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2davidc8's avatar

Can the body heal itself? #1 in a new series: High blood pressure/cholesterol (please see inside)

Asked by 2davidc8 (7966points) 4 weeks ago

I am intrigued by the amazing capacity of the body to heal itself and reverse and recover from certain conditions, without drugs or surgery. I would like to start a new series of questions, each focusing on a different ailment or condition. The start of a new year seems like a good time to kick things off. So let’s first take a look at high blood pressure/high cholesterol: have you been able to bring down your high BP/cholesterol numbers without prescription drugs or surgery? That is, you did it through only diet, exercise, rest & relaxation, tai chi, yoga, vacation, environmental changes (move to a drier climate, change of scenery), physical therapy, non-prescription drugs, vitamins, minerals, herbs, probiotics, massage therapy, acupuncture, electrical stimulation, light/laser therapy, Feldenkrais, meditation, more social interaction, saunas, Jacuzzi, mud baths, what have you… (OTC drugs like aspirin are OK.) (Some of things on this list may not apply in this case, but they’re listed here so we don’t forget them when we discuss other diseases/conditions later.)

What prompted this question was that many years ago, a co-worker of mine tested high for blood pressure and cholesterol. His wife was so shocked that she put him on a very strict diet. This diet was nothing unusual, just the ordinary stuff we constantly hear about: lots of fruits, veggies and whole grains, cut down on red meat, as well as the sugar, salt, calories, etc. He must have lost something on the order of 30–35 lbs. And he brought his numbers WAY down. I asked him if he did anything else, like exercise. He said nope, just diet alone. Now, I realize that this was just one case and not everybody is alike, so I’d like to know if anyone else (or anyone you know) has been successful at this and how did you do it?

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20 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

In late 2012, I had a mini physical at work with a Nurse Practitioner. I was very overweight, my blood pressure (BP) was very high, and my cholesterol and glucose numbers were high. I was just short of being officially “pre-diabetic”.

Over the next eight months I dropped 60 pounds through diet and exercise. I got my BMI down to 23, my Total Cholesterol down to 190. But I couldn’t get my BP down.

I tried a number of supplements that were supposed to have a positive effect on BP. A cardiologist explain that I had had HBP for so long, that my blood vessels had lost the elasticity to respond positively.

So I have been on BP medication for 4 years now.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Simply losing weight, reducing stress, eating healthy food and getting moderate exercise will do wonders for the conditions you listed. I’m sure any doc would tell you that.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I’ve watched three guys in their 50’s and early 60’s with; high blood pressure, over-weight and with diabetes, die in the last year all had started to drop their weight but the kidneys and heart had been irreparably damaged.
They all were hospitalized for their heart condition but never came out.

@ARE_you_kidding_me ^ that should happen but long years of diabetes and high blood pressure, kidneys, heart and livers cannot repair themselves.

Kardamom's avatar

I was diagnosed with high triglycerides in my mid 40’s. I am already a vegetarian, but I wanted to see if I could fix the problem without meds. I had 3 months before my next blood test. I cut out cheese completely, Cut out anything that seemed like “junk” food, which I didn’t eat much of anyway, and ate oatmeal every single day, and upped my water intake, and exercise regimen.

After 3 months there was no change in the numbers and my doctor explained that some conditions are hereditary. My mom has the same problem, even though she eats very healthy. My dad, who does not eat healthy, does not have the problem.

He prescribed meds after that.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

While that is certainly true I think taking a very hard look at what could be causing some conditions is always warranted rather than chalking it up to heredity. My doc once put me on niacin for borderline cholesterol and shortly after that my sugar moved into the pre-diabetic range and this was labeled heredetary. I went off the niacin (listed side effect) just to be sure and my sugar went back to about 85 and has stayed there since. This was roughly ten years ago. While I know slightly elevated cholesterol is genetic for me the sugar elevation was caused by “medicine.” It’s your health, it often pays to take responsibility and do some deeper homework.

Zaku's avatar

Yes, I have. HBP is a symptom, not a disease. My doctors started reacting to mine when I was a teenager. They did tests that found no cause. They prescribed drugs which didn’t really work and did make me too sleepy to keep up with school, so I stopped those. My mother freaked slightly and started telling people we knew (which stressed me out and annoyed me) and reduced the salt in my diet (which in the long run was good – once I shifted to no salt, I realized how much salt there is in stuff – I used to use extra salt, and eat lots of Cheetos and BBQ potato chips, etc).

Anyway, I started tracking my own BP. I noticed that it would go up when I went to the doctor, and that in general medical settings and thinking about health issues raises my stress and BP. I graphed my BP over time and against my weight and the amount of exercise I did. When I was getting exercise and in decent shape, my BP tended to be fairly normal. The correlations to stress, doctors, exercise and weight were pretty visible on the graph.

This didn’t “cure” the symptom, but it did manage it. I’m pretty certain it is a symptom of stress and tension and unfitness and unused energy being held and expressed in that way, in my case.

People tend to separate their concepts of the brain and body, but both of them are governed by the same nervous system, made of the same neurons, all interconnected. While nerves in the body certainly do serve different functions (e.g. sensations, muscle contractions) from those in the brain, they can and do also do similar functions (e.g. memory), communicate in a network, and have interrelated side-effects. So when doing Feldenkrais exercises (physical movements designed to get the attention of our nervous system in unusual ways to wake and shake things up to enable learning new ways to move the body), most people also have their thinking, memories and emotions stirred up as well. The reverse is true too – state of mind and emotions and habits of thought can and do have various physical effects on the body, up to and including causing (or stopping causing) serious diseases.

Rarebear's avatar

That is, you did it through only diet, yup
exercise, yup
rest nope
relaxation, nope
tai chi, nope
yoga, vacation, nope
environmental changes (move to a drier climate, change of scenery), nope
physical therapy, nope
non-prescription drugs, nope
vitamins, nope
minerals, nope
herbs, nope
probiotics, nope
massage therapy, nope
acupuncture, nope
electrical stimulation, nope
light/laser therapy, nope
Feldenkrais, nope
meditation, nope
more social interaction, nope
saunas, nope
Jacuzzi, nope
mud baths, nope

seawulf575's avatar

I haven’t done it myself because I haven’t had to, but I hear the alkaline diet is a wonderful way to go. If you can get your body more alkaline, many of the ailments you describe go away on their own.

Rarebear's avatar

alkaline diet: nope.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Time restricted eating does work right?

Rarebear's avatar

Time restricted eating: nope. (sorry)

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

So the weight loss is an illusion? Is it that you’re more likely to eat fewer calories when restricting eating times?

Rarebear's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me The original question was about blood pressure and cholesterol. Not weight loss. And I said in my first answer that dieting does help. It’s just that restricting eating times has nothing to do with it. It’s all about the quality of food and the amount. Not the time.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Rarebear So you’re saying diet, no smoking, and exercise, the trifecta of health?

Rarebear's avatar

@KNOWITALL Yup! Although that trifecta will often not adequately treat hypertension and hyperlipidemia, so it’s important to get checked out by a health care professional.

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gorillapaws's avatar

After dieting and exercise I have improved my numbers. I also took medication and I happen to wear a navy blue uniform on week days. I’m not saying that blue clothing reduces bp and cholesterol, but I think there’s a pretty obvious pattern…

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