High blood pressure is often called the ‘silent killer’ because, for most people, there are no symptoms. This means many people are unaware they have high blood pressure. Eating too much salt, drinking too much alcohol, being overweight, and not moving around enough each day can also contribute to high blood pressure.
At least 29 percent of American adults have high blood pressure, which can have serious consequences. In fact, revised guidelines from the American Heart Association have lowered the threshold for the definition of hypertension, meaning that nearly half of the U.S. adult population (46 percent) are defined as having high blood pressure, with the greatest impact expected among younger people under the age of 45.
Having high blood pressure (hypertension) means that your blood is moving through your blood vessels with extra force. Over time, this can lead to damaged arteries and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. It can also damage organs like the eyes, kidneys, and brain.
So, if you have high blood pressure, are you stuck taking medication for the rest of your life? Not necessarily. There are natural ways to help lower your blood pressure and potentially avoid medication.
Herbs have long been used as a natural therapy for improved cardiovascular health. In modern times, pharmaceuticals took over as the norm to keep symptoms like high blood pressure under wraps. However, more recently, things have come full circle as researchers have begun to investigate the merit of natural treatments. A recent study has proven that traditional herbs can lower blood pressure by revealing the molecular mechanisms by which they work.
How plants help lower blood pressure
Plants contain a bounty of phytochemicals that have proven to be protective by reducing the risk of various ailments and diseases. The use of herbal medicine as a treatment modality has significantly increased over the last decade. This is due to several factors, the main one being that herbal medicine is a cheaper alternative with fewer undesired side effects.
New evidence illustrates how many of the known traditional botanical plants used to lower blood pressure activate a specific potassium channel called KCNQ5 in blood vessels. When activated, this potassium channel relaxes blood vessels, making it a logical mechanism for at least part of the blood pressure-lowering action of herbs.
The researchers found lavender to be among the most efficacious KCNQ5 potassium channel activators, along with fennel seed and chamomile.
- Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils for enhancing relaxation and reducing stress and anxiety. Studies have found that a blend of oils, including lavender, could reduce high blood pressure in participants who inhaled it.
- There is evidence that potassium, calcium, and magnesium decrease blood pressure naturally. All of these minerals are present in fennel. Dietary nitrates present in fennel and other foods have vasodilatory and vasoprotective properties. Because of this, they help lower blood pressure and protect the heart.
- Chamomile tea is abundant in flavones, a class of antioxidants. Flavones have been studied for their potential to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which are important markers of your heart disease risk. In addition, chamomile tea may help reduce your anxiety levels and promote sleep, two factors that are key to maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
Other natural remedies for high blood pressure
If you are worried about your blood pressure levels, try adding more of these helpful ingredients to your diet.
Allium sativum (Garlic)
Garlic’s multi-fold therapeutic effects have been recognized for thousands of years amongst different cultures around the world and continue to attract interest from pharmacologists and health practitioners. This herb is not only known for its hypotensive capacity, but it also offers anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties. Garlic lowers cholesterol and fights cancer as well. For health benefits, garlic can be consumed in different forms, such as raw, aged, an aqueous extract, oil, and powdered.
Berries, especially blueberries, are rich in natural compounds called flavonoids. One study found that consuming these compounds might prevent hypertension and lower blood pressure. Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are easy to add to your diet.
Fish are a great source of lean protein. Fatty fish like mackerel and salmon are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and lower triglycerides.
Tea is thought to offer endothelial protection by helping blood vessels relax, allowing blood to flow more freely. It’s a high source of antioxidants that have been linked to better cardiovascular health. One study found that long-term tea intake had a significant impact on blood pressure. After 12 weeks of drinking tea, blood pressure was lower by 2.6 mmHg systolic and 2.2 mmHg diastolic. Green tea had the most significant results, while black tea performed the next best. Those might not seem like big numbers, but small changes in blood pressure can have a significant impact on health.
Overall, a little effort can make a big difference when it comes to your blood pressure. Try incorporating more of these anti-inflammatory, heart-healthy foods in your daily diet, and enjoy better health in the long term.
-The UpWellness Team