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Low Blood Pressure, Stressors and Licorice Root

January 26, 2013

Licorice PlantLow blood pressure (hypotension) is often missed in diagnosis, because while sitting in a doctor’s office it will only show up as normal or slightly below normal. The doctor will smile and say “blood pressure is nice and normal, even a little low.” Unfortunately when the body is placed under certain stressors it goes below the point of being “acceptably low” and into the area of “dangerously low”.

Stressors Causing Low Blood Pressure
The most noticeable of these stressors will be moving from a sitting position to standing. Light-headedness, dizziness, nausea, and vision going black (called a vasovagal reaction) are all common with low blood pressure. This happens to everyone now and then, but with a chronic condition it happens daily.

Other stressors that can bring this on include standing for a prolonged period of time (usually at least ½ an hour), emotional/mental stress, dehydration, lack of food, [anemia].

The mechanism that controls this condition is cortisol. Manufactured by the adrenals, it is responsible for blood sugar control, immune response, stress response, and blood pressure control. Note, this is one of the major contributing factors to fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Symptoms of Low Blood Pressure 

  • dizziness on standing
  • fainting feeling
  • light headedness
  • inability to deal with stress
  • weakness in muscles
  • fatigue/lethargy
  • brain fog/trouble concentrating
  • poor immune system

Usually hypoglycemia is tied in with hypotension, as both are regulated by cortisol.

Testing for Low Pressure
There is a lab test to assess if this drop in blood pressure is the culprit. The test involves strapping the patient to a tilt table and placing it at a slight angle from the vertical position. Blood pressure is monitored over 20-30 minutes, and if hypotension is a problem the blood pressure should bottom out at some point; along with a feeling of nausea and weakness.

Treatment of Low Blood pressure
Since cortisol is detrimental to have in large amounts in the body for any long term, the body breaks it down. In the fast paced “do it now” world, there are probably too many people running around with overly high and dangerous levels of cortisol. Hypotension is the opposite case, and low levels of cortisol exist.

Although the medical route may treat this with a low dose of glucocorticoid steroids, there is a much simpler and safer approach. Licorice root is used to stop the body from destroying its own cortisol at such a fast rate. Normally there is an enzyme that breaks down cortisol; licorice root blocks this enzyme. Licorice root just keeps more of what the body produces in circulation longer; sort of like a reuptake inhibitor.

400-500mg of licorice root a day will usually correct this imbalance. Light-headedness and blood sugar problems are both remedied with licorice root. Note, using DGL which has the active component removed will not work. People with high blood pressure should not use licorice root. Consult your health care professional before starting any new therapy.

Licorice root is the most commonly prescribed herb in eastern medicine. Other properties of it include anti-fungal, anti-viral as well as slightly elevating estrogen levels. Some weight gain might be experienced due to increased water retention.

Of interest in the diet department, is that both tea and pink grapefruit juice will help raise blood pressure. Grapefruit does this by also blocking the re-absorption of cortisol.

Reference
From Fatigued to Fantastic by Jacob Teitelbaum ISBN-10 1583332898

Source: Low Blood Pressure and Licorice Root | Suite101

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