Beta blockers work by doing just what their name suggests. They block the beta limb of the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for gearing the body up for action.
At full-throttle, the autonomic nervous system is responsible for “fright or flight necessary” reaction in the face of extreme stress. In the fright-like state, the beta energetic system in your body raises alertness, heart rate and blood pressure. Beta blockers blunt the exaggerated physiologic response to stress, thereby lowering blood pressure.
Some of the more commonly prescribed beta blockers include: Inderal, metoprolol (Lopressor) and atenolol (Tenormin). Potential side effects of beta blockers include: Impotence, sleep disturbances, fatigue, dizziness, depression, bronchospasm (especially in asthmatics and patients with emphysema), slow heart rate, confusion, anxiety, and gastrointestinal problems.
I prescribe beta blockers when there is evidence of stress in my patient, or elevated blood pressure along with elevated pulse. They are effective in lowering blood pressure and controlling atrial fibrillation, and research has shown that beta blockers can help reduce the risk of sudden death following a heart attack. In general, beta blockers are one medication you should not ditch for natural therapies, and should never stop a beta blocker on your own or abruptly.
Sudden discontinuation of these drugs can precipitate angina, high blood pressure or even a heart attack. In addition, beta blockers should be used with caution in the elderly, pregnant women and those with renal and thyroid disease; and should never be used by those with asthma or active lung disease. As with many prescription medications, nutrient depletion is a common side effect of beta blockers.
Nutrients that can depleted in the body include Q10 and melatonin.