The body supplies oxygen and nutrients to, and removes carbon dioxide and other metabolic waste products from, every cell primarily through the blood and lymph. These fluids reach the cells because the heart and blood vessels create pressures to bring them to the far reaches of the body and back. The cardiovascular and lymph systems require precise calibration to work efficiently over a lifetime. They are equipped with sensors and feedback mechanisms that allow the body to maintain a productive energetic balance yet to remain flexible to accommodate the ever-changing needs of a real living person.

People develop high blood pressure over their lives for many reasons (secondary hypertension) or for no discernible reason at all (so-called essential hypertension). High blood pressure is called a silent killer because often you don’t feel it or see it and won’t find out until your health care provider measures your blood pressure. Hypertension contributes to stroke, heart disease, kidney failure and many other health concerns and reduces life expectancy. Lifestyle choices can help lower your blood pressure, but for many people it is difficult to implement these changes, or they are insufficient, and their medical doctors will strongly recommend that they take antihypertensive medications, which can have numerous side effects. Learn more about what hypertension is at Wikipedia.

Of course, no one is eager to take medication, so patients, and increasingly their doctors, have been wondering what natural approaches actually work best to bring down your high blood pressure to a more manageable level. Acupuncture has already been shown in several reputable research studies to be effective for a considerable percentage of affected patients. But how about something you can actually do yourself? As an acupuncturist working with people who deal with hypertension, I am always looking for something I can teach my patients that they then can integrate into their daily routines. Qigong is an exercise and meditation practice that’s part of Chinese medicine and helps people to stay healthy or recover from serious illness.

In China, medical qigong is prescribed in hospitals by doctors of qigong, and numerous studies have shown promising results and encourage further research into the benefits of this approach. More importantly, many patients have personally experienced the changes a gentle qigong practice can promote. Diagnostic approaches of Chinese medicine are independent of biomedical concepts and primarily identify and treat energetic imbalances in the body’s organ systems and meridians. Interestingly, the patterns of disharmony commonly found in hypertensive patients point to similar origins as biomedicine, namely the Heart (which governs the blood vessels), Liver (the organ system responsible for the stress response) and Kidney (which, in addition to producing urine, is in charge of balancing the Heart).

Qigong exercises helpful to reduce hypertension are easy to learn and generally safe to practice (discuss your concerns with your health care provider before embarking on these exercises). If you don’t know how to get started, look for a qigong class in your neighborhood or search for books and DVD’s on qigong. I like Kenneth S. Cohen’s The Way of Qigong and Suzanne B. Friedman’s Heal Yourself with Qigong. If you are able to come to midtown Manhattan, join us at a qigong workshop offered at Serenity Health Arts.

Don’t ignore your high blood pressure just because you don’t feel it. Look for ways to deal with stress, your diet, your weight and other contributing factors while you can. Make qigong part of your strategy and work with your health care provider if you need treatment to manage your hypertension before it takes a toll on you.

© 2017 Christiane Siebert