Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • January 2014
Written by  Scott Vander Wielen, DC

Your heart-matters — The functional medicine approach to hypertension and cholesterol

Hypertension is a disease of the blood vessel and a marker for vascular dysfunction. It is absolutely reversible through a functional medicine approach. In a 2010 article by the Hypertension Institute, Mark Houston, MD, showed that antihypertensive drugs are not needed to resolve hypertension:

“Replacement of the micronutrient deficiencies, as well as high-dose therapy of selected nutraceuticals in combination with optimal diet, exercise and weight management resulted in control of blood pressure … over a period of 6 months with complete tapering and discontinuation of antihypertensive drugs.”

What is the secret to reversing hypertension? The functional medicine approach breaks down hypertension into three basic mechanisms: inflammation, oxidative stress and immune response. With some Sherlock Holmes work, the root cause of these three mechanisms can be discovered, then treated specifically and individually according to each patient’s unique health picture.

Inflammation is a serious problem for everyone with chronic disease. The most common causes of inflammation are food choices. Endotoxemia, the result of eating foods that burden the body with an infectious gut, triggers an immune response (one of the three mechanisms), which lasts five hours. Just in time for your next meal when the whole process repeats itself. What happens when this cycle occurs daily over time? Hypertension is certainly a realistic outcome, in addition to the many autoimmune diseases this can set up. Through this lens, is hypertension an autoimmune disease? Yes it is, and serum hsCRP, a protein found in the blood, is the marker for it. (It is the best vascular inflammation marker and hsCRP increases blood pressure in just a few days.)

“Oxidative stress” is a fancy word for accelerated aging. The body struggles to repair damaged tissues. Food choice is where it always starts, and is the major influence in this mechanism. The expression, “We live or die by the decisions we make in the kitchen,” is proving itself to be true with vascular diseases because it is a food-driven phenomenon. Additionally, heavy metal exposure increases oxidative stress. Lastly, our genes are also in the mix, and when conditions are just right, oxidative stress can skyrocket. That is why our biochemical individuality is a critical piece of the puzzle because what makes “conditions just right” for each of us
varies heavily.

Immune responses are triggered by antigens and there are many different ways the immune system is activated. For example, H. pylori, a parasite, can cause hypertension by itself and will not resolve on its own unless it is killed off and removed. There is additional investigative work to be done here with each patient to identify the primary triggers of the immune system. Once again, food choices are a major consideration.

Hypertension is an autoimmune disease of the blood vessels that occurs in response to any combination of inflammation, oxidative stress and immune system triggers under conditions that are made just right by our unique genes. The blood vessels are the innocent bystander. With a detailed medical history, careful physical exam and a personalized treatment plan, hypertension and many other chronic diseases can be successfully reversed.

Dr. Scott Vander Wielen is a board certified chiropractor, board eligible chiropractic internist, licensed nutritional counselor and functional medicine practitioner. He owns and operates Vander Wielen Health & Wellness Diagnostic Center, LLC, a patient-centered practice employing techniques promoted by the Institute for Functional Medicine. To best service his patients, Dr. Vander Wielen provides an array of chiropractic services including: functional medicine, nutritional counseling, spine and extremity care, stress management, advanced diagnostic testing and in-office lab work. For more information, visit or call 920-722-2100.

References: Eftekhari, A., Mathiassen, O.N., Buus, N.H., Gotzsche, O., Mulvany, M.J., and Christensen, K.L. “Disproportionally Impaired Microvascular Structure In Patients With Very Mild Essential Hypertension: Pp.11.427.” Journal of Hypertension 28 (2010): 1. Print.

Houston, M. C. “The Role of Cellular Micronutrient Analysis, Nutraceuticals, Vitamins, Antioxidants and Minerals in the Prevention and Treatment of Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease.” Therapeutic Advances in Cardiovascular Disease 4.3 (2010): 165-83. Print.

Layne, Joseph, Zuzana Majkova, Zuzana, Smart, Eric J., Toborek, Michael and Hennig, Bernhard. “Caveolae: A Regulatory Platform for Nutritional Modulation of Inflammatory Diseases.” The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 22.9 (2011): 807-11. Print.

Vongpatanasin, W., Thomas, G.D., Schwartz, R., Cassis, L.A., Osborne-Lawrence, S., Hahner, L., Gibson, L.L., Black, S., Samols, D. and Shaul, P.W. “C-Reactive Protein Causes Downregulation of Vascular Angiotensin Subtype 2 Receptors and Systolic Hypertension in Mice.” Circulation 115.8 (2007): 1020-028. Print.

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