One in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means the force of blood pushing against their artery walls is too high, which can damage the arteries and greatly increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure and kidney failure.
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Lowering systolic blood pressure to a maximum of 120 mmHg has been shown to reduce these risks. There are two ways to accomplishing this: lifestyle changes and medications. While some people can lower blood pressure with lifestyle changes alone, the two approaches are complementary.
“Blood pressure management is 70% lifestyle and 30% medications. If you don’t make lifestyle changes, don’t bother taking blood pressure medications, because they won’t work effectively,” says preventive cardiologist Luke Laffin, MD.
- How to lower blood pressure naturally
- 1. Eat less salt
- 2. Consume more potassium
- 3. Adopt the DASH diet
- 4. Lose weight
- 5. Limit alcohol use
- 6. Get physical
- Additional recommendations
- Natural ways with potential
- Herbs To Lower Blood Pressure (Part 1)
- Herbs for high blood pressure/hypertension
- Health effects of high blood pressure
- Herbs for high blood pressure
- Cramp bark – High bush Cranberry
- Valerian root
- Are you ready to study herbs?
- Why hypotensive?
- Hypotensive heart tonic recipe
- My experience with these herbs for high blood pressure
- If you have high blood pressure
- Herbs and Supplements for Hypertension
- High blood pressure: Herbal remedies may inspire future treatments
- Diverse plants
- Not all herbs are equal
- Lower Blood Pressure Naturally!
- Western Description of Hypertension
- Natural Remedies for Hypertension
How to lower blood pressure naturally
The term “lifestyle changes” implies you will need to change your habits to bring your blood pressure down. Broadly speaking, these modifications are natural — non-pharmaceutical — ways of lowering blood pressure. Six methods have been proven effective in clinical studies, and two others are recommended:
1. Eat less salt
“Cutting your salt intake is probably the most important way to lower your blood pressure. Studies have shown that a low-sodium diet has the same effect as one and a half to two blood pressure medications,” says Dr. Laffin.
The average American consumes 3,500 mg of sodium a day — far more than the American Heart Association recommendation of no more than 1,500 mg, or about one teaspoon, of salt. Because this amount is so strict, Cleveland Clinic sets the limit at 2,300 mg. “The difference in effect is only a drop of 2 to 3 mmHg,” says Dr. Laffin. “At minimum, we recommend lowering sodium intake by at least 1,000 mg per day.”
Because sodium is hidden in so many foods, avoiding sodium is difficult, unless you cook everything from scratch at home, never eat out and avoid processed foods of any kind, including bread. But it’s possible. “It takes about 10 to 14 days to adjust to a low-sodium diet; then some foods will begin to taste salty,” says Dr. Laffin.
IMPACT: If you have hypertension, limiting sodium to 1,500 mg a day should drop your blood pressure by 5 or 6 mmHg.
2. Consume more potassium
A diet high in fast foods, processed foods, carbohydrates, potatoes and meat is likely to be low in potassium, contributing to high blood pressure. A daily intake of 3,000 to 3,500 mg of potassium through foods such as bananas, tomatoes and other vegetables is recommended.
If you have significant kidney disease, you should be careful not to consume too much potassium, because your kidneys may not be able to eliminate it, says Dr. Laffin.
IMPACT: If you have hypertension, increasing potassium intake to recommended levels should drop your blood pressure 4 to 5 mmHg.
3. Adopt the DASH diet
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet was created specifically to lower blood pressure. It emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy. People who adopt the DASH diet usually meet low-sodium and high potassium guidelines, and may lose weight, as well. Research on this diet is so positive that it is now considered one of the most important non-pharmaceutical measures for controlling hypertension.
IMPACT: The DASH diet can drop systolic pressure up to 11 mmHg.
4. Lose weight
Excess weight increases the likelihood of developing high blood pressure. More than half of U.S. adults are overweight. Losing any amount of weight is a good thing.
IMPACT: Every loss of 2.2 pounds should result in a drop of 1 mmHg in blood pressure.
5. Limit alcohol use
Men should limit alcoholic beverages to two drinks a day. Women should have no more than one a day.
IMPACT: If you have hypertension and regularly drink more alcohol than recommended, reducing your intake may drop your blood pressure as much as 4 mmHg.
6. Get physical
Physical activity, specifically aerobic activity, is highly effective in reducing blood pressure. Aerobic exercise forces blood vessels to expand and contract, keeping them flexible. It also increases blood flow and encourages the creation of new blood vessels, among other benefits.
IMPACT: Doing 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week can lower blood pressure 5 to 8 mmHg.
Other options include dynamic resistance exercises, such as bicep curls with weights, and isometric resistance exercises, such as pushing against a wall. How much these are likely to lower blood pressure depends on how often they are done, how many repetitions are performed and, with dynamic resistance exercises, what weights are used. They have the potential to lower blood pressure 4 to 5 mmHg.
Dr. Laffin adds two recommendations that he feels are important, but that have less evidence of direct impact on blood pressure.
- Don’t smoke. “We know that smoking harms the lining of the blood vessels, as does high blood pressure, so it stands to reason that you should not smoke,” he says.
- Get enough sleep. “We are just beginning to understand how important sleep is. Getting six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep a night can prevent high blood pressure and widely fluctuating blood pressure, which we now know is as dangerous as high blood pressure,” he says.
Natural ways with potential
If you do an Internet search, you’ll find dozens of other natural ways to lower blood pressure. They may be effective, but the evidence is limited or questionable.
Take stress reduction, for example. In 2017, the American Heart Association (AHA) issued a scientific statement on the role of meditation in cardiovascular risk
reduction. The AHA determined the concept was plausible, but the studies included too few subjects and used different endpoints, which made drawing conclusions impossible.
“Some studies showed significant benefit, and others showed none. There simply wasn’t enough data to say that meditation consistently lowers blood pressure,” says Dr. Laffin. “More likely, anything that relaxes you decreases blood pressure temporarily, but isn’t a solution for people with sustained hypertension.”
The same issue applies to various foods, spices, herbs and vitamins. “You will probably find a study or two on each that says it lowers blood pressure, but these have never been robustly studied,” he says.
“If you are serious about using natural ways to lower blood pressure, choose one or more methods that have stood the test of time.”
This article originally appeared in Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor.
Herbs To Lower Blood Pressure (Part 1)
The American Heart Association reports that one in three people suffer from hypertension in the United States. The symptoms of high blood pressure are not evident, and by the time symptoms develop, it has often become a life-threatening condition.
Along with dietary and lifestyle changes, you might decide to try herbs to help reduce your blood pressure. Some herbs may cause side effects, so you can consult your health practitioner or a “Naturopath” practitioner, before using herbs to treat this serious condition.
The Problem With Conventional Hypertension Therapy
Conventional anti-hypertensives are usually associated with many side effects.
A side-effect is any unwanted effect of medicines that you are taking. Some people can have side-effects from blood pressure medicines. Although these can be uncomfortable, they are usually not dangerous. But for other people they claim that the side effects of the medication is worse than having high blood pressure.
Herbs do not cause side effects like weakness, tiredness, drowsiness, impotence, cold hands and feet, depression, insomnia, abnormal heartbeat, skin rash, dry mouth, dry cough, stuffy nose, headache, dizziness, swelling around eyes, constipation or diarrhea, fever or anemia alone and associated with pressure medicines.
Advertisement Watch how Julie Lowered her Blood Pressure Naturally. It was 170/110, this morning it was 120/80 Learn More…
The Role of Herbal Medications:
About 75 to 80% of the world population use herbal medicines, mainly in developing countries, for primary health care because of their better acceptability with human body and lesser side effects.
In the last three decades, a lot of concerted efforts have been channeled into researching the local plants with hypotensive and anti-hypertensive therapeutic values. The hypotensive and anti-hypertensive effects of some of these medicinal plants have been validated and others disproved.
18 Herbs to Lower Blood Pressure
1. Indian Snakeroot
This herb has been used for years traditionally to treat many problems related to the heart. Indian snakeroot (Rauwolfia serpentine) does improve cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure.
This herb has high levels of alkaloid reserpine, a powerful compound that regulates heart function in the body. This is extremely helpful when heart issues or blood pressure is due to stress or high levels of anxiety.
Garlic is a very powerful herb that is well-known to be highly effective for a number of physical ailments. In fact, many of the benefits of garlic are still being discovered. Recent research done at the University of Berlin found that garlic can remove nanoplaque.
Nanoplaque is a compound that gets deposited on the walls of cells, which leads to clogged arteries and atherosclerosis. Garlic is known to stop blood clots, lower overall cholesterol levels, which will stop high blood pressure.
Advertisement Watch How Mark Lowered His Blood Pressure Naturally. It was 150/100, this morning it was 110/79 Learn More…
3. Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba can thin the blood while dilating your blood vessels, which allow the blood to circulate more easily, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
This popular herb is also high in important antioxidants, terpenoids, and flavonoids, which are known to lower blood pressure, which improves the health of your heart.
Hawthorn supports the overall health of your cardiovascular system by strengthening the walls of the heart. It’s also a terrific tonic for those with heart issues. Hawthorn can also reduce blood pressure when taken as directed. Always consult your doctor before you start any herbal treatment.
This is a tasty way to bring down your blood pressure. It’s easy to consume this tasty herb in your daily diet. Studies show that consuming cinnamon every day lowers blood pressure in those with diabetes. Try adding a dash to your coffee in the morning for a unique taste. Read more about the health benefits of cinnamon.
This is another delicious way to lower your blood pressure. Basil works well in so many foods! Basil extract has been shown in studies to lower blood pressure (but only for a short while). Add more fresh basil to your diet, it certainly won’t hurt anything! You can probably grow basil right in your kitchen window.
7. Cat’s Claw
Traditional Chinese medicine has used cat’s claw to treat high blood pressure as well as neurological problems. Studies show that it can help reduce your blood pressure by acting on the calcium channels inside cells. You can buy cat’s claw in many different forms at any health food store or online.
8. French Lavender
Not only does this plant smell heavenly, but it’s also long been used to induce relaxation. This herb can lower your blood pressure by making you more calm and relaxed. Although many people don’t think of lavender as something you can eat, the fact is, you can! Use the flowers in baked goods. The leaves can be used anyplace you use rosemary.
9. Celery Seed
Celery seed is a terrific herb that can be used to add flavor to soups, casseroles, egg dishes, and stews. China has used celery seed for hundreds of years to treat high blood pressure, but you can actually juice the entire plant, leaves and all, and get the same effects.
Celery is a known diuretic, which might be why it lowers blood pressure so effectively. A word of caution. I used this one and it works great, but I did grow tired of excessive trips to the bathroom.
This spice comes to use from India and is used quite often in the South Asian foods. One study found that subjects that ate powdered cardamom every day for several months had a significant reduction in their blood pressure.
Continue to herbs to lower blood pressure (Part 2)
Tags: heart healthy foods
Herbs for high blood pressure/hypertension
Herbs for high blood pressure can be more effective than prescription medications when used as an adjunct to lifestyle changes, a healthy diet, and exercise. Herbs for high blood pressure are hypotensive herbs which naturally strengthen the heart, support the kidneys and urinary system, reduce inflammation, and reduce muscle spasms. They bring what is unbalanced back into balance gently and naturally. Always speak to your natural health professional about your personal needs.
30% of the English, 29% of Americans, and 20% of Canadians have a blood pressure above 140/90 or hypertension. Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries, carrying blood throughout the body. The heart beats at 60 to 70 times per minute and with each pulse it pushes blood through the arteries. Blood pressure is highest when the heart contracts to pump the blood. When the heart muscles relax the blood pressure falls. The top number of the blood pressure ratio is the pressure of the heart contracting (systolic pressure) and the bottom number is the pressure of the heart relaxing (diastolic pressure).
Blood pressure changes with the normal activities of life. It naturally goes up during exertion and lowers during rest. It is only when blood pressure remains high over a period of time that a diagnosis of high blood pressure is made.
Health effects of high blood pressure
If untreated, high blood pressure can lead to serious health consequences such as damage to the arterial walls, heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, and damage to the heart. While pharmaceutical treatment of high blood pressure focuses on the symptoms, herbal remedies for high blood pressure provide a tonic to support the body and increase the efficiency of the heart and blood circulation.
Herbs for high blood pressure
Several herbs for high blood pressure are used synergistically. David Hoffman (Medical Herbalism, 304) recommends Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), Linden (Tilia platyphyllod), Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Cramp bark or High Bush Cranberry (Vibernum opulus, aka V. tilobum), and Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). Herbs for lowering high blood pressure need to provide not just the lowering of the blood pressure, but also a tonic to the heart, a diuretic, an antispasmodic, a vascular tonic, and a relaxant.
I love hawthorn. I have a Black Hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii) growing outside my kitchen window. The flowers, berries, and inner bark can all be used medicinally, but beware the thorns. The black hawthorn has 2 inch thorns on its branches. In fact the size of the thorns is one way to tell the difference between black hawthorn and Columbian hawthorn, before the berries ripen and reveal the type. Columbian hawthorns (C. columbiana) have dark scarlet berries, while black hawthorns have, wait for it, blue-black berries. We have both black and Columbian hawthorn growing wild at Joybilee Farm. We can sometimes even harvest the berries, if we can get to them before the cedar waxwings.
Hawthorn is a hardy, shrubby tree that grows in damp places on the edges of streams and meadows. It prefers low to middle elevations. We are at 2,700 feet and are in zone 3. We had to protect the bark from my female llamas because they like to nibble at it in early summer, when they are close to birth. The inner bark of hawthorn can be used in place of the commercial cramp bark, another Viburnum species. Hawthorn reduces spasms – both uterine and heart.
Hawthorn is the heart medicine of choice in situations where the heart is in need of a tonic. Those who are feeling “broken hearted” can also benefit from its gentle healing. It takes a while to fully take effect but its effects are permanent and curative. It reduces blood pressure, tones and strengthens the pulse, the heart, and the vascular system, and is a diuretic. The darker purple-black native haws (C. Douglasii) are also rich in antioxidants, good for heart health.
The linden does everything the hawthorn does and is also a relaxant, and an antispasmodic. The linden tree is a large, leafy tree native to North America. It is also called basswood or lime tree. The small leafed linden’s (Tilia cordata) heart shaped leaves are suggestive of its use as a heart tonic. It’s the leaves and flowers that are used in herbal medicine. You may find it growing in your neighborhood if you live in hardiness zones 3 to 7.
The yarrow flowers and leaves reduce blood pressure, act as a diuretic and vascular tonic, strengthen the lungs, support the liver, reduce spasms, and increase blood flow. Yarrow grows wild all around me. It is a hardy perennial well worth growing for its multitudinous medicinal uses. According to Rosemary Gladstar, the wild plants are stronger medicinally than their tamer, more flamboyant sisters, however, if you don’t have wild yarrow growing around you but do have colorful yarrow in your garden, use what you have.
Cramp bark – High bush Cranberry
Related to the showy snowball bush and black hawthorn, cramp bark reduces spasms and relaxes the nerves, while lowering blood pressure. If you don’t have access to cramp bark, the inner bark of black haw (Viburnum prunifolium) or the inner bark of black hawthorn (Cratageus Douglasii) can be used in its place. The native high bush cranberry, hardy to zone 2, can be found growing in damp, shaded areas throughout the colder regions of North America.
Valerian root is a relaxant and nervine that lowers blood pressure and reduces spasming. But it’s not for everyone. Michael Moore in Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West tells us that “Valerian stimulates digestive function, increases the depth and efficiency of respiration, slows and strengthens the pulse, and sedates the brain. It is a tonic sedative.”(250). However, those who have a lot of adrenaline and cortisone stress in their bodies, with cardiac excess, and a challenging intestinal tract will find valerian accentuates the functions that are already in excess leaving the person with both sedation and physical stimulation. If that’s you – this is not your herb.
Gentler chamomile can be used in place of valerian in this formula for its relaxing and antispasmodic synergy. It is also a mild digestive aid and helps when hypertension is accompanied by indigestion.
Are you ready to study herbs?
I am a student in the Intermediate Herbal Course with the Herbal Academy of New England. Studying herbs has released me to a lifestyle of dancing with plants. While previously I thought of herbs as something I could grow in my garden or forage on my acreage that would substitutes for pharmaceutical medicine, the course reminds me that herbs are food, as well as medicine. Making teas and tinctures and having to wait for the tea to steep or the tincture to macerate reminds me that life is not a rush to the grave. Life is to be savoured and sipped slowly. This subtle change in perspective is healing to my mind because with a short 40 to 60 day growing season, it’s easy to feel stressed and overwhelmed, as if I’m battling for survival with my garden. Studying herbs reminds me that it is not a battle for survival that we are invited to, but rather a dance with life.
If your blood pressure is too high, you need herbs that will lower it in order to bring the body into balance. Hypotensive herbs like hawthorn, linden, yarrow, and cramp bark help to balance the body and bring the blood pressure into normal range.
Herbs that help lower blood pressure or normalize blood pressure are combined in an alcohol based tincture for ease of use.
- 1 cup Hawthorn berries, dried
- ½ cup Linden leaves and flowers, dried
- ½ cup Yarrow flowers and leaves, dried
- ½ cup Cramp bark, black haw bark, or black hawthorn bark, dried and chopped
- ½ cup German chamomile flowers
- Add the herbs to a 1 quart/litre mason jar. The jar will be 3/4s full. The contents will sift together to fill the jar about ½ full. Fill the jar with vodka or another 100 proof or higher mild tasting liquor.
- Overnight the dried herbs will absorb the alcohol and swell filling the jar almost to the top. Top up with more alcohol to keep the herbs completely covered.
- Allow the menstruum to macerate in the jar for 6 to 8 weeks, shaking the jar daily or as often as you think of it.
- After 6 to 8 weeks strain out the plant material and reserve the liquid. Press the spent herbs to obtain as much tincture as possible. The liquid is the medicinal tincture. The spent plant material can be composted.
- Bottle the liquid tincture dark glass bottles and label with the name of the tincture and the date, plus the dosage. I love the blue glass bottles. They just make me happy.
Yield 5 x 100ml bottles. 100 doses – enough for a month at full strength.
Recipe Card powered by
Hypotensive heart tonic recipe
Yield 750ml tincture
1 cup Hawthorn berries, dried
½ cup Linden leaves and flowers, dried
½ cup Yarrow flowers and leaves, dried
½ cup Cramp bark or Black Hawthorn bark, dried and chopped
½ cup German Chamomile flowers
Add the herbs to a 1 quart/litre mason jar. The jar will be 3/4s full. The contents will sift together to fill the jar about ½ full. Fill the jar with vodka or another 100 proof or higher mild tasting liquor. Overnight the dried herbs will absorb the alcohol and swell filling the jar almost to the top. Top up with more alcohol to keep the herbs completely covered. Allow menstruum to macerate in the jar for 6 to 8 weeks, shaking the jar daily or as often as you think of it.
After 6 to 8 weeks strain out the plant material and reserve the liquid. The liquid is the medicinal tincture. The spent plant material can be composted.
Bottle the liquid tincture in 2 oz/100 ml. dark glass bottles and label with the name of the tincture and the date, plus the dosage. I love the blue glass bottles. They just make me happy.
Yield 5 x 100ml bottles. 100 doses – enough for a month at full strength.
Adult serving size: 1 tsp up to three times a day for therpeutic use.
My experience with these herbs for high blood pressure
I used powdered hawthorn berries when I made this herbal tincture for high blood pressure the first time. The powdered berries resisted being wetted by the alcohol. In my next batch I will lightly crush whole hawthorn berries rather than powder them.
The tincture is cloudy and needs to be shaken before measuring a teaspoon dose. It has a pleasant flavor and is not overly medicinal tasting. This will help with compliance and no additional flavoring or sweetening is necessary.
If you have high blood pressure
All experienced herbalists will tell you that holistic medicine prescribes for the whole person and the whole lifestyle. Its goal, as the name implies, is wholeness and integration, not simply alleviating symptoms. Thus, herbal remedies for high blood pressure are not simply a substitute for pharmaceutical drugs.
Herbal tinctures alone, are not enough to reduce high blood pressure. A change in lifestyle that includes reducing stress, avoiding excesses of alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine, increasing consumption of potassium and magnesium, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and reducing excess sugars and grains may help to bring your blood pressure back to normal levels, for those whose blood pressure is in the first level of hypertension. For those who have been on hypertensive medication, do not reduce your medication without consulting with your personal medical practitioner.
See also Herbal Capsules for hypertension
Disclaimer: All information offered herein is for educational purposes only. Always do your own research and consult your own trusted medical professional before self-prescribing.
Hypertension prevalence, awareness, treatment and control in national surveys from England, the USA and Canada, and correlation with stroke and ischaemic heart disease mortality: a cross-sectional study
David Hoffman. Medical Herbalism
Michael Moore. Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West
Herbs and Supplements for Hypertension
More than 1 million people in the United States die from cardiovascular disease each year, making it the leading cause of death. Hypertension, which affects roughly a quarter of U.S. adults, plays an important role in cardiovascular disease by upping the risk of developing life-threatening conditions.
While doctors write more and more prescriptions to treat the rising number of patients with high blood pressure, some people are turning to alternative forms of hypertension treatment.
A few herbs and supplements show promise as high blood pressure treatments, but it’s important to use caution when choosing them. Some may have ingredients that aren’t listed on the labels, or an alternative treatment for hypertension may interact with prescription or over-the-counter medication. To be on the safe side, always talk to your health care provider before starting any new treatments.
Blood Pressure Treatment Alternatives
The following herbs and supplements may be beneficial as alternative hypertension treatments:
Hawthorn. This northern European plant has been used as a heart-disease remedy for centuries. Medical research backs up hawthorn’s heart-healthy reputation, and it is commonly used as an alternative treatment. Hawthorn seems to be an effective hypertension treatment due to its anti-inflammatory compounds.
“With hypertension, there is low-grade inflammation in the arterial walls, which means the blood vessels constrict and don’t dilate naturally,” explains Paul Kalnins, ND, assistant professor at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Ore. “The compounds in hawthorn can help relax those arterial walls.” It’s possible that hawthorn may interact with digoxin (Digitek, Lanoxin), a medication used to treat certain heart disorders, so do not use these two treatments together without guidance from your doctor.
Fish oil. Fish oil has been touted as a worthwhile dietary supplement because it’s a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which, among other things, has naturally occurring anti-inflammatory properties. This is why researchers are looking at fish oil as an alternative treatment for hypertension. Fish oil also has the added benefit of driving down triglycerides, a type of fat in the body that can be dangerous at high levels.
Numerous studies show that diet is the most effective way of getting the benefits of omega-3 sources like fish oil. Due to the high cost of wild fish and concerns over mercury levels of cheaper, farm-raised fish, dietary supplements from reputable sources are recommended as well. “Supplements should come from a source that checks the mercury levels in fish oil,” Kalnins says.
Garlic. The compounds found in garlic help regulate the immune response involved in the inflammatory process and have been shown to lower lipid levels. “However,” Kalnins notes, “clinically, I haven’t seen garlic work very well for hypertension.”
Magnesium. There is a fair amount of evidence showing diets high in magnesium may lower hypertension risk. Magnesium’s role as an alternative treatment for hypertension is intimately related to calcium. Arterial smooth muscle requires calcium for contraction, but people with high blood pressure tend to accumulate calcium in these muscles — hence, the widespread use of calcium channel blocker medication. Magnesium is thought to be a natural calcium channel blocker: It opposes the effects of calcium by relaxing the arterial muscle. Some health care professionals haven’t seen much success with magnesium as a hypertension treatment specifically.
Coenzyme Q10. The supplement coenzyme Q10 (Co-Q10) is also involved in the contraction of smooth muscle, specifically the efficiency of contraction. “Co-Q10 increases the activity of mitochondria, which is where energy is made, so it essentially gives more energy to the heart muscle,” says Kalnins. However, its role as a hypertension treatment by decreasing blood pressure is unclear and needs further research.
Folic acid. Folic acid is sometimes given as an alternative treatment for hypertension because of its effects on the arterial walls. There is some evidence that accumulation of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood can damage these walls. Folic acid, typically given in combination with vitamins B6 or B12, reduces homocysteine levels. A recent study showed that women who consumed at least 1,000 milligrams (mg) of folic acid per day had about half the risk of developing hypertension as those who consumed 200 mg or less per day.
Dietary supplement regulations aren’t the same as regulations for prescription and over-the-counter medication — manufacturers can market a supplement without having to prove safety or effectiveness. That’s why you should research supplements and talk with your regular doctor about potential interactions and side effects before using an alternative treatment for hypertension.
High blood pressure: Herbal remedies may inspire future treatments
People have used herbs as medicine for thousands of years. Today, with medical researchers continually hunting for better alternative treatments, some are revisiting these remedies. A recent study looks at herbs that people believe can treat hypertension.
Share on PinterestLavender was one of the plants that the scientists tested in the recent study.
Currently, hypertension affects an estimated 1 in 3 adults in the United States.
Although dietary and lifestyle changes can sometimes be sufficient, medication is necessary in some cases.
Antihypertensive medications work well for some people but not for others, and the side effects can be unpleasant.
For these reasons, researchers are keen to find innovative ways to tackle the growing issue of hypertension.
Some scientists are turning back the clock and looking to ancient herbal remedies. Humans have been self-medicating with the herbs that they find since before history began.
The fact that people have used these treatments for millennia is certainly not evidence that they are effective, but they are surely worth a second look.
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine recently zeroed in on a group of plants that have, historically, been a treatment for hypertension. They published their findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The scientists took herbal extracts from a diverse range of unrelated plants, including lavender, fennel seed extract, basil, thyme, marjoram, ginger, and chamomile.
Under the leadership of Prof. Geoff Abbott, Ph.D., they identified a bioactive trait that all of the extracts shared. This trait, the scientists believe, might help explain why some herbs appear to have mild antihypertensive properties.
Specifically, they found that these herbs activate a particular potassium channel called KCNQ5. This potassium channel and others are present in the vascular smooth muscles — the muscles that line blood vessels.
When vascular smooth muscles contract, blood pressure increases; when they relax, blood pressure drops. The activation of KCNQ5 results in the relaxation of these muscles. The authors think that this might help explain some herbs’ antihypertensive properties.
“We found KCNQ5 activation to be a unifying molecular mechanism shared by a diverse range of botanical hypotensive folk medicines.”
Prof. Geoff Abbott, Ph.D.
The researchers also tested a range of other plants that research has not shown to reduce blood pressure, such as wheatgrass and parsley. In these cases, they found no activation of KCNQ5.
Not all herbs are equal
When they compared plant species, the researchers found differing levels of KCNQ5 activity. “Lavandula angustifolia, commonly called lavender, was among those we studied,” Prof. Abbot explains. “We discovered it to be among the most efficacious KCNQ5 potassium channel activators, along with fennel seed extract and chamomile.”
Next, the scientists drilled down to determine which plant compound is responsible for activating the potassium channel.
They isolated a chemical called aloperine, which is an alkaloid. In a further set of experiments, they demonstrated that aloperine opens KCNQ5 by binding to the foot of the potassium channel.
Interestingly, current medications do not target the KCNQ5 channel. Spotting this gap in the drug market, Prof. Abbott hopes that the “discovery of these botanical KCNQ5-selective potassium channel openers may enable development of future targeted therapies for diseases including hypertension.”
Of course, the road that runs between identifying a mechanism and getting a drug to market is long. It is also worth noting that the KCNQ group of receptors are relative newcomers and, as such, scientists do not yet know the full range of their functions.
However, because hypertension is so widespread, and because it increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke, there is likely to be significant interest in taking these ideas to the next stage.
For now, though, people should not switch their current hypertension treatments for herbal remedies.
Lower Blood Pressure Naturally!
Do you want to learn how to lower blood pressure naturally?
Did you know that one out of every three people in the US has high blood pressure? This often symptomless condition can cause increased risk of heart disease and stroke. If you have high blood pressure then you deserve to address the root cause of the problem so that you can continue to live a long life with your healthy heart!
In this article you can read a brief description of western medicine’s perspectives on high blood pressure. The second half of this article will tell you how a more holistic view of high blood pressure can help you to naturally lower your blood pressure!
Western Description of Hypertension
Blood pressure is the measurement of the force of blood against your arteries. There are two numerical readings for blood pressure. The first is the systolic blood pressure, which measures the pressure when the heart beats. The second is the diastolic blood pressure, which measures the pressure between heart beats.
Hypotension or blood pressure that is too low is defined as when a person’s blood pressure readings are generally below 90/60.
Normal blood pressure is when a person’s blood pressure most often falls between 120/80 and 100/65.
Pre-hypertension is when a person’s blood pressure is most often between 120/80 and 140/90.
Hypertension exists in various stages from mild to severe when a person’s blood pressure most often measures between 140/90 and 230/140.
High Blood Pressure Symptoms
Generally there are no overt symptoms to warn you that you have high blood pressure. Most often this is discovered at a doctor’s visit. If you have high blood pressure for many years you can develop heart disease and kidney troubles.
Western medicine uses a variety of high blood pressure medication to reduce blood pressure. These may include:
Diuretics to decrease the amount of fluid in the body.
ACE inhibitors which relax the blood vessels.
Beta-blockers which make the heart beat at a slower rate and less force.
Natural Remedies for Hypertension
There are a number of reasons why you may develop high blood pressure readings and most often it is a combination of several factors. Therefore there is seldom any one herb (or drug) that can address this condition from the root cause.
Before we start doling out herbs or drugs it would be far better to know more about you and look for root causes of this imbalance.
High Blood Pressure Causes
Essential hypertension is high blood pressure that has no one apparent cause.
Secondary hypertension is high blood pressure as a result of a diagnosed disease or medication.
Some causes for high blood pressure symptoms include:
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to hypertension. If you are interested in lowering your blood pressure and getting started on an exercise program be sure to find guidance to create a fitness plan that works for you. It is very easy for a person to over do it, thus creating more problems! A beneficial exercise plan will include a balance of cardio, strength, flexibility and integrative core movement.
- High Blood Pressure Diet
In the old days red meats and cholesterol-containing foods were often pointed to as the culprits in hypertension. Now, we are beginning to understand that it is inflammatory foods that should be receiving most of the blame. Avoiding processed foods, sugar, poor quality grains, GMO foods and other adulterated foods is one step. Increasing wholesome anti-inflammatory foods, fresh foods high in antioxidants like dark-colored vegetables and berries, olives and olive oil, high quality meats, etc, is key! Excessive caffeine intake can increase blood pressure in some individuals.
- Vascular Health
The majority of people in western culture do little to prevent heart disease. Herbs and foods high in antioxidants can be taken for existing heart issues and for prevention! As you age it is crucial to retain healthy heart vessels that retain their elasticity. Considering the epidemic of heart-related diseases in our culture I almost always encourage preventive measures with people I work with, even if they have no history of heart disease.
How are your stress levels? Chronic negative stress can lead to hypertension. This can sometimes be the hardest thing for you to change since living a stressful life becomes a means of identity. In a go-go-go society it can be difficult for you to consciously do less. Psychotherapy, yoga, tai chi, Qi gong, picking up a fun and enjoyable hobby and enjoying regular time in nature are important tools for reducing your negative reactions to stress. Botanical medicine such as adaptogens and relaxing nervines can also be helpful.
- Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance, or metabolic syndrome, is the precursor to diabetes. This metabolic imbalance can be a key factor in various kinds of heart diseases and would be considered a core root of the problem.
Smoking or chewing tobacco adversely effects blood pressure.
Excessive intake of alcohol can lead to hypertension in some individuals.
- Nutrient deficiency
Lack of magnesium and vitamin D3 can lead to hypertension.
- Sleep deprivation
How well do you sleep? Chronic sleep deprivation (a rampant problem in our society) can also lead to hypertension.
By evaluating the particular factors in your life that are leading to high blood pressure readings we can get to the root cause of the problem instead of using pills to mask your symptoms.
Natural herbal remedies for high blood pressure
I also use the following categories of herbs, supplements and other lifestyle suggestions to help you naturally lower your blood pressure.
These herbs help to reduce the amount of fluid in the body, thus lowering the amount of pressure.
- Cardio tonics
These herbs help to support and strengthen the cardiovascular system. These are wonderful taken as preventives as well.
These herbs help to lower blood pressure by various mechanisms.
- Relaxing Nervines
These herbs can help relax the tone of the blood vessels and relax the body/mind state.
- Circulatory stimulants
These may be used in small doses as part of a larger formula to increase circulation.
- Anti-inflammatory herbs
These herbs help to support the physical health of blood vessels.
Magnesium to bowel tolerance
- High Blood Pressure Diet
A whole foods diet accentuating foods high in antioxidants will help support the integrity of the cardiovascular system. Garlic and onions have been shown to lower blood pressure naturally and can be eaten liberally. If a person has any level of insulin resistance then a low glycemic diet, specific exercise and nutrient supplementation need to be taken into consideration.
Excess caffeine can negatively effect some people as can excessive alcohol intake and smoking or chewing tobacco.
Appropriate exercise (cardio and strength)
Stress management by re-prioritizing health and joy, adaptogen herbs, meditation, yoga, tai chi and massage.
Quality sleep every night.
Links to scientific studies on high blood pressure natural remedy
Science on garlic for high blood pressure
Hypotensive effects of hawthorn on pub med
Hawthorne for chronic heart failure
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Rosalee is an herbalist and author of the bestselling book Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients Into Foods & Remedies That Heal. She’s a registered herbalist with the American Herbalist Guild and the Education Director for LearningHerbs. Read about how Rosalee went from having a terminal illness to being a bestselling author in her full story here.
If you are suffering from high blood pressure, or other circulatory problems, you are probably looking for solutions that can help you to live a longer and healthier life. Some evidence suggests that various plants and herbs can have a positive impact on your blood pressure.
You may want to consider adding some of these heart-healthy herbs to your garden. You will get the stress relief from working in the garden as well as the potential herbal benefits of the plants you grow.
Using Herbs as Medicine
Herbs have been used to treat medical conditions since ancient times. They are an integral part of naturopathic medicine, Chinese medicine and a host of other alternative treatments. When using herbs to lower your blood pressure, it is important to remember that herbs can be powerful and are not always safe. It is important to know both the benefits and the potential risks of any natural remedies that you are considering using. Always talk with your health care provider before using any herbal remedies or supplements.
Herbs that May Help Lower Blood Pressure
- Hawthorn – Some people believe that hawthorn can be beneficial in reducing blood pressure since it may limit the amount of cholesterol that is deposited in the arteries. This opens up the arteries and makes it easier for blood to pass, thus lowering blood pressure. Hawthorn may also pose other heart-healthy benefits. It may increase the force that the heart uses to contract, leading to vasodilation, which in turn results in wider blood vessels.
- Garlic – Researchers believe that garlic may lower blood pressure for 2-3 hours after it is consumed. It also has anti-clotting compounds that may lower the risk of clot formations. Garlic is very flavorful which means that you can use extra garlic as you prepare meals and reduce the amount of salt that you use while still retaining flavor. Reducing salt can have a beneficial effect on hypertension for those who are “salt-sensitive” — typically 65% – 80% of African Americans and 10% – 15% of Caucasians.
- Turmeric – Turmeric is a yellow herb that is commonly used in Indian cooking. Its extract appears to have anti-inflammatory properties. It may also lower cholesterol and reduce the formation of clots in the arteries. Turmeric has high antioxidant levels that may improve blood flow and circulation while strengthening the blood vessels.
- Ginger – Ginger is believed to reduce platelet clotting in the blood. This may reduce the risk for heart attack and stroke. It also may improve circulation and help blood to move more easily throughout the body. Many believe that ginger can relax the muscle surrounding blood vessels which can lead to lower blood pressure.
- Ginkgo Biloba – Ginkgo biloba is an extract taken from tall trees that grow naturally in the Chinese mountains. It has an antiplatelet effect that may improve circulation and it may also help improve stress tolerance. Many believe that this supplement promotes mental alertness. This may be due to the increased blood circulation to the brain.
- Passionflower – Passionflower is often used in herbal medicine for relaxation. It is also used as a natural sleep aid. It may be able to relax and calm the body. It is believed that these relaxing properties may lead to a reduction of stress and in turn lower blood pressure. It may also relax the blood vessels in the body which can allow blood to pass through them more easily.
- Hibiscus – Hibiscus tea was found to be as effective at lowering blood pressure as Captropril medication in one study. Over half of reviewed studies showed that daily consumption of hibiscus tea or extracts had a favorable influence on lipid profiles including reduced total cholesterol, LDL-C, triglycerides as well as increased HDL-C.
These herbs may provide positive benefits to your heart and circulatory system by lowering your blood pressure. Be sure to consult with your health provider to choose an herbal treatment plan that is best for you.
Hawthorn CC flickr photo courtesy of net_efekt.