Naturopathic Treatment for High Blood Pressure
"Hypertension" is the medical term for high blood pressure. High blood pressure that has no known cause is called primary, or essential, hypertension. This type of high blood pressure is the most common and responds well to lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, dietary changes, exercise, and stress reduction. Natural treatment of essential hypertension can bring blood pressure values into the normal range; however, if lifestyle changes are not maintained, hypertension will probably return. Secondary hypertension has an organic cause (i.e., kidney disease, pregnancy) and must be evaluated and monitored by a physician since the underlying cause must also be addressed.
Nutrition & Blood Pressure
Hypertensive people can remarkably reduce their blood pressure through nutritional changes. Increasing the amount of vegetables and fruit and reducing the amount of fat and cholesterol will not only reduce blood pressure but can help with weight loss, which also lowers blood pressure.
- Eat whole, fresh, unrefined, and unprocessed foods. Include fruits, vegetables, garlic, onion, whole grains, soy, beans, seeds, nuts, olive oil, and cold-water fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, halibut, and mackerel).
- Low sodium-high potassium diet. Most people are aware that reducing sodium (salt) intake can help reduce blood pressure. However, that may not be the whole picture. Restricting sodium intake to lower blood pressure appears to work better if accompanied by increasing potassium intake. Keep in mind that reducing sodium intake involves more than not using a salt shaker, but also reading processed and prepared food labels for the sodium content.
- Avoid salt, sugar, dairy products, refined foods, fried foods, junk foods, and caffeine.
- Eliminate food sensitivities. Use an elimination and challenge diet to determine food sensitivities.
- Drink 50% of your body weight in ounces of water daily (e.g., if you weigh 150 lbs, drink 75 oz of water daily).
Dietary Supplements & Blood Pressure
Supplements are intended to provide nutritional support. Because a supplement or a recommended dose may not be appropriate for all persons, a physician (i.e., a licensed naturopathic physician or holistic MD or DO) should be consulted before using any product. Recommended doses follow:
- Calcium—Take 800-1500 mg daily.
- Vitamin C—Take 1000 mg daily.
- Coenzyme Q10—Take 50 mg two times daily.
- Flaxseed meal—Grind 2–4 tablespoons daily. Flaxseed meal is a better choice due to its fiber, lignan, and vitamin content, but flaxseed oil (1 tbsp daily) can be substituted.
Herbal Medicine & Blood Pressure
Herbal medicines rarely have significant side effects when used appropriately and at suggested doses. Occasionally, an herb at the prescribed dose causes stomach upset or a headache. This may reflect the purity of the preparation or added ingredients, such as synthetic binders or fillers. For this reason, it is recommended that only high-quality products be used. As with all medications, more is not better and overdosing can lead to serious illness and death.
These herbs are often used to treat hypertension; however, they have serious side effects if taken in large doses. It is recommended that these herbs be used only with a physician's supervision.
- Coleus forskohlii—Lowers blood pressure and improves heart function.
- Hawthorne (Crataegus oxycantha)—Has the ability to dilate coronary blood vessels, which helps lower blood pressure.
- Mistletoe (Viscum album)—Not as potent as Rauwolfia but well tolerated and nontoxic in normal doses.
- Rauwolfia (Rauwolfia serpentina)—This is considered the most powerful hypotensive botanical. Only a small dose is required to achieve results and to avoid side effects. Nasal congestion is the most common side effect.
Homeopathy & Blood Pressure
The appropriate homeopathic remedy can help move the body and mind toward healing. A trained homeopathic practitioner is needed to identify and prescribe a deep-acting, constitutional remedy.