What blood pressure reveals about your hormones
“Natural forces within us are the healers of disease”
Many times I hear from patients and people alike they’re going to different -ologists in order to get their physical/yearly blood work, or perhaps they’ve had a recent diagnosis of blood pressure that was too low or too high, or perhaps too ‘all over the place’. Perhaps along with feeling tired, can’t get a good night’s sleep, or have bursts of energy only to crash. Yet most of the time there isn’t any specific symptom to blood pressure alone, except when the numbers are discovered, there’s that watch and wait period before being offered medication. Yet there’s actually a significant link between how our blood pressure is regulated, and hormones like estrogen and testosterone.
Just like the thermostat in the house that responds to when the temperature is above or below of what it should be, our body responds in the same way. Our blood vessels have sensors that when our blood pressure falls, a whole game of telephone occurs from the kidney to the liver to the lungs to the adrenal glands to ensure blood vessels narrow and water is conserved. Eventually that same hormone also tells the brain to secrete another hormone to further enhance all these actions.
When our blood pressure rises, the inner lining of our blood vessels become responsible for helping expand them to accommodate for a higher pressure. The inner lining also releases nitric oxide, a potent dilator (plus a molecule to constrict, so vessels don’t completely relax), and a few others. Another molecule is secreted by the heart to conversely tell the body to get rid of sodium and water.
So, what does this mean for you and your hormones? Low blood pressure may also bring about spikes in energy as your body is attempting to keep going, or you may literally not be able to get out of bed in the morning. These are your adrenal glands, the same glands that make sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone- when your body just wants to survive, resources for systems like digestion and reproduction (i.e. libido) are going to get put on the back burner. Conversely, blood sugar issues (a big risk factor for high blood pressure), high cholesterol, and weight gain, are the main reasons for developing high blood pressure due to buildup of material in the endothelium (altering its function). There may also be a genetic component, as I’ve seen it where people may not make nitric oxide properly, or have problems clearing said material.
Hormone imbalance places a stress on the body, such as insulin resistance in men being linked to low testosterone, decline in estrogen contributing to stiffer blood vessels (yet so does high estrogen), and hormones like insulin, testosterone, and estrogen make things grow- and now our fat cells are involved! And fat cells also lower testosterone, raise estrogen, and make us hungrier, therefore messing with blood sugar. Our liver is trying to detox this all, our adrenals are running on overdrive trying to regulate all these functions, that no wonder we may feel all over the place! Phew!
And while this may seem like a lot, in the big picture, take solace in the fact that these symptoms are so interconnected:
Eat your blueberries- This fruit is rich in chromium, a mineral that helps cells more responsive to insulin, and their color means they are rich in anthocyanins, a potent antioxidant that can also help restore integrity to our blood vessel walls. FYI frozen blueberries are a great snack, especially with some almonds.
Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night- We need time to repair- literally. Getting enough & quality sleep helps balance blood sugar, rests our adrenal glands, and gives our body proper time to make all these beneficial hormones. Best to hit the sack before 11pm. Men, sleeping less than 5 hours of night can lower testosterone and sperm count/quality in just a week. Ladies, that can increase your risk of stroke by 8.
Magnesium- Take an epsom salt bath, get a quality supplement (I recommend glycinate as it doesn’t affect your bowel movements), eat foods like dark leafy greens and avocados. Or all of the above. Magnesium is involved in over 500 reactions in the body, imperative to making and metabolizing hormones, known as ‘nature’s relaxer’, and imperative for regulating our pressure system.
Heart health and our hormones are intricately intertwined, and should be treated as such! As you see how many organ systems are involved in regulating both high and low blood pressure, this is why there’s hardly a single natural or conventional treatment that we can take to be a cure-all. There were processes and compensatory mechanisms in place to get us here, which is why sometimes health can feel like playing ‘wack a mole’ as another issues arises- it’s because lifestyle is imperative to healing & prevention. Given blood sugar issues are incredibly common, anything from cravings to Type 2 Diabetes, check out how you can create some more balance and make your blood vessels happy!