While waiting for a prescription at the pharmacy, one of my friends decided to check his blood pressure. He was dealing with a bout of walking pneumonia after working in moldy Florida after Hurricane Irma. His blood pressure was higher than average: 140/100!
Has this ever happened to you? You had a routine BP check, expecting nothing out of the ordinary, and it was suddenly high? If so, you probably thought, “I’ve never had high blood pressure before…”
If you have high blood pressure, you are not alone. In the US today, 1 in 3 people over the age of 20 have high blood pressure.
You might blame stress, diet, lack of exercise, or an infection. You may blame other lifestyle factors too, like smoking. Or it could simply be your genes, as high blood pressure tends to run in families. For some people, too, it’s just a part of getting older.
In short, it might not be your fault.
If you do suspect your high blood pressure is caused by lifestyle factors, it is up to you to make some swift lifestyle changes to help remedy the situation, such as eating a whole, healthy foods diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and grass-fed meats and dairy. If obesity is to blame, start exercising even if you have to start slowly due to an injury, but do something! Begin eating right, and soon the weight will come off. For everyone, exercise is always wise, no matter your age or health status. Sometimes a T3 medication (ie Cytomel or Compounded T3) is needed. Have a complete thyroid hormone evaluation and blood test, because that will turn on your fat-burning switch in days.
There are some great herbs and compounds that can also help lower blood pressure. Before I tell you about them, let’s take a look at what those higher-than-average blood pressure numbers actually mean.
What are Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure?
The top number is your systolic pressure. The bottom number is your diastolic pressure. I remember this with a saying: The sun rises over the desert. “Sun” starts with S, and “desert” starts with D. So, the sun rises over the desert = systolic over diastolic.
When your heart beats, that sound you hear is your heart contracting and resting. The contraction helps push blood through your heart’s arteries and out to the rest of the body. That’s your systolic blood pressure. A normal systolic reading is at or below 120. 140 or more means hypertension or high blood pressure.
During the rest between heart beats, the heart fills with blood and oxygen again. Diastolic blood pressure tells you the pressure in your arteries when your heart is at rest. It’s the more important number of the two. Your diastolic blood pressure should be at or below 80. My friend’s was at 100 when he took it, but again he had pneumonia and exhaustion, so it’s very possible this was an aberrant finding.
Stages of High Blood Pressure
I classify high blood pressure (hypertension) into two categories, the “first” and “second” stages. Think of one as a mere wake-up call, and the second as a “get to a medical doctor or naturopath NOW” kinda thing.
There are both natural remedies and prescription drugs to lower blood pressure fast and at the second stage, you should be talking to a doctor immediately about the best choice for you.
Stage 1 HBP: 140-159 / 90-99
Stage 2 HBP: 160 and above / 100 and above
Why is High Blood Pressure Such a Bad Thing, Anyway?
High blood pressure is a serious condition that is very dangerous for your health. It should be addressed immediately because the pressure in your arteries makes the heart work too hard to pump blood out to the body.
HBP, if left untreated, can cause:
- Damaged and narrow arteries that trap fat in the arteries, congesting them
- Aneurysms which can burst, sometimes causing death
- An enlarged heart or coronary artery disease
- Heart failure
- Kidney disease
Now—the good news. There are some foods and compounds that are proven to work to naturally lower blood pressure and promote health. Let’s look at them.
5 Wonderful Natural Remedies for High Blood Pressure
1. Hibiscus tea
Hibiscus tea is a wonderful remedy for high blood pressure. It’s been used to lower blood pressure in other countries for decades, and it really works. In one study titled “The Effects of Sour Tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on Hypertension in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes” (2008), researchers found that drinking hibiscus tea for just 12 days reduced systolic pressure by an average 11.7% and diastolic pressure by 10.7%. (Note, Hibiscus sabdariffa is the tea used in most scientific studies). See the end of this article for the recipe. Here’s a RECIPE to make it.
2. Magnesium Threonate
Some forms of vitamins are better for certain conditions. With HBP, look for magnesium threonate. This form of magnesium can cross the blood brain barrier, is easily absorbed by the cells and has been proven to lower blood pressure and be stroke preventative as well. Magnesium threonate is also great for helping promote good, healthy sleep and relaxation as well.
Garlic and garlic supplements have been proven to lower blood pressure. Garlic is an allium vegetable that is rich in antioxidants, good-for-you phytochemical and polyphenols, and sulfur-containing compounds called allicin (which are wonderful for collagen promotion too!). Garlic is especially effective at lowering systolic blood pressure.
4. Fish Oil/Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish and some plant foods like nuts, seeds, and cruciferous vegetables. Fish oil is wonderful for lowering high blood pressure, because it contains DHA, a wonderful compound for lowering blood pressure and for keeping the heart healthy overall. If you’re not eating fish 2 to 3 times a week and you don’t eat a diet rich in Omega-3-rich plant foods, you do need to supplement with Omega-3s. No doubt.
Omega-3s help balance out our horribly skewed Omega-3/Omega-6 ratio acquired from years of cooking in industrial seed oils and eating fast food, junk food, and convenience foods—before we knew exactly how dangerous these foods were. In fact, we all need more Omega-3s. We need healthy fats for our tissues, skin, hair, nails, eyes, brain—the whole shebang. BUT make sure you take a high-quality fish oil supplement, not just any OTC supplement, as many OTC brands have been found to contain high levels of mercury.
5. Berries and Dark Chocolate
I saved the best for last. Berries and dark chocolate, mmm. This sounds like a combo platter anyone would enjoy being served, right? Berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, goji, acai) are rich in compounds called polyphenols which are blood pressure-lowering. Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, compounds which actually dilate blood vessels and help lower blood pressure.
I can’t think of any reason why you couldn’t integrate ALL of the above in your day. Here’s how:
- You could make the hibiscus tea in the morning. It’s fabulous for memory, in fact, if you scroll down, you’ll see the recipe for “Mint Hibiscus Tea”.
- You could supplement at night with magnesium threonate.
- You can cook with some fresh garlic.
- Eat cold-water fish or take a quality fish oil supplement.
- Enjoy a dessert such as a chocolate bar with dried berries in it, or a dark chocolate torte with fresh berries. I have to hide my chocolate bars where Sam can’t find them, like in the laundry basket under dirty clothes [eyes rolling] because I know he would never look in there!
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.