Hypertention, or High Blood pressure, is one of the leading ailments in the world today, with nearly 50% of the population being diagnosed with high blood pressure. We want to shed some light on what Hypertention is, and offer some advice on natural remedies for high blood pressure to help you lower your blood pressure naturally.
A grave concern regarding hypertension is that the body does not usually display warning symptoms. If suffering unaware from high blood pressure, internal and permanent damage can be taking place inside the body. This could manifest itself in the form of a stroke or heart attack. Blood pressure should be checked regularly as there are many triggers in life that can result in elevated readings.
Blood pressure is a measure of the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart beats (systolic pressure) and when the heart is at rest (diastolic pressure). A normal reading is 120mmHg (systolic) over 80mmHg (diastolic). More than 120mmHg over 80mmHg and less than 140mmHg over 90mmHg is considered a normal blood pressure reading. Higher than that indicates hypertension and this requires a change in diet and lifestyle.
Causes of high blood pressure (1)
- High blood pressure risk increases as age increases
- Genetic factors play a role in high blood pressure as it tends to run in a families or a particular race
- The more weight one carries, the more blood is needed to flow through the body, leading to elevated blood pressure. It is important to lose weight if you have high blood pressure.
- Tobacco narrows the artery walls thereby elevating pressure
- Excessive alcohol is damaging to the heart
- Excessive sugar leads to a host of problems and is linked to increased blood pressure
- Stress causes temporary blood pressure increase. This becomes a serious issue when stress is prolonged without a chance for the body to recover
- Potassium is known to balance sodium levels in the body. Low potassium levels leads to elevated sodium levels, and ultimately elevated blood pressure
- Conditions such as kidney disease, psoriasis, diabetes and sleep apnea are linked to a higher risk of developing high blood pressure
- Sometimes pregnancy can elevate blood pressure
- Lack of exercise, as well as having a sedentary lifestyle, raises the risk of hypertension
The impact of salt reduction for hypertension is controversial. Some studies have shown that it is proper calcium, magnesium, and other mineral balance (not sodium reduction) that improves blood pressure, hypertension, and other problems (2). The problem depends on the choice of salt being injested. Table salt is chemically produced, bleached and devoid of most other nutrients and should be eliminated from your diet no matter what your health status. It has been suggested that Himalayan salt (rock salt from the Himalayas) in moderation may be able to stabilise blood pressure levels (3). However, there are many opposing theories about salt and its impact on blood pressure, therefore it is best to limit salt intake and this includes avoiding pre-packaged or fast foods.
What high blood pressure does to the body
- Damages arteries
- Aneurysm (weakening and bulging or artery walls)
- Heart failure
- Blocked or ruptured blood vessels
- Reduced kidney function
- Vision loss
- Loss of cognitive function: concentration, memory and ability to learn
- Metabolic syndrome: a cluster of metabolic disorders such as high cholesterol and insulin, atherosclerosis and increased waist size
This silent disease frequently has no symptoms. Some may experience warning signs such as chest pains, confusion, headaches, ear noise or buzzing, irregular heartbeat, nosebleeds, tiredness or vision changes, especially if the pressure is dangerously high (1).
Standard medical treatment for elevated blood pressure is to prescribe beta-blockers, ACE inhibitor drugs and diuretics, along with convincing the patient to restrict salt in the diet. There are many natural approaches to help lower blood pressure as outlined below. One should always consult a medical practitioner before terminating the use of prescribed medical drugs.
- Numerous studies performed on cardamom powder show that if consumed on daily basis for several months, it rapidly reduces high blood pressure, as well as scavenges radicals (5)
- Garlic increase a substance in the body known as nitric oxide, which can cause your blood vessels to relax and dilate (6), thereby reducing blood pressure
- Ginger has been shown to improve circulation and relax the muscles of blood vessels
- Celery seed is effective for hypertension because it acts upon the liver
- Cayenne opens up blood vessels and helps increase blood flow which releases pressure (7)
- Lavender when inhaled or used as a culinary herb is known to lower heart rate, which lowers hypertension
- Cat’s claw may treat hypertension by acting on the calcium channels of the cells
- Tea from hibiscus has proven effective in many studies and dramatically lowers blood pressure (5)
- Radish shows promise in reducing blood pressure (6)
- Consumption of green tea (unfermented) (Camellia sinensis) and oolong tea (partially fermented) (Camellia sinensis) is linked to decreased risk of developing hypertension (6)
- Studies revealed that cassia (coffee weed) extract may act as a smooth muscle relaxant and reduce blood pressure by acting on the calcium channels in the body (6)
- Hawthorn assists in preventing the hardening of the arteries, prevents clots, increases blood circulation and lowers blood pressure
Foods and supplements
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet has shown great success in lowering and controlling blood pressure. It includes eating more low-fat protein sources (fish and poultry), whole grains, plenty of fruit and vegetables, fat-free or low-fat milk products, beans, seeds and nuts. The plan includes guidelines for sodium content, along with vitamins and minerals (8). Emphasis is made on eating foods rich in calcium, potassium and magnesium.
- Potassium rich foods include romaine lettuce, kale, spinach, beet greens, turnip greens, swiss chard, bananas and coconut water. Interestingly, potassium supplements are not as effective as including potassium rich food
- Calcium rich foods include beans, sardines, leafy greens, almonds and low fat yoghurt (9)
- Magnesium is found in nuts, sesame seeds, black beans, avocados, dark chocolate, spinach, quinoa. It has the ability to relax blood vessels which has an immediate impact on blood pressure. Magnesium from foods are not always easily assimilated, therefore supplements should be considered
- Coenzyme Q10 (also known as ubiquinone) is an antioxidant that helps the cells produce energy and is a natural remedy for high blood pressure
- Berries are rich in flavanoids which has been shown to help lower blood pressure
- Beets are high in nitric oxide that open blood vessels and lower pressure. Beetroot juice can lower blood pressure within 24 hours
- Soluble fiber-rich whole oats may be an effective dietary therapy in the prevention and adjunct treatment of hypertension (6)
- Investigators suggest that sesamin found in sesame seed oil is a useful prophylactic treatment in hypertension and cardiovascular hypertrophy (6)
- Fatty fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids and their anti-inflammatory properties have a positive impact on lowering blood pressure (10). Flaxseed are another good source of omega-3’s (6)
- Crude black bean extract has been reported to cause a fall in systolic as well as diastolic blood pressure
- Flavonoids contained in dark chocolate stimulate formation of nitric oxide which increases vasodilatation
- Olive oil is a healthy fat with anti-inflammatory properties that can control and reduce blood pressure
- Apple cider vinegar can lower blood pressure almost overnight (11)
- Pistachios are able to reduce peripheral vascular resistance (blood vessel tightening) and heart rate (12)
- Pure hydrolysed collagen may assist in lowering blood pressure
As outlined in this article, there are numerous natural ways that one can lower blood pressure. Studies have proven that diet and lifestyle are more than sufficient to achieve this. For some, it may require much stricter adherence to the program than for others. It is always advisable to carry out the recommended diet with regular blood pressure monitoring, preferably together with a health practitioner.