Hypertension, high blood pressure that remains elevated over time, is a very common disease. Uncontrolled hypertension can cause severe problems, but the early stages of hypertension may not have severe symptoms. Some patients, who already have hypertension, even feel nothing unusual; however, after a long time of suffering from hypertension, severe consequences may follow such as stroke, congestive heart failure, or heart attack. Today, a lot of people have hypertension.A recent medical report(1) shows that as many as 50 million Americans either have high blood pressure or are taking high blood pressure medication and that hypertension is one of several factors associated with cardiovascular disease, the number one killer of both males and females in America. Cardiovascular disease claims more lives annually than all cancers combined, killing approximately one million people in the U.
S. each year and disabling countless others. Therefore, how to control blood pressure in healthy people and how to control hypertension for those who already suffer from this disease is a very important topic.Both western medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine, which is also called TCM, have their points of view to analysis, diagnosis, treat, and prevent hypertension. Western medicine believes hypertension can be controlled by taking daily prescription drugs and by making lifestyle choices for good health. Western medicinal treatments operate on the belief that as long as blood pressure can be controlled and remain in a normal range, hypertension won’t threaten the patient’s life.TCM believes that taking prescription drugs everyday to help control blood pressure may cause many side effects that will not cure hypertension; however, other treatments, such as acupuncture, Qi-Gong, or massage, do not require patients to take medication and have succeeded in curing hypertension in many cases.
Blood pressure is responsible for delivering oxygen to the organs in our body. Blood pressure cannot be increased or decreased as a response when our body receive signal from the environment.For example, when we are angry, our blood pressure may increase. Hypertension is abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries. For an adult, the normal blood pressure should be lower than 140/90mmHg. When the blood pressure reading is higher than it, you may be considered to be in the high range.
From the view of western medicine, there are many causes of high blood pressure. According to a medical report, (1) in about 90% of hypertension cases, the causes are unknown, and when the causes are unknown, it is called essential hypertension.If hypertension has physical problems behind it, it is called as secondary hypertension. The most common factors that can cause hypertension are kidney disease or thyroid disease.
Western doctors also believe that other factors are associated with hypertension, including inheritance, obesity, and excessive consumption of alcohol, diet and life style (1). In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are two important theories in explaining the human body. One is called Yin-Yang theory, which means Yin and Yang are on either opposite ends of a cycle, like the seasons of the year.This opposition is relative.
Yin and Yang are never static but in a constantly changing balance. The other is the five elements theory and the five elements are metal, wood, water, fire and earth, which function as the five main organs, lung, liver, kidney, heart and spleen respectively. Each element is controlled and generated by another. TCM believes that hypertension is primarily related to the imbalanced Yin and Yang in heart, liver, and kidney, and therefore, keeping yin-and-yang balance is the most effective way keep disease away.
In western medicine (7), in order to have appropriate diagnosis for hypertension, the western practitioners usually require blood pressure tests, at least two measurements at two different times after the fist initial screening. Patients should minimize physical activity and should not consume coffee or drinks that contain caffeine before measurement because caffeine or exercise can elevate blood pressure. Blood pressure is measured with an instrument called a sphygmomanometer. Two numbers will be received after the measurement.The fist number is the systolic pressure, which is the amount of pressure in your arteries when your heart is pumping or the pressure, which is the amount of the pressure in you arteries. The second number indicates the diastolic pressure, which is the amount of pressure when your heart is resting between beats and the pressure when the last sound is heard. By this measurement, the practitioners can easily tell whether the patient’s blood pressure is normal or not (2).
By TCM, the diagnosis is based on four examination techniques. The first is “questioning,” which is a process to gather patients’ complaints and amily’s history. The second is “looking” at physical features of the body, such as the face, tongue, hair, nails. The third is “hearing and smelling” which is to smelling the breath and listening to the sounds coming from the chest offer additional clues. The last examination is “touching”. “Touching” the pulse is a cornerstone of TCM diagnosis and gives the TCM practitioner a lot of information about the body’s imbalance. The information gathered from these four examinations are used to determine which type of disharmony pattern the individual has.
This is important because at various stages of a disease varieties of disharmony patterns are present and require different treatments. That is the reason two individuals with the same disease may be treated very differently by their TCM practitioners. There are usually two different treatments for hypertension in Wstern medicine. The first is the drug treatment.
There are many drugs available to control blood pressure. Most of these medications can be taken once a day to help control pressure and initially the drug should be started at the lowest does.Adjustments are usually made every one to two months depending upon tolerability and response because there are certain side effects that occur quickly and can be serious. The second way to treat hypertension is to having a healthy life style. A healthy life style includes having exercise every day, which is helpful to control body weight, eating healthy food, sleeping well, and having a healthy emotional state.
From TCM’s points of view, in addition to taking medications, there are still many other TCM treatments available for hypertension.The most widely used treatment, besides herbs, is acupuncture therapy, which applies a needle on various points of the body. These points include Zusanli, Fengchi, Renying, Taixi, Shenshu, Ganshu, Baihui, Qihai, Fengling. The names of these points are termed by traditional Chinese practitioners and are translated from Chinese. According to certain clinical reports, acupuncture therapy for hypertension is effective for about 72%-80 % of hypertension cases( 6). Besides the use of a needle to apply to these points, TCM practictioners use an ignited stick of mugwort or other medicinal herbs over these points of the patient’s body.This treatment is called “Moxibustion therapy” (6).
Following the Moxibustion therapy, applying massage on these points can greatly improve the results in treating hypertension. Another well known therapy is “Qigong Therapy,” which is a system of traditional knowledge and skill to regulate respiration and concentration of the mind. It is practiced for physical training and for prevention and treatment of hypertension. The Qi-Gong therapy has a history of more than 40 years.
According to a report from the Shanghai Institute, 516 patients with hypertension that practiced Qigong by themselves for one year had a percentage of efficiency of 86. %. Another report from Beijing TCM hospital indicates that 136 cases of hypertension with “Standing Qigong” had an efficiency rate of 91.
9 %( 6). It is generally considered that Qigong lowers high blood pressure mainly by regulating the whole body, especially by regulating the functions of central nervous system. All TCM treatments of hypertension have a similar mechanism, which is regulating the central nervous system in order to make blood pressure descend. In addition, TCM agrees with western medicine’s point that choosing appropriate lifestyle choices is powerful in improving hypertension.For the prevention of hypertension, both western medicine and TCM provide similar suggestions, which can be categorized in three main groups. Firstly, to maintain appropriate body weight and exercise regularly.
Secondly, to avoid alcohol, avoid tobacco and reduce salt intake. Finally, to balance lives with positive thinking and optimistic outlook. TCM also suggests using herbs for medical prevention, under direction of a TCM practitioner. TCM believes that correct use of herbs can be beneficial in maintaining a healthy balance in the body and preventing disease.The most popular herbs to treat hypertension include LingZhi, TianMa, HuangQi, CaiHu, DuZhong, which are termed by Chinese Medicinal Scientist. All these herbs must be cooked with water before oral intake. The TCM also believes that prevention is more important than treatment (8). After the comparison of western medicine and TCM for hypertension, we can tell that they both have their advantages and disadvantages.
That is why some practitioners suggest that their patients with hypertension are better to receive treatment from not only western medicine but also from TCM.In general, the advantages of western medicine for hypertension are efficient diagnosis and drugs that can help to lower blood pressure as long as the patient keeps taking the medicine. Also, the western hypertension pills are usually tasteless and small. Thus, it is very convenience for patients to carry and take anywhere. The disadvantage of Western medicine is non-stop drug intake which can cause many side effects, especially affecting the liver and kidneys after long time consumption. In addition, the Western medicine is useful to control blood pressure but could not cure hypertension.
By contrast, TCM treats hypertension by regulating the whole body and improving body immune system, rather than simply lowering the blood pressure. The methods TCM used usually have no side effects. However, the disadvantages of TCM therapies are that they are a little slower and mild—the patient won’t see the benefits until they try treatments for a while, such as a year. Also, because herbs are usually required to cook before oval intake, it is a little inconvenient for patient to prepare the medicinal decoctions.In addition to inconvenient preparation for the medicinal decoctions, most medicinal decoctions have unfavorable taste.
In conclusion, it is best to combine Western medicines and TCM to treat hypertension patients. First of all, control the blood pressure into a normal range with Western medicines, which could be very effective. After blood pressure is controlled within a normal range, patients could start receiving TCM treatments, such as acupuncture or Qi-Gong under the guidance of the Chinese practitioners.Since the practicing with TCM treatments could be a long time, maybe up to one year, patients should keep measuring blood pressure everyday and consulting with doctors to check the improvements with the treatments. In addition, there is one important point in treating hypertension, is thought to be true by both Western medicine and TCM. This important point is having healthy life styles, including exercise, avoidance of alcohol and cigarettes, is very important in treating hypertension.
Word Cites 1. Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine(e. d. ) Traditional Chinese Internal Medicine. 2000 2.. Ted J. Kaptchuk The Web That Has No weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine.
New York, NY: 2000. 3. Li Shi Zhen. Ben-Cao Gang Mu, Ming Dynasty 4. Chen Keji, et al: Chinese Journal of Internal Medicine. 1962 (1O) -638 5. http://www.
ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/entrez/query. fcgi? CMD=search&DB=omim 6. Chengdu institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Internal Medicine. Si Chuan, 1977 7. http://www. nlm. nih.