Dr. Weyrich's Naturopathic Functional Medicine Notebook is a collection of information on topics of interest to Dr. Weyrich that may be of interest to the world wide audience. Due to limitations of time, not all information that Dr. Weyrich knows or would like to further research is published here. Dr. Weyrich welcomes financial contributions to support specific research topics, as well as copies of non-free access journal articles for him to review on a topic. Constructive criticism is also welcome.


Overview of Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

High blood pressure is associated with a number of serious diseases, including stroke, heart attacks, renal (kidney) failure, and blindness. While blood pressure is an important predictor of future morbidity and mortality and therefore merits serious attention, some scientists have suggested other nutritional parameters that are also important, such as body levels of vitamins A, C, and E [Gey1991], [ Rogers2005, pg 30].

Complimentary and alternative treatments for hypertension that are considered below include:

  • Neurotransmitter Balancing

Etiology of Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

Regulation of blood pressure is complex, with numerous interacting systems and signalling pathways.

One of the most important systems is the renin-angiotensin system. When oxygenated blood flow to the kidneys is reduced, the kidneys respond by releasing a hormone called renin. Renin travels in the blood to the lungs, where it activates an enzyme called angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE). The ACE then acts to make the hormone angiotension which raises blood pressure in an effort to increase the flow of oxygenated blood to the kidneys.

This begs the question of why the blood flow to the kidneys was reduced in the first place. One common cause is atherosclerosis of the renal artery. Another cause that has been proposed is hypothyroidism (see below).

Non-steroidal Anti-inflamatory drugs (NSAIDs), including Vioxx (rofecoxib), Bextra, ibuprofen, Motrin, Naprosyn, and Celebrex, may have the side effect of reducing renal blood flow, leading to increased blood pressure [Fitzgerald2004], [ Rogers2005, pg 16].

One often-overlooked cause of hypertension is Sleep Apnea.


Diagnosis of Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

Dr. Weyrich uses Go to this device this device from Amazon.


Treatment of Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

Please see conventional, complimentary and alternative medical treatments for important background information regarding the different types of medical treatments discussed below.

Conventional Treatment

  • Diet, exercise, and weight loss are among the most effective interventions for hypertension.
  • Angiotension Converting Enzyme Inhibitor (ACE-I) or Angiotension Receptor Blocker (ARB) drugs are often the first-line drug of choice. Concerns have been raised that ACE inhibitors such as Accupril, Altace, Captopril, Lotensin, Monopril, Prinivil, Univasc, Vasotec, Zestril, Accuretic (includes hydrochlothiazide), Aceon, Atacand, Avalide (includes a diuretic), Avapro, Capoten, Capozide (includes a diuretic), Cozaar, and Diovan may contribute to a significant increase in the risk of anaphalaxis [Kemp1997], [ Rogers2005, pg 15]. A more well-known side effect of ACE inhibitors is the dry cough that is caused by inflamatory irritation of the lung tissues by ACE inhibitors.
  • Diuretic drugs are often prescribed. However, these drugs may be counterproductive, since many of them deplete potassium and magnesium, which can raise blood pressure and give rise to arrhythmias, and increased mortality [Cappuccio1991], [Krishna1991], [ Mountokalakis1983], [Psaty1995], [ Rogers2005], [Siscovick1994], [ Valdes1991], [Warram1991]. Note that due to the normal action of cellular ion pumps, potassium and magnesium are mostly inside cells and are not accurately measured using blood serum tests; the body's true status of these important minerals must be measured using more expensive tests that measure potassium inside red blood cells (erythrocytes) [Rogers2008, pg 7].

    Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) is an inexpensive diuretic that is frequently prescribed as a first-line antitensive agent. Unfortunately, it depletes potassium and also increases the inflammatory marker called homocysteine [Westphal2003], which has been reported to cause hypertension [Kuan2002]. Both of these effects are counterproductive to cardiovascular health. Chlorthaladone is a safer and more effective alternative to HCTZ [Yarnell2013].

    Concerns have been raised that diuretics may contribute to diabetes [Rogers2008, pg 14], [Skarfors1989] or dyslipidemia [Ames1976], [Day1979], [ Rogers2005, pg 14], [Tanaka1976], [Waal-Manning1977] have been raised.

  • Calcium Channel Blocker (CCB) drugs such as Adalat, Cardene, Cardizem, Covera, DynaCirc, Isoptin, Nimotop, Plendil, Procardia, Sular, Tiazac, Verelan, Norvasc ® are often prescribed. However, [Heckbert1997], [ Rogers2005, pg 11] points out reports of brain damage caused by these agents, and [Iseri1984], [ Rogers2005, pg 11] suggests that increasing magnesium levels is a better way to balance the calcium channels. [Rogers2008, pg 12], [Susman2000] suggest that there these drugs do not produce a significant clinical reduction in blood pressure, and are therefore essentially useless. Furthermore, [Fitzpatrick1997], [ Rogers2005, pg 12] suggest a linkage between CCB drug use and cancer due to disruption of normal cell membrane function.
  • Beta blocker drugs, also known as beta-adrenergic receptor antagonists are often prescribed. Concerns have been raised that beta-blockers may contribute to diabetes [Rogers2008, pg 14], [Skarfors1989] or dyslipidemia [Ames1976], [Day1979], [ Rogers2005, pg 14], [Tanaka1976], [ Waal-Manning1977] have been raised.
  • Hydralazine is sometimes prescribed, but is generally not a first-line agent.
  • Concerns have been raised that hydralazine may contribute to diabetes have been raised [Rogers2008, pg 14], [Skarfors1989].
  • Reduction in salt intake reduces blood pressure in some (but not all) patients.

Naturopathic, Complimentary and Alternative Treatments

  • Acupuncture: St-36, Sp-6, LI-4, LI-11 [PIHMA].
  • The TCM herbal preparation Eucomia Combination (Du Zhong Pian, from Plum Flower) may be useful for some patients.
  • Measure and treat elevated homocysteine levels [Rogers2008, pg 10].
  • Measure and treat low magnesium levels [Iseri1984], [Itoh1997], [ Kh2000], [Seeliig1989], [ Rogers2005, pg 10ff; Widman1993]. Other studies also show the importantce of adequate magnesium intake for cardiovascular health [Abbott2003], [Altura1985], [ Baker1991; Johnson], [Rogers1991], [ Seelig1989; Shils], [Singh1982]. Rogers [2005, pg 17] suggests supplementing magnesium 400-600mg/day; However Dr. Weyrich notes that this amount of magnesium supplementation may cause diarrhea, and therefore food sources should be used rather than supplements as much as possible. Rogers [2005, pg 18] has pointed out that the serum magnesium that is usually measured by lab tests is a poor indicator of actual magnesium status of the body, because most magnesium is found inside cells rather than circulating in the blood serum. Dr. Weyrich recomends evaluating the cellular stores of magnesium using the Red Blood Cell (Erythrocyte) minerals test.
  • Measure and treat low potassium levels [Cappuccio1991], [Krishna1991], [ Rogers2005, pg 10ff], [Valdes1991]. Due to the risk of sudden absorption of large amounts of potassium, the U.S. Government limits potassium in supplements to 99mg per tablet. Many foods contain higher levels of potassium that are released more slowly as the foods are digested. For this reason, Dr. Weyrich recommends that food sources should be used rather than supplements as much as possible. Rogers [2005, pg 18] has pointed out that the serum magnesium that is usually measured by lab tests is a poor indicator of actual magnesium status of the body, because most magnesium is found inside cells rather than circulating in the blood serum. Dr. Weyrich recomends evaluating the cellular stores of magnesium using the Red Blood Cell (Erythrocyte) minerals test.
  • Treat hypothyroidism if present [Barnes], [Starr2005, pg 15]. When treating hypothyroid patients with hypertension, the rate of titration must be kept slow in order to prevent agravating the problem [Starr2005, pg 180].
  • Diuretic herbs are sometimes useful. However, herbs like dandelion leaf and nettle leaf work by dialating the afferent arteries to the kidney, which raises the glomerular pressure and increases the filtration rate, making the kidneys work harder. This increased pressure is counterproductive, since it adds to the damage already inflicted on the kidneys by elevated blood pressure [Yarnell2013].

Neurotransmitter Balancing

Neuro Research [Hinz2015] reports that chronic diseases such as High Blood Pressure can be benefited by balancing neurotransmitter levels in the body.

Dr. Weyrich has been trained in neurotransmitter balancing protocols, but has not treated High Blood Pressure using this technique.

Please see What is Neurotransmitter Balancing? for more information.


Hypotheses regarding Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

Hypertension is sometimes associated with hypothyroidism and it has been observed that hypertension resolved (80%) if the hypothyroid condition is treated. It may take several months to several years to acheive maximum therapeutic effect [Barnes], [Starr2005, pg 137]. It has been proposed that in these cases, the body is compensating for low thyroid status by increasing sympathetic tone (adrenaline or other adrenal hormones) [Starr2005, pg 15].

References for Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)