Is Diet Superior to Drugs in Lowering Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure (hypertension) is the leading reason for patients to visit their doctors. It affects the majority of Americans over the age of 65. (Nearly 1 out of every 3 adults in the U.S. and roughly 37% of Americans suffer from prehypertension.) Because hypertension is associated with an increased risk of heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, heart attacks, peripheral vascular disease, retinopathy, dementia and heart arrhythmias, prescription drugs to lower blood pressure are the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States.
Although many patients believe that their hypertension is a consequence of aging or family genetics, hypertension is actually a consequence from years of consuming a diet rich in saturated animal products, oils, refined sugars, processed foods, and salt. Considering the fact that the majority of physicians have received little or no training in preventing/reversing illness using a nutritional approach, physicians are quick to utilize pharmacological therapy instead of counseling their patients on how to improve their circulation. Artificially lowering blood pressure with drugs offers quick fixes to manage the symptoms of the disease without treating the underlying cause of the disease - which is stiff and dysfunctional atherosclerotic arteries. By treating the risk factors of a disease instead of the cause of the disease, patients remain on a lifetime's worth of medication, while their cardiovascular disease continues to advance.
According to Dr. John McDougall, "These blood-pressure-lowering drugs function by poisoning the body in various ways. 'Poison' is the correct word. Beta-blockers inhibit the action of adrenalin on the heart muscle, calcium channel blockers inhibit the contraction of the blood vessels, ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers do just that (inhibit and block) the blood pressure regulating hormones produced by the adrenal glands, and diuretics poison the water and electrolyte conserving functions of the kidneys. In other words, doctors are counteracting the body’s own efforts to adjust to the poor circulation. This is why the results of the efforts are so disappointing."
In less than 2 weeks (many times within 4 days) of following Dr. McDougall's starch-based program, 98% of his patients with high blood pressure (150/90 or higher) have significantly reduced or stopped all of their blood pressure medications and have excellent or acceptable blood pressure measurements. Based on results from his clinic, "The average reduction of blood pressure is about 14/11 mmHg in seven days" and 23/14 mmHg (systolic/diastolic) within two weeks. Food is powerful medicine. In fact, a recent study revealed that consuming just three servings of whole grains a day achieves the same benefits as taking blood pressure medications.
Despite the use of medications to lower blood pressure, most patients still have "less than ideal blood pressure." However, using an aggressive nutritional approach is not only more effective, it's much safer and doesn't come with significant risks and side effects. Dustin Rudolph PharmD, author of The Empty Medicine Cabinet, has written an excellent article which describes in detail the different types of drugs used for hypertension and their absolute risk reduction, potential risks and side effects. In his article, Hypertension - Overview and Treatment Options, Rudolph lists the average blood pressure lowering effects of different medication classes. The results are shown below.
- Beta-blockers and/or diuretic = 13/6 mmHg (systolic/diastolic) reduction
- ACE inhibitors = 5/2 mmHg (systolic/diastolic) reduction
- ARBs = 8/5 mmHg (systolic/diastolic) reduction
- Calcium channel blockers = 10/5 mmHg (systolic/diastolic) reduction
As you can see, eating a diet based on whole plant foods is much more effective at lowering blood pressure than a lifetime of taking pharmaceutical drugs. Click here for more information.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman says that the primary reason why using nutritional excellence in lowering blood pressure is superior to drug therapy is because it "improves the flow of blood in the vessels by restoring elasticity, removing plaque and restoring a more youthful normalcy to the tissues. It removes the disease rather than merely disguising it." Dr. Fuhrman reminds his readers to work with their physicians to lower or discontinue their hypertension medications after they have switched their diets, as blood pressure can become too low from being overmedicated.
Dr. McDougall recommends taking your blood pressure at home instead of being treated for the measurement during the physician's office visit, which could be much higher due to anxiety. It's worthy to mention that the benefits received by using a nutritional approach are directly proportional to the changes that are made. Making only small changes, while continuing to eat injurious foods will not offer any significant protection/reversal. Most importantly, we are not recommending that you stop taking or begin reducing your prescription medications on your own. This can have serious consequences. Please research our website thoroughly and the websites of the other plant-based doctors regarding how dietary excellence can help you discontinue or minimize your need for pharmaceutical drugs that are commonly prescribed for chronic dietary-induced illness. You will then be equipped to share this information with your own health care professional. "VegDocs" is also a great resource that may help you locate a physician near you that's familiar with the powerful benefits of plant-based nutrition.
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More Health, Less Medicine: Why take drugs for life to lower blood pressure? Resolve blood pressures naturally, with less medication! Many of Dr. Carney's patients normalize to need no medicine at all, using science from her Starch-Smart® System. Discover which foods raise blood pressure, narrow the arteries, and damage those all-important endothelial cells. Dr. Carney teaches the best ways to dilate your arteries today, and ditch those meds for good.