3 Alternatives to Popular High Blood Pressure Drugs
Lowering Stress to Avoid Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARB)
Research on mice and men has indicated some amazing characteristics of the relatively new angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB). Angiotensin receptor blockers (also called ARBs or angiotensin II inhibitors) are medicines that dilate (widen) blood vessels, and are used in the treatment of conditions such as high blood pressure. Examples of ARBs include:
Angiotensin is a chemical in your body that affects your cardiovascular system in various ways, including narrowing your blood vessels. This narrowing can increase your blood pressure and force your heart to work harder. Angiotensin also triggers a hormone that makes your body retain water. Having more fluid in your body in a restricted space will cause your blood pressure to rise. Angiotensin receptor blockers block the action of angiotensin, allowing blood vessels to dilate. They also reduce the amount of water your body retains, which lowers your blood pressure.
ARB Potential Benefits
- Protects the kidneys in diabetes
- Prevents dementia, improves brain function
- Decreases stress, lowers anxiety
- Delays the manifestations of hypertension
- Delays diabetes
- Decreases cardiovascular disease
- Lowers risk of cancer
- Prolongs life
- Lowers protein, lipid, and DNA oxidation
- Limits mitochondrial peroxide production (protecting energy)
- Increases uncoupling protein-2 and sirtuin expression (to prevent aging).
- Prevents migraine headaches
Taken together, it seems like ARBs can improve and prolong the life of almost everyone! It sounds too good to be true! How can a medication that blocks only one receptor have so many benefits? Is this snake-oil? Or is it real?!
It turns out that there is some truth to all of it. ARB drugs block one of the receptors (AT1) stimulated by Angiotensin II, a hormone from the kidney that increases blood pressure. Angiotensin II is a stress hormone so ARB drugs will have the effect of lowering stress.
Stress is the biggest factor in our health, causing more damage than anything else. If we could put all we do to affect our physical health on a scale, it might look something like this:
Stress has much more effect on our health and longevity than anything else. The most important cause of aging is stress. Yet, we spend most of our time and money on the other things: food, exercise, supplements and medications; and ignore the most important part – stress.
It turns out that angiotensin II is a major stress hormone. It’s released by stress, causing many of the effects that we experience. Stress is ultimately responsible for:
- Decreased circulation in the body, including the brain
- Raised blood pressure
- Oxidation that damages our mitochondria that make energy
Almost every tissue in the body has an angiotensin receptor. Thus, all these effects increase aging of every tissue in the body.
To combat these adverse effects, drugs such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers are used. Perhaps we should all be taking them – maybe even include it in our drinking water! Such suggestions have been made.
Trouble in ARB Paradise
On the other hand, every rose has its thorns. The effects of a medication are what we want, but the side-effects are not what we want. Actually, few people have side-effects, as far a symptoms, but there are a few potential issues with ARB medications: