For more than three decades now, I've been telling anyone who'll listen that high blood pressure DOESN'T CAUSE HEART DISEASE.
Yes, you read that right. Despite what "unbiased" conventional medicine--which generates millions from the treatment of hypertension-- maintains, evidence showing a conclusive linear link between elevated blood pressure and the incidence of heart disease is almost nonexistent. In fact, the data from most studies on the subject suggest that hypertension is a symptom of cardiovascular disease, not its cause.
Just about everyone in the medical community agrees that cardiovascular disease is due in large part to a buildup of plaque in the arteries, reducing their diameter--which in turn causes the blood that flows through them to increase in pressure. Here's a good analogy: When you turn on the spigot outside your house, the water shooting out of your garden hose squirts 30 feet or more. Why? Because it's under a lot of pressure after being forced into a tiny 1-inch hose. But what would happen if that hose were, say, a foot in diameter? The exact same volume of water would slosh out at a very low pressure.
It's the same way with your heart and arteries. Your blood pressure increases in response to arterial constriction--it doesn't cause the constriction. Elevating the blood's pressure is your heart's way of compensating for clogged up "hoses" to make sure your organs, brain, and extremities are adequately supplied with blood. When you look at it this way, it just doesn't make sense to try to artificially lower your blood pressure by using expensive, potentially harmful prescription drugs.
The high cost of hypertension drugs
Regardless of the fact that the mainstream isn't even sure what causes hypertension, they're throwing drugs at it like they're absolutely certain that one of them is the cure. Fifty years ago, we used diuretics, which work simply by reducing your blood's volume by purging you of excess water and salt. These actually worked pretty well at reducing blood pressure (not that you necessarily want that)--and with relatively few side effects. But somehow, they weren't good enough. So the big drug companies came up with the beta-blockers, the calcium channel blockers (CCBs)--and nowadays the fancy-schmancy (and expensive) ACE inhibitors.
Why so many medications for the same health problem? Because drug companies make most of their money via the exclusive patent rights to a drug--which they hold for 20 years from the time they first start developing it. After that, anyone can market a generic version of the same drug, and the original manufacturer loses its monopoly on that section of the market.
What that means is this: If every drug company can patent a new and different hypertension drug (or if the same company can do it three or four times in a row), they ensure themselves of total market dominance and control over the drug's price--at least temporarily. It's simple capitalism. There's just one small problem: Are the new drugs any better than their predecessors--or just different enough to warrant a separate patent?
It's a good question--one that more doctors should be asking their drug reps. When it comes to blood pressure medications in particular, the evidence is inconclusive. The truth is, all you may really need to fight cardiovascular disease is a diet rich in omega-3 fats, lean on carbs and trans-fats, and drinking water that's devoid of chlorine (which causes microscopic arterial tears that trap and hold cholesterol, boosting blood pressure). And the fluoride in the water is not exactly Vitamin F. It is probably a major factor in cardiovascular disease.
Salt restriction is more than unnecessary--it's downright dangerous
Salt restriction in cases of hypertension has become one of those "pearls of wisdom" that no one questions. But the truth of the matter is that this little gem is pure junk medicine. Severe salt restriction in people--sick or well--is a dangerous practice and may actually cause more problems than it solves.
Only about one-third of hypertension patients are sensitive to salt and have been found to have low levels of the kidney hormone renin, which regulates blood pressure. In these people, reducing salt intake raises levels of renin. So some, but not drastic, salt restriction may improve control of hypertension in these patients.
However, for the remaining majority of people struggling with hypertension who are not salt-sensitive and actually have high renin levels, restricting salt intake has the opposite effect and may cause blood pressure levels to become even more elevated.
Bottom line: Lowering blood pressure by salt restriction is inconsistent and unreliable. But there is a far worse criticism of salt restriction: Studies have shown that salt restriction may be linked to organ damage. If the heart and kidneys are damaged by hyponatremia (low blood sodium), you may make the hypertension worse. Salt restriction in the summer months could lead to heat exhaustion, a severe mineral disturbance that causes fainting and sometimes a stroke or heart attack.
Salt is an essential nutrient, just like vitamin A, the fatty acids, and cholesterol. Your body needs adequate amounts of it to survive. Most mainstream physicians think of sodium as if it were some sort of poison. However, sodium works closely with other important nutrients like calcium and potassium to keep the body functioning at optimal levels.
Toxic table salt? Read this before you start sprinkling it on
It's important that you get the highest quality of salt in your diet --just as with any nutrient. So let's talk a bit about what salt is best for you and what the food companies have done to make commercial salt a toxin rather than a nutrient.
Not all salts are created equal. Just as "Sweet 'n Low" is not sugar, "Morton's" is not salt--or at least not one made for human consumption. Morton's salt is an industrial product made for the chemical industry, not your table. Ninety percent of this industrial grade salt goes to the chemical industry and the rest to the grocery store, and your dinner table. Refined salt has been stripped of its natural nutrients. It contains additives like ferrocynide and silicates (which are basically sand) to prevent the salt from mixing with water and caking, so that it will pour easily. But if the salt won't mix with water and your body is made up of 70 percent water, it won't mix in your body either.
The only salt worthy of your consideration is sea salt from a clean seabed. Don't be fooled: If the label says "U.S. crude salt," that doesn't mean the contents are pure. Crude salt is unrefined industrial salt. It may be unrefined, but it has been mined from a source that is most likely heavily contaminated with heavy metals. Sea salt is the only option. For a sea salt to be worthy of your family, it must meet all three of the following criteria:
- The salt will not be the snow-white variety you're used to. It should be light grey in color. After the salt sits for a time, the color at the bottom of the container will be darker. If the salt is crystal white, it may still be sea salt, but it has been treated and fractionated to rid it of impurities and, at the same time, this rids it of essential minerals. If it is not light grey, it is not a nutritious salt.
- Legitimate sea salt is not dry to the touch. It should be a little soggy. The moistness is due to the presence of magnesium salts. When kept in cool storage, it doesn't dry out.
- The crystals, under magnification, are small and cubic.
Finding pure sea salt can be rather difficult. There are plenty of products out there claiming to be "pure," but, unfortunately, they have almost all been tampered with to some degree. I have only been able to find one source that I trust--The Grain and Salt Society in Ashville, North Carolina. I don't get a dime for recommending them but I've been so pleased with their sea salt, I'm glad to do it.
For more information on the products offered by the Grain and Salt Society, call them at (800)867-7258 or (828)299-9005, or visit them on-line at www.celtic-seasalt.com.
Be sure to store the salt in a cool, dry place in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out. You should also mix the salt every few days. When natural sea salt sits, the moisture settles to the bottom of the container and the salt will clump.