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Why mistletoe tea reduces high blood pressure
More and more, there is increase in number of patients with hypertension who want to avoid standard pharmaceuticals. Also growing in number are patients who require a large number of drugs to control their blood pressure and are looking for something else to help manage it.
In essence, efforts to comprehensively review evidence behind a wide range of non-drug interventions for the treatment of high blood pressure and getting to know what patients will or will not embrace can help physicians identify different therapies that suit their patients’ habits and which will hopefully make a difference for them.
Among herbal plants used in treatment of hypertension is the decoction of the leaves of mistletoe mistletoe (Viscum album), a peculiar plant surrounded by age-old traditions of ancient cult and magic rites. The evergreen semi-parasitic plant that grows primarily on deciduous trees, preferring those with old apple trees, guava, cocoa and orange trees, is widely distributed throughout Europe, North Africa, Austria, and Asia as well as in Nigeria.
Called “Kauchi” in Hausa, ‘Afomo’ in Yoruba, and ‘Apari’ in Igbo, this plant medicinally used by various ethnic group in Nigeria experts believe when people take its water extract or tea would go a long way in ameliorating the adverse effects of salt load.
High salt intake in humans is associated with numerous complications; it can elevate blood pressure in some individuals. Excess dietary salt consumed throughout life causes blood pressure to rise steadily and high blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke and heart disease which account for one in three of all deaths.
Salt, commonly referred to as table salt is a mineral mainly composed of sodium chloride - NaCl. Salt is vital for animal life. However, excess amounts are damaging for animals and plants. Saltiness (the taste of salt) is one of the basic human tastes. 39.3 per cent of table salt’s weight is made up of sodium. Recent population studies have linked sodium consumption with illness and higher death rates (morbidity and mortality), thus triggering various moves to get people to reduce salt intake as a preventive measure (prophylaxis).
Reducing salt intake is said to have a beneficial effect on blood pressure, especially among those who already suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure). In Nigerians, for instance, sodium increases blood pressure because it holds excess fluid in the body, placing an added burden on the heart.
With much of the food we eat today, being pre-prepared in some way, reducing salt intake is no longer as simple as asking people to put down the shaker. Thousands of processed foods, such as frozen dinners and soups, contain between 500 and 1,000 mg of sodium per serving, hence posing an enormous health problem and requiring approaches such as mistletoe with a broad medicinal uses already in many communities.
Researchers at the University of Calabar in an assessment of mistletoe on the blood and organs such as the heart, kidney and blood vessels of the body such as the aorta, found that adverse effects of salt load on these organs were ameliorated following chronic feeding on mistletoe extract.
This was a 2007 study which was published in The Internet Journal of Nutrition and Wellness and carried out by O. E. Ofem, E. J. Ani, O. C. Okoi, A. U. Effiang, A. E. Eno and J. O. Ibu. It was entitled “Effect of Viscum album (mistletoe) extract on some serum electrolytes, organ weight and cytoarchitecture of the heart, kidney and blood vessels in high salt fed rats”.
In the study, the researchers who fed rats with a decoction from fresh leaves of mistletoe observed that there was a reduction in the sodium ion level in the extract fed group compared with the control and salt loaded rats. It was also observed that the extract fed group had increased potassium ion levels compared to the control and salt loaded rats, while the salt loaded rats had significantly reduced potassium ion levels.
According to them, “it is possible that the extract acts to increase the kidney excretion of this ion by a mechanism that remains to be investigated. The increased excretion of sodium ion by the extract would have resulted in a concomitant reabsorption of potassium ion from the renal tubules.”
In their conclusion, they wrote “high salt loading leads to increased levels of sodium and chloride ions which are implicated in the etiology(cause) of high blood pressure. It decreases the levels of potassium, bicarbonate and calcium ions and reduces body, heart and kidney weights which could predispose the body to cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis etc., It also damages the heart, kidney and blood vessels. However, treatment with extract from Viscum album lead to a reversal of these adverse effects caused by salt loading and subsequently leads to improved on body weight.”
Meanwhile, previous researchers have also reported that the extract has a blood glucose reducing effect which implies that the extract enhances glucose uptake by the tissues which could be probable reason for the better weight observed in extract fed group compared to the salt loaded rats.
For instance, mistletoe of orange has been locally prescribed for various gynecological problems such as painful menses, uterine heamorrrhage and fibroids while those from sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) is commonly used for treating hemorrhages, colds, constipation, and slow digestion. Mistletoe that is harvested from guava is locally used for stomach disorder. It is also used as a remedy for several human and animal ailments such as diarrhea, dysentery, wound, cancer, bleeding and convulsion.
written by T. Christie, December 12, 2011