From an Ayurvedic point of view, hypertension may also be classified according to the main dosha involved and its site of origin. The main site of Vata is the large intestine. When Vata accumulates, it will accumulate first in the large intestine and from there will be absorbed into the blood. This will increase the qualities of Vata and lead to constriction of the blood vessel walls. Constriction of the blood vessels may also be a result of Vata increasing, due to psychological stress associated with fear, anxiety and insecurity.
Vata-caused hypertension will be directly related to an excess amount of lifestyle and nervous system stress. The high blood pressure will come and go for many years, until it begins to aggravate Pitta and Kapha, respectively. Eventually it will become more and more constant and increasingly more difficult to treat.
What are the typical symptoms?
- Blood pressure may rise and fall suddenly with nervous tension.
- Irregular or erratic pulse, both in rhythm and strength.
- Feeling cold, overworked, gas, bloating or constipation and insomnia.
- Vata hypertension will mainly follow (periods of ) worry, strain, anxiety and nervousness. It is therefore important to treat the psychological conditions as well.
Ayurvedic treatment of Vata hypertension
First of all, Vata hypertension treatment will consist of tonification therapy. Ayurvedic methods for treating disease are classified into two groups:
- Langhana: literally means “to lighten” and refers to reduction therapies. Langhana always refers to the Shamana, “palliative” and Shodhana “purification” procedures in Ayurveda. Detoxification and cleansing naturally fall into these latter categories.
- Brimhana: literally means “to make heavy” and refers to tonification therapies. Brimhana refers to the Rasayana (anti-aging) and Vajikarana (aphrodisiac) therapies, which require building and rejuvenation.
Reduction (Langhana) processes unload the system, in order for excesses and wastes to be removed. They are indicated in the acute stage of disease and can incorporate for instance “Swedana” (sweat therapy). Or herbal therapy, using bitter herbs to treat fevers or to remove deep-seated toxins and metabolic wastes – as part of purification procedures (Pancha-karma). Tonification (Brimhana) therapies, nourish deficiencies in the body and are for instance indicated for underweight, debility or tissue weakness. They aim at building up insuf-ficient energy or deficiencies, to prevent disease from oc-curring. Tonification is indicated in chronic disease, for the debilitated or malnourished, or after the above mentioned Langhana (reduction) therapies have been applied. Tonifica-tion therapies are generally nourishing, caring, softening and soothing. For Vata-persons, tonification (Brimhana) is generally most beneficial. This is because the main attribute of Vata is lightness, and Vata persons are prone to deficiencies in the form of underweight, dryness or debility. For instance a nutri-tive diet, mild enemas and tonifying lifestyle are recommend-ed to balance Vata. But the tonification methods are in them-selves strong: using powerful tonic herbs, such as ginseng.
Returning however to the Vata hypertension treatment: first of all, therapies should be tonifying. Secondly, it is important to support the nervous system in a Vata hypertension treatment. The following Ayurvedic herbs are effective for this purpose:
- Ashwagandha: is perhaps the most famous Ayurvedic immune booster herb that is used in many tonics and for-mulas. It revitalizes and maintains proper nourishment of the tissues, and has strong anti-stress, anti-anxiety, anti-oxidant, immunity enhancing and rejuvenating properties.
- Brahmi: is considered the primary Ayurvedic nerve and cardiac tonic. It pacifies high Vata or Pitta, and has been traditionally used for nervous conditions, epilepsy, skin conditi-ons and premature aging.
Especially for long-term treatment, herbal remedies with Ashwagandha are recommended. A good formula for Vata hypertension is Ashwagandha, Valerian and Gotu Kola – taken in equal parts (1-3 grams of each powdered herb, with warm water or with ghee). Other effective tonics include:
– Garlic (anti-septic and anti-oxidant): calms and strengthens the nervous system and cleans the blood. Use not only as a spice, but eat an entire clove (crushed, with honey) 1-2 times a week.
– Nutmeg: in warm milk.– Saraswat powder: in warm milk.
– The Ayurvedic herbal complex Cerewell*: provides more relaxation during the day, and provides a good sleep. Cerewell calms and is a natural tranquilizer, helps with mental pressure, stress, work stress and strengthens the nerves. Beneficial for all three body-constitutions (Vata, Pitta, Kapha).
Besides the above mentioned remedies, it is advised to follow a Vata-pacifying diet and to avoid light, dry and artifical foods. Favour a lifestyle consisting of Warmth, Regularity and Grounding, also in diet! Relaxation, mild exercise such as walking (especially in nature), meditation and yoga are recommended as well – to calm the emotions and nerves. Shirodhara therapy is also strongly recommended. The continuous and rythmic pouring of warm oil on the forehead soothes the nerves and reduces mental stress.