If there was a killer in your neighborhood, you’d want to know right? What if there was a silent killer, and instead of residing in your neighborhood, this killer resided inside your body?
Hypertension, often referred to as a silent killer, affects millions of Americans, going unnoticed and unattended until it finally causes too much damage for the host to overcome.
Hypertension is also referred to more commonly as simply high blood pressure, but make no mistake about it, high blood pressure can cause untold amounts of damage throughout your body, ranging from impotence to artery damage, and eventually stroke, heart attack, and even death.
The damage to arteries caused by hypertension is extensive, and very often extremely harmful.
Healthy arteries have certain characteristics that hypertension robs them of, namely flexibility, elasticity, and strength, and their inner lining, epithelial cells, are smooth and allow for easy and efficient blood flow. The arteries after a long life of hypertension are rigid, weak, and brittle, and their inner lining is not as smooth. All of this affects the way blood flows through the arteries, so someone with longstanding hypertension is in danger of life threatening consequences.
As arteries become damaged from hypertension, fats can begin to collect along the inner lining, and the lack of elasticity eventually prevents them from stretching and accommodating blockage. This limits the amount of blood flow throughout the body, leaving cells starved of oxygen, and increasing the risk of serious consequence like heart attack and stroke.
Another extremely dangerous effect of hypertension is an aneurysm. An aneurysm occurs when a vein or artery forms a bulge due to continued high pressure and being in a weakened state. While aneurysms can form in any of your arteries, the most common location is your largest artery, the aorta. If and when an aneurysm bursts, internal bleeding occurs that cannot be stopped without intervention, and if it occurs in the brain, tissue dies from contact with blood and is never regenerated, causing irreparable damage, if not death.
A lesser known side-effect of hypertension is kidney damage. It’s easy to focus attention on the system that encompasses the blood that is under pressure, but there are also many peripheral effects of hypertension that also go overlooked.
Because the kidneys filter fluid and waste from your blood, they depend on healthy blood vessels to function properly. When arteries become damaged from hypertension, kidney scarring, kidney artery aneurysm, and even kidney failure can occur.
Prescription medications for hypertension often come with a hidden consequences like pervasive cough, dizziness, lightheadedness from reducing blood pressure too much, and many more unwanted side-effects.
Researchers are constantly examining alternative ways to treat disease and illness, and with this renewed vigor to explore all options, traditional medicines have begun to enter back into the western consciousness.
Traditional medicines are often composed of naturally occurring compounds, found easily and readily in plants, and generally don’t cause the types and seriousness of side-effects commonly caused by western remedies.
One treatment for hypertension being explored is called noni. Derived from Morinda citrifolia leaves, noni is an edible plant that grows exclusively in tropical climate zones from India through Southeast Asia, and has a variety of medicinal uses, including antispasmodic, vasodilator and cardio-suppressant effects.
The noni plant traditionally grows adjacent to lava flows in the Pacific Islands as well, and has been used to make red or yellow dye for clothes. Among this use, islanders have been using it for a variety of ailments like colic for infants, cough, convulsions, diabetes, stimulating menstrual flow, fever reduction, liver disease, constipation, nausea, and even cancer.
The list of noni’s uses goes on and on, but scientists have yet to prove its benefits for these ailments, so the FDA has issued warnings for companies making unverified claims.
Studies are underway however for the effect noni has on hypertension.
To study its efficacy for hypertension, scientists isolated vascular tissue from different animals, including rabbit jejunum, rat and rabbit aorta tissues, and guinea pig atria. Scientists used these tissues to test the cardiovascular relaxant effects of noni, a process that helps to relax the arteries and in cases of hypertension, allow blood to flow more freely.
These studies concluded that noni did indeed relax atrial tissue, reducing atrial force and the rate of atrial spontaneous contractions. This indicates that the vasodilator effects of noni can help prevent chronic hypertension, and preliminarily, it is believed that the side effects are much less than other western prescription medications.
Another very recent study examined the effects of noni on hypertensive rats, concluding that this powerful plant “significantly decreased the blood pressure of hypertensive rats. The combination group showed highest hypotensive activity by lowering systolic blood pressure by 16.71 ± 3.95%, diastolic blood pressure by 21.49 ± 7.90%, and mean arterial blood pressure by 19.58% ± 6.35. All extract treatments have not been able to repair or inhibit renal damage caused by dexamethasone induction.”
While the benefits of noni have been well established by now, the challenge remains in getting it to consumers. It is a bitter fruit that ferments rather quickly, meaning that its shelf life is quite short. Many noni manufacturers include it in a blend with other juices, masking the taste.
Some people are taking noni in the form of fruit leathers and supplements. The fruit leathers are similar to the ones found on grocery store shelves, containing dried fruit compressed into semi-tough thin and wide strips.
There are a handful of prescription treatments for hypertension, each accompanied by a Trojan horse of additional complications and side-effects. Current prescription medications available for hypertension bring with them, often times, more complications than they purport to alleviate.
Patients taking blood pressure medication report problems like extra urination, erection problems, weakness, cramps, fatigue, decrease in the body’s potassium levels, and more, while those taking beta blockers can experience asthma like symptoms, cold hands and feet, depression, erection problems as well, and insomnia.
As always, it is important to discuss any and all treatment options with a doctor, as even natural treatments derived through diet can have implications, especially if you’re on other medications. More than likely, your doctor will figure out a way to best treat you and introduce noni into your lifestyle with minimal invasiveness.