Despite what some may say, high blood pressure is NOT a mysterious incurable thing that just happens to nice people. It is created by an imbalance in the body systems. High blood pressure is very serious. If you have it or think you have it, you should see your doctor. Through lifestyle changes and/or medication, you may be able to get your BP back down into the normal range.
The unfortunate fact of high blood pressure is that once yours goes up, you may become paranoid about it, experiencing extreme nervousness when faced with the evil BP machine. Of course, this causes – guess what – high blood pressure!
To explain more fully, the systolic or top number of your BP reading is the measurement of pressure in your arteries as the heart beats and pumps blood through your circulatory system. This number is affected by a variety of factors. As mentioned, BP relates to balance, or should I say imbalance, in the body. If you are cold, your blood pressure will rise to compensate for this. Conversely, a high body temperature will cause your blood pressure to drop. Stress and fear bring on temporarily high systolic blood pressure as well. When the emotions calm, normal BP may resume.
A number of organ-related malfunctions also contribute to chronic high blood pressure. This can affect both the systolic (pumping) and diastolic (resting) pressure in your arteries. Kidneys that are not working as efficiently as they could be will cause BP to rise as fluid (“water weight”) accumulates in the body and forces the heart to pump harder. Diabetes, which is when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to break down sugar, often brings on high blood pressure in patients who have it. Arteries that have narrowed due to high cholesterol accumulations (“hardening of the arteries”) also cause high blood pressure. Reduced lung capacity, such as in the case of people who habitually smoke or have untreated asthma, also contributes to high blood pressure. Thyroid malfunction, too, can cause the blood pressure to rise.
As mentioned, high blood pressure is a serious thing which can lead to heart attack and/or stroke. People whose BP reads higher than 120/80 are advised to visit their doctor to search for an underlying cause, and try to find ways to get their blood pressure back into the normal range.
There are several natural remedies which can help to lower your blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about incorporating some or all of these into your plan to strive for a BP reading that’s in the healthy range. Or, try them on your own, but at your own personal risk.
Cayenne pepper supplements. Cayenne pepper is extremely beneficial. It contains high levels of vitamin C which is excellent for heart health. The main reason why it works to lower blood pressure is that cayenne expands blood vessels and improves blood flow. Cayenne also helps to purify the blood by removing toxins as well as placque from the arteries. In fact, capsaicin (the “active ingredient” in cayenne) is rumored to actually stop a heart attack as it’s about to occur. (Test this theory at your own risk!)
Compare cayenne to Coumadin (Warfarin), which is a blood-thinning medication that many people are prescribed to reduce blood clots and bring down their blood pressure. Please note that if you are already on Coumadin or another blood-thinning medication (or plan to take it), you should not also be supplementing with cayenne pepper OR aspirin as this can cause uncontrolled bleeding in the event of an injury.
Turmeric (circumin) supplements. Turmeric is a wonderful, flavorful spice with amazing healing and anti-inflammatory properties. It is known to rid the body of toxins and help rid reduce or eliminate tumors (hence the name, turmeric?). If you supplement with turmeric, you should also take a pill containing black pepper at the same time as you ingest the turmeric pills. The black pepper boosts absorption of the turmeric, thereby increasing its ability to fight disease in your body. If you are interested in avoiding cancer (say, because you once smoked, drank alcohol in excess regularly, have been overweight or otherwise abused your body), then you might consider turmeric for its antioxidant properties.
People who use turmeric as a health supplement should be aware that over time it may inhibit your body’s ability to absorb iron. Low iron levels (anemia) contribute to their own host of health issues. You may wish to speak to a licensed herbalist or holistic doctor to determine a safe dosage of turmeric, or a length of time when you should be using it as a supplement.
Garlic. Regular intake of garlic is key in lowering cholesterol levels and reducing blood pressure. Garlic is also known to be antibacterial and antiviral, but in order to reap the most benefit from it you may have to ingest it raw or almost-raw, which is difficult for many people, particularly if you plan to be in close proximity to others who may not enjoy the powerful odor of the garlic. You can try garlic in the form of powder-based capsules, or you might try garlic oil supplements. Some of these are claimed to have the “odor” removed from them, but again we are more certain that fresh garlic contains the most health-boosting properties. At best, try cooking with more garlic. You can lightly sautee it in a bit of oil and cook with fresh, or frozen-fresh vegetables. Add it to salads, soups and sauces.
Hibiscus tea. Daily consumption of hibiscus tea can reduce blood pressure by as much as seven points. (source: https://www.wikihow.com/Lower-Blood-Pressure-Quickly#Lowering_Blood_Pressure_with_Diet_sub). The bad news is that it’s difficult to find actual “hibiscus tea” in your local grocery store – but the good news is that many herbal tea blends actually contain hibiscus already! One fairly popular hibiscus-tea blend is Red Zinger (also Lemon Zinger) by Celestial Seasonings.
Dandelion tea, or dandelion supplements. For many people diagnosed with high blood pressure, their doctor may prescribe a diuretic medication which is needed if the kidneys are not functioning correctly. Those who wish to avoid medication might try dandelion supplementation. Dandelion is a safe and natural diuretic herb that helps the kidneys remove excess fluid from the body. Dandelion and other bitter greens aid the body in digesting animal fats. One known herbal formula that contains dandelion, among other, blood-pressure-aiding herbs, is High-Rite by Native Remedies.
Green tea. Green tea, in addition to its naturally occurring antioxidant properties, also contains L-Theanine, an enzyme that promotes calmness and well being in the body. Green tea works to eliminate free radicals which cause cancer and other, systemic illness. This will greatly improve health in general. In addition to its life-giving properties, green tea aids in weight loss, which will lower BP in many people. If stress is a contributing factor in your high blood pressure, then you will definitely want to add daily intake of calm-inducing green tea to your arsenal of healing remedies.
High blood pressure and female hormones. A little known fact: high blood pressure in women may be caused by hormone imbalance, which may or may not be related to thyroid malfunction. If your body is not producing enough progesterone to balance the amount of estrogen, then it can contribute to the kidney problems which throw the body systems out of balance and cause blood pressure to increase. Natural progesterone cream can help return blood pressure readings to normal as it works to level out organ function in the female body.
In addition to natural progesterone cream, you may wish to include zinc, calcium, magnesium, and the full menu of B vitamins to assist your body in returning to a normal, healthy state. Zinc helps normalize thyroid function, and is found in kelp which also contains iodine – another known thyroid regulator. As too much or too little zinc can affect your health, it is wise to discuss your concerns with an endocrinologist or naturopathic doctor of your choice to determine dosages of this and other mentioned supplements.
In addition to the above listed natural remedies, people with high blood pressure should also be making a number of lifestyle changes to aid in boosting their artery health. These include:
Eating less meat, and consuming more vegetables and fruits. Americans typically eat far too much meat. An acceptable portion of meat-based protein should fit inside the palm of your hand. This, coincidentally, is about the size of your heart. If you eat 1 or more servings of meat per day, consider switching some of those servings to heart-friendly proteins such as beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, fish, and eggs. A few, meatless days per week is definitely a good thing.
Vegetables, particularly green, leafy ones, are the arterial “toothbrushes” of the natural world – they scrub your arteries of the fat and cholesterol that accumulate there and contribute to poor health. Fruits, too, can help the body fight disease in various ways. The current RDA is 9 (yes, NINE) servings of fruits and vegetables per day, which can seem daunting. However, a glass of freshly processed juice (made in a juicer) counts as several servings, as does a generous helping of salad or a big bowl of vegetable soup.
Eating less salt, and balancing the salt that you do consume, with potassium. The simplest way to reduce your salt intake is to avoid packaged, processed foods and instead prepare healthy meals at home that have been made with fresh ingredients. If you regularly eat at restaurants or purchase your lunches pre-made from the grocery store, beware the amount of sodium and stop this immediately. Some hidden, high-sodium offenders: canned soups, sauces, veggies or beans. Powder-based foods such as boxed mac and cheese, salty snacks, powdered gravy and soup mixes. Frozen meals. Chicken broth (you may be able to find low-salt or no-salt chicken broth in the health-food section of your supermarket). Pizza. Cured meats and cheeses. Cold cuts. Chinese food (soy sauce contains high levels of sodium, and of course, monosodium glutamate).
While most table salt contains added iodine, which is vital to thyroid health, the brands that we are typically familiar with are actually processed and stripped of their mineral nutrients. SaltWorks.com sells wonderful, organic salts from natural sources such as the Himalayan mountains and the Dead Sea. You may wish to begin using unprocessed, natural salt for its natural ability to balance the body by way of needed minerals.
If you do find that you’ve ingested too much salt, whether at a single meal or over the course of a day, you can counter-balance your sodium levels with potassium. Potassium naturally occurs in bananas. High amounts of potassium are also present in orange juice as well as fresh oranges. Finally, coconut water is a wonderful source of potassium that can help normalize blood pressure by way of regular ingestion.
Consume dark red fruits that dilate the blood vessels. Red grapes, cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and yes, even red wine in moderation all can work to increase blood flow by expanding the capillaries and increasing their elasticity. Hawthorn berries and cranberries are available in concentrated pill form.
Consume fruits and vegetables that act as natural diuretics. These include watermelon, celery, cucumber, and the abovementioned dandelion and other bitter greens.
Manage stress. There are a few methods for managing stress in today’s busy world that have been with us for centuries. These include yoga, meditation, and massage. For some people, a chronic state of anxiety can produce higher-than-normal BP levels which remain elevated even at a resting state. Routinely practicing yoga, finding time for mindful meditation, and reducing the amount of stress in your life may be keys to relieving this anxious mental state that affects us physically as well. The benefits of yoga are vast, and if you choose to embrace this practice it can be life-changing for you and lead to greatly improved health down the road.
Exercise. As we probably have all heard, cardio exercise is “for the heart”, and vastly beneficial to your health when done on a regular basis. There are many different ways to get needed cardio exercise, including brisk walking, jogging, aerobics, Pilates, Zumba, and working out on exercise (cardio) machines.
Make lifestyle changes. In order to reduce stress, it may also be worth it to revamp your lifestyle. For example, if you are a working mother who is barely keeping it together, you may, for the benefit of your own health, decide to leave your profession while your children are still young. This is OKAY and does not make you less of a good person. In fact, knowing how much you can handle and living by that may be the difference between chronic health problems and misery, vs. a long, happy, healthy and fulfilling life.
Disclaimer: The information presented on this website is by no means intended as medical advice. If you are experiencing health problems or physical discomfort of any kind, please consult with your physician.