High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease and Stress

Dr Dean Michael Ornish is president and founder of the non-profit Preventative Medicine Research Institute in California and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Medicine, San Francisco. In 1990, his work published in the Lancet (1) showed that a vegetarian diet, stopping smoking, stress management training and moderate exercise can reverse coronary artery disease after one year. This was achieved without the use of lipid-lowering drugs. It is probable that the vegetarian diet alkalised the body and by this means increased resistance to infectious disease.

Part of Dr. Ornish’s approach was to recommend an alkalizing diet (more vegetables and less meat and less sugar). With integrative medicine, alkalizing medication may be prescribed to help alkalize the body. Alkalising can be monitored with urine and saliva pH testing strips. THe goal is to achieve a pK above 7.


Dr Ornish’s results were better than those achieved with cholesterol lowering drugs (statins), which are disadvantaged by side effects and which only very slightly reduce the incidence of heart disease in people under seventy but not in older people and statins do not, reduce the overall mortality rate (2,3). The reason for this is that healthily high cholesterol levels are needed for physiological corticosteroid (stress hormone) production, which can be life saving in acute illnesses such a pneumonia.

In his book 21st Century Medicine (4), Dr Julian Kenyon 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 the prescribing doctors recorded a successful outcome. The patients' relatives also assessed the outcome and 74 out of the 75 relatives recorded deterioration in memory, mood, initiative, and energy levels, together with an increase in anxiety and irritability. The hypertension was a physiological coping reaction to stress rather than a primary disease.  Dr Ornish’s approach of stress reduction would have served these patients better.

High blood pressure is part of the body’s coping response to stress, which can be physical, chemical or psychological (5). Interference fields (e.g. earth or electromagnetic radiation) are examples of physical stress. Dental mercury poisoning is an example of chemical stress, and chronic anxiety is an example of psychological stress. High blood pressure is therefore not an illness but a manifestation of stress.

Integrative medicine identifies and treats the stress factors that cause high blood pressure, whereas  conventional medicine merely attempts to lower blood pressure artificially, overlooking the causal stress factors  and causing side effects with toxic pharmaceutical drugs. 

1. Ornish D and others. Lancet. 1990 Jul 21; 336(8708): 129-33.
2. Ravnskov U. High cholesterol may protect against infections and atherosclerosis. Quarterly Journal of medicine 96, 927-934, 2003
3. The Benefits of High Cholesterol by Uffe Ravnskov, MD, Ph.D. Director of THINCS - The International Network of Cholesterol Sceptics.
4. Kenyon J. In 21st Century Medicine. P34. Thorsons Press, 1986.
5. Selye, H. 1936. A syndrome produced by diverse nocuous agents.  Nature, 138:32138:32.