Black walnut seems to show promise in the fight against high blood pressure. Although much more research needs to be done, preliminary studies conducted during the 1960s revealed that large doses of the chemicals in the nut could help lower blood pressure.
Calcium becomes a potent assistant to decrease blood pressure due to diuretic properties that help the kidneys release sodium and water, causing some experts to suggest that some forms of high blood pressure may be due to calcium deficiency rather than surplus sodium.
Sources of calciuim include dairy products (make low fat choices!), green leafy vegetables, broccoli, collard and turnip greens, and kale, as well as canned salmon and sardines with bones, firm tofu, dried figs, chickpeas, along with white and pinto beans. In the Nurses Health Study, a four year study of 60,000 women, those who consumed more than 800 milligrams a day were at less risk of developing high blood pressure compared to those who consumed less than 400 milligrams a day.
There exists an alkaloid known as rynchophylline in cat's claw. This alkaloid has been studied at the Shanghai College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. According to their findings, rynchophylline has demonstrated an ability to inhibit platelet aggregation and thrombosis, which suggests that it may be useful in preventing strokes and reducing the risk of heart attack by lowering blood pressure, increasing circulation, and inhibiting both the formation of plaque on the arterial walls and formation of blood clots in the brain, heart and arteries.
According to Chinese theory, celery is effective for hypertension because it acts upon the liver; one type of hypertension is associated with the liver. In Mainland China, celery juice was useful in reducing hypertension in 14 out of 16 patients. The juice was mixed with equal amounts of honey and about 8 ounces was taken orally three times each day for up to 1 week. Fresh celery juice can be mixed with vinegar to relieve dizziness, headache and shoulder pain associated with hypertension. In cases of hypertension of pregnancy and climacteric hypertension, drink fresh celery juice every day.
Scientists at the National University of Singapore researched a celery compound's effect on systolic blood pressure. Using an animal model designed for human assessment of hypertension, they extracted one of the chemicals in celery responsible for its flavor and administered it to genetically hypertensive rats for thirteen days. The researchers found that high daily doses of 2 mg and 4 mg of the compound didn't produce sustained reductions in blood pressure. However, in lower doses of 0.5 mg a day, systolic blood pressure decreased over the thirteen-day period. These unexpected results led the researchers to question whether tolerance is developed at higher doses due to complex biochemistry or whether their equipment was operating properly. More studies are needed.
Physicians prescribe diuretics, for high blood pressure. In one study celery oil injections significantly reduced blood pressure in rabbits and dogs. So Chinese researchers gave the fresh juice mix with honey to 16 people suffering from high blood pressure. Fourteen showed significant reductions. You can also just eat 4 stalks of celery a day to get the same effect. Diuretics should be used in consultation with a physician. They can deplete body stores of potassium, an essential nutrient. Those who use diuretics should also eat foods high in potassium, such as bananas and fresh vegetables, to replace lost electrolytes.
Celery seed may help manage them, but it should be used in consultation with your physician as part of an overall treatment plan.
Coenzyme Q10 appears to be a giant step forward in the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease. A six-year study conducted by scientists at the University of Texas found that people being treated for congestive heart failure who took coenzyme Q10 in addition to conventional therapy had a 75% chance of survival rate after three years, compared with the 25% survival rate for those using conventional therapy alone. In a similar study by the University of Texas and the Center for Adult Disease in Japan, coenzyme Q10 was shown to be able to lower high blood pressure without medication or dietary chances.
Treating high blood pressure in older people with diuretics can reduce the risk of heart failure by at least half. In a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers gave diuretics to people with "isolated systolic hypertension", where the top number is high but not the bottom number. In a placebo group, heart failure occurred twice as often. But when a low-dose diuretic was administered to the others who'd already had a heart attack, risk of heart failure dropped by 80%, says John B.Kostis of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey.
Essential Fatty Acids
Those fatty acids that cannot be made by the body and which must be supplied through the diet are called essential fatty acids (EFAs), also referred to as vitamin F. These essential fatty acids are also known as polyunsaturates, and are recommended in order to lower cholesterol and blood pressure and to reduce the risks of heart disease and stroke. The most essential of the fatty acids is linoleic acid. The daily requirement for essential fatty acids is satisfied by consuming an amount of vitamin F equivalent to 10 to 20 percent of total calorie intake. The natural form is found in many vegetables and vegetable oils (except coconut or palm kernel oils). If such oils are heated or hydrogenated (processed), the linoleic acid is converted to trans-fatty acids, which are not essential substances and cannot be utilized. These essential fatty acids have desirable effects on many disorders. They reduce blood pressure, aid in the prevention of arthritis, reduce the growth rate of breast cancer, lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and help eczema, psoriasis, and arteriosclerosis. Found in high concentrations in the brain, EFAs aid transmission of nerve impulses and are needed for normal brain function. Essential fatty acids are also needed in the treatment of candidiasis and coronary heart disease, and to minimize blood clot formation.
One European study seems to indicate that garlic may also lower blood pressure. In that study 47 people with high blood pressure were given 600 milligrams of garlic powder a day for 12 weeks. When their blood pressures were checked at the end of the study, scientists found that blood pressure had dropped right along with cholesterol and triglyceride levels: Diastolic blood pressure-the bottom number on a blood pressure reading and the one that is most likely to indicate cardiovascular stress-decreased an average of 11 percent.
The garlic powder used in these studies may be a little more convenient to use than garlic cloves. The amount used is equivalent to roughly I 1/2 to 2 1/2 cloves of raw garlic. In one four-month German study of 261 people with high blood fat and high cholesterol, cholesterol levels dropped 12 percent and blood fat levels dropped 17 percent in those who took 800 milligrams of dried garlic powder tablets a day. In another German study of 60 people having problems with blood platelet clumping, not only did the problems disappear but blood pressure dropped 9.5 percent, and blood flow in the small blood vessels improved nearly 50 percent. The hitch, however, is that not all garlic preparations are created equal. To be effective, your garlic preparation must have a bit of an odor.
Grapefruit juice when taken with some Calcium channel blockers (for chest pain and high blood pressure) can cause light-headedness, dizziness or fainting. For nearly a decade researchers have known that grapefruit juice, when used to wash down certain drugs, can interfere with the drugs' effects. Unfortunately, this information is not widely circulated and the effect can be so striking that some are calling for warning labels on medicines for which this could cause possible drug overdoses. The drugs that grapefruit and its juice affect most are common and potent, including Plendil for high blood pressure and heart disease, Seldane for allergies, Sandimmune to prevent rejection of transplanted organs and lnvirase for treating AIDS. Grapefruit juice allows less of the drug to be broken down, so more remains in the intestine and more is then absorbed into the bloodstream over a longer period, as though the patient had taken more of the drug. Recently the Food and Drug Administration cautioned allergy sufferers not to drink grapefruit juice if they're using the antihistamine astemizole, or Hismanal. It was the second such warning for hay fever patients, who last year were told not to mix the drink with the drug Seldane. The concern? A single glass of the bittersweet beverage, unlike any other citrus juice, boosts the strength of some medicines; in the case of these two antihistamines, it can set off an abnormal-and possibly fatal-heartrhythm. (Because of its risk to the heart, Seldane was pulled from the market.) Studies show that grapefruit juice lends a kick to other remedies, too, an effect lasting at least 24 hours. Among them are some of the high blood pressure drugs known as calcium channel blockers, benzodiazepine sedatives, and cyciosporin (used to prevent organ rejection in transplant patients). In fact, some scientists estimate that the drink interacts with up to a third of all oral prescription medications.
These drugs are normally all broken down in the gut by the same enzyme. But bitter compounds that are found mainly in a grapefruit's peel and oil, and that wind up in juice, apparently destroy this enzyme. As a result, more of the medicine is absorbed, heightening its every effect good or bad. The interaction isn't always dire; indeed, some doctors say that a daily glass might enable hypertensives who take calcium channel blockers to get by on less. But that sort of kitchen-table treatment needs to be consistent. Patients who use the beverage every now and then risk sharp, even hazardous, fluctuations in blood pressure.
The grapefruit juice effect varies widely from drug to drug and person to person. With so much to be learned, blanket advice is impossible. Still, a good rule of thumb is to check with your doctor or pharmacist, says J. David Spence, the clinical pharmacologist at the University of Western Ontario whose lab first reported the phenomenon. Ask if your medicine interacts adversely with erythromycin, an antibiotic that happens to meddle with drug metabolism in a similar way. If the answer is yes, switch juices!
Scientist suspect from animal studies that adequate magnesium may help fight atherosclerosis. A four-year study of 58,000 women found that women who consumed 800 milligrams of calcium and 300 milligrams of magnesium reduced their chances of developing high blood pressure by one-third. A survey of seven studies involving 1,31 patients found that only 3.8% of heart attack patients who received magnesium intravenously died, while 8.2% of the patients who were not given magnesium died. Researchers at the State University of New York found that the lower the level of magnesium in the body, the higher the blood pressure. This double-blind, placebo-controlled trial showed that taking supplemental magnesium can result in a significant, dose-dependent reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Hypertension researchers, who study the diets, lifestyles and medication of people who have high blood pressure, say that getting enough calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C may be the nutritional strategy your body needs to put the damper on raging blood pressure.
Potassium, either from fruits and vegetables or in supplement form, can lower high blood pressure. Anyone who already has hypertension "should eat a diet high in potassium or take supplements," says Harvard researcher Frank M. Sacks, MD. In a study of more than 300 women, he and colleagues learned that potassium is more important than magnesium or calcium for blood pressure control. "Surprisingly, when we put the three together, the effect was no greater than potassium alone. In fact, it was a little lower," he adds. About 1,600 milligrams of potassium was given to the study participants. A glass of orange juice or banana contains about 400 milligrams of' potassium. The study is welcome news, because for the first time in 25 years, there has been an increase in the number of Americans who died from disorders related to high blood pressure, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Several studies confirm the link between potassium and blood pressure. In one study, ten men with normal blood pressure were put on two experimental diets by researchers at Temple University School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. One diet provided normal amounts of potassium; the other was low in potassium. After nine days on the normal-potassium diet, the men showed no significant change in blood pressure. But after the same amount of time on the low-potassium diet, their blood pressure went up an average of 5 points. Similar results were observed in men with high blood pressure. In another study, researchers in Italy found that when people with high blood pressure went on a potassium rich diet that included beans, fruits and vegetables, within a year most were able to reduce their blood pressure medication to less than half the dosage they'd been using previously.
In one laboratory study, according to Louis Tobian, M.D., professor of medicine and head of the Hypertension Section of the University of Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis, a high-potassium diet reduced the build-up of artery clogging cholesterol deposits in animals by 64%. In another study, a diet rich in potassium helped to prevent microscopic thickening and splitting of artery walls that invites cholesterol deposits. Although too much potassium can cause trouble, it’s almost impossible to overdose on this mineral if you’re getting it from food. You would have to eat the dietary equivalent of 21 baked potatoes every day to experience such negative effects as cardiac irregularities. That’s why naturally increasing potassium through diet is the best idea. An ideal potassium target is 3,500 mg--the Daily Value set by the Food and Drug Administration and the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foods rich in potassium include potato, avocado, cantaloupe, soybeans, Swiss chard, apricots, sweet potato, pumpkin seeds, banana, acorn squash, almonds, salmon, herring, peanuts, and milk.
Three tablespoons of mono-saturated olive oil per day was found to lower systolic pressure nine points, and drop diastolic pressure six points, according to researchers at the Stanford Medical School. This discovery is echoed by Scott M. Grundy, Ph.D., who finds that a diet with adequate levels of monounsaturated fat lowers total cholesterol levels even better than diets that severely restrict fat, with the big bonus of dropping the LDLs (bad) and leaving HDLs (good) intact. Extra virgin cold pressed olive oil is the best source.
In one study, 2-3 tablespoons of onion essential oil lowered blood pressure in 67% of people with moderate hypertension. Their systolic level fell an average of 25 points and their diastolic readings fell 15 points. Reishi mushrooms: For centuries, reishi mushrooms have been a highly regarded Chinese medical treatment for hepatitis, arthritis and other condition, including hypertension. Now it appears they make a powerful additive to prescription drug treatment of high blood pressure. Researchers at 4 universities in China and one in Japan have found that they act synergistically with medications, according to Herbs for Health newsletter. Investigators tested reishi extract in people who had not responded well to the drugs nimodipine or captopril. Participants continued taking their medications but also took 55 mg. of extract the equivalent of taking 4 grams of raw mushroom daily. The combination produced general improvement of blood pressure within 2 weeks and even greater improvement after 4 weeks.
Tulane University researchers found signs that ultraviolet light exposure strengthens the heart and enables it to pump more blood. A 1980 study done at the University of Frankfurt in Germany concluded that exposure to sunlight produces benefits similar to exercise, namely increased strength, energy, endurance, stress tolerance and a decrease in resting heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, blood sugar and lactic acid.
The lack of vitamin C can contribute to hypertension. Recent studies correlate the highest incidences of hypertension and fatalities from strokes among those who consumed the least amount of vitamin C. Foods containing vitamin C include oranges, red peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, grapefruit, Brussels sprouts, kiwis, cantaloupe, pimentos, and broccoli.
Vitamin E and Herbal Teas
In a recent large population study in Europe, it was found that low blood levels of vitamin E were much more predictive of heart disease than were high levels of blood cholesterol and elevated blood pressure. High levels of blood cholesterol were predictive 29% of the time, high blood pressure was predictive 25% of the time, but a low blood level of vitamin E was predictive of a heart attack 69% of the time. In perhaps, the most impressive study of vitamin E, published in the journal Lancet, daily doses of 400-800 IU of vitamin E were shown to decrease the incidence of heart attacks by 77% in a group of 2,000 people. The death rate from all causes was 34% lower in older people taking vitamin E supplements, according to the National Institute on Aging Research. Use cayenne, chamomile, fennel, hawthorn berries, parsley, and rosemary, tarragon, black pepper, dill, garlic, hawthorn berries, corn silk, oregano, basil, suma and mustard. Hops and valerian root are good for calming the nerves. Drink 3 cups of suma tea daily.
Some experiments show that astragalus can help reduce blood pressure, dilate blood vessels, and improve circulation. Since the early 1990s, several Asian research groups have conducted studies showing that astragalus root protects the liver from toxic compounds.
Cayenne is good for the heart; it helps to regulate the heart and blood pressure. It strengthens the pulse rate while it cleanses the circulatory system. When taken with garlic it helps lower the blood pressure.
Do not use chamomile on an ongoing basis, as ragweed allergy may result. Avoid it completely if you are allergic to ragweed.
Clinical evidence found in Chinese and Japanese pharmaceutical and medical journals show that chrysanthemum flowers are excellent for treating high blood pressure and its associated symptoms of headache, dizziness and insomnia. Snip enough mum flowers to equal 6 tbsps, then divide into 4 equal portions of 1-1/2 tbsps. each and set aside for use throughout the day. Beginning in the morning at 8 a.m. and every 4 hours thereafter, put I portion in a cup and pour hot, boiling water over the flowers and cover with a small saucer or piece of aluminum foil, allowing them to steep for 15 minutes before drinking. Repeat this same procedure 3 more times that day for up to one month. In one experiment where a total of 46 hypertension patients were thus treated, 35 of them showed fairly rapid improvement in their symptoms, with blood pressure returning to normal in less than a week.
The remaining patients also showed varying degrees of symptom relief and dropping of blood pressure after 10-30 days treatment. This same procedure twice daily in identical amounts brought considerable relief from very severe constricting chest pains in 80% of a group of 61 patients suffering from angina pectoris of the heart. In both applications, the infusions should be taken on any empty stomach preferably for maximum effectiveness.
Japanese researchers report that cinnamon helps reduce blood pressure. In China the effects of cinnamon bark on animals indicate it calms the central nervous system in rats and also reduces their blood pressure.
Dry cocoa powder is used by some natives in the Philippines for treating high blood pressure. They attribute this to theobromine present, which enlarges the constricted blood vessels common in hypertensive victims. Anyone with insomnia, anxiety problems, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease should limit caffeine consumption. On the other hand there has been some recent studies that dispute the effects of caffeine.
Dandelion is used for high blood pressure, and congestive heart failure. In the spring dandelion leaves and roots produce mannitol, a substance used in the treatment of hypertension and weak heart throughout Europe. A tea is made of the roots and leaves are good to take during this period, from about mid-March to mid-May. Bring 1 quart of water to a boil, reduce heat and add 2 tblsp. of cleaned and chopped fresh roots. Simmer for 1 minutes, covered, then remove from heat and add 2 tblsp. of chopped, freshly picked leaves. Steep for 40 minutes. Strain and drink 2 cups per day.
When injected into laboratory animals, dill extract stimulates respiration, slows heart rate, and opens blood vessels, all of which reduce blood pressure. This suggests that there is more to learn about this herb. Since dill contains the mineral vanadium it may be helpful in inhibiting cholesterol synthesis. There may be an interaction between vanadium and chromium. Take extra chromium at a different time. Tobacco decreases uptake of vanadium.
Garlic therapy has a healing effect on high blood pressure and eliminates angina pain, dizziness and headaches without the side effects of hypertension drugs, thanks to its prostaglandin A content.
Ginkgo biloba is a powerful antioxidant herb that is best known for its ability to enhance circulation. It has the ability to squeeze through even the narrowest of blood vessels to increase the supply of oxygen to the heart, brain, and all other body parts. This aids in mental functioning (ginkgo biloba is known as the "smart herb") and helps to relieve muscle pain. Ginkgo biloba also lowers blood pressure, inhibits blood clotting, and has anti-aging properties.
Clinical research in China and Japan has confirmed hawthorn's benefits to those with heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Instead of taking its extract, the Chinese prefer to decoct the dried hawthorn fruit and drink it as a tea. Recently, the journal, Phytomedicine, published a study bolstering the case for hawthorn. Seventy-eight people suffering the significant heart fatigue known as congestive heart failure were divided into two groups. One received 600 milligrams a day of hawthorn for eight weeks. The other took a placebo. Comparison testing of the two groups on a stationary bicycle showed that those taking hawthorn had significantly more stamina and lower blood pressure. Hawthorn may cause dizziness if taken in large doses
One herb Ayurvedic healing introduced was Rauwolfia serpentina. This plant is the source of resperine, still used in Western medicine to manage high blood pressure.
A study done by scientists in the Soviet Union found that wood betony contains a mixture of glycosides, which showed some effect in lowering blood pressure. This might explain why infusions of betony have been recommended for headaches and mild anxiety attacks. Herbs to be cautious of: Large doses of angelica can affect blood pressure, heart action, and respiration.
Barberry contains chemicals that may help reduce elevated blood pressure by enlarging blood vessels, thus lending support to the herb's traditional Russian use as a treatment for high blood pressure. In high doses, barberry can cause nausea, vomiting, convulsions, hazardous drops in blood pressure, and depression of the heart rate and breathing. Those with heart disease or chronic respiratory problems should be careful not to take large doses and should take this herb only with knowledge and approval of their physicians. Barberry is a powerful herb and should be used cautiously. If it causes dizziness or faintness, stop using it. Should not be used during pregnancy. Bayberry changes the way the body uses sodium and potassium. Those who must watch their sodium/potassium balance, such as people with kidney disease, high blood pressure, or congestive heart failure, should consult their physicians before using this herb. A study published in Nature shows black cohosh reduces blood pressure by opening the blood vessels in the limbs (peripheral vasodilation). The herb may help manage high blood pressure. Lowers cholesterol, lowers high blood pressure (equalizes circulation), helps cardiovascular and circulatory disorders. A word of caution since this herb can depress the heart rate. So consult your physician if you have congestive heart failure before using it. It is potentially hazardous.
Do not use Siberian ginseng if you have hypoglycemia, high blood pressure, or a heart disorder. Ginseng should be used with discretion if suffering from heart disease and high blood pressure. It should not be taken by those with what Chinese medicine call a "yang constitution". A person with a yang constitution is usually large in stature, is aggressive and forceful and often has a red complexion. Some People may find panax ginseng too stimulating, especially if used before bedtime. Therefore, use it early in the day. High doses may make you feel jittery. Do not exceed 5 to 10 grams a day. In rare cases, some people may develop headaches or high blood pressure from panax ginseng. Vitamin C can interfere with the absorption of ginseng, so take Vitamin C supplement either 2 hour before or 2 hours after you take ginseng. In rare cases, ginseng can cause vaginal bleeding in menopausal women.
Avoid licorice if you have high blood pressure. Excessive amounts or daily use for longer than 6 weeks can cause problems (headache, lethargy, sodium and water retention, and loss of potassium and high blood pressure). These side effects can be largely be eliminated by using a processed form of the herb called deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL).
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, such as apples, asparagus, bananas, string beans, blackberries, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrot, eggplant, garlic, grapefruit, green leafy vegetables, melons, onions, peas, prunes, raisins, raspberries, tomatoes, squash, and sweet potatoes.
Blueberries are considered number one in antioxidant action and high in fiber. They also contain chemicals that keep a lid on blood pressure, improve eyesight, combat bacteria, curb diarrhea, stifle bacteria and thin the blood.
Include fresh "live" juices in the diet. The following juices are healthful: beet, carrot and celery, currant, cranberry, citrus fruit, parsley, spinach, and watermelon. Eat grains like brown rice, buckwheat, millet, and oats.
Avoid all animal fats. Bacon, beef, bouillon, chicken liver, coined beet dairy products, gravies, pork, sausage, and smoked or processed meats are prohibited. The only acceptable animal foods are broiled white fish and skinless turkey or chicken, and these should be consumed in moderation only. Get protein from vegetable sources, grains, and legumes instead.
Avoid foods such as aged cheeses, aged meats, anchovies, avocados, chocolate, fava beans, pickled herring, sour cream, sherry, wine, and yogurt. Avoid all alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.
If you are taking an MAO inhibitor (one of a class of drugs prescribed to counter depression, lower blood pressure, and treat infections and cancer), avoid the chemical tyramine and its precursor, tyrosine. Combining MAO inhibitors with tyramine causes the blood pressure to soar and could cause a stroke. Tyramine-containing foods include almonds, avocados, bananas, beef or chicken liver, beer, cheese (including cottage cheese), chocolate, coffee, fava beans, herring, meat tenderizer, peanuts, pickles, pineapples, pumpkin seeds, raisins, sausage, sesame seeds, sour cream, soy sauce, wine, yeast extracts (including brewer's yeast), yogurt, and other foods. In general, any high-protein food that has undergone aging, pickling, fermentation, or similar processes should be avoided. Over-the-counter cold and allergy remedies should also be avoided. Do not take antihistamines except under a physician's direction.
Do not take supplements containing the amino acids phenylalanine or tyrosine. Also avoid the artificial sweetener aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), which contains phenylalanine.