Natural Blood Pressure Remedies
Up until now, I’ve covered extensively what leads to high blood pressure and how mainstream medicine’s typical med-based approach is, at best not effective, and at the worst speeds up death from blood pressure medication side effects.
Because of the pitfalls and the doesn’t-actually-save-you-from-stroke-and-death profile of high blood pressure medications, lifestyle changes are the ONLY answer to lowering your blood pressure naturally.
The problem is that most doctors don’t understand nutrition and how lifestyle choices affect high blood pressure. That’s why I’m going to spend the next 1,000+ words covering choices you can make when it comes to diet and supplementation to lower your blood pressure naturally.
I will cover some things that qualify as natural blood pressure remedies. Other things I will touch on are natural approaches and lifestyle choices that help with the underlying prediabetic condition driving the high blood pressure.
I will not, however, be going too deeply into lifestyle changes to fully manage your risk of diabetes. The topic is too broad, and I have a separate eBook completely covering this topic.
Natural Blood Pressure Remedies: Fish Oils
Healthy fats play a major role in protecting you against most chronic diseases, heart disease and stroke included.
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the stronger players in this arena.
While they are typically referred to as “fish oils,” the source of the omega-3 fatty acids in fish comes from the algae and seaweed that they eat that is high in the omega-3 fatty acid DHA.
The fish then convert DHA to EPA, the other omega-3 fatty acid found in “fish oils.”
Higher intakes of these healthy fats in your diet (mainly from wild caught fish as well as seaweed, nuts and seeds—although nuts and seeds contain a different omega-3 fatty acid ALA),
There are hundreds of research studies pointing out the benefits of healthy fats on pretty much every chronic condition known to many, the focus of this writing is blood pressure.
As I’ve made clear, heart health = blood pressure / vascular health and vice versa.
In one study, researchers found that, in patients with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood, there was a 33% lower risk of having a heart attack (acute coronary syndrome).
The summary of evidence on omega-3 fatty acids and blood vessel health is strong. As I’ve made clear, there is no “one choice” that will improve your blood pressure and the health of your blood vessels, but healthy fats clearly need to be on your plate if you have concerns over blood pressure.
Natural Blood Pressure Remedies: Watermelon Juice
Plant based diets are better for your health.
This is a stance that is beyond argument.
There are many reasons why this is the case, and one of these is the different types of amino acids found in plants that are not found in as high of levels in animal products.
Two of these amino acids are arginine (which I brought up before as the amino acid that your body uses to make the blood-vessel hero Nitric Oxide, or NO) and citrulline.
Arginine is the amino acid that your body uses to make NO, but citrulline is part of this cycle as well. While the biochemistry of how the enzyme nitric oxide synthase works is beyond the scope of this article, suffice it to say that citrulline is just as important as arginine in keeping your blood vessels healthy.
Unfortunately, that awful, disgusting summer treat known as watermelon is high in the amino acid citrulline.
Who wants to be forced to eat more watermelon?
Just in case you DO enjoy this summer treat, it’s nice to know that it is good for your blood vessels.
Researchers looked at how watermelon pumace (basically the pulp left over after watermelon is crushed to make juice) impacted aspects of prediabetes in rats.
Turns out that everything bad in prediabetes was improved with the watermelon pumace, which included blood pressure and blood vessel health.
I do not recommend fruits on a regular basis because they are generally too high in sugars. If you consider our hunter-gatherer roots, fruits were typically present in the season where our ancestors were most active and needed the extra calories.
Darker berries are what I typically recommend for patients instead of fruits like oranges and apples which have less antioxidant value per calorie. I’ll cover this in a minute
Watermelon obviously has benefits as seen in this study, but keep in mind it was the pumice and not the entire fruit.
Natural Blood Pressure Remedies: Berries
Society generally views fruit in a friendly and healthy manner. They are thrown into a single category with their cousins, the vegetables.
But excessive fruit consumption is generally not a good thing. Most fruits are too carb and calorie heavy for the value they provide. And juices are even worse.
This applies to most fruits—the citrus fruits and melons mainly. Berries, on the other hand, pack quite a punch per calories compared to most fruits. The darker, the better.
Time and again, studies have demonstrated the health benefits of berries, either as a group or individually.
In other words, a cup of wild blueberries daily can go a long way. And let’s face it, unless you’re in a category all by yourself, everyone loves berries. It’s not a hard prescription to follow.
Benefits on blood pressure are, of course, on the list.
In a recent study looking a 1 cup of blueberries per day, several indicators of good vessel health were seen over a 6-month time period (specifically, flow-mediated dilatation, systemic arterial stiffness and attenuated cyclic guanosine monophosphate concentrations as well as higher HDL and apolipoprotein A-I).
In another study, researchers looked at berry intake on heart-related benefits. Patients in the study were given berries for 2 months.
“Berries” consisted of 2 portions daily, and were either whole bilberries, a nectar containing crushed lingonberries, a black currant or strawberry purée or a cold-pressed chokeberry and raspberry juice.
While the study did not look at more commonly consumed berries like blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, it’s likely these would have the same health benefits.
Here’s the benefits to the berry consumers:
- Platelets were less sticky (therefor less likely to cause a blood clot)
- HDL-cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) went up
- Systolic blood pressure dropped, with the strongest effect on those who had high systolic blood pressure.
As I mentioned, this is not a hard thing to add into your daily life. While this study just looked at markers of heart disease and blood vessel health, you can bet berry intake will have a protective effect on end-outcomes like heart disease, stroke and dementia as well.
Natural Blood Pressure Remedies: Cocoa and Tea
This is the class of compounds found in the berries I’ve already covered, chocolate (the real stuff, not the fake milk junk), coffee and tea that has an overall protective effect on most things that happen in your body.
Cocoa is not to be confused with cacao. If I must admit it, for many years I thought they were the same and everyone was just spelling it wrong.
It took time for me to figure it out, but cacao is the bean, and chocolate and cocoa are what you make from the bean.
Properly made, things that come from cacao are universally good for you. It’s when we add all the processed junk like sugar and dairy to it that it gets ruined.
Polyphenols are known to be very good for the blood vessels. And right down to the cellular level. Which is why researchers looked across multiple studies to see if cocoa (the drink, not the bean) could lower blood pressure.
The authors found that, in an average of just 2 weeks, cocoa could drop systolic blood pressure (the top number) an average of 4.7 points and diastolic by 2.8 points.
These numbers aren’t impressive, but I’ve covered this before—a bunch of little changes from lifestyle changes all add up to more solid long-term outcomes.
But, in case you’re still not going to run out to buy cocoa powder as soon as you’re done reading this article, pay attention to another study looking at 470 men over the course of 15 years,
Overall, those with the highest intake of cocoa had 3.7 lower systolic numbers and 2.1 lower diastolic numbers.
Still not impressive, I know, but consider this: In the study the risk of dying from heart disease was 50% lower and 47% lower risk of dying from anything (all-cause mortality).
Just from drinking more cocoa.
Or, if you prefer, you can get your cocoa in chocolate for the perfect combination.
One study looking at 30 people from 18 to 27 years of age were given either a low cocoa chocolate (55%) or a high cocoa chocolate (90%) and followed for a month.
The researchers looked at a bunch of blood-vessel health tests (heart ultrasound, carotid-femoral PWV and carotid pulse wave analysis, FMS, and an analysis of the VAC.
Both groups showed improvement in blood vessel health, with the high cocoa group showing stronger benefits.
Natural Blood Pressure Remedies: Soymilk
Anyone who has followed my rantings over the years knows that I am not a fan of dairy. The research is just not good and links it to things like acne, diabetes and cancer.
Luckily, there are lots of alternatives these days to drinking milk that came out of a cow’s udder that was designed for calves to grow to cow-size quickly.
The nut and soymilks have become very popular and can now be bought in any grocery story.
The advantage with these milks is the plant-based proteins that are higher in the amino acid L-arginine. I’ve already covered how good it is for your blood vessels when L-arginine gets converted to nitric oxide.
I never support the idea of “drinking your calories.” That’s why I have patients avoid thinks that they think are healthy like fruit juices. (And that 780 calorie Starbucks Frap goes without saying…)
I would never promote the idea of adding in soymilk to your diet unless you’re already drinking something like dairy or fruit juice that needs to be replaced.
If this ideal appeals to you, I would point out the study in which researchers looked at the ability of 4 cups per day of soy milk (500 mL twice daily) versus cow’s milk to lower blood pressure in patients with mild-to-moderate high blood pressure.
The results were impressive after 3 months:
- Systolic blood pressure (the top number) dropped 18.4 points (only 1.4 points with cow’s milk)
- Diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) dropped 15.9 points (versus 8 points with cow’s milk)
- Higher levels of the compound in soy that has been shown to protect your health, genistein, led to more powerful blood-pressure lowering.
These numbers are more impressive than what we saw with cocoa, but STILL are just one part of the overall plan to use natural blood pressure remedies for a safer and better solution.
Natural Blood Pressure Remedies: Melatonin
Most people think of melatonin as a supplement to help with sleep.
In reality, melatonin is a hormone produced deep in the brain (the pineal gland) that helps regulate sleep. But it is also a powerful antioxidant that can protect the brain and fight off cancer.
As an antioxidant, melatonin also has the ability to block the enzyme that makes ADMA. Just in case you don’t remember, ADMA is the arch enemy of nitric oxide (NO) that relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure.
Because melatonin can help NO do its job to make blood vessels healthier, melatonin can be used in the toolbox to lower blood pressure safely.
From a supplement standpoint when used to help with falling asleep, I usually have patients start on lower dosages; typically 0.5 mg. Progressive oncologists have started recommending dosages as high as 10 mg per day. An average dose sits around 3-5 mg / day. This is a very safe and inexpensive dose for supplementation without any known side effects.
Using too high of a dose could lead to drowsiness in the morning.
There is another thing to consider when it comes to melatonin.
Your body’s own production of melatonin.
There has been an increasing amount of research in the past few years about how much light at night interferes with your body’s production of melatonin. You see, blue light (think sunlight, phones, TVs, tablets, laptops, overhead lighting…) shuts down melatonin production.
Studies have shown that even a night light can mess with your melatonin levels. It would make sense that your nightlight could be raising your blood pressure.
Just something to think about.
Natural Blood Pressure Remedies: Biofeedback
There are a few tools in the natural blood pressure remedies toolbox that are more powerful than others.
I’ve saved the two most powerful for last.
The first of these is biofeedback or meditation. Biofeedback is a method of learning to control some measurable bodily function that is normally automatic. Think of heart rate, brain activity or breathing.
In focusing on controlling these functions, you are NOT thinking about something else that would otherwise be stressing you out. It essentially becomes a form of assisted meditation for those who have a hard time shutting the brain down during meditation.
Stress is a major driver of all health problems, blood pressure included.
Problems with sleep almost always have stress as the largest component. Poor sleep then drives prediabetes / diabetes and this, in turn, worsens blood pressure.
In other words, it needs to be managed.
If you’ve never done meditation, there are classes and online programs that you can try to see if this is a good fit.
If your brain just won’t shut down enough to allow you to do mediation, you can try some form of biofeedback. The most common of these involves breathing.
For years, we used the Resperate both in the office and as a take-home loaner for our patients to learn how to meditate. Many patients reported the best sleep of their lives after using the tool.
The Resperate has been FDA approved to lower blood pressure and can be used before trying medication, along with meds to reduce the amount of medications needed, or if medication has failed all together.
In the past few years we started experimenting with a biofeedback device that used a headset to monitor brainwaves called the Muse. The way this one works is pretty darn cool and really caters to the competitive types.
I’ve often found it funny that if competitiveness is the thing that stresses someone out, this device works well for them because it drives you to get better at the challenges as you use the device more.
Besides these two, there are an increasing number of aps for mobile devices that can aid you in calming your brain. It’s likely you’ll have to experiment with different approaches to see which one is going to work best for you.
Natural Blood Pressure Remedies: Water only fasting
I’ve saved one of the most powerful natural blood pressure remedies for last.
I’ve covered many aspects of lifestyle that contribute to blood pressure issues. Enough to make it solidly known that the choices you make, either knowingly or unknowingly, contribute to your blood pressure.
What if you stopped putting things into your body that were toxic to your genes and allowed your body a chance to clean up?
Fasting has gotten a lot of play these past few years and there are a lot of different variations that people have adopted.
One of the most powerful of these to be used short-term is water-only fasting.
I won’t spend any time describing water-only fasting. Because, well…you should be able to figure it out.
Dr. Goldhammer is a chiropractor in California who had been doing water-only fasting with his patients for years to help them with various health problems, high blood pressure included.
It was years before he put his program to the test for research purposes. This allowed him to put 154 patients with high blood pressure in a hospital setting to control everything.
The results were nothing short of staggering….
- 89% of patients dropped to a normal blood pressure
- The average of the system blood pressures at the end of the study was 117.5
- Those who started with stage 1 high blood pressure (92) dropped 30 points
- Those who started with stage 2 (57) dropped 40 points
- Those who started with stage 3 (25) dropped….wait for it….SIXTY points
A sixty-point drop in systolic blood pressure. In less than 2 weeks.
There is no medication on the planet that is even remotely this powerful, works this quickly AND has no side effects.
This study has been around for a while. It’s not new news and yet I have never heard it recommended to a patient in my entire practice life.
Maybe it’s because most doctors aren’t aware of fasting used for anything other than pre-surgery or Ramadan. Or maybe it’s because most physicians think there is nothing more powerful than the drugs in his or her toolbox.
Water only fasting is not hard and the process is not as difficult as most would think. Hunger lasted a day or two. Other than that, there were no real problems with the program. The biggest challenge would be managing any medications as blood pressure dropped so that it doesn’t drop dangerously low.
After the fasting period, participants transitioned into a vegetarian diet afterwards. The blood pressure drops were maintained for months afterwards. In other words, this wasn’t something temporary—it was a fix.
At least for as long as whoever goes through this program doesn’t slip back into old habits that ruin blood vessel health.
Here’s my thoughts….
Water-only fasting for a short period (up to 7-10 days) allows the body to reset itself. The liver begins to get rid of backlogged junk it couldn’t otherwise detoxify. There is also the fact that food that is otherwise toxic to blood vessel health, like fast food and soda (as an egregious example….), is avoided.
But the biggest thing that happens is that prediabetes is almost completely reversed. Yes—it can happen that quickly. Studies have found that insulin-dependent diabetics can reverse diabetes in 2 weeks using a very-low-calorie diet, so we already know this works.
Water-only detoxification. In all my years of studying natural blood pressure remedies, this is the most powerful tool I have come across.