A difference of opinion over treating high blood pressure caused a rare rift between Hubby and me last year.
Awareness that hypertension is a ‘silent killer’ is mainstream now, courtesy of TV ads. We’re intensely aware of the fact that strokes and heart damage are consequences of untreated hypertension. And the idea of surviving in a wheelchair, unable to speak or control motor function, is scary.
Let me digress momentarily here. Big Pharma floods the market with new blood pressure drugs every year, provoking intelligent people to ask why, since the 80-plus varieties of drugs sold for just this one condition are more than sufficient to confuse consumers and their doctors.
Drug consumers might be interested in the results of a long-term hypertension study, concluded December 2003. Patient health was monitored, categorized by usage of every available blood pressure med. To the great surprise of study sponsors, a generic diuretic (water pill) was the front-runner. A physician review panel determined that diuretics are virtually unsurpassed in preventing the cardiovascular complications of hypertension. *
Translated – a $4 water pill, available since the 1960s, was Number One in controlling blood pressure AND preventing heart damage. So why do doctors prescribe anything else? Money, my friend! TV ads praise the attributes 24/7 of newer drug treatments costing 40 times more!
But back to our difference of opinion. We’d kept vigilant eyes on Hubby’s blood pressure for a decade, availing ourselves of preventive measures with diet, eliminating salt and processed foods, cardio exercising, etc. But the numbers were edging up slightly and causing concern. Despite my 35 years experience self-treating maladies via natural remedies, something wasn’t right. So we consulted a local naturopathic doctor.
During the consult, we learned some new info about complications of hypertension relative to a disease known as gout: overproduction of uric acid (gout) causes plaque to accumulate in arteries, a primary cause of hypertension. Hubby was treated for gout before we met, and we’d put out that fire via a low-purine diet and drinking lots of water several years prior (purine is an organic compound found mainly in meat), but were unaware of the secondary, potentially serious problem.
Our doctor friend prescribed some high blood pressure supplements, including a traditional Chinese medicine formula, Seven Flowers, and a liquid leaf, bark and berry supplement for improving circulation, CircuCare. The combo significantly reduced Hubby’s pressure in just two weeks. With numbers well within acceptable range again (and so easily attained), we didn’t bother to restock the remedies. We assumed all was well, until six months later when Hubby checked his pressure during a grocery run. Taken aback at a high reading again, we bought the products he’d previously taken. But this go-round they didn’t seem as effective. We didn’t see immediate results.
My personal stance (for decades) is that taking drugs for what ails you is flawed protocol. Hubby, having been introduced to natural medicine only a dozen years ago, wasn’t yet fully indoctrinated and wanted to consult an MD. The doctor immediately frightened him with the suggestion that his heart might have already suffered damage. Doc recommended a full battery of tests, including a nuclear stress test, which Hubby underwent. All results were negative, but the facility made good money on very expensive testing. Then Doc wrote a scrip for Indapamide and warned Hubby about doing whatever was necessary to control blood pressure… in other words, take the drug you non-compliant fool!
Despite my displeasure, Hubby ate Indapamide for a few months because surely the doctor knew best. By and by, I was startled by a sudden, noticeable thinning of his beautiful curly mane. Hubby was growing a little pink bald spot on the crown of his head – totally unacceptable. I always said I’d dump him if he ever went bald because I married him only for his gorgeous hair. And now his gorgeous hair was thinning significantly.
Odd that Hubby would suddenly lose hair, I thought, since he’d long surpassed the age when men typically start balding. The only habit change was addition of the drug. So I googled side effects and, sure enough, Indapamide depletes the body of potassium, and potassium deficiency causes hair loss. I announced that the drug was going in the garbage because I wasn’t having a bald husband – to hell with drugs and MDs. I brought out the big gun… my own plan. We’d megadose Hubby’s blood with a pycnogenol (pine bark) based plaque dissolver. I’d employed it myself as needed, after my cholesterol numbers took an upward turn. Within half a year of initial use, my own lab tests bespoke ‘beautiful blood’ again.
A preventive regimen of pycnogenols formula supplementation is one milligram per pound of body weight daily. We tripled the dose and started carefully monitoring Hubby’s blood pressure. Ever so gradually, the numbers started declining. Four months later, readings were even better than they’d been after the initial Seven Flowers course of treatment.
This week Hubby was pleased to report 128/88. He’s maintained healthy numbers for eight consecutive months now, using only nutrition remedies (to his wife’s great satisfaction). Oh, and his pink spot is disappearing under new hair growth.
* Study results were published in USA Today and at GoozNews.com (June 2006 and Sept. 2006). The 11-physician review panel was established by the National Institute of Health. The ensuing 7th Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of Hypertension concluded “diuretics should be used in drug treatment for most patients with uncomplicated hypertension…”