The American Heart Association (AHA) estimates approximately 73 million American adults age 20 and over have hypertension, also known as the "silent killer," because only 60 percent of adults who have hypertension are being treated for it, and two-thirds of those don’t have it under control!
The AHA defines hypertension as a systolic blood pressure (BP) of 140 mmHg or higher, or a diastolic blood pressure of 90 mmHg or higher. Almost 30 percent of adults have pre-hypertension, with systolic BP between 120 and 139, or diastolic BP of 80 to 89.
According to the American Heart Association’s "Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics, 2005 Update," high blood pressure killed nearly 50,000 Americans in 2002 and was listed as a primary or contributing factor in 261,000 deaths. Starting as low as 115/75, the risk of heart attack and stroke doubles for every 20 point jump in systolic blood pressure or every 10 point rise in diastolic blood pressure. People with pre-hypertension (blood pressure greater than 119/79) levels once considered normal, have twice the risk of heart disease as those with normal blood pressure. And people with frank hypertension (blood pressure greater than 139/89) have four times the risk of heart disease as people with low blood pressure.1 Clearly, we chiropractors who are promoting anti-aging and wellness care might consider what we can do naturally for patients with blood pressure of over 120/80.
Milk Does a Body Good?
Milk proteins, both caseins and whey, have previously been shown to significantly reduce blood pressure in animal models. A 2006 study published in the The Journal of Clinical Hypertension reported similar results in humans.2,3 "Whey-derived peptides might be a viable option for pre-hypertensive and/or stage 1 (systolic >139, <159 mmHg and/or diastolic >99, <119 mmHg) hypertensive populations," concluded these researchers.
John Zhang, MD, PhD, of Logan Chiropractic College and I have authored a human study on a multi-ingredient whey and colostrum based zoonutrient powdered drink mix, formulated with liposomes to enhance bioavailability. In 90 days, this dairy peptide formula lowered blood pressure 13.4 mmHg and 8.2 mmHg, respectively.4
This result is comparable to the benefits seen with the proven best dietary approach, the D.A.S.H. diet, equal to the average results of any one medication, and better than the results attained through exercise.5,6,7 Of even more interest is that the control group in the study, who received 500 mg of calcium daily, gained an average of 6 pounds, while the special whey formula group gained no weight.
This adds dairy peptides to the growing list of nutraceuticals available to those of us chiropractors who are interested in drug free approaches to hypertension. This list includes phytochemicals from grape seed extract, quercitin, cocoa, green tea extracts, hawthorne berries, hibiscus tea, stevia, lycopene extracts, soy isoflavones, and fatty acids in oils like olive oil, flax oil, and fish oil.8-19
Shake It Up, Baby!
The pathways through which blood pressure is lowered are many, including inhibiting angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), blocking calcium channels, promoting nitric oxide induced vaso-relaxation and diuretic activity.20 Therefore, it is likely that combining several approaches in one may provide not only greater hypotensive effects, but multiple other benefits as well. As an example, one might try mixing 18 gm of the above stevia sweetened, vanilla flavored whey protein (available through health professionals only) with cocoa (baking chocolate) and high isoflavone ( > 20 mg) soy milk twice a day as a "Heart Healthy Chocolate Shake." If results are to come, they should be apparent within 60 days, and likely to improve further with time.
Of course, lifestyle changes are always important in any longevity program.21
• Losing just 10 pounds or a few inches around the waist can help reduce blood pressure significantly.
• Regular physical activity, meaning 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week, can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 mmHg.
• The D.A.S.H. (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and which skimps on saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol, can lower your blood pressure by up to 11.4 mm Hg.
• Alcohol in small amounts, generally up to one drink a day for women and two a day for men, can help prevent heart attacks and coronary artery disease and potentially lower your blood pressure by 2.5 to 4 mm Hg.
• Tobacco products can raise blood pressure by 10 mm Hg or more for up to an hour after smoking.
• For caffeine, the current consensus recommendation is to stay under 200 mg a day, which is equivalent to about two cups of coffee.
Dr. John H. Maher is co-founder of BioPharma Scientific and creator of "The SuperFood Solution™: Lifelong Wellness Made Easy" (www.superfoodsolution.com). He can be reached by email at
On its website, the American Heart Association has a simple "High Blood Pressure Health Risk Calculator," which you may find useful as an educational and motivational tool for your practice. See http://www.americanheart.org/beatyourrisk/en_US/main.html.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute provides, "Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure," which goes over the above lifestyle guidelines, at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hbp/prevent/prevent.htm.