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World Hypertension Day: Hypertension, Holistic Healthcare Through Ayurveda And Yoga (Expert Article)

World Hypertension Day is observed on 17 May every year. The day was initiated by The World Hypertension League, an umbrella to the organization of 85 national hypertension societies and leagues. The day was initiated to increase the awareness of hypertension.

Hypertension literally means elevation of normal blood pressure. The disease often remains hidden and more than half of the population remains undiagnosed as no visible symptoms were present. The disease bears the potential risk of numerous life-threatening complications like heart disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke, paralysis, renal failure, eye disease, nerve disease and many more. The ongoing process can be arrested or at least delayed by proper medical care and holistic care.

Ayurveda can be used effectively in managing the medical problem and arresting the ongoing progression of the disease. Blood pressure is a necessary phenomenon for the circulation of blood (supply of oxygen, nutrition, preventive forces, immunoglobulins, etc. throughout the body). The heart pumps blood that rushes to the aorta and by passing through the system of arteries it reaches the farthest part of the body and supplies necessities for life i.e. nutrition and oxygen.

Hypertension is believed to be observed in approx. one-fourth of the global population (estimated as 972 million) which is may increase to 29% by 2025. As per CDC the disease has remained a major contributor to heart disease & stroke. The disease is observed more in blacks with a prevalence rate of 34.4%. There is a similar prevalence observed in India it is estimated that the disease is observed in approx. 29.8% of the population with significant-high in urban populations than rural populations. This significant difference may be due to lifestyle differences, stress levels, hygiene, work & work pressure, long travels, lack of exercise, etc.

What Is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is a natural phenomenon that helps to circulate blood from the heart to different parts of the body and return to the heart. Blood is the nutritive fluid and oxygen; it also acts as a medium for transport of various immunoglobulins, hormones, protein, toxic materials, end-product of metabolism & intermediate product of metabolism. Ayurveda narrates this with two different words i.e. Rasa and Rakta. The former is the nutritive fluid and the latter is part of this nutritive fluid. Blood has two components i.e. fluid component - plasma and formed component - cells of the blood (red blood cells, white blood cells and platelet). The first description of the circulation of blood is narrated in Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita as follows:

"स शब्दार्चिर्जलसन्तानवदणुना विशेषेणानुधावत्येवं शरीरं केवलम् ||१६||" (Sushruta Samhita)
"व्यानेन रसधातुर्हि विक्षेपोचितकर्मणा| युगपत् सर्वतोऽजस्रं देहे विक्षिप्यते सदा||३६||" (Charaka Samhita)

Vyan or Vyan Vayu provides the necessary motive force (by pumping action of the heart) which gets transported to different parts of the body by travelling in upwards (like fire), downwards (like water) and oblique direction (like sound) to reach all parts of the body. Oja (the vital essence) also travels and provides longevity to the body and body tissues. The conduction is generated by the heart itself from the SA node that is present near the atrium (the heart has four chambers the two atrium - upper chambers and two ventricle - lower chambers) this impulse travels to AV node and passes through the septal wall it reaches to Purkinje fibre this produce necessary contraction that pushes blood to the aorta. The impulsive system in the arterial system known as vaso-vegal system also contributes to regulating blood flow.

Blood pressure regulation

Blood pressure is regulated by different systems of the body. neurological regulation, endocrinological regulation, and chemical regulation were important regulatory mechanisms. The baroreceptors, blood flow to the heart, salts, etc. regulate blood pressure.

What is High Blood Pressure?

When there is persistent elevation of blood pressure is observed with presenting features or no presenting feature is known as blood pressure. On the basis of the causative factors, it is classified into two types viz.

  • Essential blood pressure or primary blood pressure
  • Secondary blood pressure

The former is caused as a primary disease and observed in more than 80% of hypertensive patients, whereas the latter is due to secondary disease.

The disease is diagnosed by measuring blood pressure; as per the revised criteria laid down by Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (7th report) the classification of hypertension for adults are as under:

Factors Systolic pressure Diastolic pressure
Pre-hypersensitive 120-139 80-89
Stage 1 140-159 90-99
Stage 2 >160 >100

Causes Of Hypertension

Primary hypertension may be caused by:

  • Environmental causes
  • Genetic causes
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Endocrine cause
  • Kidney causes
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol
  • Excessive salt intake
  • Ageing

Clinical Presentation Of Hypertension

Essential hypertension may remain undiagnosed and diagnosed after the onset of complications. Classically the disease is manifested with headache, heaviness in the head, throbbing in the head, acid-peptic signs, buzzing of the ears, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, chest pain and tremors.

Holistic Management Of Hypertension

Secondary hypertension usually gets cured with the cure of primary illness. Essential hypertension may needs management. Ayurveda offers various treatment options with medicine, therapeutic procedures, yoga & meditation.

Herbal medicaments for management of hypertension - various herbal and polyherbal combinations were used for the management of hypertension. The important herbs and herbal combinations are as below

  • Sarpagandha - R. serpentina is a very popular Ayurveda medicine used for the management of hypertension. It contains active component of serpentin - reserpine. This chemical component was primarily used for management of disease. The drug has been observed as safe even for long term use. Sarpagandha can be used as powder, tablet, or ghanvati.
  • Ashwagandha - W. sominefera is popular Ayurveda medicine used for treating various disease. It has property to pacify Vata Dosha and possess rejuvenator action when used pharmacologically. This can be used as powder in combination with pipplimula for better effects with honey or milk or ghrita as vehicle. This can be used as tablet or pill or capsule.
  • Brahmi - B. monnori or c. astica were two herbs used as brahmi. Both the drugs possess the property of improving mental health promotion. It can be used as a powder with honey or ghee as vehicle. It can be used with other mental health-promoting drugs like shankhpushpi, vacha etc, for better effects.
  • Jatamansi - Jatamansi is the other medical herb that can be used for early hypertensive or mild hypertension. The long term use of the medicine is observed to be safe and does.t have any major adverse drug reactions even long term use.
  • Sadapushpa - naturally occurring reserpine is found in sarpagandha and sadapushpa or sadafala. The drug showed a significant reduction in blood pressure in patients with hypertension. The drugs have no significant adverse drug reactions.
  • Gokhsru - Gokshru is a diuretic drug used for the management of renal diseases. The use of the drug induces urination and thus reduces water retention which is responsible for the management of hypertension.
  • Mansyadi Kwath - Mansyadi Kwath chiefly contains Jatamansi and Parsik Yavani that can be used for management of hypertension. This polyherbal combination is also used as a sleep inducer, mental health promotion, etc.

Therapeutic Procedures For Management Of Hypertension

Various therapeutic procedures were in use for managing hypertension that is as below:

  • Murdha Taila - there were four therapeutic procedures in Murdha taila viz. Shiro Abhyanga, Shiro Dhara, Shiro Pichu, and Shiro Basti. These procedures have progressive better therapeutic efficacy. This can be performed chiefly by different types of oil.
  • Shiro Abhyanga - is the process of massaging the scalp with oils. It produces a soothing effect, induces sleep, gives relaxation, improves cogitation, and memory, prevents ageing and promotes healthy growth.
  • Shiro Dhara - this is the procedure of drop by drop fall of different liquids on the forehead with movement. This is a relaxing procedure and is better performed as outpatient and inpatient care. This can be done by different types of liquids.
  • Shiro Pichu - this is done by use of cotton gauze dipped in oil preferably in Mahanarayana Taila and kept overhead for approx. thirty to forty min.
  • Shiro Basti - this can be performed by filling the head oil in a cap to be placed on the head. This can be performed for a limited period only.
  • Other therapeutic procedures were Basti and Virechana

Diet & Life Style Management Of Hypertension

Diet is considered as biggest medicine. A healthy and wholesome diet is good for managing the condition naturally.

  • A light easily digestible diet that suits local ecology
  • Avoid sea salt and switch to rock salt (Saidhava Lavana)
  • Take a modest amount of cow's ghee in food
  • Take proper amount of fluids
  • Avoid foodstuff made of refined floors, aerated beverages, complex food materials
  • Avoid smoking, alcohol if possible
  • Regular exercise
  • Practice Pranayama at least 15 min a day
  • Practice stress releasing techniques meditation for at least 20 min in the morning and evening
  • Take a leisure walk in the evening
  • Regular check-ups and consultation whenever required

Statutory instructions: The article is presented to increase the awareness about Ayurveda on the traditional knowledge of Ayurveda from old Ayurveda texts and applicable as per interpreting the ancient Ayurved text. Readers can read and get informed about Ayurveda, for more details and consultations do contact the Ayurveda physician or Ayurveda Hospital.

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