In the last three decades, a lot of concerted efforts have been channeled into researching the local plants with hypotensive and antihypertensive therapeutic values. The hypotensive and antihypertensive effects of some of these medicinal plants have been validated and others disproved.
However, traditional medicine knowledge needs to be coupled with modern medicine and more scientific research needs to be done to verify the effectiveness, and elucidate the safety profile of such herbal remedies for their antihypertensive potential.If you’re thinking of trying herbs for medical reasons, whether it’s the whole herb or a supplement, speak to your doctor first. Currently, there are no herbs regularly recommended by high blood pressure specialists. Some herbs, especially in large quantities, may produce undesirable side effects or interfere with other medications.Read on to learn more about herbs and the research surrounding them.
Basil is a delicious herb that goes well in a variety of foods. It also might help lower your blood pressure. In rodents, basil extract has been shown to lower blood pressure, although only briefly. The chemical eugenol, which is found in basil, may block certain substances that tighten blood vessels. This may lead to a drop in blood pressure. More studies are needed.Adding fresh basil to your diet is easy and certainly can’t hurt. Keep a small pot of the herb in your kitchen garden and add the fresh leaves to pastas, soups, salads, and casseroles.
Cinnamon is another tasty seasoning that requires little effort to include in your daily diet, and it may bring your blood pressure numbers down. One study done in rodents suggested that cinnamon extract lowered both sudden-onset and prolonged high blood pressure. However, the extract was given intravenously. It’s unclear if cinnamon consumed orally is also effective.You can include more cinnamon in your diet by sprinkling it on your breakfast cereal, oatmeal, and even in your coffee. At dinner, cinnamon enhances the flavor of stir-fries, curries, and stews.
Cardamom is a seasoning that comes from India and is often used in South Asian cuisine. A small study of 20 people investigating the health effects of cardamom found that participants with high blood pressure saw significant reductions in their blood pressure readings after taking 1.5 grams of cardamom powder twice a day for 12 weeks. You can include cardamom seeds or powder in spice rubs, soups and stews, and even baked goods for a special flavor and a possible positive health benefit.
(4) FLAX SEED
Flax seed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and has been shown in some studies to lower blood pressure. A recent review suggested taking 30–50 grams of whole or ground seeds per day for more than 12 weeks to get the best benefits. Flax seed may protect against atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease by reducing serum cholesterol, improving glucose tolerance, and acting as an antioxidant.You can buy many products that contain flax seed, but a better bet is to buy whole or ground flax seed and add it to your home-cooked meals. The best part about flax seed is that it can be stirred into virtually any dish, from soups to smoothies to baked goods. Storing flax seed in your freezer may help it retain optimum potency.
This pungent seasoning can do more than just flavor your food and ruin your breath. Garlic may have the ability to lower your blood pressure by helping to increase a substance in the body known as nitric oxide, which can cause your blood vessels to relax and dilate. This lets blood flow more freely and reduces blood pressure.You can add fresh garlic to a number of your favorite recipes. If the flavor is just too strong for you, roast the garlic first. And if you simply can’t eat the stuff, you can get garlic in supplement form.
Ginger may help control blood pressure. In animal studies it has been shown to improve blood circulation and relax the muscles surrounding blood vessels, lowering blood pressure. Human studies so far have been inconclusive. Commonly used in Asian foods, ginger is a versatile ingredient that can also be added to sweets or beverages. Chop, mince, or grate fresh ginger into stir-fries, soups, and noodle or vegetable dishes, or add it to desserts or tea for a refreshing taste.
Hawthorn is an herbal remedy for high blood pressure that has been used in traditional Chinese medicines for thousands of years. In rodents, extracts of hawthorn seem to have a whole host of benefits on cardiovascular health, including helping reduce blood pressure, preventing hardening of the arteries, and lowering cholesterol. You can take hawthorn as a pill, liquid extract, or tea.
(8) CELERY SEED
Celery seed is an herb used to flavor soups, stews, casseroles, and other savory dishes. Celery has long been used to treat hypertension in China, and studies in rodents have shown that it may be effective. You can use the seeds, or you can juice the whole plant. Celery may also be a diuretic, which may help explain its effect on blood pressure. Researchers believe that a variety of substances in celery may play a role in lowering blood pressure. However, human studies are needed.
(9) FRENCH LAVENDER
The beautiful, perfume-like scent of lavender is not the only useful aspect of the plant. Lavender extracts have been shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure in rodents. Although not many people think to use lavender as a culinary herb, you can use the flowers in baked goods. The leaves can be used in the same way you would use rosemary.
(10) CAT’S CLAW
Cat’s claw is an herbal medicine used in traditional Chinese practice to treat hypertension as well as neurological health problems. Studies of cat’s claw as a treatment for hypertension in rodents indicate that it may be helpful in reducing blood pressure by acting on calcium channels in your cells. You can get cat’s claw in supplement form from many health food stores.Research conducted by West African Health Organization Traditional Medicine Expert Committee has found the following medicinal plants to be very effective in the management of Hypertension.-Rauwolfia vomitoria – Lippia multifora-Ceiba pentandra -Allium sativum-Senna occidentalis-Taraxacum officials. – Desmodium adscendens-Bridelia feruginea- Persia americana
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
You’ll likely have your blood pressure taken as part of a routine doctor’s appointment.Ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading at least every two years starting at age 18. If you’re age 40 or older, or you’re age 18-39 with a high risk of high blood pressure, ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading every year. Blood pressure generally should be checked in both arms to determine if there is a difference. It’s important to use an appropriate-sized arm cuff. Your doctor will likely recommend more frequent readings if you’ve already been diagnosed with high blood pressure or have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Children age 3 and older will usually have blood pressure measured as a part of their yearly checkups.If you don’t regularly see your doctor, you may be able to get a free blood pressure screening at a health resource fair or other locations in your community. You can also find machines in some stores that will measure your blood pressure for free.Public blood pressure machines, such as those found in pharmacies, may provide helpful information about your blood pressure, but they may have some limitations.
The accuracy of these machines depends on several factors, such as a correct cuff size and proper use of the machines. Ask your doctor for advice on using public blood pressure machines.
COMPLICATIONS OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE INCLUDE
The excessive pressure on your artery walls caused by high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels, as well as organs in your body. The higher your blood pressure and the longer it goes uncontrolled, the greater the damage. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to:
•Heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure can cause hardening and thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can lead to a heart attack, stroke or other complications.
• Aneurysm. Increased blood pressure can cause your blood vessels to weaken and bulge, forming an aneurysm. If an aneurysm ruptures, it can be life-threatening.
•Heart failure. To pump blood against the higher pressure in your vessels, your heart muscle thickens. Eventually, the thickened muscle may have a hard time pumping enough blood to meet your body’s needs, which can lead to heart failure.
•Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in your kidneys. This can prevent these organs from functioning normally.
•Thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes. This can result in vision loss.
•Metabolic syndrome. This syndrome is a cluster of disorders of your body’s metabolism, including increased waist circumference; high triglycerides; low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol; high blood pressure; and high insulin levels. These conditions make you more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
•Trouble with memory or understanding. Uncontrolled high blood pressure may also affect your ability to think, remember and learn. Trouble with memory or understanding concepts is more common in people with high blood pressure.
•Blood pressure is a combination of systolic and diastolic pressure
•High blood pressure happens when the pressure on the arteries and blood vessels becomes too high and the arterial wall becomes distorted causing extra stress on the heart
.•You can monitor your own blood pressure by measuring your pulse rate.
•Try natural ways to lower blood pressure like dietary changes, stress relievers and exercise.
• Sometimes treating this condition involves medication. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment options for you, which may include medication, lifestyle changes, or alternative treatments. It’s important to discuss any herbs or supplements with your doctor before taking them. Additionally, don’t stop taking any prescribed medications without speaking with your healthcare provider.Because it’s largely symptomless, hypertension is known as the “silent killer.” This is why it’s so important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.