If you frequently experience dizziness or lightheadedness when you stand up from sitting or lying down, you might have a condition known as postural hypotension, also known as orthostatic hypotension, or OH #1.
In this condition, a lag in communication between the brain and the heart makes the heart unable to accurately adjust the blood pressure as the body changes position from moment to moment. Symptoms of OH can occur within the first three minutes of standing up #1. In addition to dizziness or lightheadedness, orthostatic hypotension may result in fainting or seizures.
OH is a chronic condition that arises from damage to the part of the nervous system that regulates automatic functions, such as heart and respiratory rate and blood pressure. It is seen often in the elderly, diabetics, and Parkinson’s disease patients #2 as well as in people with heart problems, hormonal imbalances, or certain vitamin deficiencies, notably B12 and folate.
Depending upon the underlying cause of the condition, additional symptoms may be present, including chest pain, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, blurred vision, and headache. Chronic orthostatic hypotension is both debilitating and difficult to treat, with none of the more than 60 medications in use providing satisfactory levels of effectiveness #3.
Lifestyle and Self-Care Management
Several home remedies may help in the management of postural hypotension. Before starting any home care routine consult your health care provider to make sure that it is safe and appropriate for you.
- Gentle exercise done at a pace that does not involve sudden position changes, can help strengthen the heart and promote healthy blood flow out from the heart to the limbs and back to the heart.
- Maintaining your optimal body weight is an excellent way to avoid added stress on the heart and cardiovascular system.
- Staying well-hydrated keeps your blood volume, and therefore your blood pressure, up to par.
- Eating small meals can help prevent too much blood being shunted to the stomach and digestive tract.
- Walking after a meal can help keep blood flow evenly distributed throughout your body and prevent your blood pressure from dropping.
- Some patients with orthostatic hypotension find that slightly elevating the head of their bed helps reduce symptoms. This decreases pooling of blood that happens from lying flat.
Medicinal Herbs to the Rescue
Once you have incorporated the above habits, tips and tricks into your life there are additional self-help methods you can try in the form of medicinal herbs. Always discuss these and all remedies with your doctor before using them.
- One notable herb is Ruscus aculeatus, commonly known as butcher’s broom. This herb, which offers a high safety profile, works directly on the nervous and circulatory systems to prevent blood from pooling in the legs. It also contains antioxidants that protect and strengthen blood vessels. Butcher’s broom outperforms most drugs used for OH in that it does not cause hypertension when the person is lying down, a common side effect of drug therapies #2.
- The combination of camphor, an essential oil extracted from the evergreen tree Cinnamomum camphora, combined with Hawthorn berry, a herb widely used to support heart health, may be helpful for some OH patients. In one study, the herbal combination was demonstrated to be effective at increasing resting blood pressure levels in patients with chronic low blood pressure #3.
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