YY Health & Beauty

Does mindfulness reduce high blood pressure?

Several people who have completed Sheila Bond’s eight week mindfulness course have told her that it does. This is her report:

One lady, Annabel, told me before the mindfulness course that she had high blood pressure and her doctor wanted to put her on medication, although she was not keen. She had her blood pressure taken regularly, and over the eight week course it steadily dropped. Her doctor was now very happy with it. She put it down to the mindfulness.

This experience prompted me to look up the research, to see whether mindfulness really does reduce blood pressure. It seems that, as with so many problems, the research is not conclusive: some papers say that mindfulness can reduce high blood pressure whereas at least one study found that is made no difference at all.

A few weeks after the end of her mindfulness course, Carole sent me this email “I had to see the doctor for renewal of a prescription and she wanted to take my blood pressure at the same time. I have always been terrible about having it taken and it usually rockets but this time it was perfect. I am sure it is due to the Mindfulness, particularly as I know my heart rate has slowed so doing the course. In fact am handling a lot of things better than I did before.”

A few months later Carole sent me a further update: “I had to go for a scan, and sat in a waiting room with a lot of anxious people, trying to use my mindfulness breathing technique. I couldn’t get it going, opposite me were two younger women continually fidgeting and crossing arms and legs with conversation on and off. I decided to try going through the body (a mindfulness practice Carole had learned on the course), not my most favoured of ones, but it worked a treat and I became very relaxed. I suppose it makes the mind concentrate despite of everything. I just wanted to share with you how relaxed I was after the mindfulness. I am usually so uptight in a hospital, just visiting years ago I could’ve been sick. Since adulthood I find my mind won’t concentrate and I shake all over, I have always had complete ‘white coat syndrome’. I have had some pretty unpleasant experiences which is probably the reason for it but there is no doubt the mindfulness has been a life changing experience for me. I am so glad I decided to do your course.”

When Esther told me that she had borderline glaucoma (raised pressure in the eyes) and asked whether mindfulness might help, I had to be honest. I said that I did not know of any research showing that mindfulness helped reduce the pressure in glaucoma. However, if the pressure was affected by stress, then mindfulness has been proven to reduce stress.

Esther’s consultant had told her that if it did not reduce, she would have to take medication. She was reluctant to do this. Esther decided to do the mindfulness course, and was thrilled that her eye pressures started to reduce. Esther is still in touch and recently told me that her pressure had dropped back to normal and there was no longer any need for medication.

So we don’t know if mindfulness directly reduces blood pressure but we do know that it reduces stress. If stress could be a factor in your high blood pressure, perhaps mindfulness could be worth a try?

Sheila Bond

Sheila is the founder of Living Well Mindfulness. She is passionate about sharing the benefits of mindfulness to help people to reduce stress and suffering. She runs mindfulness courses in Newbury, Reading and surrounding areas. If you would like advice on any aspect of how mindfulness could help you, don’t hesitate to contact Sheila: Sheila.Bond@livingwellmindfulness.com or 07990 584078 or http://livingwellmindfulness.com.

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