In this modern era of specialties and super-specialties in medical care, the science of Ayurveda holds a holistic approach. Today, humanity has begun to realize the holistic approach to health with the multidimensional aspects of body, mind, and soul. This concept was given by Ayurveda thousands of years ago. In today’s world, life has been made easy for human beings due to modernization but man has also paid for it by falling prey to many lifestyle disorders. These diseases occur due to his faulty lifestyle and stressful psychological conditions. Due to these factors, the homeostasis of the body gets disturbed which leads to many lifestyle disorders such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, etc.
Hypertension known as Uchha Raqttadaab in Ayurveda is a silent killer because most of the sufferers are asymptomatic. Blood pressure is the lateral pressure exerted by the flow of blood on the walls of arteries. There are two components of blood pressure – systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The heart has its pacemaker (SA node) that generates electrical impulses on its own, which makes the heart contract during the systole.
The diastole is attained when the heart muscles relax. The diastolic pressure is only due to the blood flowing through the narrow structures of the chambers of the heart and arteries.
Concept of Blood Pressure according to Ayurveda:
In Ayurveda, hypertension cannot be considered a vyadhi (disease). It can be understood by assessing the involved doshas (humors), dooshyas (entity which is affected by morbid dosha, srotas (body channels), etc. In Ayurveda, various theories have been proposed by ancient scholars.
Various Ayurvedic scholars have coined different names for hypertension such as Raqttgata Vaata, Aavritta Vaata, Shirogata Vaata, Dhamani Prapurana, Raqtta Vikshepa, Vyaana Prakopa, Vyaana Atibala, etc. The main pathogenesis occurs in raqtta (blood) along with blood vessels.
The physiological aspects of blood pressure in Ayurveda are fundamentally based on the theory of Tridosha. The blood is first ejected out of the heart, then distributed to all parts of the body, and thereafter, is returned back to the heart through the blood vessels, termed as ‘Shiraa’ (veins) in Ayurveda. This return of raqtta (blood) is controlled by Samana Vaayu. The self-excitatory function of the heart can be attributed to the functioning of the Vaata dosha, particularly Vyaana Vaata. It is seated in the heart and is responsible for the circulation of blood. Rishi Charak has clearly described that Vyaana Vaata, a component of Vaata dosha constantly forces the blood out of the heart and distributes it all over the body. Thus, it can be said that systolic blood pressure is attained during the contraction of the heart and it is controlled by Vaata particularly Vyaana Vaata. It is the Praana Vata situated in the Moordha (brain) that controls the Hridaya (heart) and does Dhamani Dharana (arterial perpetuation). [Ashtanga Hridaya – Sootra Sthaana, 12/4].
Therefore, in this context, it can be understood that heart rate is controlled by Praana Vaata. Both Vyaana Vaata and Praana Vaata denote the nervous control of circulation because Vaata, in general, denotes all neural mechanisms.
Diastolic blood pressure can be taken under the domain of Kapha dosha mainly Avalambaka Kapha. [Ashtang Hridya, Sootra Sthaana, 12/15].
What are the causes of Blood Pressure according to Ayurveda?
According to Ayurveda, genetics and environmental factors and other factors play a major role in the development of this condition.
These factors are:
- Intake of high salt and spicy food
- Consumption of alcohol
- Use of tobacco
- Low calcium and potassium intake
- Psychological stress
- Sedentary lifestyle
The above factors may vitiate Pitta, Vaata, and Raqtta, and physical inactivity and habitual intake of fatty foods are Kapha and medovardhaka nidanas (etiological factors increasing fat). [Charak Samhita, Sootra Sthaana, 21/4].
How to Manage Hypertension?
Avoiding etiological factors of disease is considered as the first line of management in Ayurveda. [Sushruta Samhita, Uttara Tantra, 1/25]. Non-pharmacological methods such as correction of lifestyle and diet are proven to reduce the risk of Coronary Artery Disease which is the leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide.
Ayurvedic health tips for hypertension:
- Practice praanayaama for 3-5 minutes regularly.
- Quit alcohol and smoking.
- Undergo Abhyanga (oil massage) at least once a week.
- Regular Meditation for 20-30 minutes twice a day also helps in reducing blood pressure.
- Avoid taking non-vegetarian food as it is scientifically proven that vegetarian diet cuts of high blood pressure.
- Include whole grains, seasonal fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy foods in the diet.
- Garlic, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, green tea, cardamom tea, orange juice, pomegranate juice, drumstick – moringa, soaked almonds and walnuts should be included in the diet.
- Avoid processed food, sugar-sweetened foods, red meat and fried foods.
- Coconut water has good quantities of potassium and magnesium which are found to be beneficial for those suffering from hypertension. It supports the functioning of cardiac muscles and reduces systolic blood pressure as well.
- Brisk walking for at least 30 minutes a day is also beneficial. Moderate intensity exercises such as walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, dancing etc. should be included in lifestyle.
Some of the herbs useful in Hypertension are:
1.Sarpagandha (Rauwolfia serpentina): It is the most powerful hypotensive plant. Reserpine, the purified alkaloid of R.serpentina is widely used in the long-term treatment of hypertension.
2. Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna): It is considered one of the best herbs for the treatment of cardiac ailments. It is an ideal herb to correct circulation disturbances and alleviate stress.
3. Amalaki (Emblica Officinalis): Aamla is considered the best anti-oxidant because it is the richest source of Vitamin C. It helps in reducing bad cholesterols and is useful in maintaining elasticity.
4. Balaa (Sida cordifolia): Balaa is a nervine tonic and controls Vaata dosha by strengthening the nervous system.
5. Rasona (Allium sativum): It is commonly known as lashuna and is known to lower blood pressure effectively especially the systolic part due to the presence of sulphur compounds.
Thus, while treating hypertension, Prasara awastha of all the tridosha and rasa, raqtta, and meda dushti should be taken into consideration along with lifestyle modifications.
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