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Causes and Symptoms: If the pressure of the blood flowing in the arteries is more than normal because they have lost their elasticity, or because the person is angry or engaged in physical endeavor which needs more blood circulation in the body to renew the tissues, a condition known as high blood pressure, or hypertension to give its technical name, arises. Blood is being pumped all the time by the heart into the arteries and it goes back to it via the veins from where it is shunted to the lungs to be purified. Blood completes a circuit of the whole body in fifteen seconds flat.

The four chamber pump, which is the heart, beats at the rate of 72 to 80 per minute and by its contractions pushes blood into the arteries and when it expands, the blood is received back into its chambers. The normal pressure in a healthy adult is generally taken as to be about 140 to 150 mm. of mercury (systolic-i.e. when the heart contracts) and 80 to 85 mm. of mercury (diastolic-i.e. when it expands). If the pressure rises beyond these limits, there are symptoms like headache, a sensation of singing in the ears, pressure in the frontal region of the head, palpitation and a general feeling of unease. High blood pressure may be caused by the hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis) or deposition of fat in their insides with the result that they are unable to contain the amount of blood that is necessary for a normal functioning of its circulation throughout the body, and the heart is strained and has to work overtime to maintain the required amount of blood.

Hypertension is categorized into (i) essential and (ii) functional. In the former, it is some organic reason which gives rise to blood pressure, such as hardening of the arteries, whereas the latter category is caused by temporary factors. It may also be classed as (i) primary and (ii) secondary. In the primary hypertension, no other organ of the body is involved, but secondary hypertension may be due to diseases like nephritis or diabetes. Worry, anxiety, over-work and tension is also likely to raise the blood pressure, but that is merely functional and sometimes merely temporary, because as soon as the causative factors are removed, blood pressure is likely to come back to normal.

Insomnia, techycardia (palpitation), giddiness, a general feeling of weakness are some of the cardinal symptoms of hypertension: if it becomes chronic, the capillaries supplying blood to the retina may become disordered and there may be impairment of vision. If the pressure of blood to the brain increases beyond tolerable limits, a capillary or a vein may burst (cereberal hemorrhage) resulting in paralysis or even death.

Remedies: The treatment of hypertension must start with a proper diagnosis of its origin. If it is secondary, i.e. if it is caused by some other disease like nephritis or diabetes, treatment of that malady should be undertaken. But if it is of primary origin, recourse should be taken to the lowly Garlic, one of the most efficacious drugs in controlling blood pressure. A paste made of about 15 grains of Garlic mixed with a glass of butter milk or whey taken twice a day will help bring the blood pressure back to normal. Garlic may be fried in ghee if the patient finds the smell offensive, but the medicinal properties of the drug tend to be destroyed with too much of boiling or frying. A few cloves of Garlic taken on an empty stomach not only correct the condition known as flatulence, but also lower high blood pressure.

The best remedy for hypertension is, of course, Sarpagandha (Rauwolfia Serpentian), which has been used in India for the last 5,000 years to deal with nervous disorders like insanity and high blood pressure. Alkaloids of this drug which have a direct effect on hypertension have been isolated and are being widely used by the practitioners of modern medicine, but they have certain unpleasant side effects which the drug taken in raw form does not have. Practitioners of Indian Systems of medicine have, therefore, preferred to use the root of the drug in a powdered form. Half a teaspoonful of this drug taken thrice a day deals with hypertension effectively.

Regimen: A patient suffering from blood pressure should be advised to rest; intoxicating substances like liquor, tea, coffee, and smoking should be prohibited. Easily digestible bland diet should be prescribed for him. Hydrogenated oils and saturated fats like ghee should be banned; the best diet for a hypertensive patient is boiled vegetables and fruits.

Violent exercise should be avoided but long walks in the morning and evening are beneficial.


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