Of all the health conditions that we routinely see, hypertension is one of the most common and thankfully one of the easiest to improve. Once you know where to look, it responds extremely quickly to simple dietary changes.
(I've summarized this information in a video below as well, in case you'd prefer to soak up the info in that format)
It’s an unfortunate thing about western medicine that the treatment of a symptom often results in a worsening of the overall health of the patient. While blood pressure medications reduce high blood pressure, many also result in negative impacts on other body systems and the whole person suffers.
Addressing hypertension through diet change however, reduces the severity of that single symptom while elevating the overall health of the patient. Most of our patients who follow this protocol for hypertension end up being able to come off of their blood pressure medication within between 2 and 6 months.
You should never stop a prescribed medication without first consulting with your doctor. For many medications there are establish dosing reductions that need to take place. Whenever my patients come off of their medications, it is always in coordination with their doctor’s office.
Here’s one patient’s experience:
L.M. had blood pressure that was routinely above 180 systolic. She was a former nurse so she knew how important it was to get her blood pressure under control and she diligently did everything her doctors told her. Unfortunately, her doctor wasn’t able to control it. He referred her to a Cardiologist. Her Cardiologist tried multiple medications with no change. He tried combining medications but still her blood pressure wasn’t changing. With all the usual mainstream options exhausted, she came to see me at the suggestion of her son who was also a patient. We made this simple intervention in her diet and within weeks her blood pressure was under control and remains there today. Her Cardiologist was in disbelief and actually angry with how quickly her hypertension resolved. I suppose that’s understandable after all his effort. It’s simple nutrition but surprisingly very few western doctors, Cardiologists included, receive comprehensive training in nutrition.
The good news is that this protocol can easily and safely be done for most patients. (As with most dietary interventions please consult your health care provider prior to starting. This is especially true if you suffer from a kidney or heart condition.)
Write down everything you eat and drink in a normal day.
Calculate the amount of potassium you get in that standard day. (Click the button below to download a form to help you find and track those numbers)
Download Form Here
Here’s another resource to find more potassium contents for different foods: https://nutritiondata.self.com).
Okay, let’s take a moment and talk about the science.
Sodium and potassium operate as a ratio. If sodium is too high relative to potassium, you’ll get hypertension, if your potassium is too low relative to sodium, you’ll also get hypertension. What’s important is the ratio between the two. When patients track their potassium at the start of this protocol I typically see numbers between 1,000 and 2,000 mg per day. That’s a big problem. The recommended daily allowance is between 3,500mg and 4,700mg. Not only are most people deficient, they are getting less than half of what is recommended! Since we don’t get nearly enough potassium to start with, in order to get the ratio of sodium to potassium to the point where it will reduce blood pressure we’d need to eat so little sodium that it would actually cause new problems.
A National Academies of Science meta-analysis found exactly this. The sodium intake recommended for years by the American Medical Association was not only not helping hypertension, but was actually making people worse by causing increased triglycerides and increased inflammation.)
The obvious solution is to increase the potassium intake in order to normalize that sodium/potassium ratio (ideally, restoring it closer to what we are intended to get, what we’ve been getting in our diets going back millennia.) Once you increase your potassium your blood pressure responds rapidly. Studies have repeatedly shown this to be an effective strategy.
(I wrote about this subject at length in 2017 click here to read the entire article.
Okay, time for step three, but first, a crucial note:
Do not take potassium supplements!
There are two reasons for this, but most importantly, taking potassium in a supplement makes it possible, and even easy, to take too much. That can and will result in dangerous, possibly fatal heart arrhythmias for many people. Get your potassium only from food unless specifically recommended by your doctor!
The other reason is a little more complicated. Think about it this way: If you are that deficient in potassium, do you think there are other nutrients that you are also deficient in? Americans are notoriously deficient in magnesium, zinc, fiber and vitamin C just to name a few. When you get your potassium from whole foods, you will be increasing your intake those other nutrients as well. A lot of them (like magnesium and naturally occurring Nitric Oxide precursors) will also help to lower your blood pressure and protect your cardiovascular system.
Okay, ready for the fun part?
Now, using the form, shoot for between 3,500 and 4,700 mg per day. You’ll notice that a lot of the foods that are highest in potassium are fruits and vegetables. What’s helped a lot of patients navigate this is to buy as many single serving fruits and vegetables as will fit into the vegetable drawer of their fridge, think carrots, oranges, bananas, celery, pears, apples, bell peppers, plums, and peaches. Whenever you’re hungry for a snack just grab another piece of fruit. Shoot for having 4 servings of fruits and vegetables as snacks each day then have a serving with each meal. That will bring you to 7 servings for the day. Not bad, and on average you’ll be up to between 2,500-3,500mg of potassium already. Add in the starches with your meals - (especially good sources are quinoa and potatoes) and you’ll be right around your target.
Follow this protocol exactly as described and within between 2-5 days you should already notice a change and within 2-4 weeks you should be able to easily maintain your blood pressure in the normal range.
Enjoy watching your blood pressure drop, and enjoy the feeling of being in charge of your own health!
Happy Holidays! I hope this email finds you happy and healthy and snuggling in with your loved ones for the holidays.
I wanted to send you a quick note to invite you to our very first QiGong class. We'll be teaching a set of exercises to clear stagnation in the organs, a set of strengthening exercises to build the internal organs and a system of standing meditation to connect to the respective energies of the earth and the heavens. This teaching comes from the lineage through the renowned Dr. Jerry Alan Johnson, by way of my immediate teacher, Dr. Francesca Ferrari.
I've found QiGong to be a powerful tool both for life and health, whether maintaining my center in times of stress or responding to the subtle cues in my body, QiGong is usually my first step for self care. With the tools you'll gain in these classes you'll be more able to manage your own health and safeguard your wellness in times of stress or illness.
Our first class will be at 1:00pm at Kotate Park on Wednesday the 9th of January. Classes will repeat every Wednesday thereafter, weather permitting. Please respond to this email or call our office if you're interested so we can add you to a notification list in case classes need to be cancelled on account of inclement weather.
Happiest of Holidays to you and yours!
Our New Website
As you can see, we've have updated our website. You'll see a link at the top of the first page to take you to the scheduling portal. Let us know if you run into any issues!
Taking some time for the Holidays
The office will be closed from Monday Christmas Eve through Tuesday New Years day to give our clinicians and staff some much deserved down time with their families. Appointments will be available on an on call basis however for any emergencies that arise. Although our time with our families is important, so too is our service to you, the community. Don't hesitate to call if you urgently need care. Kieran will have all calls forwarded and will be screening messages over the break.
Open Late on Tuesdays!
Katie has graciously opened her Tuesday evening appointments up later to accommodate patients with later work schedules. Her last available appointment time is 6:40pm.
Best Wishes to Kaitlyn
Kaitlyn Mitchell (our gifted acupuncturist who has been seeing patients on Wednesday mornings) has decided to take a break from working to focus on her studies (she's currently pursuing her Doctoral Degree) and spend more quality time with her family. We were all blessed by her gentle and upbeat spirit as well as her capable hands and mind. She was a pleasure to have here at the clinic and she will be missed by the staff and patients alike. Send her a line to wish her well! Her last day seeing patients will be December 19th.
As the leaves begin falling and the energy of the year turns from outward to inward, a sort of coalescing takes place. The excitement and activity of the year slows. The achievements and milestones begin to fade. It's as if the intense growth of the spring and the busy climax of the summer are slowly distilling down into a few pearls of importance. It isn't just a convenient tradition of our culture to give thanks, it's called upon by the very energy of the season. Indeed, this is the energy of the fall, or the metal element as Chinese Medicine recognizes it. The metal element is characterized by slowness, a sort of hallowed, sacred energy. It is the still, gray, sharp energy of a fall morning. The way the light has changed urges you to still quietness. The sharp coolness of the air brings your awareness to your breath. This energy is a part of all things. All processes manifest through stages of which the metal element is a part.
Here's a brief overview of the 5 element cycle:
All processes follow this path, whether a life lived, a project at work, or the turning of teh seasons.
The Water Element: It begins in winter with a dormant seed, a tiny pocket of potential from cycles past. This is the deep, dark, and hidden water element.
The Wood Element: From there it grows with a sudden intense reaching and explosion upward. It is full of movement, potential, dreaming, reaching and yearning. This is the vibrant expansion of spring and the wood element.
The Fire Element: Next the cycle reaches a climax in the middle of intense, hot summer. The height of activity and fulfillment, the fire element.
The Earth Element: The blaze of the fire element fades to warm embers. This is the earth element. A moment of savoring. The taste of a ripe peach, the satisfaction of looking back over a tended garden or a project brought to completion. This is the energy of late summer.
The Metal Element: This element represents a movement downward and inward. As the energy reduces in strength it can carry less with it and only a few gems remain. A good example is the moment before bed when your mind is clear from the details of the day. In that last moment before you slip off to sleep a few key events or moments stick in your mind. These gems then become the seeds for the awakening of the energy in the wood element energy of the coming spring. These are the things that we give thanks for in the fall. This is the energetic nature of Thanksgiving.
My thanks are for the most important things in my life: my family, my patients and the journey of growth and understanding that both my family and patients guide me on every day.
Yours in health,
Kieran Jones L.Ac.
Owner / Acupuncturist - Cotati Community Acupuncture
Don't Miss Out!
We announced this back in our last newsletter, but I wanted to send you a reminder in case you missed our last email. Our clinicians will be in house offering free treatments to anybody with back pain tomorrow (Saturday the 10th) from 1-5:30. After your treatment we'll be asking you some questions to improve our understanding of which acupuncture styles are most effective for back pain. So in addition to feeling better, you'll be improving the treatments for others as well!
We recommend calling to snag a spot on the schedule, but we'll accept walk-ins as well. We look forward to seeing you!
-Kieran Jones L.Ac. MTCM
Katie is now taking patients Thursdays and Tuesdays
The talented Katie Keville has added a second day to her schedule at Cotati Community Acupuncture. She'll now be available for community and private appointments from 10-2 on Thursdays in addition to her full day on Tuesday. If you haven't had a chance to work with Katie yet, I'd highly recommend seeing her!
Free Back Pain Clinic!
Our patients know the powerful impact acupuncture can have on pain. What they may not know is that there are dozens of different styles and approaches that your acupuncturist may draw from as they deliver the treatment. As clinicians we are constantly honing our skills, and always striving to contribute back to the profession. In that light we are conducting an informal study in our office comparing two acupuncture styles for the treatment of low back pain. On November the 10th between 1:00 and 5:30 we will be providing acupuncture treatments free of charge to anyone complaining of low back pain. Please RSVP for a slot in the schedule as we'll only be able to accommodate walk-ins on a limited basis. Call us at 707-242-6812 to save a spot.
A Traditional Massage Technique with Profound Effects
It’s cold season. Sniffles and sneezes are sneaking up behind you in the line at the bank. Your kids are swapping germs with their friends at school. And, with work stress and busy family schedules, your immune system may not be operating at full strength.
There is a technique, used by acupuncturists, that can give the immune system a quick boost to more quickly recover from common colds. This technique is called Gua Sha (刮痧). It isn’t acupuncture, but it’s a technique that acupuncturists have been using for thousands of years to resolve illness and safeguard health. This technique can be used to resolve joint and muscle pain, break up scar tissue, improve circulation, and reduce inflammation in the body.
“Gua Sha” literally translates to "scrapping fever" which refers to the release of heat that occurs as it is done. This technique uses a smooth, blunt edge to scrap over the surface of the skin. It’s not painful, but might be a little sore after (like a good massage.) It is a remarkably versatile technique. It's been used with good effect on shoulder, knee, neck, and spine injuries, tendonitis or the wrist, forearm and elbow, and...common cold.
When you get sick the immune cells in your throat and sinuses drain down the lymph vessels running along the back of the neck and your upper back. This, normally free flowing pathway becomes congested as immune cells bind to bacterial antigens and they all clump together to form a stagnating sludge in your lymph vessels. This congestion slows down the movement of the lymph fluid through these vessels, which you in turn feel as soreness and tightness in the upper back. Unfortunately, when the flow of the lymph slows down, the rest of the immune system doesn’t get to join in the fight. Without other immune cells gaining access to those bound bacteria fragments, the rest of the immune cells can't be recruited to manufacture antibodies and fight the cold. As a result, the immune response is both delayed and blunted.
Gua sha, by gently resolving the circulation through this tissue, speeds the recovery from the common cold and reduces the tension and discomfort in the upper back. As we move deeper into cold season, keep us in mind, right next to your chicken soup and elderberry syrup. It’s an easy technique to receive and learn, and a treatment that, like acupuncture, supports your body in healing itself.
It's our great pleasure to be of service to you. Thanks for reading and we look forward to seeing you soon!
-Kieran Jones L.Ac. MTCM Clinic Director/Owner
Kieran Jones MTCM L.Ac.
I'm Kieran, clinician and owner of Cotati Community Acupuncture. I'm an acupuncturist, herbalist, and functional medicine practitioner for the past 14 years. I have a deep curiosity in health, biology, culture, medicine, history, and a healthy obsession with the pursuit of the perfect state of health.