Dr. Russell Blaylock, author of The Blaylock Wellness Report newsletter, is a nationally recognized board-certified neurosurgeon, health practitioner, author, and lecturer. He attended the Louisiana State University School of Medicine and completed his internship and neurological residency at the Medical University of South Carolina. For 26 years, practiced neurosurgery in addition to having a nutritional practice. He recently retired from his neurosurgical duties to devote his full attention to nutritional research. Dr. Blaylock has authored four books, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, Health and Nutrition Secrets That Can Save Your Life, Natural Strategies for Cancer Patients, and his most recent work, Cellular and Molecular Biology of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Find out what others are saying about Dr. Blaylock by clicking here.

Hawthorn and Hypertension

Thursday, 24 February 2011 08:40 AM

One of the most frequently discussed problems in medicine is patient non-compliance — when patients won’t take their medications. This is a very common problem with blood pressure medications because of their frequent side effects including:

• Severe fatigue
• Flu-like symptoms
• Muscle pains
• Erectile dysfunction
• Loss of sexual desire by both men and women

Anti-hypertensive medications also frequently cause a severe loss of vital nutrients, such as coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and magnesium, which can increase one’s risk of fatal heart attack, heart failure, and stroke.

The good news is that there are ways to lower blood pressure safely. For example, an extract from the hawthorn plant is effective in lowering mild to moderate hypertension, as well as relieving mild and moderate heart failure.

Hawthorn leaves and flowers contain abundant, powerful antioxidants such as oligomeric proanthocyanidins, which are also known to profoundly strengthen blood vessels. This helps prevent blood-vessel rupture, which occurs with hypertensive brain hemorrhages, as well as hemorrhages in the skin, eyes, and other organs. For more information on how supplements can extend your life, read my newsletter “Extend Your Life: 4 Supplements That Will Help You Live Longer.”

One study of hawthorn (at a dose of 900 mg/day) found that the extract was as effective as the conventional heart drug captopril in relieving symptoms of heart failure. It has also been shown to improve exercise tolerance in heart failure patients and improve shortness of breath.

Another study involving 952 patients with heart failure compared treating the patients with either hawthorn alone, conventional drugs alone, or hawthorn plus conventional drugs. Researchers found that after two years, heart failure symptoms such as palpitations, breathing problems, and fatigue decreased significantly in patients taking hawthorn supplement alone. People taking hawthorn were also able to significantly reduce their dosage of prescription drugs.

Yet another study examined 60 people with history of angina — a pain or tightness in the chest that occurs when an area of the heart muscle receives decreased blood supply. This study found that even in doses as low as 180 mg per day, hawthorn extract, as compared to placebo, increased blood flow to the heart, allowing patients to exercise longer without experiencing chest pain. In a recent review of 29 important clinical studies involving 5,500 patients, it was shown that hawthorn extract was safe in a dose range of 160 mg to 1,800 mg per day.

The advantage of hawthorn is that it not only lowers blood pressure (by dilating the vessels), but at the same time it makes the heart muscle stronger. In addition, its powerful antioxidants help protect the walls of the major blood vessels from lipid peroxidation damage, which occurs when fats oxidize and cause inflammation to tissues. For more information on how to protect your heart, see my report "Can Sudden Cardiac Death Be Prevented?"

High blood pressure damages arteries by causing the generation of high levels of free radicals and lipid peroxidation products in the inner lining and muscle layer of arteries. Anti-hypertensive drugs do nothing to reduce free-radical damage directly.

However, one should be careful about mixing hawthorn extract with certain drugs. The most common interaction is an increase in the effect of the medication, meaning it could even make the medication toxic. This reaction has been seen with these medications:

• Digoxin
• Beta-blockers (Tenormin, Lopressor, and Inderal)
• Calcium channel blockers (Norvasc, Cardizem, and Procardia)

In most studies involving patients with difficult-to-control blood pressure, the dosages of conventional drugs were significantly lowered when patients were given hawthorn extract.

This is something I recommend in my own practice. I remember one gentleman coming to me for something to control his very high blood pressure, which remained uncontrolled even after his doctors put him on a mixture of anti-hypertensive medications. I suggested hawthorn extract along with reduced doses of his medications. He returned in two weeks and told me that for the first time in 10 years his blood pressure was normal.

Like all other natural treatments, hawthorn extract only should be taken with the help and consultation of a trained nutritional physician or certified clinical nutritionist.

For more of Dr. Blaylock’s weekly tips, go here to view the archive.

© HealthDay

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Thursday, 24 February 2011 08:40 AM
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