Do you have high blood, or hypertension, and are looking for some natural alternatives to traditional medications to control it? Below we have some ideas of things you can do to keep your blood pressure in check.
Please read the disclaimer at the bottom of this article.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor of heart attack and stroke, two of the biggest killers in the United States. Some studies suggest that many high blood pressure medications have side effects and create a dependence on them. For this reason, many people find themselves seeking out alternative or natural treatments for high blood pressure in lieu of standard medications.
Before having your blood pressure taken
Be sure to avoid coffee or caffeine before you have your blood pressure measured. Also make sure that the cuffs used to measure your blood pressure are the correct size (larger people often get inaccurate readings from cuffs that are too small). Also try to relax! Sometimes the anticipation of a blood pressure test can actually raise your blood pressure! Finally, ask for a second reading at the end of your doctor visit for comparison to the initial reading. Some people tend to relax toward the end of their visit, and the reading may be lower.
Natural Treatments for High Blood Pressure
Here is a list of some natural/alternative solutions to high blood pressure. It is not meant to be absolutely comprehensive, nor a substitute for proper medical care, so proceed at your own risk!
- Brown Rice – Two recent studies indicate that brown rice may lower blood pressure. Further studies are needed. (More)
- Calcium – By relaxing the muscle cells that line blood vessel walls, calcium helps decrease blood pressure.
- CoQ10 – Some research has suggested that people with hypertension may be deficient in this nutrient.
- Dandelion Leaf – Has the same diuretic effect as many prescription medication, without the side effects.
- Exercise – Moderate exercise such as walking is great for high blood pressure. Avoid high-intensity activities until you’ve checked with your doctor, as they may be too hard on your system.
- Fish Oil – Several studies back claims that fish oil helps reduce hypertension. Many modern fish oil supplements come without the unpleasant fish taste. Better yet, increase your fish intake as a replacement for red meat in your diet.
- Garlic – Not a major player in hypertension cures, but still a good part of a comprehensive blood pressure plan. Eat raw or take a high quality supplement.
- Ginkgo Biloba – This herb is used for a vast array of ailments, including hypertension. It works by relaxing the artery walls, which reduces pressure within the vessels.
- Hawthorn Berry – If you’re a tea drinker, try hawthorne tea for a few weeks and see if it helps. You may also try taking a 250mg supplement dailly until your blood pressure is at the desired level.
- Magnesium – Taking magnesium can help blood pressure by relaxing the arteries. Note: Discuss with your doctor first if you have any other heart conditions.
- Onions – Shown to lower blood pressure. If you can’t handle eating them, onion pills can be found at health or vitamin shops.
- Potassium – A major player in reducing hypertension. Studies have shown that potassium supplements reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Be sure to decrease salt when you increase potassium. It has been suggested that two bananas a day will provide you with an ample supply of potassium. Increasing all fruits and vegetables will increase potassium. Note: If you have kidney disease, talk to your doctor before increasing potassium.
- Stress Reduction – Feeling relaxed and happy will reduce high blood pressure. Stress is one of the primary reasons that some people’s pressure can rise.
- Valerian – This herb has been used for thousands of years for a variety of ailments. Today is is used mostly for insomnia, stress, and anxiety. Keeping these things under control are vital to hypertension management.
- Vitamin C – Studies, including this one from 1999, have shown that 500mg of Vitamin C daily can lower blood pressure.
- Water – When you are dehydrated, your heart must pump harder to compensate. Drinking plenty of water is vital to anyone with high blood pressure. Most blood pressure medications work in the same way as can be achieved by increasing water intake.
American Heart Association
The American Heart Association lists 8 ways to control your blood pressure:
- Eat a better diet, while reducing salt
- Regular physical exercise
- Maintain healthy weight
- Manage stress
- Avoid tobacco smoke
- Take medications
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Understand hot tub safety
Though you can’t argue with the AHA, it does seem curious that they wouldn’t at least mention potassium or a daily multivitamin containing many of the nutrients known to help lessen hypertension.
There are a few things that you should avoid if you have hypertension:
- Chinese Ginseng
- Licorice Root
- Salt – Avoiding salt is a mainstay of a low blood pressure lifestyle. There are many great salt substitutes out there, including potassium.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or cure any medical condition. Please consult a health professional before beginning or ending any treatment, natural or otherwise.
Bethel, May, The Healing Power of Herbs (Beverly Hills: Hal Leighton Printing Co., 1968) 49-50.
Null, Gary, PhD, The Complete Encyclopedia of Natural Healing (Stamford, CT: Bottom Line Books, 2006).
Gottlieb, Bill. Alternative Cures: The Most Effective Natural Home Remedies for 160 Health Problems (Rodale Books, 2000).
Stengler, Mark, N.D. The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies (Stamford CT: Bottom Line Books. 2007)
Wilen, Joan and Wilen, Lydia. Folk Remedies That Work (New York: HarperCollins Publishers. 1996).