You probably hear most people worrying about high blood pressure, and with good reason as it can lead to numerous health risks. However, low blood pressure brings a different set of problems, such as reduced brain function and increased mortality risk.
If the upper or lower number deviates by more than 10 from 120/80, it pays to be aware that low blood pressure may be affecting your health.
Blood pressure pushes blood through about 100,000 miles of veins, arteries, and capillaries in the body, carrying oxygen, nutrients, immune cells, hormones, neurotransmitters, and other vital compounds.
High blood pressure strains blood vessels and can cause damage to our organs if unchecked. However, low blood pressure means not enough blood is getting to capillaries and tissues, particularly in your hands, feet, and brain. This deprives those tissues of sufficient oxygen and nutrients - for some, this may look like chronic nail fungus infections or cold hands and feet.
What Causes Low Blood Pressure?
The most common cause of low blood pressure in a functional medicine model is poor adrenal function.
The adrenals are walnut-sized glands that sit atop our kidneys. They produce stress hormones and help regulate blood pressure. Many people today suffer from adrenal fatigue due to chronic stress. Other causes of adrenal fatigue are poor diets, low blood sugar, chronic infections, gut problems, inflammation, and unmanaged autoimmunity - all stressors, right?
Adrenal fatigue symptoms include chronic tiredness, low blood sugar, feeling hangry between meals, getting sick all the time, and, of course, low blood pressure.
Does Standing Up Fast Make You Dizzy?
Orthostatic hypotension is a common type of low blood pressure that causes lightheadedness when you go from sitting to standing. This happens because the blood pools in the legs upon standing, slowing blood flow back to the heart and thus the brain.
Although orthostatic hypotension is a red flag that you need to address your low blood pressure (and adrenals), it becomes more dangerous when it makes you faint or even causes you to lose balance and fall. Orthostatic hypotension is commonly found in those with low blood pressure and low blood sugar but people with high blood pressure can have it too.
Tips for Low Blood Pressure
If you have signs and symptoms of low blood pressure and adrenal fatigue, consider a 24-hour adrenal test. This test measures levels of the adrenal hormone cortisol throughout the day, and it gives us a more precise therapy target, and our follow-up testing will let us know if our protocols are on the right track.
Although salt gets a bad wrap, adding some good quality sea salt, or Himalayan pink salt, to your diet may help boost low blood pressure. In fact, many women who have adrenal fatigue actually crave salt - and I’m giving you permission to eat it ;)
Another nutritional compound that can help raise low blood pressure, and nourish the adrenal glands, is licorice root, which can extend the life of cortisol in the body and improve blood volume and electrolyte balance.
Of course, it’s important to address the underlying cause of adrenal fatigue, because it’s always secondary to something else. One of the most common causes is eating a diet that causes low blood sugar or blood sugar fluctuations. Eating a good breakfast with protein, skipping sweets and sweet drinks, minimizing starchy foods, and eating regularly enough to sustain blood sugar levels are helpful strategies.