“One of my Facebook friends was asking me for advice for her sister, who has hypertension (high blood pressure). I didn’t suggest a statin or a blood pressure lowering medication, as the first choice. I explained that, while there are factors like high blood pressure or a stressful lifestyle which contribute to hypertension, sometimes the root cause is deep emotional tension from the past.
In the Wisdom of Menopause (2012), I write about the experience of my colleague Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D., a pioneer in the whole foods movement and founder of the Natural Gourmet Cooking School in New York City. Annemarie—who has eaten a mostly vegan, organic diet for decades—was diagnosed with hypertension “out of the blue” in the second half of her life.
Annemarie had read about the work of Samuel J. Mann, M.D., professor of Clinical Medicine at the Hypertension Center of the New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Dr. Mann has seen thousands of patients with high blood pressure over the years. In his book Healing Hypertension: A Revolutionary New Approach (Wiley 1999), he notes that, over the years, he has observed a pattern which doesn’t fit the common view of hypertension as being stress-related. He wrote, “Even patients with severe hypertension did not seem more emotionally distressed than others. If anything, they seemed less distressed.”
It appeared that their high blood pressure was more related to avoiding one’s feelings than to addressing them. Mann came to the conclusion that old, unhealed, repressed traumas were the major culprit in his patients’ high blood pressure. I agree it is our hidden emotions—the ones we don’t feel—that lead to hypertension and many other so-called “unexplained” disorders.
In any case, Annemarie Colbin found herself suddenly grappling with episodes of extreme high blood pressure (sometimes as high as 220/110), along with insomnia. Rather than giving in to the typical treatment, which would mean taking drugs for the rest of her life, she went to see Dr. Mann. She was encouraged to look into any hidden emotions she might be harboring. It didn’t take her long to figure out that her problem stemmed from what I call an “energetic imprint” of trauma from her childhood.
When Annemarie was a child, age 2–5, she spent three years in Hungary during WWII. She lived there with her mother, her father having been forced into a labor camp. She and her mother spent many nights in cellars and basements with 30–40 strangers, hiding from bombs and grenades. She said that she had no memory of this at all. But one day she took a walk and found herself just “waiting.” For what, she didn’t know.
Then she remembered her mother telling her about one of the times they stayed in a basement. Her mother had been summoned upstairs by the occupying soldiers for a party and had to leave her alone in the basement with strangers, none of whom cared about her. She suddenly felt profound terror that her mother might not come back. She said, “I remember knowing that I would die if she did not return. I had no home, no family, no friends, nothing. Just the two of us. I think I must have stayed awake all night waiting for my mother. And now—in my sleepless nights—I was reliving it.”
After this revelation (when walking), Annemarie says, “I lay in the grass, on the safe ground, and shook and cried, feeling and releasing that old terror. After a while of shaking and crying, I calmed down, got up, and went home, feeling strangely relieved. Then I checked my blood pressure. It had gone down to 137/82 in one hour.” Over the next several months as she cleared out additional, old emotional baggage, her blood pressure eventually stabilized at a normal level.
We are living in a time when the light is getting much brighter. And because of this it is much more difficult to hold on to our inner darkness—our old, unhealed pain and terror. Failure to release those old dark emotions, and release them fully, increases our chances for becoming ill—whether that’s high blood pressure or something else. We’ve been taught to be very afraid of our tears, our rage, our grief. But these are NOT the problem. Keeping them bottled up is.
For some of you, just reading this will bring up the emotions that require releasing. Others may need the help of a skilled therapist or bodyworker. Regardless, here is an affirmation to help you release what needs to come up and out—if anything!” ~Dr. Christine Northrup
“Divine Beloved, please change me into someone who can easily release any dark emotions that I may be holding—even if I don’t know about it. Help me to feel and then to release everything that needs to come up. I am safe and all is well.”