Natural Remedies for High Blood Pressure
I currently take medicine for my high blood pressure, but I would like to discontinue the drugs because of the negative side effects—for example, my current medication makes me cough frequently. Are there any natural remedies I can use for high blood pressure?
First, it is important that you remain supervised by your physician before and after going off your medicine. Some medications have to be weaned; you can’t suddenly stop. Be sure to discuss all options with your regular doctor.
High blood pressure is one of those things I consider a symptom rather than a disease itself. It is a “silent” illness, meaning that there are few obvious signs that you have it until a big event or trauma occurs— for instance, a heart attack. As blood pressure rises, you may get headaches in the back of the head, which may feel worse in the morning right when you wake up. You may also experience dizziness, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, fatigue, nosebleeds, or the urge to urinate at night.
So, to address your question: What are your options for a more natural approach to treating hypertension symptoms? Exercising and losing weight will help. A better diet is a must. Because hypertension is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke, physicians often take quick action and prescribe medications to lower blood pressure. Here are some of the common types of drugs on the market, as well as foods and supplements that produce a similar healing reaction in the body.
ACE INHIBITORS: Popular ones are lisinopril, benazepril, and enalapril. These medications block your ACE enzyme—which causes blood vessels to constrict and indirectly increases blood pressure. Natural foods and supplements that do the same thing—in a gentler way—include garlic, seaweed, pycnogenol, omega-3 fatty acids, egg yolks, zinc, and hawthorn berries.
CALCIUM CHANNEL BLOCKERS: Verapamil, amlodipine, and nifedipine are commonly prescribed. Medications in this category cause relaxation of the blood vessels. Natural options are omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin C, hawthorn berries, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), and lipoic acid. Eating celery can also help!
DIURETICS: These medications, such as furosemide and hydrochlorothiazide, cause you to urinate more, effectively reducing the amount of fluid in your blood vessels. When you reduce the squeeze in those tiny cramped vessels, pressure goes down. Natural, gentle sources include vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6, hawthorn berries, taurine, and CoQ10. Celery, too!
Certain foods and supplements are also direct vasodilators—that is, they open up the blood vessels and thus relieve some pressure. These include taurine, potassium, omega-3 fatty acids, and—you guessed it—celery! Even four stalks a week could help; more if you like it. Juice it, dip it in hummus, or spread it with some sunflower butter; if you just can’t eat it, then consider supplements of celery seed extract.
Compounds in celery, like 3-n-butylphthalide, are known to reduce blood pressure. In China, this compound (extracted from celery seeds) is sold as a drug to reduce beta amylase-induced neuronal apoptosis, which confers protection for people with stroke, dementia, and traumatic brain injury.
The final piece of the anti-hypertensive puzzle is the beautiful beet. Solid research shows that beets and beetroot juice can help with blood pressure and cholesterol. Drink about one cup per day. I juice a beet quite often myself!
Additionally, consider massage to control cortisol. Yoga can help, too— it’s another fun, non-pharmacological way to reduce blood pressure and stress hormones. Plus, it makes you more flexible and strengthens your spine.
Suzy Cohen, RPh, is the author of eight books including Diabetes Without Drugs, Headache Free, and Thyroid Healthy. She is a functional medicine practitioner and a holistic pharmacist. Visit her online at suzycohen.com.