What is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is defined as persistently elevated pressure of the blood within the arteries. Nearly one in three adult Americans suffer from high blood pressure. Blood pressure is measured by two figures: systolic pressure, which is the first or upper number, and diastolic pressure, which is the lower or second number. Normal blood pressure is a blood pressure reading of 120/80 or below. Pre-hypertension, or blood pressure in danger of being high, is where the systolic pressure is between 120 and 139 or the diastolic pressure is between 80 and 89. Stage 1 hypertension is where the systolic pressure is between 140 and 159 or the diastolic pressure is between 90 and 99. Stage 2 hyper tension is where the systolic pressure is higher than 160 or the diastolic pressure is higher than 100. If left untreated, high blood pressure can damage kidneys and lead to stroke, heart attack, and heart failure.l
Risk Factors/Causes of High Blood Pressure
In 90 to 95% of the cases, the cause of high blood pressure is unknown. However, the following factors put individuals at risk for developing high blood pressure:
Age: The risk of developing hypertension increases with age. Therefore, the older you are, the more likely you are to suffer from high blood pressure.
Weight: Those who are obese are at risk for suffering from hypertension because the greater your body mass, the more pressure on your artery walls. Therefore, the heavier you are, the more at risk you are for developing high blood pressure.
Race: African Americans are at a greater risk for developing hypertension than Caucasians.
Heredity: Hypertension is hereditary; therefore, if you have a family history of high blood pressure, you are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure.
Cigarette Smoking: Chemicals in cigarettes and tobacco can cause damage to the artery walls as well as hypertension. Therefore, if you smoke tobacco or have a history of smoking tobacco, you have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure.
Alcohol Use: Excessive alcohol consumption over time can increase the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
Sodium Consumption: A high salt diet will increase fluid retention resulting in high blood pressure. A high sodium diet is particularly unsafe for those who are sensitive to sodium.
Sedentary Lifestyle: A sedentary lifestyle that does not include physical activity results in an increased heart rate which forces the heart to work harder with each contraction. Therefore, “couch potatoes” have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure.
Pregnancy: Some pregnant women experience elevated blood pressure.
Oral Contraceptives/Hormonal Changes in Women: Women who take oral contraceptives or suffer from hormonal changes are at an increased risk for developing hypertension.
Potassium Intake: A diet low in potassium can result in elevated sodium in cells, and therefore, an increased risk of hypertension.
Stress: Stress elevates blood pressure; and therefore, those with stressful lifestyles are at risk for developing hypertension.
Signs and Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is often referred to as a silent killer because it has few to no obvious symptoms. Also, the symptoms of high blood pressure are also shared with other diseases and conditions. As a result, people can suffer from high blood pressure for years without knowing they have it. If you suffer from any of the following symptoms, you should be sure to have your blood pressure monitored as they are the symptoms of high blood pressure:
Frequent and severe headaches
Dizziness and/or dizzy spells
Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Flushing of the face
Thumping in the chest
Why Treat High Blood Pressure Naturally?
You my be wondering why you should look to natural remedies to treat high blood pressure when you can just go to the doctor and get medication. Maybe you are already on medication for hypertension. Natural remedies can be used in conjunction with pharmaceutical remedies to amplify their results or can be used prophylactically in order to prevent needing medications. Some people prefer to treat medical conditions naturally rather than with medications. Whatever your reason for seeking natural remedies for hypertension, be sure to consult your doctor before taking any supplements to ensure they do not interact with any medications you may be taking or any other medical conditions you may have.
Natural Remedies for High Blood Pressure
Natural Supplements to Treat High Blood Pressure
Garlic is highly effective in lowering blood pressure. Garlic can be taken as a supplement (garlic pills) or eaten in/with food. One method of consuming garlic which is effective in lowering blood pressure is to et one or two pieces of garlic rolled with raisins.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Coenzyme Q10 supplements have ben found to be effective in reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
DHA (docohexaenoic acid) found in fish oil supplements has been found to lower high blood blood pressure.
Folic or folate is a B vitamin that is necessary for the formation of red blood cells. It is believed to help lower high blood pressure in some people and is believed to do so by lowering homocysteine levels.
Hawthorn, an herb, is effective in treating hypertension.
Calcium supplements have been shown to be effective in lowering systolic blood pressure.
Potassium supplements have been shown to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. It is also recommended that you consume at least 3,500 mg of potassium per day from foods such as yogurt, cantaloupe, spinach, and bananas to lower blood pressure. Because potassium acts as a diuretic it helps rid the body of excess sodium and regulate blood pressure.
Magnesium supplements have been shown to reduce diastolic blood pressure.
Treat High Blood Pressure with Your Diet
One way to treat hypertension is to maintain a diet that will lower your blood pressure. Two lifestyle diets in order to lower blood pressure that are recommended by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health include the DASH diet and the DASH-Sodium diet.
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet has been shown to reduce high blood pressure within two weeks. The guidelines of the DASH diet include:
- 7 to 8 servings of grains per day
- 4 to 5 servings of vegetables per day
- 4 to 5 servings of fruit per day
- 2 to 3 servings of low-fat or non-fat dairy per day
- 2 or less servings of meat, fish or poultry per day
- 2 to 3 servings of fats and oils per day
- 4 to 5 servings of nuts, seeds, and dry beans per week
- Less than 5 servings of sweets per week
Examples of the serving sizes in the DASH diet are as follows:
- 1/2 Cup of cooked rice or pasta
- 1 slice of bread
- 1 Cup of raw vegetables or fruit
- 1/2 Cup of cooked vegetables or fruit
- 8 oz. of milk
- 1 teaspoon of olive oil
- 3 ounces of cooked meat
- 3 ounces of tofu
The DASH-Sodium diet is nearly identical to the regular Dash diet except it limits sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day. 1,500 mg of sodium is equal to approximately 2/3 teaspoon from al sources.
Foods That Lower Blood Pressure
In addition to lowering your blood pressure by altering your overall diet, you can lower your blood pressure with what you eat. There are certain foods that have been shown to lower blood pressure.
- Watermelon--add watermelons to your diet to help fight hypertension.
- Baked Potatoes--add baked potatoes to your diet to lower blood pressure.
- Papayas--eating papayas daily on an empty stomach for one month treats hypertension.
- Grapefruit--the Vitamin P is grapefruit tones arteries and lowers blood pressure.
Lifestyle Choices to Treat High Blood Pressure
There are a number of lifestyle changes you can make and things you can do in order to reduce stress and lower your blood pressure.
Walk on Grass Barefoot
Walking on grass barefoot for 15 to 20 minutes hs been found to improve blood circulation and maintain a normal blood pressure.
Hot Foot or Leg Bath
A hot foot or leg bath for 10 minutes has been shown to help treat high blood pressure.
A hot compress over the heart is effective in treating hypertension.
Daily meditation is an excellent way to lower blood pressure.
Regular aerobic exercise (such as 30 minutes of brisk walking daily) reduces high blood pressure and prevents hypertension.
Autogenic training involves series of sessions where you learn to control breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature. Autogenic training involves lessons in six exercises that involve certain postures. Autogenic training has been found to be effective in stress reduction and relaxationwhich as a result lowers blood pressure.
Biofeedback is a technique that involves controlling the internal body processes that normally occur involuntarily such s blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and skin temperature. Thermal feedback and electrodermal activity feedback are believed to be more effective in treating high blood pressure than direct blood pressure feedback or electromyography which measures muscle tension.
Yoga is effective in reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. Types of yoga that are particularly effective for hypertension include suryanmaskar, makarasana, matsyasana, vajrasana, ardhpadmasana, pavanmuktasana, shavasana, and pranayama.
More Natural Remedies for High Blood Presure
Cayenne Pepper & Water
Mix one teaspoon of cayenne pepper in one half a cup of lukewarm water and drink as needed to lower blood pressure.
Watermelon Seed & Khas Khas
Grind and combine equal parts of watermelon seeds and khas khas. Take one teaspoon each morning and evening on an empty stomach with water to lower blood pressure for 3 to 4 weeks.
Take one tablespoon of fresh Indian Gooseberry (amla) juice with honey every morning. Indian Gooseberry (amla) can also be taken with milk.
Squeeze the juice from half a lemon into a half a cup of water and drink daily to lower blood pressure.
Take one teaspoon of fenugreek seeds with water every morning and evening for 10 to 15 days to treat hypertension.
Holy Basil & Neem
Combine four Holy Basil (Tulsi) and two leaves of Neem with 2 to 4 teaspoons of water. Take on an empty stomach for 5 to 7 days to lower your blood pressure.
Spiegel seeds mixed with 1 to 2 teaspoons of curd are effective at lowering blood pressure.
Fennel Seeds, Cumin & Sugar
Grind fennel seeds, cumin, and sugar in equal parts into a mixture. Mix one teaspoon of the mixture with a glass of water and drink every morning and evening.
Onion Juice & Honey
Mix equal parts onion juice and honey and take 2 tablespoons twice per day in order to lower blood pressure naturally.
Cream of Tartar & Fresh Lemon
A mixture of cream of tartar and fresh lemon juice has found to be effective in treating high blood pressure particularly in pregnant women.