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High blood pressure and stress

In 1936, Hans Selye (1907-1982), a Hungarian researcher working in Canada published his ground-breaking research (1) that showed all chronic illness is due to prolonged stress, which can be physical, chemical or psychological.

The adrenal cortex of a healthy subject produces healthy stress hormones (corticosteroids) in response to stress. Adrenal stress hormones raise blood sugar and blood pressure in order to help people (and animals) react more efficiently when stressed. Medical students are taught that adrenal stress hormones are produced to enable  animals and people cope more efficiently with ‘fight, flight and fright’.

In health, stress hormones reduce pain and inflammation and prepare the body for enhanced mental and physical activity. This physiological  stress response involves a rise in blood pressure to pump extra oxygen into the brain and muscles and a rise in blood sugar for extra energy. There is also a physiological release of cholesterol into the bloodstream for biosynthesis of extra anti-inflammatory adrenal corticosteroids.

Selye’s research showed that all chronic illness results from over exposure to stress, which can be psychological (e.g. bereavement, loneliness, anxiety and poor health), physical (e.g. over exposure to the sun, electromagnetic field radiation, heat, cold, malnutrition etc.), or chemical (e.g. industrial pollution, asbestos, dental mercury, cadmium from exhaust fumes, nicotine etc.).

Selye also showed that unremitting stress depletes the adrenal cortex of healthy corticosteroids (stress hormones that help prevent health deterioration) and causes release of the harmful pathogenic adrenal corticosteroids that cause stress related illnesses such as anxiety/depression, arthritis, hypertension, peptic ulcers and cancer.​

His research indicated that prolonged stress results in an output of the HARMFUL CORTICOSTEROIDS that underlie all chronic illness. This ground breaking research supports clinicians identifying and treating the causes of stress rather than merely attempting symptom suppression with toxic pharmaceutical drugs: with hypertension, it would be more scientific for clinicians to consider stress reduction rather than prescribing toxic conventional antihypertensive drugs.  

Stress factors that can cause raised blood pressure include high voltage ‘silver’ mercury amalgam dental fillings (2), drinking too much coffee (caffeine), boredom and too much work and worry.

Raised blood pressure is a healthy physiological coping response to stress and artificially lowering it with anti-hypertensive drugs causes patients to become abnormally tired and depressed. For example, the adverse reactions of the antihypertensive ACE inhibitor drug, Ramipril, include dizziness, headache and fatigue as well as about two hundred other listed side effects. The fall in blood pressure caused by such conventional antihypertensive drugs is actually just one of many toxic adverse reactions.

In his book 21st Century Medicine (3), Dr Julian Kenyon MD (born 1943) cites a British study on the perceived success of drug treatment for high blood pressure. In the study, seventy-five patients with high blood pressure were treated conventionally and all the prescribing doctors recorded successful outcomes. Their relatives also assessed the patients, and 74 out of the 75 relatives recorded deterioration in memory, mood, initiative and energy levels with an increase in anxiety and irritability. 'When somebody goes through a particularly stressful period, to lower their blood pressure with a drug may be the last thing that such a patient needs' (3). A scientific therapeutic approach to raised blood pressure would be to identify and address the cause/s of patients’ stress and to encourage healthier lifestyles.

Dean Ornish in Texas, USA, has already shown that stress reduction and healthier lifestyles can help with high blood pressure and heart disease (4).


  1. ‘Selye, H. 1936. A syndrome produced by diverse nocuous agents. Nature, 138:32.


  3. 21st Century Medicine. Julian Kenyon MD. 21st Century Medicine, Thorsons Publishers, 1986.

  4. Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease?

D Ornish · 1990 · Cited by 3443 — Lancet. 1990 Jul 21;336(8708):129-33. doi: 10.1016/0140-6736(90)91656-u. Authors. D Ornish , S E Brown, L W Scherwitz, J H Billings, W.

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