Menopause and High Blood Pressure
Causes and Natural Remedies
Menopause and high blood pressure often go hand in hand, but you can reverse it with nutritional and herbal remedies.
Many women at menopause find their blood pressure going up. This is thought to be related to declining levels of estradiol (estradiol keeps the artery walls relaxed, which keeps blood pressure from rising). Some doctors say it is caused by estrogen dominance. There are also nutrients that will keep arteries relaxed, such as magnesium.
Menopause and high blood pressure may also be caused by the fact that many women become salt sensitive after menopause. This will create high blood pressure unless treated in the diet.
In modern society, blood pressure generally increases with age. Causes are mostly lifestyle related. Groups of people eating their native diets don't have high blood pressure, no matter what their age. These people have a much higher level of activity and a diet that consists of REAL FOOD – no pasteurization, trans fats, fake sugar and fat, vegetable oil that has gone rancid, etc.
Did you know that there is an entire flavorings industry supported by fast food chains? It's true, the “food” no longer has enough flavor for anyone to eat it by the time they're through with processing, so they add chemical flavorings to it so you'll want to eat it (and eat it, and eat it, and eat it) (for more information on this, as well as great motivation to eat healthy, see Fast Food Nation, Supersize Me).
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is defined as 140/90 or higher. If your blood pressure is 160/100 or higher, then you have Stage 2 hypertension. This definition is fairly recent; before these guidelines there have been several other definition of what hypertension is, all less strict than these. Normal pressure is considered 120/80 or less. A number of years ago, the bottom, or second, number was considered to be more important than the first. This is no longer true; both numbers are now considered equally important, so if only one of your numbers qualifies you for hypertension, then, according to today's definition, you have it.
Causes of Menopause and High Blood Pressure
Poor nutrition (not enough real food, too much processed food)
Overweight, insulin resistant (due to poor nutrition)
Sodium-potassium imbalance (due to poor nutrition)
Excess fluid, weak kidneys (due to poor nutrition)
Too many trans fats and other bad fats, not enough good ones
Not enough exercise, or daily activity
Smoking, drinking alcohol
Kidney disease, low thyroid, and sleep apnea may cause blood pressure to rise.
Drugs such as appetite suppressants, birth control pills, corticosteroids, HRT, and NSAIDS can also raise blood pressure.
Natural Approaches to Menopause and High Blood Pressure
Dietary – Eat more real food, increase vitamins and minerals
Most Americans are low in magnesium and potassium, very important for artery and heart health. It has been estimated that half of all people with high blood pressure are also insulin resistant.
Increase magnesium and potassium. You can supplement magnesium at 400-800mg per day. Some suggest potassium requirements are as high as 5000mg per day. It is very difficult to get this amount through diet. Some suggestions are below.
High Potassium, Low Carb Breakfast for Menopause and High Blood Pressure
½ cup zuccini, ½ cup red pepper sauteed in butter
Add 3 eggs, scramble. Add a little grated parmesan or romano cheese (optional)
Celtic Sea salt to taste
2 pieces bacon
Carbs = 8 grams Potassium = 573mg
Some high potassium foods for Menopause and High Blood Pressure
Dairy: whole milk, whole, plain yogurt
Fish: Halibut, rockfish, salmon, clams, tuna, cod, haddock. sardines
Fruit: Raw papaya, banana, melons, oranges, peaches, mangos, watermelon
Meat: duck, turkey, pork, ham, veal, chicken, beef, lamb
Vegetables: Potato with skin, sweet potato with skin, spinach, cooked mushrooms, beets, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, artichokes, broccoli, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, carrots, onions, summer squash, corn, red peppers, celery
Eliminate trans fats and other bad fats, replace with good fats.
Eliminate table salt, replace with Celtic Sea Salt. This is crucial for menopause and high blood pressure relief.
See Menopause Diets for more information.
Decrease sugar and carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates.
A loss of as small as 10 pounds if you are overweight can lower your blood pressure.
I recently lost only 6 pounds and my systolic dropped between 10-20 points and diastolic dropped 5-10 points.
Losing weight will also help with insulin resistance.
A note about losing weight: I have found The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet, by Drs. Rachael and Richard Heller, to be the ONLY one that I can live with, stay on, and lose weight with. Other diets may work for others, but if you haven't found one yet, I highly recommend you check this one out. I avoided it for awhile because of the “Addicts” in the title, but don't let that get in your way. If you have insulin issues, which many overweight people do, this diet can help. Insulin causes hunger and cravings. Controlling your insulin means controlling your hunger and your cravings. And you can eat anything on this diet, there are NO restrictions!
Supplements for Menopause and High Blood Pressure
Arginine, an amino acid, helps your body make nitric oxide, an important gas that relaxes arteries.
Vitamins C, D, E and B (especially niacin) are all important for healthy blood pressure. You will need to supplement C (500mg/day) and E - natural only (400IU minimum).
Many people don't get enough vitamin D, but you should get tested before you supplement. And don't take synthetic D or E – they are not healthy!
People with high blood pressure tend to have higher levels of free radicals, and therefore need higher levels of antioxidants. Two important ones for blood pressure are glutathione and lipoic acid.
Trace minerals, especially chromium, selenium and zinc are also important for maintaining healthy blood pressure and will help with insulin resistance as well.
Herbs for Menopause and High Blood Pressure
Dandelion supports the liver, and can help lower blood pressure.
Garlic is very effective for lowering blood pressure. Eat 2-3 raw cloves/day, or you can take a supplement.
Ginsengs are excellent for stress and lowering blood pressure. See more info on the ginsengs page
Hawthorn is an excellent heart tonic. It can mildly lower blood pressure after several months of use. It goes well with passionflower, another herb that helps lower blood pressure.
Motherwort is another herb good for the heart. It can slightly lower blood pressure as well.
Nettles is nourishing to the kidneys and adrenal glands and high in calcium, magnesium and potassium. See More Remedies for instructions on making an infusion.
Other nervines, to reduce stress.
Exercise for Menopause and High Blood Pressure
There are so many ideas now about how to exercise, how much, how often, etc. I remember a few years back when my doctor suggested that an hour of exercise 6 days a week would have all kinds of health benefits. Well, that's nice, but if I'm already feeling like I don't have enough time, and I don't exercise at all, how exactly motivating is that?
I recently tried something different, after struggling for months to add daily exercise without success. I decided to go back to the Body for Life plan that I had heard about several years ago. It's a twelve week plan for diet and exercise that gets phenomenal results. See, if I'm going to give up my precious time for exercise, I need to have immediate, motivating BENEFITS! And with Body for Life, that is exactly what you get. So my recommendation is this: forget about all the different recommendations for exercise, what you should or shouldn't do. Find something - anything - that YOU are MOTIVATED to do, and do that. Because something is better than nothing. And if you're enjoying it, you're much more likely to stick with it.
Lee, John, MD., What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause
Rogers, Sherry, MD., The High Blood Pressure Hoax
Whitaker, Julian, MD., Reversing Hypertension
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Natural Remedies for Menopause