Complementary Medicine

The best of natural and pharmaceutical medicine.

Natural Ways to Reduce High Blood Pressure

Lower your blood pressure - naturally!

Hypertension, which occurs when the blood pressure in your arteries is too high, can lead to blood vessel diseases such as strokes, heart attacks, and leg pain caused during walking. As it does not cause any symptoms until the damage is already done, it is important to occasionally have your blood pressure checked. Although it is sometimes necessary to use medications to keep your blood pressure under control, this can often also be done naturally. In my experience, the best approach is to use medications to initially bring your blood pressure under control. Once it is normalized, natural therapies can often keep your blood pressure at a healthy level and allow you to wean off the medications.

Unfortunately, most doctors never really find or even look for the underlying cause of the elevated blood pressure. Given that they have an average of less than seven minutes per doctor visit, and that pharmaceutical companies making blood-pressure products spend a fortune teaching doctors about medications and almost nothing teaching about natural treatments, it is no surprise that most doctor's mindset is to simply give medication.

Unlike cholesterol medicines, which may be more harmful than helpful for most people, blood pressure medications actually do save a lot of lives. If you do have elevated blood pressure, I recommend adding (or continuing) the medications to lower the pressure, and then using the natural treatments below. After three months, you'll often find that you can taper off your blood pressure medications and still maintain a healthy pressure.

For starters, let's look at some of the major reversible causes of hypertension. These include:

  1. Being overweight. To lose the weight, see my article on metabolic therapies for weight loss. Be sure to also begin an exercise program as this also helps lower high blood pressure. Best to do a walking program outdoors, as the vitamin D from sunshine can actually help lower the pressure.
  2. Metabolic Syndrome. If you are male, overweight, have high blood pressure & elevated cholesterol, and perhaps even have insulin resistance or diabetes, you probably have metabolic syndrome. This is often caused by a low testosterone level (even if it is in the low normal range, for example a total testosterone level of 450), and simply taking natural testosterone (by prescription) can reverse all of the above problems while leaving you feeling much better! If you are male and over 40 and have high blood pressure, I invite you to read my article "treating low testosterone naturally." It could make you feel much better, restore optimal sexual function, and save your life.
  3. Excess alcohol or caffeine—try leaving these off for two weeks and then recheck your blood pressure.
  4. Sleep apnea. Consider this if you're overweight and snore.
  5. Food allergies can also trigger high blood pressure. If your pulse or temperature regularly go up after you eat, consider allergy desensitization using the NAET (www.NAET.com ). To see if food allergies are causing your high blood pressure, consider an elimination diet to see if your pressure goes down.
  6. Rule out that you have "white coat hypertension." Some people's blood pressure shoots up whenever they see a doctor. For many people, this is the only time their blood pressure goes up, so they end up being treated for high blood pressure when they don't have it. Many grocery store and drugstore pharmacies have a blood pressure machine for the public (you actually sit in it) which you can use as well. Check three readings each visit (one right after the other) to make sure that they are consistent. After you get used to the blood-pressure machines, you may find that your blood pressures are lower.

Natural Treatments to Lower High Blood Pressure

If you are overweight, bringing your weight down by diet and exercise can be a very effective way to lower your blood pressure. Other dietary manipulations can also be helpful. These include having a high-fiber, low fat, and low sugar diet. Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption can also be helpful. For a low salt diet to actually lower your blood pressure, your salt intake must be so low as to be not sustainable—and I think downright dangerous. Because of this, I would simply moderate salt intake comfortably.

Correcting nutritional deficiencies can also be very helpful in lowering high blood pressure. Using nutritional supplements with the following can be particularly helpful:

  1. Take a good vitamin powder supplement to get optimal levels of vitamins A, C, and D plus magnesium.
  2. Calcium 500-1,000 mg (take it at bed time and consider taking part of the dose at dinner).
  3. Potassium. The amount of potassium found in one banana and 1 cup of tomato or V8 juice a day can also normalize blood pressure.
  4. Coenzyme Q10 200 milligrams a day can also be very effective. I have seen it lower blood pressure as much as 30 to 40 points in some severe cases. Coenzyme Q10 deficiency is especially common in people taking cholesterol-lowering medications. Be sure to use the Enzymatic Therapy or Integrative Therapeutics brands, as quality control is a problem for many brands of Coenzyme Q10.
  5. Dark chocolate. Although it only lowers blood pressure by 3-4 mm, it tastes good and is high in healthy antioxidants!

In addition, don't forget the mind/body component. Some of us are like pressure cookers, and when we close down our "steam release valve" the pressure builds up inside of us. We may look calm on the outside but actually have high blood pressure on the inside. Give yourself permission to have a good hissy fit once in awhile to blow off steam. It can help your elevated blood pressure to come down.

Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., internist and author of From Fatigued to Fantastic!, researches treatments for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia.

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