What is High Blood Pressure?
According to the American Heart Association, nearly one in three adults in the United States has high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. But nearly one-third of those people don't know they have high blood pressure, because it is a silent disease. People can have high blood pressure for years without experiencing symptoms or knowing they have it.
The upper or first number in a blood pressure reading is the systolic pressure and the lower or second number is called the diastolic pressure. According to National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute guidelines:
- Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mmHg.
- Prehypertension is systolic pressure that's between 120 to 139 or diastolic pressure between 80 and 89.
- Stage 1 hypertension is systolic pressure between 140 to 159 or diastolic pressure between 90 and 99.
- Stage 2 hypertension is systolic pressure higher than 160 or diastolic pressure of 100 or higher.
Natural Remedies for High Blood Pressure
Lifestyle changes and natural remedies may help to control high blood pressure, but your doctor may also recommend medication to lower high blood pressure. It is important to work with your doctor, because untreated high blood pressure may damage organs in the body and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, brain hemorrhage, kidney disease, and vision loss.
1) Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
There is some evidence that the supplement CoQ10 may help to reduce high blood pressure. A 12 week double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 83 people with systolic hypertension examined the effect of CoQ10 supplements (60 mg twice daily). After the 12 weeks, there was a mean reduction in systolic blood pressure of 17.8 mm Hg in the CoQ10-treated group.
Another study conducted at the University of Western Australia looked at the effect of CoQ10 on blood pressure and glycemic control in 74 people with type 2 diabetes. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 100mg CoQ10 twice daily, 200mg of the drug fenfibrate, both, or neither for 12 weeks.
CoQ10 significantly reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure (mean reduction 6.1 mm Hg and 2.9 mm Hg respectively). There was also a reduction in HbA1C, a marker for long-term glycemic control.
Find out more by reading my article on CoQ10.
In a meta-analysis of seven randomized controlled trials of garlic supplements, three trials showed a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure and four in diastolic blood pressure. Researchers concluded that garlic powder supplement may be of clinical use in patients with mild high blood pressure.
Garlic supplements should only be used under the supervision of a qualified health practitioner. Garlic can thin the blood (reduce the ability of blood to clot) similar to aspirin. Garlic may interact with many drugs and supplements such as the prescription drugs such as Coumadin (warfarin) or Trental (pentoxifylline), aspirin, vitamin E, gingko. It is usually recommended that people taking garlic stop in the weeks before and after any type of surgery.
Get information on using Garlic for Health.
The herb hawthorn is often used by traditional herbal practitioners for high blood pressure.
In a randomized controlled trial conducted by researchers in Reading, UK, 79 patients with type 2 diabetes were randomized to receive either 1200 mg of hawthorn extract a day or placebo for 16 weeks. Medication for high blood pressure was used by 71 percent of the patients.
At the end of the 16 weeks, patients taking the hawthorn supplement had a significant reduction in mean diastolic blood pressure (2.6 mm Hg). No herb-drug interactions were reported.
See the Benefits of Hawthorn for more about using this herb for health.
4) Fish Oil
Preliminary studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil may have a modest effect on high blood pressure. Although fish oil supplements often contain both DHA (docohexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), there is some evidence that DHA is the ingredient that lowers high blood pressure.
Omega-3 fatty acids have a crucial role in the body. Find out more about Omega-3 Fatty Acids and how to use them.
5) Folic Acid
Folate is a B vitamin necessary for formation of red blood cells. It may help to lower high blood pressure in some people, possibly by reducing elevated homocysteine levels.
One small study of 24 cigarette smokers found that four weeks of folic acid supplementation significantly lowered blood pressure.
6) Ayurvedic Medicine
In Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, high blood pressure is treated according to each person’s dosha, or constitutional type.
The pitta type may have a flushed face, red eyes, headaches, light sensitivity, irritability, and nosebleeds.
The kapha type may have excess weight, water retention, high cholesterol, sluggishness.
The vata type may feel cold, have gas, bloating, or constipation, insomnia, or nervousness, worry, or anxiety.
7) Traditional Chinese Medicine
In traditional Chinese medicine, high blood pressure is often attributed to a problem with the circulation of vital energy (qi) in the body. Chinese medicine practitioners believe that depression, anger, obesity, and high intake of fatty foods are some of the causative factors.
A combination of acupuncture and herbs is often recommended. Foods thought to have medicinal properties that may help high blood pressure include water chestnut, turnip, honey, Chinese celery, hawthorn berries, and mung beans.Emotions also play a role in our health. Learn about emotions in traditional Chinese medicine and how certain emotions are linked to physical symptoms.
More natural treatments for high blood pressure on the next page...