We have a very special guest today, Dr David DeRose, who wrote a book called 30 Days to Natural Blood Pressure Control. Dr DeRose is a board certified specialist in internal medicine and preventive medicine, he also holds a master in Public Health with an emphasis in health promotion and health education, that’s what you and I do all the time. He currently serves as president of Compass Health Consulting where he helps develop media resources and services that enable individuals and groups to better harness lifestyle and other natural therapies.
Tana Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Tama Amen, I'm here with my husband Dr Daniel Amen.
Dr Daniel Amen: We have a very special show for you. Many of you know I'm working on a book called Memory Rescue, and it's based on how you rescue it is you get rid of all the risk factors that deteriorate your brain. One of the major risk factors is having hypertension, high blood pressure, or even pre hypertension.
We have a very special guest today, Dr David DeRose, who wrote a book called 30 Days to Natural Blood Pressure Control. Dr DeRose is a board certified specialist in internal medicine and preventive medicine, he also holds a master in Public Health with an emphasis in health promotion and health education, that's what you and I do all the time. He currently serves as president of Compass Health Consulting where he helps develop media resources and services that enable individuals and groups to better harness lifestyle and other natural therapies.
As a published medical researcher, syndicated radio show host, heard on over 140 stations, popular lecturer and practicing physician, Dr DeRose has been helping people address disease processes naturally for some three decades.
Tana Amen: I really love his bio, but I really want to take a moment to give him a personal introduction because I had so much fun on your radio station, Dr DeRose, and I love that you are so service oriented, which I have a big heart for as well. Welcome.
Dr Dave DeRose: Thanks so much, Tana and Daniel, it's great to be with you guys.
Dr Daniel Amen: Talk to us about why this particular issue, hypertension, is so important to you that you wrote a book about it. Rather than most physicians who have a pill for every ill, you decided to tackle this from a natural or integrative medicine approach.
Dr Dave DeRose: Well Daniel, I think both you and Tana well know this is a huge epidemic in America. About a third of the population have high blood pressure, the adult population, and it's getting worse. If you look at data, it's really startling. If you look at individuals in their 50's and 60's in the US who don't have high blood pressure today, if they live into their 80's the current statistic is about 90% of them will have high blood pressure.
We've got this huge, huge epidemic, and people are largely complacent about it. The current data is only about 50% of people even have their blood pressure controlled to the current guidelines, which are really not optimal for brain health. Whether you look at the risk of stroke, whether you look at cognitive decline, the whole host of things that's getting the attention of Americans today and that you guys have been doing such a great job highlighting, we're not addressing adequately with the current medication approaches.
Dr Daniel Amen: Why do you think there is such a dramatic increase? If I remember right, I was just at a conference and they said, a third of us have high blood pressure, but another third of us are pre hypertensive. The imaging work that we have done here at Amen Clinics, we have seen as your blood pressure goes up, blood flow to the brain goes down. Even if you're pre hypertensive compared to people in a more optimal range.
Dr Dave DeRose: Yeah, we've had data now for several decades that indicate that probably an optimal blood pressure off of medication is somewhere around 110 over 75 or actually lower. That's where cardiovascular risk is the lowest. The problem is, once you start using medications to treat it, you're adding really a host of things that bring their own side effects. A lot of the data suggests that to get your blood pressure down that low with medication for many people is counterproductive.
We've got this epidemic and it probably has to do with our lifestyles, with basically arteriosclerosis, the hardening of those small blood vessels so they're not as flexible, the body is having to generate more pressure to circulate the blood. We're dealing with a problem that then we treat with medications that sometimes bring their own side effects as well.
Tana Amen: I love that you work from a preventive standpoint. That's what we really like as well. I was a trauma nurse, and to just give the medications I think of it as the equivalent of putting a bandaid over a bullet hole. I love this idea that you work on the prevention, you're looking for the root cause, because to just treat with medication you're never teaching people how to actually change it for real. Those medications, a lot of them have a lot of side effects.
Dr Dave DeRose: No, you're exactly right. I think the reason, and we suggest this in the book, is that the reason why we have such poor rates of control, I've seen it as a clinician, people come in, stop their medications because of the side effects.
Dr Daniel Amen: Go through with us the natural approach to getting your blood pressure under control. I read your book, and I really liked it a lot. I was inspired by it, and who gets inspired about blood pressure, right?
Tana Amen: Well, it's important.
Dr Daniel Amen: I just know the damage it can do to someone's brain, and if it damages your brain, it's damaging anywhere where there is blood flow.
Tana Amen: Think about this, as an ICU nurse, that's one of our major things we're watching like a hawk is blood pressure. It's important.
Dr Daniel Amen: We also want to talk before we get away-
Dr Dave DeRose: Well lets talk about, we give basically a ten point approach to dealing with blood pressure actually, and it's actually summarized in the subtitle of the book. The book is called 30 Days to Natural Blood Pressure Control, but the subtitle is The No Pressure Solution. I kind of joke with my audiences, we're not talking about no pressure as in getting your blood pressure down to zero over zero.
Tana Amen: Right! I like that.
Dr Dave DeRose: Yeah, no pressure's a pneumonic. N stands for nutrition, O stands for optimal choice of beverages, P is for physical activity, R is for rest, E is for environment, some amazing stuff on environment and how that impacts blood pressure. Then we talk about stress management, and social support, those are those two S's in the heart of the word pressure. Then we talk about use of natural adjuncts. The R is for refraining from pressors, those are things that actually raise your blood pressure. Then the E is basically a spiritual component, so exercising faith in a creator or looking for that spiritual connectedness that a lot of us are missing.
Tana Amen: That's interesting, that's very similar to our approach. I like that.
Dr Daniel Amen: I love the pneumonic. In Memory Rescue talk a lot about how do you remember things? No pressure's awesome. Go into detail, at least a little bit, with each of those. What are the one or two things you want people to go away with?
Dr Dave DeRose: Sure. Let me give you some of the things that really people miss. Let's start with nutrition. We talk about a number of things, it's one of the longest chapters in the book, but let me just highlight one. Which actually was news to me probably six years ago when I started researching this topic. That is some of the most common drugs that we have today target a fairly complex system that I know you both are well aware of, but a lot of people have never heard of the renin-angiotensin, and the aldosterone system.
This hormonal system actually is perpetuating high blood pressure in many people, and we've got a whole host of drugs, at last count something like 40 different medications out there that target this system in some shape or fashion. The amazing thing about plant foods, foods from plant sources, many of them have natural ACE inhibitory compounds. In plain English, these are natural phytochemicals that actually, it's like small amounts are drugs are actually helping naturally lower your blood pressure when you're eating peanuts, or when you're eating soy beans, or when you're eating a host of things that have been identified. The potatoes have these ACE inhibitory peptides. Eating these foods actually have benefits as far as lowering blood pressure.
Tana Amen: That's so interesting. We talk about using food as medicine, and clearly in this case what's good for your brain really is good for your heart and vice versa. I want to clarify one thing with you, though, when you talk about soy beans, we often say that some organic soy beans are fine. We just don't want people eating the processed soy, so like the cheap soy oils. What are your thoughts on that?
Dr Dave DeRose: No, this is a great message. We talk in the book about whole plant foods.
Tana Amen: Right, okay.
Dr Dave DeRose: Once you start refining things is when you get in trouble. We're basically, we're right on the same page.
Tana Amen: Excellent. I want to bring something up too, and just because I want our listeners to really hear this. We don't want anybody going off their medication without the help of their doctor, which I did. Because I was really sick at one point, and I had a very high heart rate when I was going through treatments for thyroid cancer. They put me on a beta blocker, and I have to tell you, it was one of the most miserable experiences I can remember through that whole process.
Anybody listening, there are a lot of people who know what I'm saying. Probably not everyone experiences that, but it was terrible for me. I took myself off of it, ended up with a very high heart rate, it was scary. Don't do that, but we want you to know that there's hope if you go to a physician, or you read a book like this, and then you work with a physician to try some of these natural ways to manage your blood pressure. What would you say to that?
Dr Dave DeRose: No, Tana, you are right on point. We spent a lot of time early in the book, and one person was a little bit frustrated because we take a lot of time talking about these things. You cannot just stop blood pressure medications. You are fortunate that you were young and healthy, or relatively healthy when you stopped that beta blocker, because people have stopped that class of drugs and have actually triggered a heart attack. There's other drugs that you can stop, and you can actually end up with what we call rebound hypertension, where the blood pressure goes higher than it's ever been before.
We talk about all that in the book, and you are totally making one of the most key points that we make, and that is don't just do this on your own. Start making the changes, but bring your health practitioner into that dialog from day one. Check your blood pressure, and keep in touch with that individual.
Tana Amen: I love that. The other thing that I like to tell people because I had a physician who just wouldn't go along with the fact that I wanted to try some natural things. Your doctor is not your daddy or mommy or your boss, you really want to find a physician who will work with you. They're supposed to be your partner. If you really want to try some natural things, and you're not getting the answer you want, one, it may be that you really do need the drugs, but there's a good chance that you need a doctor who is more savvy to the natural methods.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on that as well.
Dr Dave DeRose: No, I mean, there's a great group, I've been connected with them in the past, American College of Lifestyle Medicine, that's one group. There's other groups that you can go through to try to find people that have more of that natural orientation. Really you do want healthcare providers that are your allies and not someone that you feel like you're locking horns with every time you walk into the office.
Tana Amen: No, I like that. The other one where I've taken a lot of my classes is the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, so A4M is also, they have a huge resource, a huge network.
Dr Daniel Amen: Let's go through the rest of the pneumonic, because I'm always with, so what are the practical things I can do? O stands for?
Dr Dave DeRose: Optimal choice of beverages. Really if you want one takeaway point is just get the water out, because just about every other beverage, at least ones that are consumed in large amounts in America are contributing to hypertension. Whether it's a caffeinated soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, a lot of people don't realize those are contributing to the epidemic. Really, water is the best beverage you can drink.
Tana Amen: What about green tea?
Dr Dave DeRose: Green tea has got a number of healthy phytochemicals in it. The EGCG is one of those things that is an antioxidant, particularly powerful, but I'm not telling people they've got to be on some rigid program. We're just educating them, and then they apply things, and we actually encourage them through the book we have worksheets where people are making decisions as they go through what they're going to fine tune to try to move their blood pressure in the right direction.
Tana Amen: Excellent.
Dr Daniel Amen: I like that a lot. Water, be careful with caffeine, alcohol is not a health food. It's now associated with seven different cancers.
Tana Amen: This is the first heart specialist I've heard say that.
Dr Daniel Amen: Well, it's just this mythology that runs around that I should have two glasses of red wine a day because it's good for my heart. Yeah, but you're going to make bad decisions.
Dr Dave DeRose: No, you got it, you guys are right on track. It's always great to deal with people who look ahead at the big picture. [inaudible 00:14:03] in our ranks is actually scary.
Dr Daniel Amen: What about P?
Dr Dave DeRose: P is physical activity. The message I try to give people, the simple message is look, it's another day, you're going to eat, you're going to sleep. Hey, you're going to exercise. Once you get the connection in, you're going to make a big difference as far as your blood pressure.
Dr Daniel Amen: We're all about physical activity.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: R?
Dr Dave DeRose: Yeah, R is for rest. It's scary when you look at data on how we're driving ourselves as a society. When we're short on sleep, we are ramping up those stress hormones, and they're raising our blood pressure as well as worsening insulin resistance and a host of other things. Whether you think, "Well hey, I don't even need any caffeine." If you're cutting yourself short on sleep, you're driving those stress hormones and you're raising your blood pressure.
Dr Daniel Amen: Absolutely essential. Sleep apnea is at epidemic proportions, and people even get diagnosed with it and won't get it treated, which makes me a little crazy. We actually see sleep apnea on our spec scans look like early alzheimer's disease. The E?
Dr Dave DeRose: E is for environment. Let me give you [inaudible 00:15:21] more on aspects of environment, and that is noise. Some of the research is fascinating on where you live effects your blood pressure. If you're living by a noisy street, your blood pressure will be higher than if you're living in a quieter, rural area. Now some people say, "I've got a reverse mortgage. What am I going to do?" Just moving your bedroom to the side of the house away from the busy street by actual research data will lower your blood pressure.
Tana Amen: Yeah, I've certainly experienced that myself. I'm highly affected by noisy environments. I just feel my entire energy shifting.
Dr Daniel Amen: Imagine what it was like growing up with five sisters. It's a wonder my pressure is okay.
Tana Amen: I think that that's why you're so mellow now, they inoculated you.
Dr Daniel Amen: The first S?
Dr Dave DeRose: First S is for stress management, we went a little bit already [inaudible 00:16:12]. We go through a whole construct of things people can do, but that [inaudible 00:16:18] that's another huge factor that's often-
Dr Daniel Amen: So important, and U?
Dr Dave DeRose: U is for use of natural adjuncts, and there we talk about everything from L-arginine to coenzyme Q10 to a beverage. I know Tana was a little disturbed it seemed like that we were sweeping all the teas under the bus if you will, but we didn't to that. [inaudible 00:16:45] is actually a natural blood pressure lowering herbal beverage.
Dr Daniel Amen: Does omega 3 fatty acids have any impact on blood pressure?
Dr Dave DeRose: Oh yes, most definitely. We actually recommend omega 3 fats intake. We suggest that you're probably best off getting it from plant sources to avoid the heavy metals, which actually come under that R, the last R, which is refraining from pressors. Many of the heavy metals actually have blood pressure raising effects. It's also true of these commonly used non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs. The Motrins, the ibuprofen, Advils, these things actually can significantly raise blood pressure.
Tana Amen: Wow.
Dr Dave DeRose: When you think about adjuncts for pain management, we mention things like tumeric, we mention omega 3 fats, we mention boswellia, so there's a number of natural things you can use to help with the pain that do not raise blood pressure, may even tend to lower it.
Tana Amen: Yeah, one thing I've learned is tumeric with a little bit of black pepper in it, some of the supplements, helps it absorb better and decreases inflammation.
Dr Daniel Amen: Except not rank or cumins, the one that we make here it actually doesn't need black pepper because it is absorbed so well.
Dr Daniel Amen: Which is awesome. Then the E.
Dr Dave DeRose: The E is actually a question. The question for the chapter is exercising faith in god as a question. We've really written that chapter to deal with the broad topic of spirituality. For some people it is tied to a personal spiritual being, for other people they relate for from an atheistic or agnostic perspective, but they're spiritual being as well. We talk in that chapter about how important it is to cultivate what a lot of people in the mental health field are calling virtues. Talking about humility and compassion, mercy, things of this nature that have been held in esteem across spiritual traditions.
Dr Daniel Amen: I'm a huge fan of Viktor Frankl and Man's Search for Meaning. Unfortunately Freud won and we got psychoanalysis. Frankl developed something called logos therapy, which is getting in touch with your deepest sense of meaning and purpose. I always found that as a psychiatrist much more helpful, much more healing than thinking about the oedipal complex and wanting to have sex with your mother. I always thought that was a little odd and bizarre.
Tana Amen: I agree.
Dr Daniel Amen: Difficult to bring up in therapy.
Tana Amen: As somebody who's been through severe depression going through a health crisis, one thing we teach is helping people turn pain into purpose, and it's so powerful.
Dr Daniel Amen: That's certainly been a huge part of your story. I know we're running out of time, David. We are so grateful for your book.
Tana Amen: Love your work.
Dr Daniel Amen: For your time, and where can people learn more about your work and natural strategies for treating high blood pressure?
Dr Dave DeRose: The single best place to go is on Amazon, the book 30 Days to Natural Blood Pressure is readily available. I'm learning that the book actually has a special benefit helping people deal with stress. We found that a few people with slow internet connections, because it's such an information dense book, over 100 graphs and illustrations, takes a long time to download. We've had a few people get frustrated trying to download the Kindle edition, and saying bad things about the book because they couldn't get it to download.
Tana Amen: That's hilarious.
Dr Dave DeRose: Need it, because they're getting stressed out with their impatience.
Dr Daniel Amen: I just have one more question before we have to stop.
Dr Dave DeRose: Sure.
Dr Daniel Amen: That's actually the opposite end of blood pressure, because one of the things in writing Memory Rescue that I learned is, yes high blood pressure doubles your risk for alzheimer's disease, it's bad for every organ in your body. The older you get, having low blood pressure is a risk factor for alzheimer's in older people. What do people do if their blood pressure is too low?
Dr Dave DeRose: Well, a lot of I think what we're looking at is people that are overmedicated. We put more and more people on these cardiovascular drugs, and we may say, "Well, they're not being treated for blood pressure, they have an ACE inhibitor to protect their kidneys, a beta blocker for their heart failure." I think this is really where we're getting into trouble, and the research does indicate that if you've got vascular disease, you don't want to lower your blood pressure to 110 over 70 with medication.
That's really the message I'm trying to get out there. Stick with the natural approaches and try to minimize really pushing those meds so much, and that's something that we've got to keep in touch with as a medical profession.
Dr Daniel Amen: Great. Well, thank you so much for being part of the Brain Warrior's Way podcast, we look forward to meeting you in person and helping to support your work in any way we can.
Tana Amen: Thanks Dr DeRose.
Dr Dave DeRose: It's mutual, thanks guys.