High blood pressure-also known as hypertension or “the silent
killer”-affects 1 in 3 adult Americans, or roughly 67 million people,
and that number only continues to grow. 90-95% of cases are known as
primary hypertension, which is hypertension with no underlying medical
cause. The small left-over percentage is caused by conditions such as
kidney disease. But what is this mysterious silent killer
Use these effective home remedies to lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Blood and its circulation are vital to sustain life. They supply crucial
nutrients and oxygen to all the cells and organs in our body. They also
remove waste and carbon dioxide. When the heart beats it creates
pressure that pushes blood through your arteries and veins. This
pressure, if you haven’t guessed, is our blood pressure. Two forces pump
the blood through our bodies, the first being created by the heart
pumping blood out into the arteries, and the second occurs when the
heart rests between beats and blood is drawn back into the muscle. When
your blood pressure rises, damage can occur that upsets this system.
If you have hypertension, your heart has to work extra hard to pump
blood through the body. And while healthy arteries are made of
semi-flexible muscle, the force of high blood pressure will lead to
overstretching their walls. This overstretching can lead to tiny tears
in blood vessels (known as vascular scarring) that leaves tissue that
catch things such as cholesterol/plaque, and other blood cells. Building
off of the latter, this leads to an increased risk of blood clots. The
walls will also become weakened over time. Tissue damage from being
oxygen depleted occurs in parts of the arteries on the other side of a
blockage or build-up of plaque, depriving it of fresh oxygenated blood,
and heart attacks and strokes are the result if the pressure becomes too
Before starting drug therapy, try lifestyle changes and some home
remedies for high blood pressure. Not surprisingly, things such as diet
and exercise play a big role in lowering blood pressure, so always keep
those two things at the forefront of your mind. Medications can be
harsh, and while best avoided if possible, if you are on them, know that
natural remedies can interfere with their functioning.
1. Cut the Salt
Salt is not the problem when it comes to high blood pressure, per say,
but rather its chemical component sodium. A little bit is fine, but too
much sodium disrupts the balance of fluid in the body. To “flush” the
excess salt from your system, water is drawn from surrounding tissues.
The higher volume of liquid results in the heart working harder to pump
the blood-hence, high blood pressure. Sure we use a lot of table salt on
our foods, but still, that amount isn’t enough to account for the rise
in blood pressure. Actually, only 6% of our salt consumption comes from
the table shaker. The vast amounts of salt we consume daily (on average
1-2 generous teaspoons) couldn’t possibly be caused by the salt we
sprinkle on our food alone. No you have to dig a little bit more to get
to the source-processed foods. Such an extraordinary quantity of excess
salt is added into processed foods it’s easy to stray over the healthy
limit of sodium intake.
A specific example-a single microwave “roast turkey” meal can have salt
in the meat, the flavoring, the gravy, the stuffing, and the potatoes,
to equal a whopping 5,400 milligrams of sodium. The utmost maximum daily
limited is listed at 2,300 milligrams-even less for African Americans,
men, and anyone over the age of 51. If you fall into one of those
categories, you should only consume less than ½ teaspoon a day. Even
foods that are labeled low-fat or low in sugar can still contain a
boatload of sodium. Food companies do this to, logically, increase the
value of their products. We get hooked on the flavor. Of all the flavors
(sweet, sour, etc.,) it is the hardest to live without. How do you
fight it to lower your blood pressure?
You will need…
-the power of will
In short, slowly add less and less to your cooking. And of course, read
the labels on the food you buy carefully. Remember the number 2,300 for
daily intake of sodium-any higher than that, and it’s a no-go. You’ll
find yourself turning to home cooked meals, where you can control the
amount of salt added, instead of processed foods. Stick with it, and you
will find if you go back to an excess amount of salt after adjusting
your taste buds to less, you will be close to repulsed at the flavor.
Intensive research has shown that the more salt you eat, the more you
need. If you eat less salt, you only need to add less to your food or
have less in your food, to be satisfied with a smaller amount. We are
not born liking salt. A baby will get joy from a droplet of sugar water,
but there is no taste, no craving, for salt until 6 months of age. When
studied children were fed salty foods, versus children who ate more
fruits and vegetables, a craving was created in the former group where
none existed before. These cravings can shape you’re eating habits for
years. Soups, chips, crackers, pizza, sauces, fries, etc. etc., it’s
easy for even the young generations to get hooked on salt at an early
age. Keep your wits about you!
2. Sip Some Hibiscus
Cultures across the world have used hibiscus to naturally manage blood
pressure, but it wasn’t until the past decade that studies were actually
conducted that showed there was more to the remedy than just folklore.
First, hibiscus acts as a diuretic, which draws sodium from the
bloodstream, thus decreasing the pressure on the arterial walls. Even
more interesting is how it can mimic angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE)
inhibitors. ACE inhibitors are a common group of pharmaceutical drugs
used to treat high blood pressure. They work by hampering the
angiotensin-converting enzyme, which plays a crucial role in the
renin-angiotensin system- a hormone system that regulates blood pressure
and fluid balance. As a result of this inhibition, blood vessels relax
and blood volume is lowered, decreasing blood pressure. While certainly
not as potent as those ACE drugs prescribed, it can still be
You will need…
-1-2 teaspoon of dried hibiscus
-1 cup of fresh, piping hot water
-Honey, lemon, or 1-2 cinnamon sticks (optional)
Bring water to a boil and add the hibiscus and cinnamon sticks (if using
them) and allow it to steep for 5 minutes. Add honey or lemon to taste,
and drink 2-3 times daily. This also makes a lovely iced tea for those
sticky hot summer days.
3. Drink Coconut Water
Coconut water is found inside the shell of green, unripe coconuts that
retains its natural benefits in organic and raw form. It contains
potassium and magnesium, both of which relate to regular muscle
function, and of course, the heart is a big giant muscle. While there
have been some limited studies on the effect of coconut water on
hypertension, many people report anecdotally that it has helped lower
blood pressure. In studies, it seemed to particularly affect systolic
blood pressure, or the force that takes place when the heart pumps blood
away from it. If you don’t have a problem with coconut water, it may
prove to be a solid remedy for you.
You will need…
-8 ounces of fresh, organic coconut water
Drink 8 ounces 1-2 times daily. Morning is ideal if you drink it once a
day, while morning and night works well if you opt to drink it twice a
4. Fabulous Fish Oil
Of course this is on here! You may roll your eyes because you’ve seen it
everywhere, but fish oil and its bountiful omega-3 fatty acids are a
beautiful thing when it comes to your heart. While studies have been
wishy-washy on whether or not it actually reduces the risk of heart
attacks or strokes, it has been viewed as successful when it comes to
lowering blood pressure, while also reducing triglycerides and
increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Heart transplant patients have been
given fish oil to reduce the risk of hypertension following a
You will need…
-High quality fish oil
I prefer liquid fish oil taken in orange juice to the pills which can
have some…unpleasant side effects. Take the amount appropriate for you
as indicated on the back of the bottle.
5. Heart Healthy Hawthorn
Hawthorn is a staple herb when it comes to heart health as it is rich in
flavonoids, namely, oligomeric procyandins (OPC’s) and quercetin.
Flavonoids are touted as having many benefits, but one of the most
intensely studied conditions that it affects is various forms of heart
disease. This includes arrhythmia, palpitations, improve the function of
capillaries, regulate glucose metabolism and, of course, reduce
arterial blood pressure and the risk of hypertension.
There are several different mechanical actions that flavonoids can take
on the blood, but pertaining to hypertension the most important may be
the widening of the blood vessels, which ultimately reduces the pressure
of the blood. You can enjoy hawthorn in the form of a tea or in the
form of “balls”, which is what is given below. The recipe also calls for
cinnamon and ginger, which are great for helping circulation flow
smoothly. It was the herbalist Rosemary Gladstar who taught me how to
make these wonderful herbal balls, and while I’ve tweaked the recipe
some, I’ll forever be grateful to her for tuning me into this wonderful
way of enjoying herbal medicine!
You will need…
-4 tablespoons of powdered hawthorn berry
-1/2-1 tablespoons of cinnamon powder
-Cocoa or carob powder
Place the cinnamon and hawthorn powder in a bowl and mix the two
together. Add just enough honey and water to make a paste. Thicken the
mixture with cocoa powder or carob powder until it has formed a dough
that you can cleanly roll into small balls no bigger than your index
fingernail. Place them on a cookie sheet and dry in an oven at a very
low temperature (not more than 150 degrees Fahrenheit) until dry. Store
indefinitely in a glass jar out of direct sunlight and in a cool place.
Along with diet, exercise should really be number one on this list.
Nothing can replace what exercise does for the body, and in a society
where we are becoming increasingly sedentary, it can take a bit more
effort to get out and get moving-but it’s worth it, especially if you
have high blood pressure. The heart is a muscle, and it will grow
stronger with exercise. It becomes easier to pump blood and takes less
effort, keeping your heart in better condition and lowering how much
force it exerts on your arteries, thus lowering blood pressure.
Exercise is, in many cases, all that you need to get your blood pressure
back on track. The top number in a blood pressure reading indicates
systolic blood pressure, which is created by the heart pumping blood
away from it. Exercise can lower this reading by an average of 4 to 9
millimeters of mercury (a unit of pressure), which is easily as much as
some prescription blood pressure medications. A pleasant side effect of
exercise is weight loss, which also does your heart and arteries a great
You will need…
Try and get in at 30 minutes of exercise a day. You don’t have to run
marathon-even simple chores like scrubbing the floors are good. Anything
that gets your heart rate up and increases your rate of respiration.
Make this a habit. You only get the benefits of exercise as long as you
7. Go For Garlic
Garlic is one of those home remedy staples. It is rich in beneficial
constituents that address a wide range of ailments, once of which
happens to be hypertension. There is just one little catch though.
Allicin, the organosulphur-sulfur containing- compound responsible for
several of garlic’s health benefits, doesn’t fare as well in the human
body when garlic is eaten raw. Allicin is relatively unstable, and is
typically deactivated when it comes in contact with a substance with a
pH lower than 3, such as our stomach acid.
However, when taken in tablet form, there is a guaranteed allicin yield
that ensures you get the proper amount to have solid results when it
comes to lowering blood pressure. Be sure when getting the tablets that
there is a release of allicin in a significant, standardized amount-in
several studies involved with blood pressure, 1.8 milligrams per dose
lowered blood pressure by 10% within 12 weeks.
You will need…
-Good quality garlic tablets
Take as directed on the back of the bottle.
8. Melon in the Morning
Every morning, be faithful to watermelon. Often times watermelon as
viewed as a strictly summer fruit, one for seed spitting contests and
barbecues, but it can also help lower blood pressure. An organic
compound called citrulline, an a-amino acid, was first isolated in 1914
from watermelon. Once ingested, the body can convert citrulline to the
amino acid L-arginine, which is a precursor to nitric oxide. To
translate, citrulline-found in watermelon- is converted into
arginine-essentially a chemical building block-which leads to the
production of nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide talks to various cells and systems in your body that
regulates, among other things, how hard your blood gets pumped through
your entire body-also known as vascular systematic resistance. It will
widen blood vessels, which lowers vascular resistance, which ultimately
lowers blood pressure. Imagine trying to pump a certain volume of liquid
through a small opening versus a wider opening. The wider opening will
allow it to flow smoothly and easily-it’s the same with blood cells!
You will need…
-1-2 cups of fresh water melon
Every morning eat your melon on an empty stomach. If you have a home
blood pressure device, monitor yourself and observe the changes.
9. Ginger-Cardamom Tea
A study done in December of 2009 published in the Indian Journal of
Biochemistry & Biophysics gave a group of participants 1 teaspoon of
cardamom powder daily for several weeks. The results showed a
significant reduction in blood pressure. While further research is
needed to pinpoint exactly why it seems to help, it has still proven
itself a useful home remedy for high blood pressure.
Combined with ginger and cinnamon, both warming spices that improve
circulation, you can make a lovely tea to help your heart get healthy.
Interestingly enough, black tea seems to improve blood pressure in some
instances. This is most likely due to the heavy concentration of
flavonoid, however if you have blood pressure that leans towards the
more severe side of the scale; the caffeine may do more harm than good.
This is particularly delightful warm, spicy, tea to have on chilly
winter days (and when we’re tempted from eating healthier thanks to the
You will need…
-1/2 cup of water
-2-3 teaspoons of honey (or to taste)
-1 teaspoon of cardamom pods
-1/2 teaspoon ginger powder OR 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
-1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
-1 ½ tablespoons black tea or 1 teabag
-1/2 cup milk
-Mortar and pestle
Crush the cardamom pods to release the oil-there’s no need to grind them
finely. In a saucepan combine all the ingredients except for the honey.
Bring to a boil, then simmer for 6-9 minutes until you get a rich
caramel brown color. Stir in honey and then strain into a mug and enjoy!
Drink 1-2 times daily.
10. Cat’s Claw Decoction
Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is a woody climbing vine found in South
and Central America, with its most notable use being in the Amazon
rainforest. It is named after the thorns on the plant which are hooked,
much like cats claws. It has been used as a traditional remedy in its
native habitat for a long time, but test tube studies finally revealed
evidence for promising benefits, one amongst them being lowering blood
pressure. It does so by dilating the blood vessels (known as
vasodilation) and therefore lowering the pressure by allowing blood to
flow through more readily. It can also act as a mild diuretic, getting
rid of unneeded salt and water in the body, which can again reduce
hypertension. The tannins and flavonoid are most likely the main
constituents that account for the herbs healing actions.
Here it is made into a flavorful decoction that will give you all of its
benefits. A decoction is essentially a tea, but is simmered for much
longer as it is made from the woody, tough, fibrous parts of the plant
such as roots or (in this case) bark. There are two things to keep in
mind when searching for your herb-first, make sure its scientific name
matches the one above (there are several other plants known as cats
claw) and secondly, make sure it is from an ecologically sustainable
Cats Claw should be avoided by women who are pregnant.
You will need…
-1-2 tablespoons of dried herb
-1 ½-2 cups of cold water
-Honey or lemon to taste
Place the herb and water in a small saucepan over low heat and bring to a
slow simmer. Cover, and let it simmer for 40-45 minutes. Add more water
(or less) depending on how concentrated you want the tea to be. Strain,
add honey or lemon if desired, and drink once daily.
11. Beautiful Blueberry Syrup
Syrups are, hands down, one of my most favorite ways of incorporating
the benefits of herbs and spices into daily life. While the word “syrup”
may make you think of something sickly sweet and heavy-the opposite of
what you want for heart health-that isn’t the case here. The “syrup”
that you see on grocery store shelves may not be the best, but made at
home it is a wonderful (delicious) way to give yourself a natural boost.
And if we’re honest with ourselves, sometimes choking down bitter tea
makes it hard to stay on track with a remedy. Blueberries are rich in
the flavonoid quercetin, the benefits of which are explained in remedy
number 5, as it is also found in hawthorn. You can mix in elderberries
for an extra heart healthy kick as well-surprise, surprise they’re good
for more than just warding off the cold and flu!
You will need….
-8 tablespoons of dried blueberries OR 4 tablespoons each of dried blueberries and elderberries.
-4 cups of water
-1 cup of honey
-A pot, strainer, and glass jar with an airtight lid
Add the dried berries to the water and bring to a simmer over low heat.
Continue to simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Strain the
solids out, pressing on them to extract any extra juices, and pour the
liquid back into the pot. Stir in the honey, warming the mixture just to
ensure the two blend together thoroughly. Here there are two different
paths you can take. For thicker syrup, heat the honey and berry juice
over medium-high heat for 20 minutes. If you’d rather not cook the
syrup, and are ok with one that is slightly thinner, skip this step.
Once mixed, bottle and label and store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4
weeks. Take 1 tablespoon twice daily.
Understanding Blood Pressure Reading
When the nurse wraps the cuff around your upper arm and then announces
two seemingly random numbers, what’s going on? Two forces pump the blood
through our bodies, the first being created by the heart contracts and
pumps blood out into the arteries, and the second occurs when the heart
rests between beats and the heart muscle is refilling with blood. These
two forces are known as systole and diastole respectively, and are the
numbers you see on a blood pressure reading.
The systolic pressure is the top number (or the first one read) and is
the higher number, and the second number is diastolic, and is the lower
number. So the next time you get your blood pressure read, remember the
first number is referring the force of blood being pumped away, and the
second number is the heart at rest refilling with blood. The systolic
number should be less than 120, while the diastolic number should be
less than 80. Anything higher and you enter pre-hypertension and