HOUSE CALLS By Dr. Gerald Deas
Years ago, I can recall my mom and her friends talking about taking Epsom salts and grapefruit juice to lower blood pressure. I guess it was an old folk remedy passed down through the years. In those days, not many folks had the money to get good medical care and therefore found themselves always treating the symptoms of a disease. I can tell you, many folks died prematurely because of a delayed diagnosis. When folks with hypertension experienced throbbing in their heads, a mixture of Epsom salts and grapefruit juice would be taken to calm the throbbing. Of course, this is no way to treat elevated blood pressure and I am certainly not advising you to follow this form of treatment. If hypertension is treated for noticeable symptoms, I can tell you, down the road, you will have irreversible damage to your kidneys, eyes, heart and brain, which will take 20 years off your life.
Anyhow, what’s to this magic potion of Epsom salts and grapefruit juice? Well, Epsom salts, which is usually used to bathe in when you experience muscle sprains and strains, are chemically known as magnesium sulfate. Magnesium is an essential element in the body that not only relaxes blood vessels, but calms down an irritable heart. When the body is deprived of magnesium, you may experience weakness in your muscles, thinning of hair, nervous disorders, irregular heartbeats and a host of other symptoms. Magnesium keeps the body well tuned.
Magnesium can be found in foods such as green, leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and animal protein.
The consumption of alcohol, caffeine and diuretics (water pills) can cause a depletion of this element in the body. Poor absorption from the intestinal tract can be due to magnesium combining with phytates found in corn, bran, soybeans and cereal products. Vegetables containing oxalic acid, such as spinach, can also prevent the absorption of magnesium.
The average person needs about 350 mg. of magnesium daily to maintain adequate health. Since the body loses approximately this amount in urine and perspiration, a supplement may often have to be taken in the form of magnesium oxide (which can be bought at your local health food store).
Now, as for the grapefruit juice, it had been recently demonstrated that this juice is capable of interfering with the metabolism of certain drugs, thus preventing them from being used effectively. I am sure that this juice may also increase the uptake of magnesium, which affects the relaxation of blood vessels, causing a reduction of blood pressure.
Today, of course, magnesium sulfate is used intravenously to reduce blood pressure of a hypertensive mother during delivery. Thus saving the infant and mother’s life.
Well, I guess you can say that old folks weren’t too far off in their treatment of blood pressure when we had no drugs to do the same. Just think, we had no drugs for high blood pressure until 1955! Wow!
For great health tips and access to an online community of physicians and other healthcare professionals, visit www.DrDeas.com.
This article originally appeared in our May 15, 2013 issue.