Blog Post by Cayla Zahn, A Better Me Spa, July 18, 2016
High Blood Pressure affects over 70 million adults in the U.S. In Wisconsin, high blood pressure affects over 33% of the population (a little more than 1,895,662 people). Although it causes no symptoms, high blood pressure boosts the risks of leading killers such as heart attack and stroke, as well as aneurysms, cognitive decline, and kidney failure.
While medication can lower blood pressure, it may cause side effects such as leg cramps, dizziness, and insomnia. Fortunately, floatation therapy has been found to reliably reduce blood pressure to healthy levels without the use of medicines or invasive medical treatments.
Here’s 7 ways that floating lowers blood pressure naturally:
1. Unlike laying on a bed, when you float your entire body is relieved of all contact pressure. With nothing pressing against your body, this allows your blood vessels to fully dilate (vasodilation), instantly reducing blood pressure and maximizing blood flow, oxygen, and red blood cells to your entire body.
2. Each float room is filled with 1,000 pounds of Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulfate). The Epsom Salts helps to relax your muscles and detox your body – getting you into the deepest relaxation of your life. The lowered muscular tension ensures better blood flow. When you float, the Epsom Salts are absorbed through your skin and encourage increased dopamine production. Dopamine is the “feel good” reward hormone naturally produced in our brains. Blood pressure drops when we feel good, so naturally stimulating increased dopamine production is a great way to manage high blood pressure. Magnesium also eliminates the stress hormone ACTH and helps produce Serotonin, which helps you relax and get a better night’s sleep.
3. When you float, you reach a state of equilibrium. It is marked by deep stillness, and at times you may find yourself barely breathing. Not only are you physically not doing anything, but there’s no sensory input to process either, so you enter into a state of minimal energy output. Your body uses less oxygen, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard, and your blood pressure is lowered.
4. Be aware of your breathing. Slow and controlled breathing not only keeps the mind and body functioning at their best, it also is a huge contributor in lowering your blood pressure, promoting feelings of calm/relaxation and helping us de-stress. The idea in breath awareness is to distract the mind from thoughts, words and/or images by focusing all of your attention to the natural rhythms of the body. To practice breath awareness in the float room, simply breathe in as deep as possible through the nose, pause a few seconds (not holding the breath but allowing it to flow through the body before exhaling) and then fully exhale all the while focusing your attention on the process. When thoughts inevitably arise, don’t resist them. Simply let them pass like a cloud moving through the sky and gently return your awareness to your breathing.
5. The conditions of the float room, combined with your relaxed internal state, enforce the feeling that the float room is a very safe and comfortable environment. There is no external stimuli to process, which alone can cause stress, anxiety, and activate your sympathetic nervous system. The usually dominant left hemisphere of the brain is slowed down and the right hemisphere enters a state of increased activity. This allows both hemispheres to synchronize and achieve a state of harmony and balance.
6. The right tunes can also help you get low blood pressure. Stepping into the float room, you first hear the soft relaxation music that helps you enter a state of calm.
“In a study reported at the 2008 meeting of the American Society of Hypertension, researchers at the University of Florence in Italy discovered that patients with high blood pressure who listened to music for 30 minutes a day — specifically, classical, Celtic or Indian music — experienced a decrease in blood pressure.”
7. Floating is also great for making internal changes that can help in lowering blood pressure, including weight loss and smoking cessation. Check this video with Dr. Peter Suedfield on how Floating helps create long term changes in behavior.
Hundreds of studies with floating have shown dramatic decreases in stress, heart rate, blood pressure, including hormonal and biochemical changes, and increases in physical health and mental wellbeing. One of the more prominent studies found that
“Results indicate that the flotation condition significantly reduced blood pressure and increased subjective relaxation…the patients systolic and diastolic blood pressure decreased significantly more than subjects who only did guided relaxation tapes…It is suggested that floating may be used to treat essential hypertension.” (Jacobs, Heilbronner, Stanley, 1984)
If you or someone you know is having trouble balancing their blood pressure, floatation therapy is a great way to do so! The benefits of floating last for months once you start regular sessions and it gives your body the chance to become accustomed to regular periods of deep relaxation.