If you want to lower blood pressure naturally, from a functional medicine approach, you have to find out why your blood pressure is high in the first place. One often overlooked cause of high blood pressure, also called hypertension, is an imbalance in neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals your body makes that have a huge effect in the body. More well known problems associated with neurotransmitter imbalance are things like anxiety, depression, insomnia, addictive behaviours and low libido. A much less well known effect of imbalanced neurotransmitters is high blood pressure.
This may sound super technical but its really not. I think everyone knows that feeling stressed can make blood pressure go up. Simply put, neurotransmitter imbalance can cause you to feel stressed, anxious and worried, and that will raise blood pressure.
Lower Blood Pressure Naturally | Serotonin
Serotonin is the most recognized neurotransmitter. If serotonin is out of balance it can cause depression, anxiety, worry, obsessive thoughts and behaviors, carbohydrate cravings, PMS, difficulty with pain control, and sleep cycle disturbances. Common sense here will tell you that if someone is experiencing these kinds of symptoms, there’s a good possibility of elevated blood pressure as well.
Scientific studies on the effect of serotonin and blood pressure 1 2 have found several ways this neurotransmitter can affect blood pressure. Serotonin influences the blood, blood vessels , heart, adrenal gland, kidney and the brain, and all of these tissues have an important influence on blood pressure.
Lower Blood Pressure Naturally | GABA
Low levels of the neurotransmitter Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) can contribute to anxiety and worry. Again, it’s not too hard to imagine an anxious worried person having higher blood pressure as a result.
There have been some interesting studies looking at chlorella and blood pressure. 3 4 Chlorella is has a lot of GABA in it. What these studies found is that chlorella can help lower blood pressure. I wish these studies would have first tested people for both low GABA and high blood pressure. My hunch is that the results would have been even more impressive. If they gave chlorella to someone with high blood pressure but normal or high GABA, the effect of adding more GABA would not help.
Lower Blood Pressure Naturally | Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Epinephrine, Glutamate
Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Epinephrine and Glutamate are all considered excitatory neurotransmitters. Which means if any of these are too high they will result in hyperactivity, anxiety, stress and even panic attacks.
Dopamine affects the central and peripheral nervous systems, vascular smooth muscle, the heart and the kidney.5 All of these are involved in blood pressure control. For example, high dopamine will cause the blood vessels to contract, raise the heart rate and cause the kidney to retain fluid. Any one of these effect can raise blood pressure.
It you’ve ever been frightened and felt your heart pound, you’ve experienced a normal release of norepinephrine and epinephrine. These neurotransmitters are made in the brain and adrenal glands. They are important when we need that “fight or flight” response, but if these neurotransmitters are elevated all the time they can easily lead to high blood pressure.6 7
One way glutamate levels can be elevated is if a person consumes monosodium glutamate (MSG), a chemical flavor enhancer found in many pre-packaged foods. A big study 8 showed that MSG consumption elevated blood pressure.
Lower Blood Pressure Naturally | Testing
Testing for neurotransmitters is as simple as collecting some urine and sending it to the lab.
Let me show you a test result of a patient who was experiencing hypertension.
As you can see this patient had low serotonin, high dopamine and extremely high epinephrine. Knowing what you know from this article I bet it’s no surprise to you that this patient had high blood pressure.
Here is what this patient’s neurotransmitter test looked like after treatment.
Not only was this patient suffering from just high blood pressure, she was also experiencing depression and anxiety. My patient was very happy with the results of her treatment because her blood pressure, anxiety and depression all got better.
Lower Blood Pressure Naturally | Treatment
The type of treatment of neurotransmitter imbalance totally depends on the test results. No two patients have the exact same treatment, because no two people will have the same test results. However, every treatment is 100% drug free! The right combination of amino acids, vitamins, minerals and herbs will make up a treatment plan to correct the neurotransmitter imbalance.
Now, of course, not all cases of hypertension are a result of neurotransmitter imbalance. While it is a common cause and should be tested, toxins, intestinal problems, infections, toxic emotions, hormone imbalances, obesity, atherosclerosis and nutritional deficiencies/insufficiencies can all contribute to hypertension. A functional medicine approach to high blood pressure looks at all these areas as potential causes. With proper testing and treatment it’s very possible to resolve hypertension naturally without drugs!
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3310484/ ↩
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19086344 ↩
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12495586 ↩
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19811362 ↩
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10386248 ↩
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26828781 ↩
- http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/hypertensionaha/1/4/341.full.pdf ↩
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21372742 ↩