For years, hypertension has been one of the reason of mortality in the Philippines. Despite the efforts of the government in lowering cases of hypertension in the country, it continued to rise. Black, et al (2009), simply stated, arterial hypertension is high blood pressure. It is defined as a persistent elevation of the systolic blood pressure (SBP) at a level of 140 mm Hg or higher and a diastolic blood pressure (DBP) at a level of 90mmhg or lower. According to Kozier (2008), normal systolic blood pressure is 120 mm Hg and the normal diastolic blood pressure is 80 mm Hg. A systolic blood pressure of 120-139 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure of 80-89 mmHg is considered Pre-Hypertensive. A systolic blood pressure of 140-159 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure of 90-99 mmHg is considered Hypertensive Stage 1 and a systolic blood pressure of >160 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure of >100 mmHg is considered Hypertensive Stage 2. In addition, according to Gould (2007), men are more likely to have high blood pressure than women until age of 55. The World Health Organization (WHO) (2012) asserted that hypertension causes 7 million deaths every year while 1.5 billion people suffer due to its complications. Furthermore, it is also noted that one-third of the population, all over the world, consisting of adults are considered to be “pre-hypertensive”, having elevated blood pressure but are not taking any medications.
In the Philippines, Morales (2012) stated that 21% of Filipino adults are hypertensive. Recent results of the National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHeS II) and Food and Nutrition Research institute (FNRI) (2009) showed that more Filipinos have hypertension, high fasting blood sugar, and high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which are risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and other lifestyle-related diseases. They found out that one in every four Filipino adults (25.3 percent) has hypertension or a blood pressure (BP) reading equal to or higher than 140/90 millimeter mercury (mmHg), a significant increase in the prevalence of hypertension. In 2008, the prevalence of hypertension increased to 25.3 percent from 22.5 percent in 2003. Moreover, the survey revealed that 11 in every 100 Filipinos (10.8 percent) have pre-hypertension or a BP reading at the range of 130-139/85-89 mmHg. This becomes alarming as high BP increases with age starting from age 40-49 years. Over the few decades, advances on prevention, detection and treatment of hypertension have been documented. Several alternative herbal medications were also discovered and studied for its effectiveness in lowering blood pressure.
The Department of Health (DOH) provided a list of alternative herbal medicines which have been studied for its positive effect on blood pressure. Among these herbal medicines include garlic and blumea balsamifera (Sambong). In addition, included in the list of alternative herbal medicines by DOH, Peperomia Pellucida (Ulasimang Bato or Pansit-pansitan) is also believed to have an effect on blood pressure because of its components but hasn’t been accredited by DOH. In the Philippines and other parts of the world, Peperomia Pellucida a.k.a. Pansit-pansitan or Ulasimang Bato is widely used as an alternative medicine for gout and arthritis. However, some provinces in the Philippines make use of Peperomia Pellucida as an alternative herbal medication for hypertension because of traditional beliefs and practices.
Several studies about the contents of Peperomia Pellucida have found that it contains 1.82% Calcium, 0.62% of Magnesium and 0.59% of Potassium. It also showed that a 100 grams portion of Peperomia Pellucida has approximately 277 mg of potassium. It also has 1.1 grams carbohydrates, 0.5 gram protein, 0.5 gram fat, 94 mg calcium, 13 mg phosphorous, 4.3 mg iron, 1250 mg beta carotene and 2 mg ascorbic acid. However, further study is needed to know it’s effect in lowering blood pressure. A recent study conducted by University of Nigeria (2011) showed that Peperomia Pellucida consists a very low amount of Sodium at 17.11 ppm which makes it a potent herb in managing hypertension. Due to its low sodium content and with the presence of high potassium content, which is a chemical that helps to lower blood pressure by balancing out the negative effects of salt, it can be considered a candidate among herbal medicines that could lower blood pressure. With this information, the researchers would like to conduct a study to evaluate the effect of Peperomia Pellucida extract in blood pressure and improve the delivery of health care in communities.