Alter your lifestyle to naturally shrink blood pressure


In my previous article I explored the circumstances that lead to essential hypertension (high blood pressure), including problems with the thyroid, insulin, aldosterone and cortisol.

Physical and emotional stresses quite dramatically contribute to hypertension. In this article you’ll learn strategies to lower stress, along with other blood pressure-reducing lifestyle interventions.

Mind over pressure

As you now know from my other report, the smooth muscle tone or tightness of arterial blood vessels increases when you get angry, scared or stressed. Conversely, the nerves to your arterial wall muscles relax when you lower your stress.

That is why stress-reducing techniques are a vital part of treating high blood pressure –for anyone. They can be as simple as just slow, deep-breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques. Let me provide you more ideas to started thinking about possibilities that would work best for you:

  • Daily moderate exercise that you enjoy such as walking.
  • Deep, slow breathing for 10 minutes while visualizing something you enjoy, with no stressful distractions. Do this whenever stress builds up and you are feeling anxiety or any other negative emotion.
  • Take more time for yourself: Sleep in, get a massage or spoil yourself regularly.
  • Spend an evening out with a loved one or favorite friend; open up and share your thoughts and feelings.
  • Sexual intimacy with your committed companion.
  • Meditation.
  • Journaling to soft music about a topic in your life of most concern.
  • Listen to your favorite music often to lift your mood and inspire your personal power.
  • Find inspiring audio instructions from authors such as Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, Esther Hicks (Teachings of Abraham) and Michael Beckwith. You can find many on such as one entitled A New Resolve with Esther Hicks.
  • Yoga, tai chi or other meditative exercises.
  • Seek out therapists who do energy healing such as reiki, body talk, quantum touch, emotional clearing, cranial sacral therapy or massage therapy.
  • Drink calming herbal teas such as chamomile, peppermint, lemon balm, kava kava, passionflower and valerian.
  • Use essential oils such as a proven effective blend [1] of lavender, Roman chamomile and neroli (in a 6:2:0.5 ratio) or others such as sweet marjoram, ylang ylang, bergamot or frankincense. (Do not make direct contact with undiluted essential oils.)

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Thoughtful reflections

Remember that if you continue to think about the unhappy or worrisome circumstances in your life, these translate to stress to your physical body. The negative emotions (frustrations, fear, anger, guilt, etc.) you carry in your body are not only a major cause for high blood pressure, but can also lead to the chronic diseases that spring out of stress. (I’ll cover these in an upcoming article on adrenal fatigue.) It can also cause great unhappiness. The happy, optimistic and creative thoughts you carry will become your beliefs. What you think about and feel about you bring about!

I’ve witnessed this phenomenon with my own blood pressure. During the stressful years of a prior business of mine, my blood pressure was constantly at 140/90 or higher. My systolic blood pressure dropped 20 mm by getting out of stressful circumstance and using meditation techniques with peaceful music. It took about two years of a much more peaceful lifestyle before my blood pressure normalized to 120/70 mmHg.

Preventive care

I previously focused on the various underlying contributors to essential hypertension. Let me now outline 10 ways you can help normalize high blood pressure even before turning to supplements or prescription medications:

  1. Maintain optimal body weight. Remember that refined sugars, wheat products, hormone-mimickers in foods, environmental chemicals, laziness, hormone imbalance/deficiency and stress contribute to becoming overweight.
  2. Reduce salt intake to less than 2,400 mg (1 teaspoon) total in a day. Use a sea salt high in electrolyte minerals if you can find one in a health food store. You can also offset the hypertensive effect of your sodium intake by eating foods high in potassium (potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, apricots, bananas, beans and plain yogurt) and fresh juices (prune, carrot, tomato and orange).
  3. Do not consume excessive alcohol (no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men).
  4. Get sufficient good quality sleep and practice one or more of the stress-reduction techniques discussed earlier on a regular and frequent basis.
  5. Maintain optimal intestinal health and bacterial flora. Consider taking probiotics and/or digestive enzymes for a few months if your diet is not optimal or you detect intestinal symptoms that could be contributing to the autoimmune inflammation of your illness.
  6. Limit prescription medications; they may have xenobiotic effects and lead to a leaky gut. Eliminate chemical food dyes and preservatives. Avoid foods you suspect could antigenic (cow’s milk, refined sugar, etc.).
  7. Eat nutrient-rich foods with at least 50 percent or more of your diet as raw food (fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and sprouted grains). High-fiber food consumption is directly associated with lower blood pressure. Eat mostly sprouted grains, fish, legumes (beans), tofu (fermented soy) and pastured hormone/antibiotic-free animal meats for protein. Consume healthy oils, such as olive oil and fish/fish oils. [2]
  8. Seldom eat (or eliminate): trans-fats and hydrogenated oils found in cookies, crackers, cakes, donuts, processed foods, French fries, onion rings and margarine. Avoid white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, white bread, white rice, pasta and all other refined simple carbohydrates.
  9. Try acupuncture [3] [4] and other traditional Chinese medicine interventions [5] such as moxibustion (learn about this here). Also available are qigong and tai chi, which have been shown in studies to be safe. These are not usually discussed by conventional healthcare practitioners because they are not part of our doctors’ medical training. There are also few practitioners of TCM in the U.S. But in the hands of an experienced practitioner, you can expect it to be safe and effective.

10. Alternative (non-dietary, non-drug) interventions that are safe and modestly effective (mixed results in some studies) as recommended by the American Heart Association’s June, 2013 scientific statement [6] include:  behavioral therapies (Transcendental Meditation ®, biofeedback and other relaxation therapies); procedures/devices (device-guided breathing, acupuncture); and exercise regimens (aerobics, dynamic resistance and isometric handgrip).

In my next article I’ll specifically discuss the nutrient supplements known to help lower blood pressure, which will complete my articles on natural treatments for hypertension.

To feeling good for health,
Michael Cutler, M.D
Easy Health Options

[1] Mi-Yeon Cho,Eun Sil Min, Myung-Haeng Hur, Myeong Soo Lee.  Effects of Aromatherapy on the Anxiety, Vital Signs, and Sleep Quality of Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Patients in Intensive Care Units. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 2013: 381381. Published online 2013 February 17 at:

[2] Ascherio A, Rimm EB, Giovannucci EL, Colditz GA, Rosner B, Willett WC, Sacks F, Stampfer MJ.

A prospective study of nutritional factors and hypertension among US men. Circulation. 1992 Nov;86(5):1475-84.

[3] Severcan C, Cevik C, Acar HV, Sivri AB, Mit SS, Geçioğlu E, Paşaoğlu OT, Gündüztepe Y. The effects of acupuncture on the levels of blood pressure and nitric oxide in hypertensive patients. Acupunct Electrother Res. 2012;37(4):263-75.

[4] Cevik C, Işeri SO. The effect of acupuncture on high blood pressure of patients using antihypertensive drugs. Acupunct Electrother Res. 2013;38(1-2):1-15.

[5] Wang J, Xiong X. Evidence-based Chinese medicine for hypertension. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:978398.

[6] Brook RD, Appel LJ, et al. and the American Heart Association Professional Education Committee of the Council for High Blood Pressure Research and other councils. Beyond medications and diet: alternative approaches to lowering blood pressure: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Hypertension. 2013 Jun;61(6):1360-83. Online at:


Dr. Michael Cutler

By Dr. Michael Cutler

Dr. Michael Cutler is a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine and is a board-certified family physician with more than 20 years of experience. He serves as a medical liaison to alternative and traditional practicing physicians. His practice focuses on an integrative solution to health problems. Dr. Cutler is a sought-after speaker and lecturer on experiencing optimum health through natural medicines and founder of the original Easy Health Options™ newsletter — an advisory on natural healing therapies and nutrients. His current practice is San Diego Integrative Medicine, near San Diego, California.