High blood pressure seems to be rampant in today’s society. We definitely live in a stressful world, with ever increasing responsibilities at work it seems, so it’s no wonder.
Diet, as well, plays a role in this. Many people tend to eat poorly and on top of that, they just don’t get any exercise. Being sedentary and not eating well can be a contributing factor for developing high blood pressure.
So – you’ve decided you want to do something about it. Here are some natural ways to help lower high blood pressure and also help you get started with a more healthy lifestyle. 🙂
High blood pressure-also known as hypertension or “the silent killer”-affects 1 in 3 adult Americans, or roughly 67 million people, and that number only continues to grow. 90-95% of cases are known as primary hypertension, which is hypertension with no underlying medical cause. The small left-over percentage is caused by conditions such as kidney disease. But what is this mysterious silent killer?
Blood and its circulation are vital to sustain life. They supply crucial nutrients and oxygen to all the cells and organs in our body. They also remove waste and carbon dioxide. When the heart beats it creates pressure that pushes blood through your arteries and veins. This pressure, if you haven’t guessed, is our blood pressure. Two forces pump the blood through our bodies, the first being created by the heart pumping blood out into the arteries, and the second occurs when the heart rests between beats and blood is drawn back into the muscle. When your blood pressure rises, damage can occur that upsets this system.
Before starting drug therapy, try lifestyle changes and some home remedies for high blood pressure. Not surprisingly, things such as diet and exercise play a big role in lowering blood pressure, so always keep those two things at the forefront of your mind. Medications can be harsh, and while best avoided if possible, if you are on them, know that natural remedies can interfere with their functioning.
1. Cut the Salt
Salt is not the problem when it comes to high blood pressure, per say, but rather its chemical component sodium. A little bit is fine, but too much sodium disrupts the balance of fluid in the body. To “flush” the excess salt from your system, water is drawn from surrounding tissues. The higher volume of liquid results in the heart working harder to pump the blood-hence, high blood pressure. Sure we use a lot of table salt on our foods, but still, that amount isn’t enough to account for the rise in blood pressure. Actually, only 6% of our salt consumption comes from the table shaker. The vast amounts of salt we consume daily (on average 1-2 generous teaspoons) couldn’t possibly be caused by the salt we sprinkle on our food alone. No you have to dig a little bit more to get to the source-processed foods. Such an extraordinary quantity of excess salt is added into processed foods it’s easy to stray over the healthy limit of sodium intake…. Of all the flavors (sweet, sour, etc.,) it is the hardest to live without. How do you fight it to lower your blood pressure?
You will need…
-the power of will
In short, slowly add less and less to your cooking. And of course, read the labels on the food you buy carefully. Remember the number 2,300 for daily intake of sodium-any higher than that, and it’s a no-go. You’ll find yourself turning to home cooked meals, where you can control the amount of salt added, instead of processed foods. Stick with it, and you will find if you go back to an excess amount of salt after adjusting your taste buds to less, you will be close to repulsed at the flavor.
Intensive research has shown that the more salt you eat, the more you need. If you eat less salt, you only need to add less to your food or have less in your food, to be satisfied with a smaller amount. We are not born liking salt. A baby will get joy from a droplet of sugar water, but there is no taste, no craving, for salt until 6 months of age. When studied children were fed salty foods, versus children who ate more fruits and vegetables, a craving was created in the former group where none existed before. These cravings can shape you’re eating habits for years. Soups, chips, crackers, pizza, sauces, fries, etc. etc., it’s easy for even the young generations to get hooked on salt at an early age. Keep your wits about you!
2. Sip Some Hibiscus
Cultures across the world have used hibiscus to naturally manage blood pressure, but it wasn’t until the past decade that studies were actually conducted that showed there was more to the remedy than just folklore. First, hibiscus acts as a diuretic, which draws sodium from the bloodstream, thus decreasing the pressure on the arterial walls. Even more interesting is how it can mimic angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. ACE inhibitors are a common group of pharmaceutical drugs used to treat high blood pressure. They work by hampering the angiotensin-converting enzyme, which plays a crucial role in the renin-angiotensin system- a hormone system that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance. As a result of this inhibition, blood vessels relax and blood volume is lowered, decreasing blood pressure. While certainly not as potent as those ACE drugs prescribed, it can still be surprisingly effective.
You will need…
-1-2 teaspoon of dried hibiscus
-1 cup of fresh, piping hot water
-Honey, lemon, or 1-2 cinnamon sticks (optional)
Bring water to a boil and add the hibiscus and cinnamon sticks (if using them) and allow it to steep for 5 minutes. Add honey or lemon to taste, and drink 2-3 times daily. This also makes a lovely iced tea for those sticky hot summer days.
3. Drink Coconut Water
Coconut water is found inside the shell of green, unripe coconuts that retains its natural benefits in organic and raw form. It contains potassium and magnesium, both of which relate to regular muscle function, and of course, the heart is a big giant muscle. While there have been some limited studies on the effect of coconut water on hypertension, many people report anecdotally that it has helped lower blood pressure. In studies, it seemed to particularly affect systolic blood pressure, or the force that takes place when the heart pumps blood away from it. If you don’t have a problem with coconut water, it may prove to be a solid remedy for you.
You will need…
-8 ounces of fresh, organic coconut water
Drink 8 ounces 1-2 times daily. Morning is ideal if you drink it once a day, while morning and night works well if you opt to drink it twice a day.
4. Fabulous Fish Oil
Of course this is on here! You may roll your eyes because you’ve seen it everywhere, but fish oil and its bountiful omega-3 fatty acids are a beautiful thing when it comes to your heart. While studies have been wishy-washy on whether or not it actually reduces the risk of heart attacks or strokes, it has been viewed as successful when it comes to lowering blood pressure, while also reducing triglycerides and increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Heart transplant patients have been given fish oil to reduce the risk of hypertension following a transplant.
You will need…
-High quality fish oil
I prefer liquid fish oil taken in orange juice to the pills which can have some…unpleasant side effects. Take the amount appropriate for you as indicated on the back of the bottle.
5. Heart Healthy Hawthorn
Hawthorn is a staple herb when it comes to heart health as it is rich in flavonoids, namely, oligomeric procyandins (OPC’s) and quercetin. Flavonoids are touted as having many benefits, but one of the most intensely studied conditions that it affects is various forms of heart disease. This includes arrhythmia, palpitations, improve the function of capillaries, regulate glucose metabolism and, of course, reduce arterial blood pressure and the risk of hypertension. There are several different mechanical actions that flavonoids can take on the blood, but pertaining to hypertension the most important may be the widening of the blood vessels, which ultimately reduces the pressure of the blood. You can enjoy hawthorn in the form of a tea or in the form of “balls”, which is what is given below. The recipe also calls for cinnamon and ginger, which are great for helping circulation flow smoothly. It was the herbalist Rosemary Gladstar who taught me how to make these wonderful herbal balls, and while I’ve tweaked the recipe some, I’ll forever be grateful to her for tuning me into this wonderful way of enjoying herbal medicine!
You will need…
-4 tablespoons of powdered hawthorn berry
-1/2-1 tablespoons of cinnamon powder
-Cocoa or carob powder
Place the cinnamon and hawthorn powder in a bowl and mix the two together. Add just enough honey and water to make a paste. Thicken the mixture with cocoa powder or carob powder until it has formed a dough that you can cleanly roll into small balls no bigger than your index fingernail. Place them on a cookie sheet and dry in an oven at a very low temperature (not more than 150 degrees Fahrenheit) until dry. Store indefinitely in a glass jar out of direct sunlight and in a cool place.