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Managing POTS: A Naturopathic and Functional Medicine Perspective

Written by Portland Clinic of Natural Health on May 19, 2023

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) is a form of dysautonomia that is characterized by a significant increase in heart rate upon standing. This condition can cause a wide range of symptoms including dizziness, rapid heartbeat, and fatigue. While conventional treatments have their place, many individuals are exploring holistic, naturopathic approaches to manage their POTS symptoms. Let's delve into some of these natural strategies. (1)

Understanding POTS

POTS affects the autonomic nervous system, which regulates essential functions such as heart rate and blood pressure. When a person with POTS stands up, their heart rate increases significantly, leading to uncomfortable and often debilitating symptoms. The diverse symptomatology and underlying mechanisms make POTS a complex condition to manage. (2)

Naturopathic and Functional Medicine Approach to POTS

Naturopathic and functional medicine aim to stimulate the body's self-healing process through natural therapies, considering factors like diet, lifestyle, and mind-body connection.

Hydration and Sodium Intake

One of the simplest naturopathic strategies for managing POTS is increasing hydration. This approach can help increase blood volume, potentially reducing symptoms like lightheadedness and rapid heart rate upon standing. (3)

Dietary Changes

Diet can play a significant role in managing POTS. Small, frequent meals rich in protein and low in refined carbohydrates can help maintain stable blood sugar levels, potentially improving symptoms. Certain POTS patients also report benefits from adopting specific dietary approaches, like a gluten-free or low-histamine diet, though this should always be individualized and discussed with a holistic healthcare provider. (4)

Herbal Medicine

Certain herbs are thought to support the nervous system and cardiovascular health. For instance, adaptogenic herbs like Siberian ginseng may help the body adapt to stress and regulate heart rate. (5) However, given the complexity of POTS, any herbal supplement should be taken under the guidance of a healthcare provider to avoid potential interactions and side effects.

Stress Management

Since stress can exacerbate POTS symptoms, strategies to manage stress are crucial. Practices like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises may not only help manage stress, but also improve symptoms like rapid heartbeat and dizziness. (6)

A naturopathic and functional medicine approach to managing POTS can offer complementary strategies to conventional treatments. By focusing on hydration, diet, herbal medicine, and stress management, individuals with POTS may find additional tools to manage their symptoms. As always, these strategies should be discussed with a healthcare provider to ensure they are safe and suitable for each individual's unique situation.

Resources:

  1. Low PA, Sandroni P, Joyner M, Shen WK. Postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS). J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2009 Mar;20(3):352-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8167.2008.01407.x. Epub 2009 Jan 16. PMID: 19207771; PMCID: PMC3904426.
  2. Vernino S, Bourne KM, Stiles LE, Grubb BP, Fedorowski A, Stewart JM, Arnold AC, Pace LA, Axelsson J, Boris JR, Moak JP, Goodman BP, Chémali KR, Chung TH, Goldstein DS, Diedrich A, Miglis MG, Cortez MM, Miller AJ, Freeman R, Biaggioni I, Rowe PC, Sheldon RS, Shibao CA, Systrom DM, Cook GA, Doherty TA, Abdallah HI, Darbari A, Raj SR. Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS): State of the science and clinical care from a 2019 National Institutes of Health Expert Consensus Meeting - Part 1. Auton Neurosci. 2021 Nov;235:102828. doi: 10.1016/j.autneu.2021.102828. Epub 2021 Jun 5. PMID: 34144933; PMCID: PMC8455420.
  3. Water Ingestion in Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome: A Feasible Treatment Option? J Innov Card Rhythm Manag. 2019 Feb 15;10(2):3545-3551. doi: 10.19102/icrm.2019.100207. PMID: 32494413; PMCID: PMC7252859.
  4. Do T, Diamond S, Green C, Warren M. Nutritional Implications of Patients with Dysautonomia and Hypermobility Syndromes. Curr Nutr Rep. 2021 Dec;10(4):324-333. doi: 10.1007/s13668-021-00373-1. Epub 2021 Sep 12. PMID: 34510391; PMCID: PMC8435108.
  5. Cicero AF, Derosa G, Brillante R, Bernardi R, Nascetti S, Gaddi A. Effects of Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus maxim.) on elderly quality of life: a randomized clinical trial. Arch Gerontol Geriatr Suppl. 2004;(9):69-73. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2004.04.012. PMID: 15207399.
  6. Fisher CJ, Katzan I, Heinberg LJ, Schuster AT, Thompson NR, Wilson R. Psychological correlates of patients with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). Auton Neurosci. 2020 Sep;227:102690. doi: 10.1016/j.autneu.2020.102690. Epub 2020 Jun 6. PMID: 32544859.

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