Chronic Disease Specialist Big Rapids MI
Mount Clemens, MI
Internal Medicine Associates
Michigan Cardiovascular Institute
Medical School: Univ Of Vt Coll Of Med, Burlington Vt 05405
Graduation Year: 1982
Cardiology, Internal Medicine
Medical School: Univ De San Carlos, Fac De Cien Med, Guatemala
Graduation Year: 1965
Hospital: Borgess Med Ctr, Kalamazoo, Mi; Bronson Methodist Hosp, Kalamazoo, Mi
Group Practice: Heart Center For Excellence
Cardiology, Cardiovascular Disease
Garden City, MI
Medical School: Loyola Univ Of Chicago Stritch Sch Of Med, Maywood Il 60153
Graduation Year: 1991
Cardiology, Cardiovascular Disease
Royal Oak, MI
Thoracic Surgery, Vascular Surgery, Cardiac Surgery
Ann Arbor, MI
Medical School: Washington Univ Sch Of Med, St Louis Mo 63110
Graduation Year: 1992
Practitioner's Corner—About High Blood Pressure
By Steele Belok, m.d.
The most common chronic disease in America is a stealthy one. Hypertension rarely announces itself with troublesome symptoms, but people who have it are at risk for many other health problems, including cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death. Despite this grim picture, high blood pressure is often preventable.
As for treatment, I’ve found that hypertension responds particularly well to Ayurvedic (a.k.a. Vedic) medicine. This 5,000-year-old healing system works by balancing three organizing principles, or doshas, in the body: vata (movement), pitta (energy and metabolism), and kapha (structure). According to Vedic medicine, imbalances in any of the three doshas can lead to hypertension, so treatment would depend on which ones are out of balance.
I’ve practiced Vedic medicine for 15 years and can detect imbalances among the doshas by feeling a patient’s pulse and taking a history of lifestyle and symptoms. Most of the therapies I use draw on a combination of transcendental meditation ™, diet, herbs, massage, and behavioral changes. Here are some questions my patients with high blood pressure commonly ask.
Q: My latest blood pressure reading was high. Can I bring it down by changing my diet?
A: Yes, but dietary approaches to controlling hypertension should be tailored to your individual balance of doshas, so it’s difficult to make a blanket statement about what constitutes the ideal diet. Most hypertensives have imbalances in vata, pitta, or both. A diet to calm the vata would include lots of sweet and sour foods, while one aimed at balancing the pitta would steer clear of spicy and oily food. I also recommend that anyone with hypertension eat mostly warm, freshly cooked foods, such as leafy greens and legume-based dishes like dal, and eat as few salty, fried, or heavy foods—like cheese and meat, for example—as possible.
Q: I know that reducing stress is crucial to controlling my blood pressure. What’s the best stress-busting technique?
A: Transcendental meditation is a terrific way to promote relaxation. It doesn’t require a specific diet and while the training can be costly, once you’ve learned the technique, it’s free. The benefits come by way of physiological effects such as slowing the respiratory rate and reducing production of the stress hormone cortisol. Calming these aspects of the stress response helps blood vessels relax and widen, which reduces pressure.
One study found that a group of African-Americans who practiced TM lowered their blood pressure by twice as much as a comparison group who used a progressive muscle relaxation technique. In fact, the TM group’s blood pressure dropped by the same amount one would expect to see if they had just begun taking medication. Eight years later, their mortality from cardiovascular disease was 67 percent lower than that of the other relaxation group, and 75 percent lower than that of a control group that received no relaxation training at a...
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