So how does a 50-year old woman on dialysis get her blood pressure down to 100/60 without drugs? Last week, I promised to answer that question – as my wife, Nicole, is now averaging around 100/60 despite stage five kidney disease and type-1 diabetes.
First off, a bit of background. Nicole’s blood pressure has gone as high as 200/100. This is common with people who’s kidneys have failed (which is why they are all on blood pressure medication). One reason Nicole doesn’t take blood pressure medication anymore is because blood pressure meds, ironically, can cause kidney failure. I remember being in the ER the day Nicole’s kidney failed. The doctor took a look at her prescriptions and pointed to the bottle of blood pressure medication. “I bet that’s what caused her kidneys to finally fail. ”
Now, we had already been doing many things to keep the blood pressure down:
1. Sauna Therapy: If you can’t pee off the water, you can still sweat it off. 250ml (1 cup) per half-hour session using a closet, a space heater and four near-infrared bulbs.
2. Buteyko Breathing Exercises: By retraining the respiratory center to breathe correctly, both carbon dioxide and nitric oxide levels go up. Both these gasses cause blood vessels to expand, reducing blood pressure.
3. No Stimulants: Nicole avoids all sources of caffeine (chocolate, coffee, tea) and alcohol.
4. Orin Enemas: This is where she basically turns the bowels into a bladder by filling the colon with urine via an enema bag. The urea in the urine appears to pull water (and toxins) out of the body. Nicole weighs 1/2lb less after each 20 minute treatment.
All these helped keep Nicole’s blood pressure down below 150/100. But it wasn’t until we tried removing all salt from her diet that her blood pressure started averaging about 100/60. Sodium, of course, retains water. But high sodium levels, according to a new study by Vanderbilt University, also raises urea levels. Urea causes an even stronger degree of water retention to prevent dehydration while the body tries to lower the sodium levels.
As cited earlier, indigenous cultures (like the Yanomami Indians of Brazil) have an average blood pressure of 95/60 – even into old age. They, also, don’t eat any salt, living out as they do in the middle of the Amazon. Some will argue that genetics plays a role in their low blood pressure. But considering that removing salt from the diet normalized my wife’s blood pressure – despite kidney failure and type-1 diabetes – I bet genes have little to do with it. Nicole was only consuming a regimented 3 grams of salt per day. Eliminating those three grams made the difference between hypertension and a blood pressure of a 10-year old.
So, by replacing the time Nicole spends at dialysis with extra time in the sauna, and not cooking with any salt, she was able to avoid gaining any water weight or raising her blood pressure while off dialysis for five days. The only problem was that by day four she was starting to have the dreaded “ammonia breath.” Blood tests showed her urea levels hit 60mmol/L (normally they only go as high as 30).
So, while we figured out how to manage the water in her body, we still have a few bugs to work out in our “dialysis-replacement-program.” We have an idea how to get the urea levels down, which we’ll test next week.
Thinking outside the type-1 matrix,
–John C. A. Manley
P.S. Whether you have kidney failure or not, anyone with type-1 diabetes (or even those without) may be able to normalize their blood pressure by removing the salt. But won’t food taste bland? Don’t we need all that sodium? Won’t I get leg cramps? I’ll try to answer these questions in future posts. Or you can book a telephone consult for one-on-one help.
P.P.S. Removing salt from the diet may also lower insulin needs. Find out more at How Just 2g Per Day of This Calorie-Free Ingredient Pushes Insulin Needs Up