(Published June 2015)
Since writing Bypassing Bypass and the articles here in our cardiovascular section, I’ve collected a lot of information on hypertension (high blood pressure) that needs to be passed on.
Lancet Oncology published in 2010 that angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) raise the risk of cancer. There was an overall 11% increase and as much as 25% increase in lung cancers.
These particular drugs have worldwide sales of around $25 billion with doctors writing out about 82 million prescriptions.
Of course drug companies are worried that sales might take a hit because of this research. Worried over people getting cancer? Not so much. [Lancet Oncology, 2010; doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(10)70106-6]
This is the latest study I found linking blood pressure drugs to cancer. In 1996, Hypertension [28: 321-4] published a study out of Canada that re-examined seven previous studies linking various cancers to blood pressure medications, eg., diuretics and antihypertensives, with researchers concluding that more research was needed. But with the beta blocker Atenolol, researchers noted that cancer was twice as common in people taking it compared to others who did not take it for hypertension.
In Bypassing Bypass, we pointed out two drawbacks to hypertension drugs. The first one was that they work only about 50% of the time; the second one being they pull B-vitamins from the body. B-vitamin deficiency can bring on congestive heart failure.
There seems to be another problem, and that is doctors seem to be choosing a one-size-fits-all approach to hypertension. In a study in which 945 patients were monitored, 16% of them actually found their blood pressure rose because of their prescription. [American Journal of Hypertension, 2010; doi: 10.1038/ajh.2010.114]
Additionally, it’s been found that diuretics and beta blockers increase your risk of diabetes, while ACE inhibitors and ARBs (the ones that increase your cancer risks) reduce the risk of diabetes. [The Lancet, 2007; 369: 201-7]
For years, doctors have assumed that blood pressure rises as we get older. Recent studies show that the reverse is actually happening, but in stages.
Researchers at the University College London discovered that when we reach our late fifties, blood pressure rises; after that, it just naturally falls. Our blood pressure also changes during the day, leading to doctors misreading our pressure levels. Thus the definition of “dangerous levels” has changed over the years. [PLoS Med, 2011; 8: e1000440]
In addition to aging (past 65), a low carb diet also seems to reduce blood pressure.
In one study of 146 people (with high blood pressure and overweight), nearly half lowered their blood pressure on a low carb diet.
The latest diet drug, Orlistat, was given people who were overweight, and just 21% lowered their blood pressure. [Archives of Internal Medicine, 2010; 170: 136-45]
You might have heard of ACE Inhibitors. Let me explain.
The enzyme Angiotensin II constricts blood vessels while causing damage to the lining of those vessels as blood tries to “squeeze through.” The results are stiff and hard arteries. This enzyme also elevates sodium levels and you retain water (and your blood pressure goes up). You can get an ACE inhibitor from your doctor and risk all the drawbacks we’ve discussed above, or you can eat blueberries.
Yes, blueberries are ace inhibitors. However, a blueberry concentrated extract works even better. [Feeding blueberry diets inhibits angiotensin II-converting enzyme (ACE) activity in spontaneously hypertensive stroke-prone rats.]
Though most sites will tell you that “more research is needed,” both of these have been found in studies to lower blood pressure.
Watermelon is high in the amino acid L-citrulline, which provides our body with nitric oxide, that miracle molecule that relaxes our blood vessels. [American Journal of Hypertension, 2010; doi: 10.1038/ajh.2010.142] However, keep in mind that the study used watermelon “extract” and you would need gallons of watermelon to affect your blood pressure, and that is why you can soon expect watermelon concentrate pills to be on the market.
Whey protein too has been found to lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure without affecting people with normal blood pressure. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22402472]
We found that whey protein beverages lowered BP only in individuals with previously high BP, but not in those with normal blood pressure …
These findings suggest that whey protein beverages had a normalizing effect on elevated BP and did not cause hypotension. This is important since hypotension can be a health concern in certain population groups, such as young women and the elderly.
Science does not support the theory that eating saturated foods puts fatty deposits on your arteries but that doesn’t stop people in white coats with ritual stethoscopes around their necks from telling us this myth. However, fatty deposits do happen and if we can clean the arteries early on, hypertension will be less of a problem.
Hypertension is the result of two main things: arteries not getting the nutrition needed and inflammation (caused by our poor nutrition).
A recent study out of Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute found that after a year on Aged Garlic Extract and CoQ10, they were able to reduce “soft plaque” in people with metabolic syndrome up to 80%. [Aged garlic extract and coenzyme Q10 have favorable effect on inflammatory markers and coronary atherosclerosis progression: A randomized clinical trial]
Additionally, your body needs more efficient fat metabolism and one great way to do this is by increasing your body’s release of adiponectin. You need to read the article on adiponectin (I.Link) and how to get more of it into your blood stream.
In our article on Hypertension, we point out studies that show both Pomegranate Juice and Grape Juice (and wine) can keep fatty (calcified) deposits off your arteries. Additionally, the super secret “X-factor” that Weston Price discovered is no longer super secret. It’s a form of Vitamin K called MK-7. My favorite is NOW Foods version.
Since we’ve mentioned it, nitric oxide, we need to go into depth on it. However, I’ve already written about this in our article Stroke Prevention Basics. And even though I’m going to just copy that here, you really should read the entire article, because Stroke Prevention is Hypertension Prevention.
From Stroke Prevention Basics
Here is a short list of all the things Nitric Oxide does for us:
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves quality of sleep
- Assists the immune system fighting off tumors and bacteria
- Assists the transmission of information between nerve cells and the brain (better memory, better reflexes)
- Increases endurance and strength
- Regulates blood pressure by dilating arteries.
And I’ve just read that in 1998, three scientists were given the Nobel Prize for discovering the signaling role of nitric oxide. Since then, there have been over 50,000 studies done on nitric oxide. [What is nitric oxide and how does it work?]
As we age, we become less active and we slow the production of nitric oxide. There are supplements and foods that will assist us in producing enough to keep our blood pressure under control.
- Pycnogenol or grapeseed extract
- Ecklonia Cava Extract (works even better than pycnogenol)
- L-Arginine (however, in middle age men it stops working and can do damage)
- L-Citrulline Malate Complex (recently discovered to do wonders for chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia)
- Beet Juice, the latest fad.
I dropped my blood pressure 40 points using L-Citrulline Malate Complex and still use it when I’m not using beet juice.
All of these or any combination will be helpful, and you’ll notice the extra energy within a half hour of supplementing. People who work out always take one or more of these supplements.
All that’s left is to help clear the gunk off your arteries (arterial plaque) and you’re home free.
Pomegranate juice, Concord grape juice, and serrapeptase will do that. Personally, from my research, the pomegranate juice works best, followed by the serrapeptase, and then the grape juice. However, all of them (either of them) is better than none at all.
Studies have shown that drinking pomegranate juice regularly will reduce blood pressure.
That’s it. Now get out there and move your bodies.
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