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Since 2017, when The American College of Cardiology provided new guidelines for what was considered high blood pressure (it changed from 140/90 to 130/80), a lot of people who had been considered “normal” have faced two new prospects…
First: Being saddled with a lifelong pre-existing condition…
Second: Taking daily medication that doesn’t just cramp your style, it invites some side effects you’d probably rather do without, like diarrhea or constipation, lightheadedness and erection problems.
If you’re not ready to be diagnosed with hypertension under new lowered criteria, it makes sense to carefully review the many ways to maintain healthy blood pressure, including good lifestyle habits, a sensible diet and regular exercise.
You could also consider natural medicine.
There are many herbs and nutritional supplements shown to promote healthy blood pressure. But a few things you should consider…
They may not work as rapidly as prescription medicines — and if you are already on prescription blood pressure medication, it’s not a good idea to stop and transition to natural means without consulting a physician.
It’s also not a good idea to take meds in addition to natural treatments, as you could lower your blood pressure too much.
So, if you currently take blood pressure medications, an integrative physician would probably be your best source to transition to natural treatment options.
But if you’re not on blood pressure medication, you can consider natural options like the ones I’ve outlined below…
Nutrient supplements and herbal treatments for hypertension
Using only nutrition, nutrient supplements and stress-reduction, it’s possible for some patients to achieve normalized blood pressure.
Here are the nutrient supplements that are useful to lower blood pressure:
- Fish oil (fish or omega 3 PUFAs) at 3-4 grams daily DHA with EPA daily reduces blood pressure on average by 8 mmHg systolic and 5 mmHg diastolic (8/5 mmHg); it also lowers heart rate 6 beats/minute and lowers endothelial inflammation.
- CoEnzymeQ10 has been shown in a meta-analysis of 12 studies (n=362) to lower blood pressure by 17/10 mmHg at modest doses of 60 mg twice daily and in another study, this modest dose reduced blood pressure by 26 mm Hg systolic on average of the 55 percent who responded to treatment.
- Green coffee extract contains chlorogenic acids, shown in a number of studies to significantly lower blood pressure. An average dose of 140mg daily lowered blood pressure 5.6 mmHg systolic and 3.9 mmHg diastolic.
- Polyphenols: Resveratrol, quercetin, flavonoids, red wine (6 oz. twice weekly), dealcoholized red wine, purple grape juice (independent of alcohol content), red grape polyphenolic extract, dark chocolate, and other plant-derived polyphenols have been shown to safely reduce endothelial inflammation, increase nitric oxide (a vasodilator), and thereby lower both blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. For example, concentrated pomegranate juice (contains polyphenols) 50ml daily lowered systolic blood pressure 5 percent in a 2-week study largely due to its ACE-inhibition (like the prescription ACE-inhibitors such as Lisinopril®) and by 12 percent in a year-long study in which it also significantly reduced atherosclerosis (IMT reduction by up to 30 percent).
- Soy isoflavones because they contain daidzein and genistein, they are known to lower blood pressure.
- Lycopene extract lowered blood pressure by 9/7 mmHg in a small study (30 study participants) for 8 weeks; when added to ACE-inhibitor, Calcium channel blocker or diuretic medication, lycopene lowered blood pressure by 10/5 mmHg.
- L-arginine (6 grams daily) significantly increases nitric oxide secretion which is a powerful vasodilator with endothelial anti-inflammatory effects, especially in salt-sensitive persons. A meta-analysis of 11 randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled trials (387 study participants) using 4 to 24 grams daily lowered pressure 5.39 mm Hg systolic and 2.66 mm Hg diastolic on average.
- L-carnitine (1 gram twice daily) lowers blood pressure and lowers insulin resistance, and has a maximal effect at 3 grams twice daily for the hypertensive diabetic person.
- Taurine has pronounced beneficial heart health effects including its blood pressure-lowering effect — best at 3 grams twice daily.
- R (alpha) lipoic acid lowers blood pressure and improves endothelial dysfunction through beneficial effects on nitric oxide (the vasodilator) and other mechanisms at the optimal dose of 100-200 mg daily.
- Hawthorne berry has ACE-inhibition effects (like the prescription ACE inhibitors such as Lisinopril®) and mildly reduces systemic vascular resistance.
- Green tea extract contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which has been shown to be anti-hypertensive.
- Other teas: Dandelion leaf tea is a mild diuretic and therefore can lower blood pressure; fresh ginger tea lowers blood pressure. Hibiscus tea helped lower blood pressure according to a few studies.
- Ginkgo biloba has ACE inhibition effects and improves endothelial dysfunction and has been found to lower blood pressure and slow heart rate, although not all studies agree.
- Garlic and onion extracts have been found to lower blood pressure and slow heart rate although not all studies agree.
- B vitamins: Take vitamin B complex and at least 200 mg of vitamin B1 (thiamin) daily. Why? Because niacin (vitamin B3 or nicotinic acid) 500 to 1,000 mg is a vasodilator and taken in an extended-release form will lower blood pressure and raise good cholesterol levels (HDL-C). Also, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) stabilizes nitric oxide (a potent vasodilator) as do the other micronutrients vitamin C, vitamin D3, and vitamin E (gamma & delta tocopherols and tocotrienols). Pyridoxine also has calcium channel-blocking effects (like the prescription Calcium channel blockers Amlodipine® and Nifedipine®).
- Vitamin D3: make sure your blood levels are 50 ng/ml or higher (on blood test), which usually requires supplementation with 2,000-5,000 IU daily if you are low.
- Magnesium: low serum magnesium is linked to hypertension; magnesium intake (diet/supplementation) is associated with less hypertension.
- Potassium: a high potassium diet of 5,000 mg daily is recommended (unless you have kidney failure) for optimal heart health and blood pressure. Learn how to get this amount in your diet by reading more here.
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