6 Ways to Lower High Blood Pressure
Hypertension increases the risk of stroke. Also, by annoying the arteries, it increases the likelihood that plaque might form arterial blockages. Maintaining a youthful blood pressure level through life is certainly beneficial if it is achieved with diet and lifestyle. It sure makes sense to avoid these causes of hypertension: Smoking, excess body fat, pain killing drugs and diabetes.
A great example of the effect of what we eat is a recent STUDY of a popular diet program for reducing blood pressure. It is the high vegetable “DASH diet” which showed fringe benefits of reduced risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and neurodegenerative disease. Meanwhile blood pressure meds have side effects (e.g. chronic coughs, nausea, dizziness, mental depression, heart failure, fatigue and stomach irritation). Those problems and the lack of effectiveness for any one medication are why dependence on drugs is challenged.
Conventional approach. The usual approach is to rely on multiple drugs and to a lesser extent salt restriction. Most often, a single drug is not sufficient to reach the somewhat arbitrary goals. It may take 2, 3 or even up to 6. It seems logical that they must not be working on the root cause of the hypertension.
Overtreatment? Studies don’t seem to give strong evidence of a lifesaving benefit for using drugs to lower blood pressure in the average person. This review of studies is an example. Referring only to people who have not had previous cardiovascular events or diagnosed cardiovascular disease, the review concluded: “Anti-hypertensive drugs used in the treatment of adults (primary prevention) with mild hypertension (systolic BP 140-159 mmHg and/or diastolic BP 90-99 mmHg) have not been shown to reduce mortality [death] or morbidity [illness]” in the study subjects. The 2017 change in goal to 130/80 is based on studies that show some modest protection from stroke, but little change in death rates.
Another direction. One journal article discusses other approaches such as potassium, L-arginine, vitamin C, cocoa flavonoids, coenzyme Q10, controlled-release melatonin, and aged garlic extract.
- Zinc insufficiency may be a significant cause of high blood pressure. Listen to Bill Sardi’s 12/2/17 radio interview discussing this factor. Here is a link to his most interesting article.
- Magnesium. Studies, like this one, show benefit for blood pressure with magnesium. For one thing it is nature’s calcium channel blocker and this mineral seems like an obvious choice because the body needs magnesium for over 300 additional purposes and this nutrient is widely deficient. It is also important to utilizing zinc. Read more.
- Vitamin D and Blood Pressure. This review of several studies suggests that there are strong indications that low vitamin D levels are associated with high blood pressure. The researchers (as always) say more study is needed to refine the results, but read at this link about other life-saving reasons to make sure you get some sunshine and have enough D. It seems silly not to at least make sure that your blood levels are up to at least normal. Perhaps due to some other magic in sunlight, a small study on folks with normal pressure, showed that exposing them to UVA radiation for 20 minutes, widened vessels, increased nitric oxide in the blood and that significantly lowered blood pressure.
- Aged Garlic Extract. Kyolic the source of Aged Garlic Extract has been the subject of over 700 studies, several on blood pressure. They created a great blood pressure product, Formula 109. Read about the ingredients: Aged Garlic Extract, Natto and Suntheanine.
- Hibiscus Tea Reduces Blood Pressure. In a randomized, placebo-controlled trial with 65 mildly hypertensive folks ages 30-70 (not on meds), 3 servings a day of this tea significantly lowered systolic, diastolic and arterial pressure. You may not find this tea at the Piggly Wiggly but something so simple that apparently has no side effects would be worth tracking down at a health food store or online. Often the natural approaches all work in slightly different ways, so even if each one only makes a modest change, added together, they may be enough.
- Chocolate Reduces Blood Pressure. This review of 10 studies confirms that chocolate reduces blood pressure (but not to the same extent in all participants). This isn’t license to grab a Snickers® . The health effect is from the antioxidant nutrients in dark chocolate. If you add a lot of sugar and partially hydrogenated fat, you gain weight and do not reap much in the way of cardio benefits. Try a square of dark chocolate for dessert (sorry, no Chubby Hubby ® ice cream.)
Final thoughts: Please monitor your blood pressure at home. That is more reliable than tests under stress during periodic office visits and you will be able see the effect of any diet or supplement changes. This LINK is to a monitor well rated by Consumer Reports. Don’t suddenly stop medications. This site is informational and not a substitute for professional advice. Consult a health practitioner that knows nutrition and appreciates non-toxic remedies.
Radio Show: Pharmacist, naturopath and Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Dr. James LaValle, talked about some of these natural substances—interview.
Copyright 2010, 2017 and 2019 by Martie Whittekin, CCN