High Blood Pressure Risks and Overview[toc]
High blood pressure is a very common condition affecting around a third of all adults in the USA. Known as the silent killer because it is usually symptom free, hypertension can lead to serious conditions including heart attack and stroke.
Blood pressure is the measure of the force your blood exerts when it pushes on the arterial walls. Damage occurs when this force is too high for a length of time as it stretches the tissue of the arterial walls beyond its natural and healthy limit.
Blood pressure is recorded as two figures and written as a familiar ratio. The upper number is your systolic blood pressure with the lower number being your diastolic pressure. A normal healthy blood pressure should be below 120 over 80 for an adult. When a person’s blood pressure exceeds 140 over 90 it is defined as being high.
Risk factors for hypertension or high blood pressure include stress, poor diet, smoking, genetics and insufficient exercise. Many of these risk factors can be reversed with some basic lifestyle changes.
It is important to get your blood pressure checked out fairly regularly because most of the time there will be no identifiable symptoms. However, having high blood pressure is a serious issue and can lead to further health issues including the following:
- Heart attack
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Loss of vision
- Metabolic disorder
Natural Treatments for High Blood Pressure
There are numerous ways that you can reverse your high blood pressure including lifestyle changes. Getting more exercise, eating more healthily, trying to reduce stress and quitting smoking are all major changes that can lead to better health and lower blood pressure.
Apart from these lifestyle changes, there are also various herbal remedies and supplements that will help bring your blood pressure back down to normal levels. Make sure that you speak with your doctor before taking any herbal remedies or supplements especially if you are already taking medication for your blood pressure.
Herbs to reduce blood pressure
Hibiscus tea is not only delicious but studies have consistently demonstrated that just a few cups each day can help reduce your blood pressure. (1, 2) Hibiscus otherwise known as Roselle is medically known as a vasodilator which works on blood pressure by widening the blood vessels and the arteries.
Flaxseeds are a rich source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids which are known to reduce blood pressure quite significantly. According to research flaxseed itself might help reduce blood pressure slightly and may work better when consumed regularly for more than 12 weeks. (3)
You can either buy ready ground flaxseeds or grind them yourself at home with a coffee grinding machine then add them to your meals. Flaxseed can easily be added to a wide variety of meals including soups, smoothies and baked goods.
You either love it or hate it but there’s no question that garlic is very good for you. It can help reduce your blood pressure by causing your blood vessels to dilate allowing blood to flow through them more freely.
Of course, you can add garlic to any number of meals but for those of you who don’t appreciate the flavor garlic is available in supplementary form.
Cardamom is a very popular ingredient in Asian cuisine and several studies have demonstrated that it can have a positive impact on your blood pressure.
One study showed that subjects who were treated with powdered cardamom each day for 12 weeks experienced a significant reduction in blood pressure. (4)
Basil is another delicious cooking herb that may help reduce your blood pressure. Basil extract has demonstrated the ability to treat hypertension in scientific studies but its effects are not long lasting. (5) Basil goes very well with any number of meals and dishes from salads to soups to pasta dishes.
Cinnamon has been used by practitioners of Ayurveda for centuries because of its healing ability. It is absolutely delicious when added to meals or hot drinks and studies have showed that consuming it daily may help bring your blood pressure in the right direction.
This study demonstrated that it could help reduce blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes. (6)
I personally enjoy sprinkling it on my oatmeal in the morning but you may enjoy adding it to your coffee, your smoothie or into your hot meals for extra flavor.
Ginger is another spice with various health properties. According to research, it may help reduce your blood pressure and improve circulation. (5)
It is a tasty addition to your meals when grated or chopped nut I personally find that it can overpower your food and prefer to drink it as a tea.
Hawthorn is a traditional Chinese remedy that has been prescribed for many centuries to deal with various cardiovascular issues.
Hawthorn can help reduce blood pressure as well as improving circulation and preventing clots. It is available in tea or supplementary capsule form.
Cat’s claw is another traditional Chinese remedy for hypertension and studies have confirmed that this traditional use has merit. (7) Cat’s claw is readily available these days in supplementary form.
Foods to Treat High Blood Pressure
Apart from the herbs already mentioned, a variety of foods can also be beneficial in treating hypertension.
Consuming lemons each day might be a natural and healthy way to reduce your blood pressure. Lemons are a rich source of Vitamin C an antioxidant that protects you from disease and they can help improve the circulation of blood through your arteries. A recent study on the effects of daily lemon consumption and walking found that subjects experienced significant blood pressure reduction. (8) Simply replacing your morning coffee with a glass or two of lemon water will work wonders for your health.
The seeds of watermelons are often discarded but they possess a cucurbocitrin-a compound which helps dilate the capillaries, improves kidney function and reduces blood pressure.
A study published in 2010 discovered that watermelon seeds were able to reduce blood pressure because of their dilatory effect. (8)
You can buy ready ground watermelon seeds or grind them yourself at home. Between 2 and 4 teaspoons a day with water is recommended.
Celery is a great source of a phytochemical which helps control blood pressure known as 3-N-butylphthalide. This compound helps relax the arterial muscles enabling the blood to flow more easily and with les force.
The same compound also helps alleviate stress hormone levels which also contributes to a reduction in blood pressure.
You can try adding celery to your diet or eating several sticks a day as a tasty snack. Celery seed extract has also proven beneficial for blood pressure.
Bananas and other sources of potassium
Bananas are often recommended when it comes to blood pressure problems. They are diverse and delicious and because they are so rich in potassium, they help reduce the raised blood pressure effects of sodium.
Try eating at least 2 bananas a day. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how many ways you can add them to your diet but I love them chopped up on my oatmeal and added to a smoothie.
Other great sources of potassium are potatoes, melon, spinach, raisins and squash. Eating more of these foods should help bring your blood pressure down.
It is vital for those with hypertension to keep their bodies hydrated and along with water and juice, coconut water makes a great beverage option. According to a study published in 2005, because coconut water is rich in magnesium, potassium and vitamin C it can help reduce systolic blood pressure levels. (9)
The DASH diet
The DASH diet which stands for ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension’ was designed to bring your blood pressure under control through dietary means. You can easily find the details of the complete diet online but it basically involves:
- Eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts and whole grains.
- Eating lean meat and fish.
- Eliminating processed food, full fat dairy and food high in saturated fat.
- Limiting your caffeine and alcohol consumption.
- Limiting your intake of deserts and sweetened drinks.
Adhering to the DASH diet can help reduce your blood pressure by 2 or 3 points in just a few weeks. Over the longer term, you might be able to reduce your blood pressure by up to a very healthy 14 points.
The DASH diet focuses on reducing sodium and saturated fats while increasing your intake of healthy nutrients such like vitamin C, potassium and calcium and as such it offers numerous health benefits besides blood pressure alone.
Natural Cures Can Work!
As you can see, there are many ways to reduce your blood pressure naturally without resorting to blood pressure medications. Changing your diet and getting more exercise should help you to lose weight and the exercise might even help you to relieve your stress levels both of which should in turn bring your blood pressure down.
On top of these lifestyle changes there are many herbs and supplements that can help you with your condition further. Let us know if you have used any natural remedies and if there are any that you found especially successful.