fluids so rapidly, it tends to pull much needed electrolytes right out of the body along with the fluids.  Electrolytes such as Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, etc.  When Thiazide is used even short term, supplementation of these trace elements becomes imperative.

I decided to take a natural diuretic, an extract of Dandelion Root (I make myself).  Dandelion Roots cause the exact same diuretic effect, but don’t just work on the kidneys.  Dandelion isn’t as stressful on the kidneys as the Thiazide.  Dandelion root works on a cellular level controlling fluids in the entire system, not just the kidneys, (and in my humble opinion, is extremely effective).  Also, Dandelion is super rich in trace elements, including Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium.  So no supplementation is necessary.  Supplementation is automatic.

Not many people realize that Magnesium is the mineral that actually controls dilation and constriction of blood vessels.  Many of us are Magnesium deficient and don’t even know it. Blood tests don’t reveal the true levels of Magnesium in the body.  Oral supplementation of Magnesium is also a poor way to absorb this mineral as most of it is destroyed in the stomach and lower intestine. Approximately only 20% is actually absorbed when taken as part of the diet or through oral supplementation.  Under normal well conditions, this may be sufficient.

As an Herbalist I know that absorption can actually be obtained “Transdermally,” through the skin. As an herbalist, I have often used foot baths as a delivery system of herbal preparations, for example,  my liver cleanse is actually a foot bath of detoxifying herbs and is not taken orally. Application and absorption of essential oils is very effective through the soles or bottom of the feet, including trace elements and minerals.  Knowing this, I theorize I can absorb enough magnesium transdermally by foot bath to defeat a deficiency.

Now for my medical experiment, initially done on 8/13/10:

Epsom Salt is nothing more than Magnesium Sulfate…. period.  That’s all, just 100% Magnesium sulfate.

I took my Blood Pressure tonight and again it was elevated.  167/ 97 .  I put 1/2 cup of Magnesium Sulfate, (Epsom Salt) in a basin and dissolved it in hot water.  I started to soak my feet in the bath.  I left the BP cuff attached to my arm and took my BP every 5 minutes for 20 minutes during the entire procedure.

The results are as follows, at 5 min intervals

  • 167/ 97
  • 165/ 87
  • 138/ 87
  • 160/ 82
  • 110/ 81

This little test concludes, (for the moment), that the trace element Magnesium can be absorbed “transdermally” through the feet and work to effect a vasodilation of the blood vessels, thus lowering the blood pressure in a safe, gentle, and enjoyable way.

At present, I’m looking forward to my next foot bath.

Experiment UPDATE 08/20/10:

I realized after performing one therapy foot soak, that a complete bath might be in order and increased the amount of Magnesium Sulfate to 1 cup per bath as I soaked my whole body.  I continued to do this daily for the next 4 days.  Each day the results were the same, “a dramatic drop in Blood pressure over a 20 minute period.  In fact, over a 20 minute bath period, my BP had dropped by half. That’s a 50% reduction and a good maintenance level.  However, I noticed after the first transdermal application, (the Epsom Salt bath), that my blood pressure started to climb within an hour after my bath. I was thinking the good results I was getting were not long lasting, but I continued to do this every day.  And as I did, the results lasted longer and longer so that by the end of the week, my blood pressure was remaining at healthy levels throughout the day and evening.  

Today, after five consecutive days of this TMT (Transdermal Magnesium Therapy) bath, my BP results were as follows:

  • 168/ 139      P 89    upon awaking in the AM
  • 165/ 120      P 71    upon entering the Epsom Salt(magnesium) bath
  • 155/ 94        P 85    then in 5 minute intervals
  • 143/ 96        P 77
  • 142/ 101      P 77
  • 133/ 83        P 78

This is representative of the results on a daily basis.  I am sure that the transdermal absorption of Magnesium is successful using this methodology.  It appears that the increase of Magnesium available to my body is successfully dilating the blood vessels to a healthier , safer level.  And this treatment leaves me feeling fresh, invigorated and not mentally and physically fatigued.  I feel good after my magnesium soak.

I continue to take one daily dose of the ACE inhibitor and an Herbal Calcium Channel Blocker in extract form.  I’m also including a daily Transdermal Magnesium Therapy soak. This combination seems to have stabilized my blood pressure with no ill effects or side effects.

Any comments? Questions?  Please feel free to contact me through the blog or my email at belfirebotanicals@yahoo.com

Thank you,



Filed under Herbal Wisdom