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Herbs to Lower Blood Pressure

Overview

Many adults around the world deal with hypertension, also called high blood pressure. There are ways to treat the condition, including lifestyle changes or medications.

If you’re thinking of trying herbs for medical reasons, whether it’s the whole herb or a supplement, speak to your doctor first. 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.

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Basil

1. Basil

Basil is a delicious herb that goes well in a variety of foods. It also might help lower your blood pressure. Extract of basil has been shown to lower blood pressure, although only briefly. 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

2. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is another tasty seasoning that requires little effort to include in your daily diet, and it may bring your blood pressure numbers down. Consuming cinnamon every day may lower blood pressure in people with diabetes, according to a paper in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 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.

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Cardamom

3. Cardamom

Cardamom is a seasoning that comes from India and is often used in South Asian cuisine. A study investigating the health effects of cardamom found that participants saw significant reductions in their blood pressure readings after taking daily cardamom for several months. You can include cardamom seeds or powder in spice rubs, soups and stews, and even baked goods for a special flavor and a positive health benefit.

Read more: The health potential of cardamom »

Flaxseed

4. Flaxseed

Flaxseed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found to lower blood pressure significantly. Flaxseed 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 flaxseed, but a better bet is to buy ground flaxseed or grind it yourself in a coffee grinder and add it to your home-cooked meals. The best part about flaxseed is that it can be stirred into virtually any dish, from soups to smoothies to baked goods. Store flaxseed in your freezer to retain optimum potency.

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Garlic

5. Garlic

This pungent seasoning can do more than just flavor your food and ruin your breath. Garlic has the ability to lower your blood pressure by causing 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.

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Ginger

6. Ginger

Ginger may help control blood pressure, as it has been shown to improve blood circulation and relax the muscles surrounding blood vessels. 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.

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Hawthorn

7. Hawthorn

Hawthorn is an herbal remedy for high blood pressure that has been used in traditional Chinese medicines for thousands of years. Extracts of hawthorn seem to have a whole host of benefits on cardiovascular health, including helping reduce blood pressure, the prevent clot formation, and increase blood circulation. You can take hawthorn as a pill, liquid extract, or tea.

Celery seed

8. Celery seed

Celery seed is an herb used to flavor soups, stews, casseroles, and other savory dishes. Celery has been long used to treat hypertension in China, and studies also show that it may be effective. You can use the seeds to lower blood pressure, but you can also juice the whole plant. Celery is a diuretic, which may help explain its effect on blood pressure.

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French lavender

9. French lavender

The beautiful, perfume-like scent of lavender is not the only useful aspect of the plant. Oil of lavender can also induce relaxation and may lower your blood pressure. 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.

Learn more: What lavender can do for you »

Cat’s claw

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 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.

Understanding high blood pressure

Understanding high blood pressure

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-third of American adults have high blood pressure.

A number of factors contribute to elevated blood pressure, such as:

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. Having high blood pressure increases your risk of several health problems, such as:

Learn more: How to understand blood pressure readings »

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Takeaway

Takeaway

Due to its lack of symptoms, high blood pressure can inflict damage before you’re even aware you have it, so don’t neglect regular blood pressure screenings. 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.

Interactions

Q&A: Drug interactions

  • Can any herbs that potentially lower blood pressure negatively react with blood pressure medications?
  • Since there’s such a large variety of herbal remedies and so many different medications for blood pressure that are commonly prescribed today, this isn’t a simple question. However, there certainly exists the potential for negative herb-drug interactions and complications. My best advice is to discuss your specific herbal medications with your prescribing doctor (and vice versa), so that they will be aware of (and monitoring closely for) any potential interactions. 

    - Dr. Steve Kim
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