Address the Emotional Causes of Hypertension with Taurine
Stress can be a helpful emotion in short bursts. It was especially helpful to our ancestors for escaping predators. More commonly known as the Fight-or-Flight response, short bursts of stress are meant to prepare us for short-lived, vigorous muscular activity. While we have fewer instances where this response is helpful now, our ancient stress response applies to more abstract modern stressors.
A common problem that arises from prolonged stress is hypertension, or high blood pressure. Recent research has shown that a substance called taurine may be able to combat some of the risk factors associated with developing hypertension in response to chronic stress.
A Closer Look at the Fight-or-Flight Response: During this natural response, the main goal is to get as much oxygen as possible to the muscles and the brain. Stress hormones are quickly released when a threat is detected, causing digestion to slow, peripheral arteries to constrict, heart rate to rise, respiration to increase, and the pupils to dilate. The combination of these actions allows us to be incredibly focused and primed for action.
Hypertension and Stress
If this short-lived stress causes a temporary increase in blood pressure, it makes sense that chronic stress could cause prolonged high blood pressure, i.e. hypertension. Chronic stress causes hormones like cortisol and epinephrine to be present in low levels in the blood at all times, resulting in constricted arteries. When left untreated, hypertension can cause kidney and heart disease, stroke, and eye problems. While stress relief may seem like a fix-all remedy for most people, sometimes that just isn't enough.
This amino acid was first discovered and named when it was isolated from ox bile in 1827 (bull, taurus, taurine, get it?). Unlike most amino acids, taurine isn't incorporated into any muscle proteins but instead floats around the body as a free molecule. Its function in humans was originally thought to be minimal. It wasn't until scientists isolated taurine in higher than expected concentrations in places like the brain, kidney, liver, eye, and heart that its function began to be studied more closely.
While it also acts as an antioxidant, L-taurine's main function is regulation of potassium, calcium, and possibly magnesium passing in and out of cells. When sodium and potassium are out of balance, the body tends to hoard more water, causing an increase in blood pressure.
Study Involving L-Taurine
The beneficial effects of L-taurine on hypertension was tested when 19 borderline hypertension patients were administered various amounts of supplement L-taurine. Both systolic and diastolic blood pressures were significantly lowered in patients who took 6 mg of L-taurine daily for one week, in comparison to an insignificant blood pressure decrease in those who took a placebo.
Using L-Taurine for Emotional and Cardiovascular Health
Taurine supplementation has also been shown to lower blood epinephrine levels (present in the chronically stressed) and stimulate the release of blood vessel-relaxing endorphins.Foods highest in taurine include:
- 1 kg Chicken Liver - 6.763 g
- 1 kg Whole Capelin - 6.174 g
- 1 kg Cooked Dungeness Crab - 5.964 g
- 1 kg Whole Mackerel - 9.295 g
- 1 kg Alaskan Salmon Fillets - 4.401 g
- 1 kg Lamb - 3.676 g
- 1 kg Beef Liver - 2.359 g
Chronic stress is a reality for many people in this modern and busy world that we live in. While stress reduction methods should always be attempted first, an L-taurine supplement can provide the help necessary to bring blood pressure back down to healthy levels.