Blood pressure is widely known as a silent killer because of the difficulty to detect its outward symptoms. Though it is normal for blood pressure to increase as a part of the normal ageing process, imbalanced diet can contribute more to risks of the disease.
This silent killer invites other health disorders like hypertension that further increases the risk of suffering a stroke. When combined with high cholesterol level, hypertension accelerates the development of Atherosclerosis, i.e., nodular hardening of the arteries. Hypertension can damage kidneys leading to renal failure. It may also lead to blurred vision and later blindness. Environmental factors, like noise may also increase blood pressure level.
Diet is an important factor in the etiology and prevention of various diseases. Research suggests that proper nutrition helps to conquer stress and reduce chances of high blood pressure. Minor changes in our eating habits can lead to major changes in one's health by improving the quality of life.
Tribals in central India (Gonds and Bharias) use following herbal formulation to reduce the effect of high blood pressure.
Combination of herbs viz., Terminalia chebula, Withania somnifera, Asparagus racemosus, Zingiber officinale and Terminalia arjuna.
Drug preparation: Terminalia chebula fruits (1 1/2 tbsp), Withania somnifera roots (2 1/2 tbsp), Asparagus racemosus roots (1 1/2 tbsp), Zingiber officinale Rhizome (1 tbsp), Terminalia arjuna fruits (3 1/2 tbsp).
1. Terminalia chebula Retz.; C. B. Clarke (Fl. Br. Ind.) in part (Chebulic Myrobalan)
Hindi- Harra; Bengali- Haritaki; Marathi- Hirda; Gujarati- Hardo; Telugu- Karakkai; Tamil- Kadukkai; Oriya- Haridra; Punjabi- Har, Harar; Assamia- Silikha
A tree 15-24 m. in height and 1.5-2.4 m. in girth, with a cylindrical bole of 4-9 m., a rounded crown and spreading branches, found throughout the greater parts of India. Bark dark-brown, often longitudinally cracked, exfoliating in woody scales; leaves ovate or elliptic with a pair of large glands at the top of the petiole; flowers yellowish white, in terminal spikes; drupes ellipsoidal, obovoid or ovoid, yellow to orange-brown, sometimes tinged with red or black and hard when ripe, 3-5 cm. long, become 5-ribbed on drying; seeds hard, pale yellow (WOA, 1997).
2. Withania somnifera Dunal
Sanskrit- Ashwagandha, Turangi-gandha; Hindi- Punir, Asgandh; Bengali- Ashvaganda; Marathi-Askandha tilli; Gujarati- Ghodakun, Ghoda, Asoda, Asan; Telugu- Pulivendram, Panneru-gadda, Panneru; Tamil- Amukkura, Amkulang, Amukkuram-kilangu, Amulang-kalung (root), Aswagandhi; Kannada- Viremaddlinagadde, Pannaeru, Aswagandhi, Kiremallinagida; Punjabi- Asgand, Isgand; Rajasthani- Chirpotan
An erect, evergreen, tomentose shrub, 30-150 cm. high, found throughout the drier parts of India in waste places and on bunds; also cultivated to a limited extent for the medicinal roots. Roots stout fleshy, whitish brown; leaves simple ovate, glabrous, those in the floral region smaller and opposite; flowers inconspicuous, greenish or lurid-yellow, in axillary, umbellate cymes; berries small, globose, orange-red when mature, enclosed in the persistent calyx; seeds yellow, reniform (WOA, 1997).
3. Asparagus racemosus Willd.
Bengali- Shatamuli; Gujarati- Ekalkanto, Satavari; Hindi- Chatwal, Satawar, Satmuli, Shakakul; Kannada- Aheruballi, Ashadhi, Majjigegadde, Sipariberuballi; Malayalam- Chatavali, Satavari; Marathi- Asvel, Shatavari, Shatmuli; Oriya- Chhotaru, Mohajolo, Sotabori; Sanskrit- Satavari; Tamil- Ammaikodi, Inli-chedi, Kadumulla, Shimai-shadavari; Telugu- Pilli-gaddalu, Toalb-gaddalu; Madhya Pradesh- Narbodh, Satmooli; Rajasthan- Norkanto, Satawar
An extensively scandent, much-branched, spinous under-shrub, with tuberous, short rootstock bearing numerous fusiform, succulent tuberous roots 30-100 cm long and 1-2 cm thick, found growing wild in tropical and sub-tropical parts of India including the Andamans; and ascending in the Himalayas up to an altitude of 1,500 m. Stems woody, whitish grey or brown armed with strong, straight or recurved spines 5-13 mm long; cladodes more or less acicular, 2-6 nate, falcate, finely acuminate; leaves reduced to sub-erect or sub-recurved spines; flowers white, fragrant, small, profuse in simple or branched racemes up to 7 cm long; berries globose, scarlet, triobed, 4-6 mm in diam. (WOA, 1997).
4. Zingiber officinale Rosc. (Ginger)
Sanskrit- Ardraka; Hindi- Adrak, Ada; Bengali- Ada; Marathi- Ale; Telugu-Allamu, Sonthi; Tamil- Allam,Inji; Kannada- Hasisunti; Malayalam- Andrakam, Inchi
A herbaceous, rhizomatous perennial, reaching up to 90 cm. in height under cultivation. Rhizomes are aromatic, thick-lobed, pale yellowish, differing in shape and size in the different cultivated types. The herb develops several lateral shoots in clumps which begin to dry when the plant matures. Leaves narrow, distichous, sub-sessile, linear-lanceolate, 17.0 cm. x 1.8 cm., dark green, evenly narrowed to form a slender tip, flowers in spikes, greenish yellow with a small dark purple or purplish black tip (WOA, 1997).
5. Terminali arjuna (Roxb.) Wight & Arn.= T. cuneata Roth
Hindi- Arjuna; Bengali- Arjhan; Marathi- Sanmadat, Sadaru, Vellamarda, Gujarati- Sadado; Telugu- Yerramaddi; Tamil- Vellamatta; Kannada- Maddi; Oriya- Arjuno, Sahajo; Assamiya- Orjun; Punjabi- Arjan.
A large, evergreen tree, with a spreading crown and drooping branches, common in most parts of India and also planted in many parts for shade and ornament. Stems rarely long or straight, generally always buttressed and often fluted; bark very thick, grey or pinkish green, smooth, exfoliating in large, thin, irregular sheets; leaves sub-opposite, oblong or elliptic, coriaceous, usually 10-15 cm. long, occasionally 25 cm., cordate, shortly acute or obtuse at thc apex; flowers in panicled spikes; fruits 2.5-5.0 cm. long, nearly glabrous, ovoid or ovoid-oblong, with 5-7 hard, winged angles (WOA, 1997).
Stick to a well-balanced diet
Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
Maintain balanced weight
Go for a brisk walk / take mild exercise
Cut down on salty and pickled food
Avoid fats, especially saturated fats
Learn to reduce stress levels,
Avoid alcohol and other tobacco products
WOA. 1997. Wealth of Asia (AHEAD).
About the authors:
Ms Garima Sancheti: She is a research scholar, working in the field of Radiation and Cancer Biology from Department of Zoology (University of Rajasthan, India). She has to her credit various research papers in scientific journals as well as articles on web.
Dr Deepak Acharya: He is the Director of a herbal formulation company in Ahmedabad, India. He has been documenting ethnobotanical knowledge of tribals of Central and Western India. He has written 30 research papers in National and International journals of repute. He writes popular articles for web and magazines.