Natural Treatments for High Blood Pressure
By Dr. Mao Shing Ni
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a condition in
which blood pressure is chronically elevated. According to the National Institutes of Health, blood pressure readings of 140/90 mm-Hg and higher on recurring measurements is considered hypertension. Persistent hypertension is one of the highest risk factors for stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and arterial aneurysm. It is a leading cause of chronic kidney failure.
Essential or primary hypertension has no specific causes; it’s associated with genetics, environment, diet, and lifestyle factors, including salt intake, stress, and lack of exercise.
Secondary hypertension is a result of other underlying - often serious - conditions such as tumors and kidney or liver disorders. Some medications, such as oral contraceptives, can also cause elevated blood pressure.
According to Chinese medicine, diet and emotions play key roles in hypertension. The Western-style diet is perhaps the primary contributing cause of essential hypertension, according to research. People living in rural areas of China, Brazil, and Africa show no signs of essential hypertension, even with advanced age. Hypertension in Chinese medicine is related to imbalances of the kidney and liver organ systems. If the kidneys fail to regulate the water energy and balance the liver, the liver fire energy rises and causes hypertension.
My treatments focus on strengthening the kidney system and regulating the liver by soothing and cooling its fire energy. I’ve also found that teaching my patients meditation practices has enabled the majority of them to control their blood pressure and keep it in check. I have a number of patients who suffer from “white coat” syndrome- their blood pressure shoots up when they visit the doctor’s office but drops outside of these encounters. I use acupuncture and herbal and dietary therapies to support healthy blood pressure. I also believe in empowering my patients with simple practices such as stress-release meditation, which they can use to gain control over their blood pressure during stressful times- like having their blood pressure measured at their doctors’ offices. One of my patients was able to bring down her blood pressure from 150/98 mm-Hg to 124/82 mm-Hg over a three-month period while also overcoming an anxiety condition.
Related conditions: arterial plaque, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, inflammation
Here are some of my favorite remedies for maintaining good cardiovascular health and clean arteries. Do not stop your blood pressure medication on your own - always consult with your physician before making any changes to your treatment plan.
HOME REMEDIES FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
- Mint Tea: Make a tea by boiling 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, 1/4 cup dried chrysanthemum flowers, and 2 tablespoons cassia seeds in 5 cups of water for 20 minutes. Strain. Drink 3 cups a day.
- Vinegar & Honey: First thing upon waking, on an empty stomach, drink 8 ounces of warm water mixed with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon honey. Drink this regularly. The honey ensures regularity of the bowels, and is helpful because constipation may aggravate high blood pressure. The vinegar alkalizes the body and lowers blood pressure as well.
- Celery Juice: Drink an 8-ounce glass of fresh celery juice 3 times a day for 1 to 3 months, until blood pressure is normal. This is one of the most common Chinese folk remedies for lowering blood pressure, and it works despite the sodium content of the celery.
- Herb Pillow: Sleep on a pillow stuffed with mung beans, lentils, and split peas-they help to draw the fire from the head and lower blood pressure.
- Cucumbers: Eat 2 fresh cucumbers every day for 2 weeks, or until blood pressure improves. Since cucumber is a natural diuretic, it will help hydrate your body and lower blood pressure.
DIET FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
- Eat smaller meals more frequently.
- Drink more water: at least six 8-ounce glasses a day at room temperature.
- Consume more leafy green vegetables: celery, spinach, sprouted vegetables, mung beans, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts.
- Eat more fruits such as bananas, apples, plums, watermelon, and persimmons.
- Eat tofu, sunflower seeds, and whole grains.
- Season with ginger, garlic, vinegar and lemon.
- Drink green tea, hawthorn berry tea, chrysanthemum flower and cassia seed tea, flavored with honey.
- Favor the following spices that contain active ingredients beneficial for treating hypertension: fennel, oregano, black pepper, basil, and tarragon.
- Avoid excessive salt, MSG, spicy-hot, fried and greasy foods.
- Avoid simple carbohydrates like sugar and white flour.
- Avoid cured meats and cheese, as they promote plaque buildup.
- Avoid alcohol, coffee, and tobacco.
Herbs can be found in health food or vitamin stores, online, and at the offices of Chinese medicine practitioners. Herbs should be used according to individual needs; consult with a licensed practitioner for a customized formulation.
- A traditional Chinese herbal formula called gastrodia gambir is used to support healthy blood pressure. It contains gastrodia, gambir vine, abalone shell, gardenia, skullcap, motherwort, cyathulae, eucommia, loranthus, polygoni, and poria.
- Hawthorn berries (150 milligrams) have traditionally been used to support healthy blood pressure levels.
VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
- Magnesium (600 milligrams), calcium (1,000 milligrams), Zinc (25 milligrams) and essential fatty acids such as Gama-linoleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids (1,000 milligrams EPA) are essential. Magnesium is a vasodilator and helps regulate calcium levels.
- Vitamin B complex helps lower blood pressure. B6 (200 milligrams) acts as a diuretic, while niacin (50 milligrams) relaxes the blood vessels.
- Taking coenzyme Q10 (15 milligrams) 3 times a day can reduce blood pressure.
- Beta carotene (500 milligrams) taken every other day can reduce incidence of coronary and vascular events.
- Folic acid (200 micrograms) taken daily can improve blood flow to the capillaries.
EXERCISE FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
Physical exercise is essential for promoting circulation and strengthening heart function. Sedentary life inhibits circulation. Doing moderate cardiovascular exercise every day for at least 30 minutes will help reduce hyper-tension. Effective moderate exercise includes walking briskly (3 to 4 miles per hour), general calisthenics, racket sports such as table tennis, swimming (with moderate effort), cycling (at a moderate speed of 10 miles per hour or less), canoeing, and rowing (at a speed of about 2 to 4 miles per hour).
Stress Release Meditation for High Blood Pressure:
I’ve also taught many of my patients the following simple Stress Release Meditation to help control their stress and blood pressure.
- Sit comfortably or lie down on your back.
- Slow your respiration to deep, abdominal breathing. Say the word “calm” in your mind with every exhalation. You’ll be visualizing the relaxation of a specific body part and releasing tension with every exhalation. Trace the following 3 pathways outlined below.
- Path 1: start at the top of your head and progress down the front of your body. Inhale, and then exhale and visualize your scalp muscles relaxing. Say “calm” in your mind. Repeat, saying the word as you move into each body part, down through your face, throat, chest, abdomen, thighs, knees, calves, ankles, and feet. After you’ve relaxed your feet, visualize all the tension leaving your body through your toes in the form of dark smoke.
- Path 2: start at the temple region of your head and progress down the sides of your body. This path focuses on the sides and upper extremities. Inhale, and then exhale and visualize your temple muscles relaxing. Say “calm” in your mind. Repeat, saying the word as you move into each body part, down through your jaws, the sides of your neck, shoulders, upper arms, elbows, forearms, wrists, and hands. Once you’ve relaxed your hands, visualize all the tension leaving your body through your fingertips in the form of dark smoke.
- Path 3: the final pathway begins at the back of your head and progress down the back of your body. This path relaxes the back of your body. Repeat the breathing visualization- word routine, as above, as you go from the back of your neck to your upper back, middle back, lower back, back of the thighs, calves, and heels. Then focus on the acupoint Bubbling Spring on the soles of your feet, for 1 minute.
Practice this sequence for at least 15 minutes twice a day.
SELF ACUPRESSURE FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
- Locate the acupoint Winding Gulch (LI-11), in the depression at the outer part of the right elbow crease, between the elbow tendon and the bone. The point is best located when the arm is bent at
90 degrees with the palm facing the abdomen. Apply steady
pressure with your thumb until you feel soreness. Hold for 5 minutes. Repeat on the left arm.
- Find the acupoint Bubbling Spring (KID-1), on the sole of the
right foot between the bones of the second and third toes, two-
thirds of the distance from the heel to the base of the second toe,
just below the ball of the foot in a natural indentation. Apply heavy pressure with your thumb for 5
minutes. Repeat on the left foot.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE: THINGS TO AVOID
Avoid sedentary lifestyle and stress, as they not only increase the risk of heart problems but also cause other disorders, such as obesity and diabetes, complicating the condition.
Avoid Over-the-counter drugs containing ibuprofen (such as Motrin and Advil) as they can raise blood pressure.
Avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, as it can lead to hardening of the arteries.
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©2015 Dr. Mao Shing Ni
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