Nearly one in three adults suffers high blood pressure or hypertension, the silent killer disease in the US. 66 million Americans have elevated blood pressure - systolic blood pressure of greater than 140 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure of greater than 90 mm Hg. Cardiovascular morbidity and mortality ( in simpler terms - heart problems and death rate) rise as the blood pressure rises significantly. Hypertension - high blood pressure can be due to various causes - Primary Essential Hypertension, the type that occurs due to complex interactions between genetic factors and environmental factors and the second type - secondary hypertension which occurs due to specific, clearly identifiable causes.
While most doctors recommend medications to lower high blood pressure, lifestyle changes and natural remedies can help control hypertension in a significant manner. Untreated high blood pressure may result
in serious damage to the organs in the body and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, brain hemorrhage and kidney disease and vision loss.
Managing stress is the key to control high blood pressure. Autogenic training is a technique used for stress
reduction and relaxation. In successive sessions breathing, blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature can be controlled. Autogenic training involves certain bodily postures, concentration, imagination and verbal cues. It can be acquired with regular practice.
Aerobic exercises are an integral part of the natural approach to lower high blood pressure. However, it is
recommended to consult with the medical practitioner prior to embarking on a new exercise regimen.
Listening to music no doubt relaxes and slows down heart rate and lowers blood pressure. Close eyes,
breathe slowly and deeply and lie down in a comfortable position to let the body absorb the energy of sound. Music soothes the body and mind and reduces hypertension.
Diet for high blood pressure
It is imperative to undergo a change in the diet to lower the high blood pressure. Fruits, vegetables,
low-fat dairy foods, beans and nuts are recommended. Intake of sodium should be restricted to about 1,500 mg a day which is approximately equal to 2/3 teaspoon from all sources including processed and canned foods containing hidden salts.
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute in the US has prescribed Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). The DASH diet has tabled daily guidelines for reducing high blood pressure in two weeks time:
- 7 to 8 servings of grains
- 4 to 5 servings of vegetables
- 4 to 5 servings of fruit
- 2 to 3 servings to low-fat or non-fat dairy
- 2 or less servings to meat, fish or poultry
- 2 to 3 servings of fats and oils
- 4 to 5 servings per week of nuts, seeds, dry beans
- Less than 5 servings a week of sweets
The DASH guideline also mentions serving sizes as follows:
½ cup of cooked rice or pasta
1 slice bread
1 cup raw vegetables or fruit
½ cup cooked vegetables or fruit
8 oz. of milk
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 ounces cooked meat
3 ounces tofu
Natural remedies for high blood pressure:
- Researches conclude that garlic powder supplement is effective in patients with mildly high blood pressure. However, garlic supplements should be used only under the supervision of a qualified
health practitioner. Garlic can thin the blood similar to aspirin and therefore people taking garlic should stop in the weeks before and after any type of surgery.
- Hawthorn is an herb used by traditional herbal practitioners for high blood pressure.
- Fish oil has modest effect on high blood pressure. Fish oil supplements contain both DHA - docohexaenoic acid and EPA eicosapentaenoic acid and evidence suggests that DHA is the ingredient
that lowers high blood pressure.
- Folate is a B vitamin which helps in lowering high blood pressure in some people by reducing hemocysteine levels.
- Consumption of potassium and magnesium in adequate quantities ( and reduced intake of salt - Sodium) can help lower blood pressure. Intake of fresh vegetables and fruits like bananas, melons, grapefruit, oranges, cabbage and cauliflower which are rich in potassium, nuts, rice, wheat germ, beans and soy which contain magnesium can be consumed to combat blood pressure.
- Celery and celery oil can dilate the muscles and thereby regulate blood pressure. Celery juice in combination with carrot juice and water is an effective and nutritious drink.
- Studies conducted in Western Australia suggest that CoQ10 - Coenzyme Q 10 helps significantly reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
- Dr. Mark Houston, vanderbilt university school of Medicine and director of the hypertension institute
in Nashville, suggests better control of hypertension through conventional and nutritional medicine. Some key elements in his program are - coenzyme Q10, hydrolyzed whey protein and the DASH diet. Whey protein has natural ACE (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme) inhibitors which help relax the muscles surrounding the arteries - thereby lowering the blood pressure.
Herbs and supplements to avoid
Alternatively, there are certain herbs that have been found to cause high blood pressure. These include:
- Asian Ginseng
- Rosemary essential oil
Home remedies for high blood pressure:
Canola and mustard seed: cooking with polyunsaturated oils can
lower high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Leafy green vegetables and milk
can prevent high blood pressure due to the calcium found in them.
Broccoli is a rich source of soluble fiber which combined with its many nutrients can lower high blood pressure.
Turmeric Specifically the active ingredient Curcumin plays a role in reducing blood pressure.
Celery contains the photochemical 3 N butylphthalide which can decrease blood pressure.
Cayenne pepper prevents platelets from clumping together and thereby
facilitating a good blood flow.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that lowers high blood pressure and
prevents free radicals from damaging artery walls.