High blood pressure, also called hypertension, plagues one out of three Americans. Often called the ‘silent killer’ because it usually has no symptoms, hypertension can lead to heart disease, sexual dysfunction, stroke, kidney failure and other serious conditions.
The American Heart Association recommends a normal blood pressure reading of 120/80 mm Hg. Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, a board-certified internist and creator of the Cures A-Z app, which contains many natural therapies for a multitude of medical conditions, personally suggests a more realistic 140/80 mm Hg, and says that if your blood pressure is higher, it is best to take prescription medication to bring it down quickly.
“When your blood pressure is under control, you can start natural therapies so see if you can reduce your prescription medicines and avoid their potential side effects,” Teitelbaum sais, adding that you should always work with your doctor before changing or reducing medication.
Dr. Joel Kahn, founder of the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity in Bingham Farms, MI, says that while medications can be prescribed, for a good number of people, hypertension is a lifestyle disease related to poor nutrition, sedentary lifestyle, stress, poor sleep, obesity, smoking and other factors that can be controlled or eliminated.
“The natural approaches I recommend work for all ages, aren’t expensive, and don’t have the side effects common with prescription medications,” he sais.
- Aromatherapy with essential oils. In a study of spa workers, researchers found that inhaling oil vapors for an hour — but no longer ― reduced both blood pressure and heart rate. Some relaxing oils to consider include lavender, ylang-ylang, clary sage, and frankincense.
- Asparagus. The distinct odor of urine after consuming asparagus is caused by the active chemicals called cladophylls in this tasty vegetable. These chemicals have a positive effect on the heart and can lower blood pressure while providing lots of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, says Kahn.
- Meditation. Research shows that a regular meditation practice is associated with lower blood pressure readings. Check for information at your local community center for available classes or search for online trainings.
- Beetroot. Beets are a natural source of nitrates that can relax blood vessels resulting in lower blood pressure. You can eat them shredded, cooked, or blended in juice.
- Aged garlic. Taking aged garlic extract (AGE) in liquid form, capsules, or tablets can successfully lower blood pressure. Dr. Matthew Budoff, endowed chair of preventive cardiology at Lindquist Institute, sais that studies have shown that taking AGE can significantly reduce blood pressure and may be an option for people who don’t want to take medication.
- Blueberries. These tasty fruits are rich in flavonoids that act as antioxidants and increase the production of nitric oxide in the blood vessels. Nitric oxide increases blood flow by dilating blood vessels, which also lowers blood pressure, according to studies. Blueberries have additional benefits to boost brain and bowel health.
- Saunas. Whether you choose dry, steam or infrared sauna therapy, you will reap the heart-healthy benefits. One study found that sauna therapy lowered blood pressure substantially in older adults.
- Sleep therapy. Poor sleep hygiene can cause inflammation which in turn stiffens arteries and elevates blood pressure. “Identifying sleep apnea, avoiding stimulants before bed, applying sleep hygiene methods, such as creating a cool and dark environment without bright lights at bedtime can induce a better night’s sleep and lower blood pressure,” says Kahn.
- Flaxseed. Flaxseed is a rich source of alpha linolenic acid that reduces inflammation and lowers blood pressure. Kahn recommends adding two tablespoons of ground flax to your daily diet either in smoothies, atop yogurt, or in baked goods.
- Potassium. Teitelbaum advises eating potassium-rich foods and drinks, such as half a banana or avocado or drinking one cup of coconut water or V8 juice, to help normalize blood pressure. According to Harvard Medical School, studies have shown that diets rich in potassium help keep blood pressure in a healthy range.