High blood pressure (BP), or hypertension, is a major risk factor for various health conditions such as:
- Heart attack
- Kidney diseases
Your doctor may advise you on lifestyle changes and medications to manage your BP. Although there is a lack of sufficient scientific data, many herbs are touted as treatments for hypertension. Do not take them unless your doctor permits you to do so.
Although most of these herbs have been in use in culinary and over-the-counter herbal preparations for many years, it must be noted that research on their potency of them and their side effects are still not well established.
You must, therefore, consult your doctor before using any of the herbs below as a replacement for your BP medications.
19 herbs that lower high blood pressure
Here are 19 herbs that may help lower high BP:
- Allium sativum (garlic): Probably the most popular seasoning, garlic is also known for its effects on blood and blood vessels. Garlic contains allicin which is known to prolong the bleeding time and make blood thinner. Additionally, studies report that regular garlic consumption aids nitric oxide production in the blood vessels causing smooth muscle relaxation and vasodilatation, resulting in lowered BP.
- Lavandula stoechas (French lavender): This beautiful herb is believed to lower BP through its effect on the BP-controlling areas in the brain. The flowers are boiled in water and distilled and should be consumed as tea three times a day, according to herbalists.
- Avena sativa (green oat): Muesli and oats for breakfast can significantly reduce the need for antihypertensive medication and improve BP control (when you also follow other recommendations for a healthy lifestyle). The action is thought to be due to an improved gut microbiome. The same benefits can be obtained by ingestion of recommended amounts of psyllium husk.
- Annona muricata (prickly custard apple): The tree grows natively in the Caribbean and Central America. The leaf extract of the plant lowers an elevated BP by reducing peripheral vascular resistance.
- Apium graveolens (celery): Celery is famous for its diuretic properties, which may play a role in its BP-lowering properties. It facilitates the removal of excess tissue fluid and sodium through urine, thus helping maintain low BP. Recent studies report that the seeds of the celery plant have BP-lowering properties.
- Camellia sinensis (tea): The humble tea, a staple drink in eastern parts of the world, has antioxidant and healing properties. Many studies link the consumption of green tea (unfermented) and oolong tea (partially fermented) with a decreased risk of hypertension.
- Commelina virginica (Virginia dayflower): It is a perennial herbaceous plant native to the Mideastern southeastern United States. Animal studies confirm that the whole plant extract can counteract the BP spike, which is otherwise seen in pigs injected with phenylephrine (a BP-spiking drug).
- Crataegus pinnatifida (Chinese hawthorn): This herb is used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for face edema (swelling) and BP. It contains active phytochemicals called rhynchophylline (a flavonoid) and oligomeric procyanidins, which are potent antioxidant agents and help blood thinning (such as aspirin tablets). Additionally, hawthorn improves the release of nitric oxide from the blood vessels which helps peripheral blood vessel relaxation, improves repair, and regeneration of the cardiac myocytes (heart cells), and is a good endothelial regeneration.
- Daucus carota (carrot): Apart from the eyes, it seems carrots are good for heart health. The high fiber content in carrots may help modulate the gut-brain axis through an improved gut microbiome, which may keep metabolic diseases at bay. These include hypertension and diabetes mellitus.
- Hibiscus sabdariffa (roselle): This shrub that belongs to the shoe flower family is vibrant red and often used in fancy teas. The leaves, calyx, and corolla of this plant are used traditionally in many West African countries for their antihypertensive effects. Animal studies report that the petal extract of roselle and seeds has a direct relaxant effect on the aortic smooth muscles of rats. It may be especially useful in renovascular hypertension.
- Linum usitatissimum (linseed, flaxseed): Known for its beneficial action on the gut and gut bacteria, flaxseed contains fatty acids called α-linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acid), which is beneficial for heart diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, and other health problems. Flaxseeds protect the inner wall of blood vessels against atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease by a reduction in serum cholesterol, platelet aggregation, and antioxidant properties.
- Lycopersicon esculentum (Tomato): Tomato extract is a cornucopia of carotenoids, such as lycopene, beta carotene, and vitamin E, which are known as effective antioxidants that slow the progress of atherosclerosis. In small-scale studies, when tomato extract was given to people treated with low doses of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, calcium channel blockers, or their combination with low-dose diuretics, they exhibited a clinically significant effect-reduction of BP by more than 10 mmHg systolic and more than 5 mmHg diastolic pressure.
- Moringa oleifera (drumstick leaves): The recently hailed superfood, moringa leaf extract, when taken in moderation, can help reduce BP, improve male sexual function, and help improve cardiac output in people with a weak heart due to its thiocarbamate and isothiocyanate fractions.
- Ocimum basilicum (basil): Basil leaves contain eugenol that has BP-lowering properties. Try having basil tea first thing in the morning. It may help lower your BP levels.
- Punica granatum (pomegranate): Pomegranate juice is becoming a more popular fruit drink. Pomegranate acts directly on your kidneys and reduces the activity of ACE inhibitors by about 36 percent. These enzymes cause salt and water retention in the body and result in hypertension in the long run.
- Raphanus sativus (radish): Animal studies have reported that cardiovascular inhibitory effects of the plant are mediated through the activation of muscarinic receptors (atropine-related action on the heart), thus possibly justifying its anti-hypertensive effect. It should be used in its raw form in salads and soups for maximal effect.
- Rauwolfia serpentina (rauwolfia): This woody herb found in Asia, South America, and India is probably the world’s first antihypertensive drug. Reserpine, the purified alkaloid of R. serpentina, was the first potent drug to be widely used in the long-term treatment of hypertension as Serpasil. The combination of reserpine, dihydroergocristine, and a diuretic is still on the market (Brinerdin and Crystepin). However, this herb has a host of drug-drug interactions and psychiatric side effects that limits its use.
- Theobroma cacao (cocoa bean): Flavonoids, contained in chocolate, stimulate the formation of nitric oxide, increase vasodilatation, and reduce endothelial dysfunction. A growing body of clinical research shows that daily consumption of dark or milk chocolate, providing 213 to 500 mg of cocoa polyphenols, can lower systolic BP by about 5 mmHg and diastolic by about 3 mmHg.
- Zingiber officinale (ginger): Gingerol is an essential oil present in raw ginger that improves blood circulation and relaxes the muscles surrounding the blood vessels. Human trials on hypotensive effects of ginger have been few and generally used a low dose with inconclusive results.
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High blood pressure (hypertension) is a disease in which pressure within the arteries of the body is elevated. About 75 million people in the US have hypertension (1 in 3 adults), and only half of them are able to manage it. Many people do not know that they have high blood pressure because it often has no has no warning signs or symptoms.
Systolic and diastolic are the two readings in which blood pressure is measured. The American College of Cardiology released new guidelines for high blood pressure in 2017. The guidelines now state that blood normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg. If either one of those numbers is higher, you have high blood pressure.
The American Academy of Cardiology defines high blood pressure slightly differently. The AAC considers 130/80 mm Hg. or greater (either number) stage 1 hypertension. Stage 2 hypertension is considered 140/90 mm Hg. or greater.
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REFERENCE: CDC. High Blood Pressure. Updated: Nov 13, 2017.
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