Yoga and Meditation Are Scientifically Proven to Treat High Blood Pressure
April 12, 2018 / Posted by Dr. Virender Sodhi, MD (Ayurveda), ND, Richa Kumar Sood, BS Public Health
Are you aware that almost 100 million Americans and 1 billion people on our planet suffer from hypertension or high blood pressure! We know how serious of an issue hypertension is! It is a chief risk factor for strokes and heart attacks. Elevated blood pressure has recently been linked with a higher global burden of death. National data from 2011-2012 indicates that treatment of hypertension exceeded the Healthy People 2020 target goal, but the control of hypertension did not meet the goal of the Healthy People 2020 (Nwankwo, Yoon, Burt, & Gu, 2013). We must find a way to enhance the management of hypertension.
Many individuals suffering from hypertension simply pop a prescription pill to maintain healthy blood pressure levels. Is that really the only solution for high blood pressure? You might need a medication or supplement if you are hypertensive! What else are options to lower high blood pressure naturally?
In my almost four decades of clinical practice as an Ayurvedic & Naturopathic physician, I have seen a generous population of hypertensive patients. Alongside recommending a supplement or herb, I emphasize the crucial role of stress management through the incorporation of meditation, yoga, pranayama (breathing exercises), and walking into daily routines. Now, science has proven that relaxation response can literally lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients.
We all are living in a very stressful environment. Primitive societies did not have hypertension. Hypertension is the disease of civilized society and industrial world. In Ayurvedic text, there is no disease named hypertension. What we call a fight-or-flight response or acute stress response is a physiological reaction that occurs in the presence of frightening situations. Years and years of scientific research has revealed that a relaxation response, which is the reverse of fight-or-flight stress response, can occur at a physiological as well as a psychological level via relaxation practices like yoga and meditation, and it has the full potential of lowering blood pressure in hypertensive patients.
A study led by researchers in Boston published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine has recognized genes linked with our body’s reactions to relaxation practices such as yoga and meditation as well as figured out molecular mechanisms through which these techniques might be cutting down on high blood pressure.
Let’s say you go to a conventional M.D. doctor and discover that you are hypertensive! It is a no-brainer that they will put you on prescription drugs, which come with a long list of side effects. In 1989, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey I Epidemiologic Follow-Up Study found that hypertensive patients receiving medication had a slightly higher risk of death than hypertensive patients not on medication (Havlik, et al., 1989). Scientific research is finally bringing a common-sense realization that Ayurvedic and Naturopathic physicians have known for centuries –alternative therapies like yoga and meditation are instrumental for the treatment of hypertension.
When we practice relaxation, significant changes can be measured in our human bodies. For example, meditation, yoga, and walking lower our respiration and heart rates. Our brain cortical thickness increases and our gene expression changes, enhancing our cognitive abilities.
Fifty-eight people with Stage 1 essential hypertension participated in this new study. The range for the systolic (upper number) blood pressure was 140-159mm Hg and the range for diastolic (lower number) blood pressure was 90-104mm Hg. The subjects in this clinical trial were either not on medication for high blood pressure or tapered off their medication for five weeks before the enrollment in the study. They were also asked to answer a questionnaire on stress, depression, and anxiety. Out of 58 enrolled patients, 34 passed all the screening procedures, out of which 24 completed the intervention.
Yoga and Meditation Are Scientifically Proven to Treat High Blood Pressure
- 100 Million Americans and 1 billion people on earth have hypertension.
- Popping a prescription pill is not the solution to maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
- A recent study proved that relaxation techniques like mantra chanting, breathing, and mindfulness meditation lower high blood pressure & alter our gene expression.
- Meditate daily, practice yoga, walk in mother nature, eat healthy, and breathe.
In an eight-week period, eight weekly training sessions were conducted on mind-body interventions, where the subjects were taught mantra chanting, breathing, and mindfulness meditation, all of which stimulate a relaxation response. These individuals used an audio CD to practice these relaxation techniques at home. At the end of the study, patients filled out the same stress, depression, and anxiety questionnaire as the beginning of the study. They also provided a blood sample for testing of gene expression as well as a blood pressure measurement. What is noteworthy is that in 13 out of 24 patients, blood pressure dropped significantly! Both the systolic and the diastolic blood pressure readings were under 140/90mm Hg, which clinically defines stage 1 hypertension. (Bhasin, et al., 2018)
A gene expression analysis compared the blood samples of those subjects who responded to relaxation techniques with a blood pressure reading below 140/90mm Hg versus those whose bodies did not respond. Surprisingly, the gene expression analyses indicated specific gene expression changes in 1,771 genes in the responders from baseline blood tests to after eight weeks of relaxation. Through gene expression analysis, they found that the drops in blood pressure were actually linked to immune regulatory pathways, metabolism and glucose metabolism, cardiovascular system development as well as circadian rhythms. (Bhasin, et al., 2018)
This landmark research study has established that relaxation response can effectively lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients who are even not taking a prescription drug. This is science in action explaining that yoga and meditation actually do reduce blood pressure by altering our gene expression!
This is what all doctors need to tell their hypertensive patients: Kick out high blood pressure through relaxation practices. You have to make lifestyle changes. Meditate daily, practice yoga, walk in mother nature, eat healthy, and breathe. This is phenomenal for naturally maintaining healthy blood pressure. If you are a non-responder to relaxation alone, you still may not have to be on a prescription medication for hypertension. I have designed a perfect Ayurvedic solution for you, free of any prescription drug side effects.
- Bhasin, M. K., Denninger, J. W., Huffman, J. C., Joseph, M. G., Niles, H., Chad-Friedman, E., … Libermann, T. A. (2018). Specific Transcriptome Changes Associated with Blood Pressure Reduction in Hypertensive Patients After Relaxation Response Training. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 1-19.
- Havlik, R. J., LaCroix, A. Z., Kleinman, J. C., Ingram, D. D., Harris, T., & Cornoni-Huntley, J. (1989, May). Antihypertensive Drug Therapy and Survival by Treatment Status in a National Survey. Hypertension, 13(5), I-28 – I-32.
- Nwankwo, T., Yoon, S., Burt, V., & Gu, Q. (2013, Oct). Hypertension among adults in the United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2012. NCHS Data Brief, 1-8.