Almost 80 million Americans suffer from hypertension, which translates into 1 out of every 3 adults. These statistics are alarming, especially as an Integrative Medicine physician, I know that most cases of high blood pressure are preventable and reversible. So why do so many people have high blood pressure and what can we do about this?
The principle reason behind most cases of hypertension is diet and lack of activity. What you eat truly makes you who you become. There is also an emotional component that manifests through stress which in turn can raise blood pressure.
Traditional medical care focuses on prescription drugs to treat the symptoms. So, in this case it is pretty easy to write a prescription for a medicine that can successfully lower your blood pressure. Within minutes, you have your solution. Unfortunately, this is simply a cover up to the root of the problem and quite often with many side effects. I see patients who are frustrated with taking prescription medications every day and want to see a doctor who can truly help them find out the real cause of the problem and fix it from the foundation.
The philosophy behind Integrative Medicine is to treat the patient as a whole (body, mind and soul) while combining the best of traditional care with natural and holistic treatments to fully restore optimum health in the patient.
A thorough analysis of the diet is essential and typically a low salt diet is indicated in patients diagnosed with high blood pressure. When we eat out, we simply don’t know how much salt they put in our food. So I advise my patients to prepare their own meals, whenever possible.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of daily physical activity. Lack of exercise can lead to weight gain, which in turn can lead to many medical problems, including hypertension. So get off the couch and get moving. If you don’t have access to a gym, then go outside and walk. If you are too busy during the day, then wake up 30 minutes earlier. There is simply no excuse for not exercising.
In my private practice at Whole Health & Soul, in Santa Monica, CA, I focus on spiritual wellness in relation to medical conditions. So on top of modifying my patients’ diets and planning exercise regimens, I teach my patients tools that they can do on their own, which will help them lower their blood pressure. I have had many patients reverse their condition and successfully get off of their medications. It takes a serious commitment and a lifestyle change to restore optimum health, but it can be done.
I provide my patients with guided meditation sessions. Many studies have shown that people who practice meditation can lower their blood pressure by about 20 mmHg. Meditation allows the mind to calm down and enter a state of consciousness, to allow healing to take place. Sitting in silence restores the connection between our mind, body and soul. Guiding my patients through a breath-focused meditation allows the calming of the nervous system which in turn lowers blood pressure.
The nervous system is composed of two pathways: sympathetic and parasympathetic. Maintaining a fine balance between the two pathways is essential. In my practice, I use Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback to help treat hypertension. The fluctuation of your heart rate represents the interaction between your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. By training your breathing pattern through stress-reduction Biofeedback, you can lower your blood pressure in a short period of time.
Hypertension, in most cases, is reversible. Find a doctor who will be your partner in your journey into health and most importantly, don’t forget to breathe!
Dr. Rob Berberian, D.O.
Integrative Medicine Specialist
Double board certified in Family Medicine and Integrative Medicine with a specialty focus in Spiritual Wellness.