excerpt from Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year
The two categories of hypertension (high blood pressure) common during pregnancy are chronic hypertension, indicated by consistent blood pressure readings of 130/90 or higher, and gestational hypertension, marked by a steady rise of the blood pressure after the 28th week of gestation. The main danger in both types is to the fetus; blood flow to the placenta is reduced, and necessary oxygen is less available. Gestational hypertension may indicate pre-eclampsia, a severe problem. (See page 49.) The preventative measures listed here can help forestall gestational hypertension and are important aspects of a program of treatment for either type of high blood pressure. The remedies are useful whenever blood pressure is elevated, and are listed in order of increasing strength.
° Avoid stimulants such as spicy or peppery foods, black tea, cola drinks, coffee, nicotine, cocaine, and diet pills.
° Drink Nettle or Raspberry leaf infusions regularly.
° Exercise is one of the best preventatives of high blood pressure. It forces more blood through the veins which then stretch and open up, lowering blood pressure. The most effective exercise works up a sweat and makes the heart pound. Regular exercise done throughout the pregnancy is preferable to a last minute frenzied attempt to lower elevated blood pressure later on.
° Emotional stress can cause temporary or prolonged rises in your blood pressure. It is not so much the emotions which are the stress, but the desire to avoid and deny them which creates conflict with the reality of inner feelings. A safe person or place where you can freely express the confusing, angry, and unhappy aspects of your pregnancy is an important preventative of hypertension.
° Obesity is connected to high blood pressure, but worrying about gaining too much weight may contribute to hypertension as well. A sensible, highly nutritious diet, high in complex carbohydrates and low in processed food, will help prevent excessive gain, worry over weight, and hypertension. Note: Artificially high blood pressure readings can occur if the blood pressure cuff is too small.
Remedies for Hypertension
° Biofeedback, positive affirmations, and visualizations reduce hypertension with utmost safety. Visualize the blood vessels dilating for five minutes several times daily. Affirm: "My blood pressure is now normal." Deep relaxation increases the power of these techniques.
° Garlic, Parsley and onions help lower blood pressure. For maximum effect, use large quantities raw. Garlic oil capsules are effective for some women, in doses of 2-10 capsules daily, depending on the severity of the hypertension.
° Cucumbers are the food most renowned for reducing high blood pressure. One half cup of cucumber juice or an entire fresh, raw cucumber daily is the suggested amount. Overripe, yellowish ones are the most effective. Cucumbers also relieve constipation and strengthen the kidneys.
° The juice of half a lemon or lime plus two teaspoons of cream of tartar in a half cup water taken once a day for three days safely lowers high blood pressure during pregnancy. If needed, repeat once after a rest of two days.
• Hops A simple tea of bitter-tasting, sleep inducing Humulus lupulus is strong enough to reduce hypertension and safe enough to take nightly if needed during the last months of pregnancy.
CAUTION: Hops is contraindicated for regular use throughout pregnancy, or for use during the first trimester, due to its hormonal precursors.
• Passionflower Passiflora species vines are common weeds in the southern areas of North America and well known worldwide as soothers and healers. Midwives report successful control of hypertension using 2-4 capsules of Passionflower daily, or 15 drops of the tincture three times a day. Although blood pressure may return to normal quickly, continue taking Passionflower for several weeks to obtain the most benefit.
• Skullcap My favorite herb for all problems associated with tension is Scutellaria lateriflora. I find the infusion unsurpassed for reducing anxiety and "nerves." Midwives tell me that one or two cups daily reduces high blood pressure during pregnancy. The tincture is not as useful in controlling hypertension.
• Hawthorn berries A strong and safe vasodilator, Crataegus species berries work cumulatively and are taken for extended periods for the best results. Essential hypertension then, rather than gestational hypertension, is the focus of Hawthorn berry use. The standard preparation is a cold infusion: one ounce crushed dried berries steeped in two cups of cold water overnight, brought quickly to a boil, strained and taken in sips, one cup per day, every day. The tincture dose is 15 drops, two or three times daily.
an excerpt from Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year