Do you suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension)? If so, you’re part of a large group. About 50 million Americans suffer from hypertension, and a further 45 million have pre-hypertension (indicating high risk for full hypertension). The condition might be common, but it is serious. Potential consequences include heart attack, stroke and cognitive impairment.
You may be able to lower your blood pressure naturally without medication by using the simple, natural remedies described below.
What Is Hypertension?
As your blood circulates around the body, it exerts pressure on the arteries and veins carrying it. This force is what doctors are referring to when they speak about blood pressure. If the blood pressure measure is higher than it should be it is referred to as high blood pressure, or hypertension.
You may be aware that there are 2 measures when speaking of blood pressure. It is always x / y eg. 120 / 80. The first number is the pressure exerted in the vessels when the ventricles of the heart contract and push blood out into the circulation (systolic pressure). The second number is the pressure in the vessels when the heart relaxes between beats, allowing blood to enter in preparation for the next beat (diastolic pressure).
Maintaining the correct blood pressure within the body is critical and complex. Blood pressure is controlled by a variety of organs and body systems. The heart itself, together with the blood vessels, kidneys, adrenal glands and the brain all have a part to play in maintaining blood pressure.
Symptoms of Hypertension
There are often no symptoms of hypertension until a serious incident, such as a heart attack or stroke, occurs. Some people may experience symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, or ringing in the ears. Less specific symptoms include blood shot eyes and elevated heart rate, but these can be caused by many other conditions as well.
Because hypertension is essentially a silent condition, it is wise to have it checked periodically. Once detected, there are a number of treatments that can be used to reduce the risk of hypertension-related illnesses.
Whether or not you are experiencing high blood pressure symptoms, it would be wise to visit your health care professional and have your blood pressure checked.
Natural Treatments for Hypertension
There are many well known, natural remedies for high blood pressure. It is potentially one of the easiest medical conditions to control without drugs.
Conventional medicines, although effective, don’t usually solve the problem of hypertension as they do little to address the underlying cause of the condition. These drugs are also associated with a myriad of side effects, and can be expensive.
A condition such as high blood pressure, with it’s multi-factorial control systems, ideally needs a holistic approach, utilizing a combination of lifestyle factors and natural remedies to address the cause of the problem. This approach can be just as effective as conventional medical treatment.
Hawthorn for the Heart
Hawthorne (Crataegus oxyacantha) is commonly used in natural high blood pressure treatments and has a well deserved reputation for its marked protective effect on the cardiovascular system.
Hawthorn enhances the body’s ability to dilate the blood vessels. Wider vessels means the blood flows more freely, and results in lower blood pressure. Hawthorn works similarly to garlic by interrupting the conversion of angiotensin I to angiotensin II, the hormone that causes the blood vessels to constrict.
There have been numerous studies which have confirmed the benefits of Hawthorn on the cardiovascular system. In particular, this herbs ability to assist in regulating blood pressure has been clearly identified.
Dose: 1000 – 1500 mg of hawthorn (approximately 1 teaspoonful) per day, split into two doses.
Garlic for Lower Blood Pressure
Garlic is a most heart-friendly herb. There is a lot of scientific evidence showing that garlic has the ability to lower both systolic and diastolic pressures, without the side effects of hypertensive drugs.
In one study of 200 middle aged men, 100 were given a garlic supplement daily (300mg of garlic extract – approximately 1 – 2 cloves of fresh garlic) whilst the remaining 100 men were not. At the end of the study, the arteries of those taking the garlic supplement were significantly more flexible (ie. less “hardened”) when compared to those who did not take the supplement.
The active compound in garlic is believed to be allicin. Allicin is formed when the meat of the clove is cut and ,being an unstable compound, doesn’t last for very long. For this reason it is best to use fresh or lightly cooked, chopped garlic.
Do your heart a favor and include garlic in your diet regularly.
Read more about garlic.
Passion Flower to Reduce Stress
Also known as Passion Flower, the active ingredients in this herb include flavonoids (compounds with diverse beneficial biochemical and antioxidant effects), glycosides, alkaloids and saparin.
Passiflora has stood up well in clinical studies on animals that support its traditional usage to assist in cardiac health.
Dose: The usual dosage is 4 – 8g daily or as an infusion of 2g in 150 ml of water, 3 – 4 times daily.
Potatoes and Bananas to Boost Potassium
Potatoes and bananas are both very rich in potassium. Studies have confirmed that including potassium rich foods in your diet can bring about a significant reduction in blood pressure. An analysis across 5 countries into the causative factors for hypertension found that up to 17% of cases could be linked to potassium deficiency.
Potassium works by counteracting sodium. Sodium can cause fluid retention, causing high blood volume and consequently high blood pressure. Potassium reduces the risk of this occurring. Potassium also causes the arteries to relax, which allows the blood to circulate at a reduced pressure.
Other potassium rich foods include avocado, spinach and figs.
Dandelion and Fennel – Diuretics Which Preserve Potassium
Natural diuretics such as Taraxacum officinale (Dandelion) and Foeniculum vulgare (Fennel) are excellent alternatives to prescription diuretics as they can be just as effective without causing potassium loss – a side effect of prescription diuretics.
Make a dandelion tea with 1 teaspoon in 1 cup of boiling water; take 3 to 6 times daily. Or drink half a teaspoon of ground fennel seeds with a glass of water; 3 times daily.
Hibiscus Tea – Fast and Effective
Not so well known as a blood pressure remedy is hibiscus tea. A study on hypertensive patients showed that regular consumption reduced both systolic and diastolic pressures by between 10 and 11 percent. The surprising thing was that this reduction happened within 12 days of starting to drink the tea!
Hibiscus tea is made from the flowers and fruit of the hibiscus plant. Add 1 teaspoon to a cup of boiling water and sweeten to taste.
Heart-Friendly Chicken and Vegetable Soup
Why not combine several of the heart healthy herbs and vegetables into a delicious chicken soup? Researchers have found that the collagen in chicken soup acts similarly to garlic in blocking the production of angiotensis II. This causes the blood vessels to relax, allowing the blood to flow more freely and reducing the effort requried by the heart.
Add any of the following: Celery, Garlic, Hawthorn, Kudzu, Onion, Tomato, Broccoli, Carrot, Purslane (any anything else that contains magnesium), Saffron, Valerian, Fennel, Oregano, Black Pepper, Basil and Tarragon. Consume on a regular basis.
Obesity is a big risk factor for hypertension. If you are overweight, losing even a samll amount of weight could make a significant difference to your blood pressure readings.
Smoking is another big no-no when it comes to high blood pressure. Smoking has multiple negative effects throughout the body, including hypertension and damage to the blood vessels. Nictoine constricts the blood vessels leading to hypetension. It also raises the “bad” cholesterol fractions in the blood, a strong risk factor for atherosclerosis. The carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke also reduces th4e ability of the blood to carry oxygen around the bdoy. This means your heart has to work even harder to deliver enough blood to provide sufficient oxygen to the tissues and organs.
Dietary factors are also important. However, the main thing to bear in mind is to eat a varied diet of unprocessed foods, and to follow the old adage of “everything in moderation”. Eat sugar if you need to – but just a little. Include fat in your diet – but eat natural fat, not processed trans fats.
Vitamin D has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. In one study involving 1,739 participants, researchers discovered that those with low levels of vitamin D are twice as likely to suffer a cardiovascular problem such as heart attack, heart failure or stroke. Spend some time in the sun to boost your natural vitamin D levels and / or take supplements if necessary.
I hope the above had provided you with some useful information on how to reduce blood pressure naturally. Any questions or comments? Leave me a note below and I’ll get back to you 🙂