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