Hypertension (known as Rakta Gata Vata in Ayurveda) is elevated pressure of the blood in the arteries. The increase in blood pressure depends upon a person’s age, sex, physical and mental activities, family history, and diet. Normal blood pressure of a healthy adult individual is 120 mmHg systolic and 80 mmHg diastolic.
Unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyles are the chief causes of hypertension today. Most of the food items that we consume – fast foods or items packed with preservatives and chemicals – create digestive problems in the body. Impaired digestion leads to accumulation of ama (toxins), which further lead to the high blood pressure. The food we eat is digested by our digestive fire (jatharagni) to produce nutrient plasma. This plasma nourishes all other dhatus (body tissues) and aids in the production of healthy blood, which circulates all over the body through various channels (srotas).
However, if digestion is impaired, the nutrient plasma ends up producing digestive impurities or ama. This ama mixes with plasma and makes it sama (combined with ama) or heavy. As a result, the blood thus produced also becomes heavy or sticky. This heavy blood (laden with impurities) circulates through various channels and toxins start accumulating in weaker channels of the body. When accumulated in the heart’s channels, these toxins cause narrowing of the channels. The blood has to therefore end up exerting more pressure to circulate through these channels, leading to the condition of high blood pressure.
Additionally, stress, anxiety and negative mental feelings also cause increase in blood pressure. Other causes could be history of BP in the family, obesity, lack of exercise, consumption of high-fat and low-fiber diet, excessive intake of tea, coffee, and refined foods, etc.
The Ayurvedic line of treatment for hypertension is aimed at identifying the root cause of the condition and then administering herbs that can eradicate the problem from its roots. For this to happen, it is imperative that digestion is improved and the digestive fire is strengthened. Secondly, the toxins that have already accumulated in the heart channels have to be eliminated. And lastly, mind relaxation techniques – including meditation, yoga and pranayama – are recommended to ensure that the mind remains calm and stable.