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RESPeRATE for High Blood Pressure

It’s always nice to find therapies for chronic conditions that don’t require pill swallowing–there’s nothing glummer than a patient’s face when she says “Do you mean I have to take this pill every day for the rest of my life?”

One of the challenges of a non-pill therapy is the health insurance industry, which basically pays for two treatments, drugs and surgery, because they can control the prices of each. So patients are faced with an interesting dilemma. Do they take a pill every day or undergo a surgical procedure just because their insurance pays for it? Or do they try a non-covered alternative?

Many times the insurance-covered treatment is simply not the best choice. A few years ago I saw a ten-year-old with severe sinusitis and suggested food sensitivity testing. When his mother learned that testing would not be covered by her health insurance plan (FYI, most insurance companies now pay for it) but that surgery would be virtually “free,” she chose surgery. A few weeks later she came within a hairsbreadth of losing her child on the operating table for what I regarded as unnecessary surgery.

Too often doctors grab their prescription pads when their patients show even relatively mild high blood pressure, apparently forgetting that sitting in a doctor’s office is quite enough to raise anyone’s blood pressure and that the medications often come with unpleasant side effects. In my own practice, if someone is showing mild-to-moderate high blood pressure, I have them purchase a home blood pressure machine, take daily readings, and e-mail them to me weekly. Most are astonished to find their blood pressure falls to normal range when on their own turf.

With that introduction, here’s a non-pill treatment for mild high blood pressure. RESPeRATE is a biofeedback device that even the FDA approves for treatment of mild high blood pressure. It looks like a portable CD player with headphones. You wear an elastic belt around your wrist with a sensor that plugs into the device, which measures your breathing rate. The device also guides you via rhythmic tones to reduce your breathing rate to a “therapeutic zone” of less than ten breaths per minute.

When this occurs, your whole body and mind relax, your blood vessels open, and your blood pressure slowly drops. And then, almost magically, when your session is over and your breathing rate returns to normal, your blood pressure stays in the low range. As you continue using the RESPeRATE day after day, your blood pressure literally resets itself to a lower range.

Although RESPeRATE is FDA-approved for mild high blood pressure, it hasn’t been cleared for the many for other conditions known to be helped by biofeedback, such as stress reduction, anxiety, panic attacks, migraine and tension headaches, TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder), and fibromyalgia, but I’ve personally seen excellent results in these areas. If you want to try RESPeRATE for these conditions, don’t wait for FDA approval. RESPeRATE is completely safe. Period.

Biofeedback therapy has been around for decades, but the old devices were large, not portable, and required someone trained to operate them. Some medical centers, like Northwestern in Chicago, still use the old devices. However, a single biofeedback treatment at Northwestern costs more than the RESPeRATE device itself.

If you’re interested in trying RESPeRATE for any of the conditions mentioned, call Seanna or Elspeth in our apothecary (773-296-6700 ext. 2001) to set up a trial rental period. Your rental fees will be applied to the purchase price if you choose to buy the device.

Although you don’t need a doctor’s prescription for RESPeRATE, if you’re a WholeHealth Chicago patient and want to attempt to extract money from your insurer, I’ll be happy to write one for you.


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