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Is There a Brain Mechanism Problem That Can Explain High Blood Pressure?

human-brain_1001_600x450If you have been diagnosed with essential hypertension, that means there is no known reason why you have high blood pressure, you just have it.  I personally am frustrated by this diagnosis.  You see, I was diagnosed with it before my stroke and guess what? After my stroke it got much worse.

The tension in your blood walls is controlled by a neurological mechanism and a chemical released by the cells in your blood vessels called Nitric Oxide. The cells in the walls of blood vessels can increase blood flow to certain areas by increasing the amount of this chemical.

Once the chemical is released, the cell walls react by increasing their size so more blood can flow and blood pressure is lowered.  Many of the supplements you hear advertised on the radio use this fact to sell supplements to people with high blood pressure. Many times this is not enough to reduce blood pressure and medication is the only intervention that seems to help unless that is, you understand the brain and how it affects blood pressure.

There is a part of the nervous system called the Mesencephalon.   It is beginning of the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for increasing heart rate and blood pressure.  Normally this area is kept in check by your frontal lobes and another part of the nervous system called the PMRF.  If either of these has a problem, the Mesencephalon can get overexcited. Then your heart can race and your blood pressure can increase.

Has anyone told you that they have “sneaky blood pressure”?  Well, that is the Mesencephalon going through periods of calm and excitation.  Can this be helped?  Yes, if you know what to look for.  If you have anxiety, high blood pressure, or racing heart rate, they can all mean certain areas of the brain are not working correctly.  If these areas can be made to work again, the blood pressure could be normalized.

Are we made to sit all the time?

How to add exercise into your life without adding stress:


After our ancestors stopped chasing deer in the woods our physical activity suffered.  Farming was arduous and made up for this, but farming is much more difficult than hunting and gathering.  Ask any farmer.  But most of us don’t farm.  The average commute time in Massachusetts is about 27 minutes.  At work, the average time a worker sits is 5 hours and 41 minutes. That is a lot of time sitting in one day.  Researchers have discovered that after just 20 minutes of sitting the part of your brain that runs your posture and muscle tone shuts down.    So the average worker sits at least 6 hour a day.  That is 360 minutes or 18 times that the brain shuts down.

The part of the brain that shuts down is called the Ponto-Medullary Reticular Formation (PMRF).  The PMRF is very important for our body function.  Not only does it run posture and muscle tone, but helps with blood pressure, heart rate, digestion and a whole host of functions that your body does automatically.  There is more.  Ninety percent of all your brain’s thinking goes to the PMRF and thus ninety percent of the feedback from the PMRF goes to your brain.  If the PMRF is not working in this regard, it could have effect on our thinking.  This could mean depression, anxiety, dark thoughts, or fearful thoughts.

Further, what they discovered is that exercising 3 times a week, although helpful, is not enough to counter this effect.  This is pretty overwhelming.  The key is to break up the sitting.  It is up to you but here is a simple suggestion to get you started.  While driving at traffic lights think about walking.  This can fool your brain and the PMRF.  Thinking about physical activity is almost like actually doing the activity.  It will take practice, but can make a difference.  While working, every 20 minutes stand up and march in place for about one minute.  Other simple things are to take the stairs, and every hour go for a short walk.  Try this for 30 days to see what effect it has on you.  You will be happy you did.

Gluten free Breakfast lunch and dinner from Beth’s gluten Free Kitchen

Crustless Ham and Spinach Tart
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 slices deli ham, cut into strips (3 ounces total)
1 cup of milk of choice
3 eggs
1/4 cup plus 2 T grated parmesan cheeese, divided
1 T minced fresh basil
1/2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly spray 9 inch glass pie plate with nonstick cooking spray.
Heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook 2 minutes or until soft,stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.  Stir in spinach and ham.  Spread mixture evenly into pie plate.
Combine milk, eggs, 1/4 cup of cheese, basil, pepper and nutmeg in medium bowl.  Pour mixture over spinach mixture.  Bake 50 minutes or untilknife inserted in center comes out clean.  Sprinkle with remaining 2 T cheese.
Romaine Wraps
Into romaine leaves, add mayonaisse, bacon, tomatoes and shredded rotissierie chicken.  “Nuff said.
Grilled Moroccan Eggplant 

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 T honey
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cayenne
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large eggplant or 2 medium (1 1/2 lbs. total)
2 peaches or 3 apricots
8 oz. halloumi cheese
3 T roughly chopped almonds
Heat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.  In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, honey, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, salt and cayenne until well combined.  Stir in cilantro and garlic.  Set aside.
Trim eggplant and slice lenghthwise into 1/2 inch think planks.  Halve and pit peaches, slice each half into 3 wedges.  Slice cheese into four 1/2 inch thick planks.  Brush eggplant, fruit and cheese generously with dressing.
Grill eggplant and fruit on medium-high for 2-3 minutes per side until eggplant is cooked through and fruit has grill marks.  Grill cheese 2 minutes per side.
Arrange eggplant, fruit and cheese on a platter.  Garnish with almonds and cilantro.  Cube cheese before serving.
Dice up peaches – ripe ones – and strawberries.  Simmer with some lemon juice for about 45  minutes.  Gently mash with potato masher, serve with whipped cream or over ice cream.  Try coconut ice cream made with coconut milk for dairy free options.

There is a place for medications.  They can and do save many lives, however one of their drawbacks is the damaging side effects they can have.  And many of the side effects are not readily evident until it is too late.

diabetes3-150x150So it is important to manage a problem like type 2 diabetes with a little medication intervention as possible.  How can you manage type 2 diabetes?   This can be done by dietary changes and life style changes.

The dietary changes I refer to is not simply reducing sugar intake or losing weight.  There are certain foods that can precipitate type 2 diabetes and if you want to manage it you need to eliminate these foods.  Life style changes can be as simple as getting to sleep at a certain time.  Exercises can be as simple as belly breathing and doing a simple aerobic exercise twice a week.

These simple changes can possibly mean the difference in taking insulin or not.  And as many a diabetic knows once you start taking insulin your health changes for ever and not necessary for the good.

Boston area Functional Health Care provider Dr. Greg Symko D.C. writes about Type 2 diabetes.

diabetes-150x150Type 2 diabetes is a growing problem in the United Sates.  There are an estimated 23 million people affected.  Traditional medicine calls Type 2 Diabetes “idiopathic” which means it has no known cause.  The problem with that is the term does not tell you how you might be able to help the condition improve.

The drugs used for Type 2 Diabetes only help slow the decline.  Functional health care may have the answer.  There are several reasons why someone develops Type 2 diabetes and being overweight is only one of them.

A functional health care provider is equipped to figure out the reason. Once the reason can be determined, the possibility of real help is realized.

Boston area functional health care provider Dr. Greg Symko D.C. writes about the possible causes of Type 2 Diabetes

diabetesA-150x150Now we understand how you can have the beginnings of Type 2 Diabetes without realizing any symptoms or having blood work show that you might.  What are the causes?  How does this happen?  First you must understand that it is not necessarily the individual’s fault that they get diabetes.  Here are five possible causes.

Lifestyle factors:  consuming certain foods, not having enough time to eat a proper meal, going hungry between meals, not getting enough sleep and dealing with chronic stressful situations.

Obesity:  Yes, obesity can cause Type 2 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes can cause obesity.

Environmental factors: exposure to toxic substances

Genetics: certain combinations of situations can trigger the genes’ expression and finally, you can get Type 2 Diabetes from faulty brain firing.   My job is to figure which of the above are the problem and then address it.

The link between gluten sensitivity and autoimmune thyroid

1. Am J Gastroenterol. 2001 Mar;96(3):751-757.

Prevalence of thyroid disorders in untreated adult celiac
disease patients and effect of gluten withdrawal:
an Italian multicenter study.

  • The greater frequency of thyroid disease among celiac disease patients justifies a thyroid functional assessment.
  • In distinct cases, gluten withdrawal may single handedly reverse the abnormality.

2. Horm Res. 1999; 51(3): 124-127

Prevalence of celiac disease in patients with thyroid autoimmunity.

  • On a gluten-free diet, an excellent clinical and histological response was recorded, with an improvement of hypothyroidism and reduction of the thyroxine dosage.
  • Our data suggest a significantly high prevalence of gluten intolerance in patients with autoimmune thyroid disorder, in particular those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

3. Autoimmunity. 2008 Feb; 41(1):116-121

Celiac disease in North Italian patients with autoimmune thyroid diseases.

  • An increased prevalence of celiac disease was demonstrated in adult European and Italian patients with autoimmune thyroid diseases; conversely, an increased prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease was demonstrated in patients with gluten intolerance.
  • Gluten sensitivity is significantly increased in patients with thyroid autoimmune disorders. For this reason, it is important to screen for gluten sensitivity in patients with autoimmune thyroid disorders

The conclusion is if there is any question of an autoimmune thyroid condition get tested and if gluten sensitive eliminate it from your diet.

Saturated Fat and Strokes

A study done by Gilman, et al and published in the December 24, 1997 Journal of the American Medical Association found that …


This study found that polyunsaturated fats have no protective effect.

Best of all, this study actually was able to quantify the protective effect of saturated fats:


Here is another interesting study done by Leddy, et al and published in 1997 in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Volume 29.

The subjects of this study were elite male and female endurance athletes, who were placed alternately on a high fat diet and then a low fat diet.

On a high saturated fat diet the patients maintained low body fat, normal weight, normal blood pressure, normal resting heart rate, normal triglycerides and normal serum cholesterol levels.

All their fitness and training parameters were maintained at the elite level. When put on the low fat (high complex carbohydrate) diet, however, it was found that the low fat diet negated many of the beneficial effects that exercise is expected to produce.

The athletes experienced a measurable decline in athletic performance. Most interesting, however, was the fact that the subjects on the low fat diet actually suffered a significant drop in HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), along with higher triglycerides (both of which are significant CVD risk factors. —

In fact, the ratio of triglycerides to HDL cholesterol is probably the number one risk factor for CVD.

In other words, you want high cholesterol of the HDL type, and low triglycerides. Another interesting factor is the high complex carbohydrate diet is loaded with gluten. This is found in wheat products particularly the whole grain variety. Gluten is inflammatory and can cause LDL cholesterol to rise.