When I started out as a young naturopath in 1983, I was fortunate to practice under the indomitable Leo Roy. Dr. Roy had been a medical doctor who later became an N.D. and he was rigorous in finding out exactly what was going on with his patients, down to the minutest details. I remember chafing under his perfectionism.
Yet when I look back at my practice, much of what I did was learned from Dr. Roy, who has since passed away, sadly. One of those things was a unique way of looking at blood pressure, which became one of my guide posts for determining how to treat my patients.
Blood pressure is composed of an upper number or systolic pressure in the arteries when the heart is contracting and a lower number, or diastolic pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest. Normal blood pressure is considered to be 120/80 or less.
Dr. Roy taught that the upper number represents the strength of the adrenal glands, with 115 being optimal (after lying down for a few minutes), higher being overstimulated and lower being tired. When the patient sits up and the blood pressure is taken again, the systolic number is supposed to go up by 5 to 10 points. If it goes higher, it indicates overstimulation, but if it actually drops, there may be serious burnout. There can be both fatigue and overstimulation.
The lower number represents the health of the liver, optimal being around 65 after lying down. Higher shows liver congestion and the need to cleanse while lower reflects liver weakness and the need to build it—especially before undertaking a cleanse. On sitting up, the number should again rise 5-10 points. If it rises more, there is congestion and possible reactivity (allergies, hemorrhoids, excess heat) and if it drops, there is a definite need to give regenerative therapies. Congestion and weakness can co-exist.
There are many subtleties arising out of monitoring blood pressure and it can be a remarkably accurate guide to a patient’s progress. Thank you Dr. Roy!