Herbs have long been recognized for their medicinal properties and can be attractive options for helping to manage conditions like high blood pressure. Though medical interventions and pharmaceutical treatments play a crucial role in treating high blood pressure, many individuals seek natural alternatives to accompany medication and support their well-being.
At Dejia Harmony, we work to bridge the gap between herbs and wellness. We want to help you become the guardian of your own health, armed with information about healthy alternative medicines and natural remedies.
With all the good that herbal remedies offer, there is always caution needed. Certainly, it is important to research ingredients and any side effects or interactions. This is especially true if you take traditional medications.
Almost half of American adults have high blood pressure, and many do not know it. Most of the time high blood pressure (HBP, or hypertension) has no obvious symptoms to indicate something is wrong, but hypertension can lead to heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. In this blog, we will explore herbs that may lower blood pressure, and how to incorporate those herbs into a healthy lifestyle.
What is High Blood Pressure?
Hypertension, commonly referred to as HBP is a medical condition resulting in elevated pressure in your blood vessels. As blood is pumped and circulated through your body, blood pressure is the pressure that the blood puts against the walls of the vessels. For those diagnosed with hypertension, the pressure of circulating blood against the walls of your arteries is consistently too high. Blood vessel walls can only stand up to elevated pressure for so long before the pressure begins to have negative effects, and hypertension can cause serious complications if left untreated.
How Does High Blood Pressure Affect the Body?
Since hypertension may have no symptoms until it begins to affect other body systems, it is often referred to as “the silent killer”. The effects of unmanaged hypertension span beyond the heart and arterial walls, and can have detrimental effects on other organs like the eyes, brain, and kidneys
HBP strains the heart and blood vessels. Over time, this can lead to heart disease, coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure, and irregular heart rhythms.
Hypertension is a leading cause of strokes, as the increased pressure can damage the vessels in the brain. This may lead to a stroke by causing reduced blood supply to a portion of the brain or rupture of a brain blood vessel.
Kidneys are responsible for filtering the blood, and require pressure for blood to move through them for filtration. Hypertension can stress and damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, affecting their ability to function properly. This can lead to kidney disease or even kidney failure.
Elevated blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the eyes, causing vision problems or even leading to retina damage. This can result in vision loss or even blindness in severe cases.
HBP over time can weaken the walls of blood vessels, causing them to bulge and form an aneurysm. If an aneurysm ruptures, it can result in life-threatening internal bleeding.
What Herbs are Good for High Blood Pressure?
If you have HBP it is essential to follow medication instructions as advised by your doctor. Even when using pharmaceuticals, or if hypertension has not been determined to require medication, you may be curious about herbal supplementation to promote healthy blood pressure. Various herbs have shown potential in supporting blood pressure management, including:
Hawthorn is an herb that has been traditionally used to support cardiovascular health. It may help to dilate blood vessels, improve blood flow, and reduce the workload on the heart. Hawthorn also has antioxidant properties that protect the blood vessels from oxidative stress.
Olive leaf extract has been recognized for its potential to lower blood pressure by helping to relax blood vessels, reduce blood vessel resistance, and promote healthy blood flow. Like hawthorn, olive leaf extract has antioxidant properties that can help to support heart health.
Turmeric is well-known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin, its main active compound, helps to reduce inflammation, which may support blood vessel function.
Ginger possesses both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It may help to lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels and inhibiting the production of vasoconstrictive substances in the body, or substances that cause tightening of blood vessels.
Dandelion is widely known as a weed, but it is also believed to have medicinal properties. It acts as a natural diuretic, promoting increased urine production and supporting detoxification. By eliminating excess fluid and waste from the body, dandelion can help to reduce the strain on blood vessels and the cardiovascular system.
Is There a Connection Between Lung Health and High Blood Pressure?
Blood vessels are present throughout every inch of the body, and are required for oxygenation and nutrient delivery to all organs and body systems, including the lungs. There are many lung conditions that can be affected by hypertension, or alternatively, may cause or worsen high blood pressure. Some examples include:
Pulmonary Hypertension – Pulmonary hypertension is a type of hypertension that affects the arteries in the lungs and the right side of the heart. It is characterized by increased blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries, which supply blood to the lungs. Pulmonary hypertension can lead to breathing difficulties and reduced lung function.
Hypoxia – Lung diseases can cause hypoxia, which is reduced oxygen supply to body tissues, and can lead to the constriction of blood vessels. This can increase resistance in the pulmonary arteries, contributing to pulmonary hypertension. The increased pressure in the pulmonary arteries can put strain on the right side of the heart, potentially leading to general hypertension.
Inflammation – Prolonged inflammation is common in lung diseases, and can contribute to the development of hypertension. Inflammatory compounds released by the body during lung inflammation can affect blood vessel function and cause the constriction of blood vessels, increasing blood pressure.
Herbs to Avoid if You Have High Blood Pressure
While exploring natural remedies can help to support body systems and promote overall health, it’s also essential to be cautious. Not all herbs are beneficial to all conditions, and some herbs should be avoided if you have hypertension.
Commonly used for pain relief and healing bruises, arnica can potentially raise blood pressure. It contains compounds that may increase heart rate and elevate blood pressure levels.
This herb has stimulant properties and has been associated with serious cardiovascular side effects, including increased blood pressure and heart rate.
Due to its high amount of caffeine, consuming guarana can lead to an increase in heart rate and temporarily increase blood pressure.
Lifestyle Changes that May Help to Improve High Blood Pressure
In addition to herbal remedies, implementing lifestyle changes can significantly contribute
to blood pressure management. Some beneficial habits for controlling blood pressure include:
1. Maintaining a healthy weight
2. Engaging in regular physical activity
3. Reducing sodium intake
4. Limiting alcohol consumption
5. Quitting smoking
6. Reducing stress
7. Monitoring blood pressure regularly
Should I Use Herbs to Help with High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure is the most common, preventable risk factor for heart disease. The best way to manage high blood pressure is through a combination of the right medications, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors. As we have seen in this blog, there are several promising herbs you can incorporate that may help lower your blood pressure.
While herbs can offer potential benefits for managing high blood pressure, it’s essential to approach them with caution and always consult with healthcare professionals. Always ask your doctor before making any lifestyle changes or adding any herbal supplements to your diet or medication regimen.