Salt Causes High Blood Pressure – Right?

“In the West, the connection between salt and hypertension has been convincing enough that many patients with high blood pressure have been forbidden to eat any but the smallest amounts of salt. This implied that salt was somehow an enemy. Now it is known that such restrictions were too severe…”
Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra MD, page 238

Conventional wisdom assumes that salt somehow causes high blood pressure – and it’s true, but not for everyone. Dr. Myron Weinberger, Director of the Hypertension Research Center at the Indiana University School of Medicine, estimates that about 26 percent of people with normal BP and around 58 percent with high blood pressure are “salt sensitive.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, “Salt sensitivity is a measure of how blood pressure responds to a decrease in salt intake.” Simply put, restricting sodium will lower blood pressure in many, but not all, people. The only way to test for salt sensitivity is to compare a person’s average blood pressure between a “salt restricted” and “normal” diet. According to Dr. Robert M. Giller, in Natural Prescriptions, you can “Try two weeks of a diet that does include salt and see what effect, if any, it has on your blood pressure reading.”

The reason for why salt affects some people more than others is not fully understood. One theory is that the problem isn’t so much “too much sodium,” rather, “too little magnesium, potassium and calcium.”

Emerging research suggests that a key to natural blood pressure control has more to do with making sure your other essential minerals are in balance - rather than just eliminating sodium.

“Magnesium helps maintain the potassium in the cells, but the sodium and potassium balance is as finely tuned as those of calcium and phosphorus or calcium and magnesium. Research has found that a high-sodium diet with low potassium intake influences vascular volume and tends to elevate the blood pressure. Then doctors may prescribe diuretics that can cause even more potassium loss, aggravating the underlying problems.”
Staying Healthy With Nutrition by Elson M. Haas, MD

It’s true, many common blood pressure pills cause the body to lose potassium – the very mineral that’s essential for natural blood pressure control. If you are on a medication that causes you to lose potassium, it’s worth asking your physician if that pill isn’t actually doing more harm than good.

An alternative to blood pressure pills that can help get your sodium and potassium in balance is Guided Breathing.

“One of the most powerful methods of producing less stress and more energy in the body is diaphragm breathing. A recent study has shed some light on the effect of breathing in hypertension. Volunteers with normal blood pressure were taught how to breath very shallow. Measurement of the amount of sodium and potassium excreted in the urine indicated that shallow breathing led to the retention of sodium in the body. It was suggested that this breathing pattern may play a causative role in some cases of hypertension due to the retention of sodium.”
Textbook of Natural Medicine, Dr. Joseph E. Pizzorno and Dr. Michael T. Murray

In ways that aren’t fully understood, people that regularly perform deep breathing exercises are able to help the body get sodium and potassium into a healthy balance, promoting natural blood pressure control.

Between “salt sensitivity,” the various medications that can remove the very potassium our bodies need most, and other factors, everyone’s high blood pressure situation is complex and unique. The best solution is to find a physician that will look at your entire nutritional picture and make sure that something as simple as not enough potassium might be the cause of your high blood pressure.

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Author's Bio: 

Andy Krals is the creator of numerous naturopathic medical programs, including The Breathtaking Nature Method, available at