TCM for High Blood Pressure and how balancing Yin and Yang helps!

Traditional Chinese Medicine Offers a Natural Alternative

The typical approach to managing high blood pressure under the Western Medicine model at some point inevitably involves the introduction of prescription medication as part of the treatment.

The Allopathic system of medicine which has evolved in the West has basically put all its “eggs in one basket” and adopted a treatment strategy which relies almost exclusively on the use of prescription drugs.

In some circumstances prescription medications most definitely have a role, but unfortunately they usually come at a cost – Undesirable side effects, especially when taken long term.

Thankfully, there are safe alternatives to the Allopathic Model which can be used effectively.

And one alternative which is still relatively unknown in our part of the world, but yet which has existed for 2500 years is …


Why consider TCM?

According to Lisa Bolton, co-author of  ‘Health Remedies: From Perceptions to Preference to a Healthy Lifestyle.’

“If you want a quick fix, you go for the Western medicine.”

Allopathic (Western) medicine tends to focus on treating the symptoms of a condition and seeks to provide a quick method of alleviating said symptoms, rather than figuring out the root cause of the problem.

Traditional Chinese Medicine on the other hand takes a diametrically opposite approach. Its goal is to determine the cause of the condition and correct it, so it will be healed once and for all.  Again, according to Bolton:

“TCM favours a holistic approach, views the universe and body philosophically and develops inductive tools and methods … to guide restoring the total balance of the body.”

The significant aspect of TCM is that it persuades the patient to engage in lifestyle changes which promote good health, rather than giving them a false security net which can come with just popping a pill once a day for the rest of their lives.

Looking it another way –  patients taking pills for their hypertension, for example may be less inclined to see the importance of exercising, watching their diet or losing weight.

How does TCM view Hypertension? 

At the root of hypertension according to TCM is the imbalance of Yin and Yang – the 2 forms of energy which are found in all organic beings.  Some of the causes underlying hypertension are not unknown to Western Medicine either.

For example:

  • sedentary lifestyle
  • persistent stress
  • unhealthy diet
  • organs compromised due to the first three factors above.

to this add another factor which is unique to TCM’s holistic view.

  • constitutional defects 

As a result TCM seeks to not only lower blood pressure, but also to relieve unpleasant symptoms, improve body functioning, and protect target organs like the heart, brain and kidneys.

This can promote resumption of the body’s ability to self-regulate and ensure a better quality of life for the individual.

How TCM treats Hypertension

TCM has basically 5 principles it applies in the treatment of high blood pressure:

  1. Eliminating dampness and resolving phlegm
  2. Activating blood and resolving stasis
  3. Soothing liver and extinguishing wind
  4. Clearing heat and purging fire:
  5. Nourishment and reinforcement

These concepts at first glance are quite different from the Allopathic approach, so I will examine each one a little more closely now:

  1. Eliminating dampness and resolving phlegm – The goal here is to purge the body of excess fluids and mucous wastes through increased elimination.  Also blood lipids are lowered and improved circulation is promoted.
    Herbs used in this process can include corn silk, plantain seed and morinda root.
  2. Activating blood and resolving stasis (stagnant or reduced blood flow) – by enlarging blood vessels and releasing blood flow, calming central nervous system and slowing the heartbeat.
    Herbs commonly used for this include red sage root, Sichuan lovage rhizome, motherwort herb, Chinese safflower, peach kernel, hawthorn fruit and notoginseng.
  3. Soothing liver and extinguishing wind (gas) – Herbs are used here to help calm down and regulate both the nervous system and calcium metabolism as well as expand blood vessels and promote elimination.
    Herbs for this include gambir vine stem, tall gastrodia tuber, abalone shell, chrysanthemum, selfheal fruit spike, white peony root, fossil bone, oyster shell, nacre, and magnetite.
  4. Clearing heat and purging fire – This can expand blood vessels, promote excretions, and calm down the body.
    Commonly used herbs are Chinese gentian root, baical skullcap root, golden thread rhizome, wild chrysanthemum, selfheal fruit spike, figwort root, pagoda tree flower, radish seeds, feather cockscomb seed, cassia seed, and peony bark.
  5. Nourishment and reinforcement – From yin and yang balance perspective, most hypertensive individuals tend to be excessive in yang, and deficient in yin inside the body. Thus nourishing and enriching the yin aspects of the body is essential!
    There are a great many herbs which can help achieve this:  sour jujube seed, fleeceflower root, white peony root, asparagus root, coastal glehnia root, fragrant Solomonseal rhizome, glossy privet fruit, and processed rhemannia rhizome.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Chinese herbal approach to taming your hypertension will generally take longer to produce desired effects.  And from what I have learned it tends to be more effective when treating cases of mild to moderate prehypertensive states, rather than full blown hypertension…

However there are other complementary treatments such as acupunture, qi gong and tai chi and even meditation and yoga which may all be used as a supplementary natural approach to treatment of hypertension.

Final Thoughts…

As you can see there are a huge number of herbs available to treat hypertension when using the TCM approach.

So, my recommendation given such a plethora of choices, if you are interested in exploring the TCM option, is to find a reputable Chinese Medicine Practitioner where you live, as clearly someone with experience and good knowledge of Chinese herbs is needed to help sort out all the options here.

It is also possible to use a combination of Allopathic and TCM treatments, but this is naturally something you would need to consult with your Doctor about first, if you are already on medications for hypertension.

If any of you reading this have had experience using TCM to treat hypertension please feel free to let me know by leaving a comment below.

If you would like to learn more about TCM in general check out “Traditional Chinese Medicine”

Just click on image on left.

It would be great to start a discussion about which herbs, or herbal combinations seem to work best.

I would certainly love to learn more about this!