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Lowering Blood Pressure Naturally

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Q. I need your advice about lowering my blood pressure. My family doctor does not seem to be interested in any remedies other than the prescription drugs. While I'm sure these drugs have their place, I want to exhaust the natural remedies first.

I am a 61-year-old male in very good health. My LDL cholesterol is 111 and my total cholesterol is 176. My doctor is happy with those numbers but unhappy with my HDL which he says is too low at 34. My triglycerides are a bit high at 157.

My blood pressure varies greatly, from 142/86 to 170/100. What can you tell me about natural approaches to controlling blood pressure and triglycerides?

A. Our brand new book from National Geographic, The People's Pharmacy Quick and Handy Home Remedies, has hundreds of food and home remedies for common ailments from allergies and arthritis to sinusitis and warts.

Some of the approaches we share for high blood pressure include foods like beets and chocolate to spices like garlic and turmeric. Grapeseed extract may also be helpful. Fish oil and a low-carb diet can lower triglycerides and raise good HDL cholesterol.

The book will give you guidance on particular foods that are to be avoided on a low-carbohydrate diet and those vegetables that are desirable. You will also get the details of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet, which has been shown to lower blood pressure about as well as many medications.

To learn more about our new book from National Geographic, click HERE.

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I have found a way to control high triglycerides. On my breakfast cereal EVERY morning I put 1/4 teaspoon of CINNAMON and it has controlled them for me. I always had very high triglycerides until I did this and they have NEVER been high again. Hope this helps someone.

I was on blood pressure medication for many years and have eliminated the need for medication in just a few days, by changing what I eat. Eliminate processed foods that have more than a 1 to 1 ratio of sodium to calories. For example, if you are looking at salsa and the calories are 20 per serving, the sodium should be at or under 20 mg. Eat fresh vegetables including baked potatoes, fruit including bananas, brown rice, whole wheat pastas and beans and eliminate sodium from processed foods (you already get sodium, naturally occurring in foods like veggies, for example). Reduce or eliminate fat and animal protein. With these simple steps your bp can be reduced in just a few days... try it, then continue to eat that way to keep your bp down.

I am really disappointed in this posting. I normally find good information from People's Pharmacy, but this is little more than an advertisement for their book!

My experience with similar numbers was shifted remarkably by getting back on a "no-white-carbs" eating plan. In short, unlimited leaves and stems (kale, celery, lettuce, etc.) and controlled roots and fruits. This increases potassium, which helps with BP reduction, and solves the triglycerides problem.

YMMV.

Give a low carb way of eating a good 90-day trial and see what happens. They won't stop making bread just because you stop eating it. If you need more support, read any of the Atkins books, which explain the nutrition science pretty well.

Try cutting out salt from your diet and take garlic tablets, There are tablets that are odor free. They have helped me.

If a person is found to have high blood pressure for the first time ever, and this person relates to his doctor that due to his bronchitis, he spent the previous night with spasmodic coughing all night long. Would that person's blood pressure be high as a result of this disturbance?

Thank you.

Anybody got any more help?

Torrence is right, cinnamon works wonders for HBP. That, and beet juice (and/or just eating beets), and I think I got both ideas from this column! For the past few years, every time I went in to give blood, my BP was anywhere from 140/90 to 162/98. Finally last September one of their nurses told me, 'Face it sweetheart, you have high blood pressure.' I was not a happy camper.

After some digging around, I began drinking the juice from beets I'd cooked up or straight from the can (about 8oz./day), but no one else in our house really likes beets, and they stain like mad everything they touch. Then I heard you could get great results from cinnamon, and that was all I needed.

As proof, I went to give blood on a Friday and deliberately skipped the spice; although they couldn't find the vein that time, my BP was 150/98. I went back in the following Monday, and this time I had taken cinnamon. (I just mix about a half-teaspoon with a dab of yogurt and call it good.) Voila!-not only did they get the vein, but my BP was at its new norm: 111/70! I'm tickled pink about this, but remember you DO have to take it every day to maintain results. Good luck!

Reducing your blood pressure and lipids are 2 different issues, but it comes down to eating well and exercising regularly. Exercising on most days of the week, maintaining a proper weight, eating low fat diary, plenty of vegetables, using healthy fats etc. These are all parts of the DASH diet that was referred to--here is a summary from the National Institutes of Health: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/new_dash.pdf --I found this by doing a Google search for "DASH diet."

Controlling your HDL, LDL and triglycerides will also benefit from from the above. Reducing overall fat intake and making sure those that you do eat are healthy--fats in nuts, olive or canola oil rather than commercially fried foods and cooking in lard. You may find that some of your recipes could use less fat--some recipes recommend substituting apple sauce and/or flax seed meal for fat. Here's a good reference for controlling cholesterol naturally: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/chol/chol_tlc.pdf

An interesting thing that gets people confused is that some "low fat" products may technically have less "fat" but have mono- and di-glycerides added which don't count as fat according to food labeling rules, which state that only tri-glycerides count. Mono- di- and tri- glycerides are all fat, so they definitely count for your waistline. So if your low-fat foods have the same amount of calories as the original consider that they are no better.

I agree with Susan's recommendations. For MLS's recommendation to take garlic tablets and Torrence to take cinnamon, I'd recommend finding ways to include more garlic in your diet rather than in the pills. A lot of the research on garlic's benefits are on garlic as a food, not a processed extract from it. For cinnamon, there is some evidence that it helps diabetes--which would in turn improve triglycerides. However the dose of cinnamon necessary to see benefits was more than 1/4 of a teaspoon. If you put your cinnamon on oatmeal then this would help more since the soluble fiber in oatmeal can reduce cholesterol--kind of like a natural and side effect free version of Alli/ Xenical.

P.S. Typically the healthy foods that are recommended have a lot more proof that they work than the pills and supplements meant to imitate the real thing. You can't eat McDonald's and make it all better by taking a multivitamin.

does cinnamon work for HBP or just triglycerides? I have read about beet juice for HBP but it is very expensive.

you didn't answer about htn but only cholesterol.

Start with exercising and eating right. That in itself won't necessarily lower your blood pressure but will get you into a mode of living a healthy life.

I too had very high blood pressure. Years ago my nurse said after taking my BP "I won't even tell you what your BP is......" At that time I was put on 100mg/day of Cozaar (max amount). This worked and got my pressure down to the 120-135/80-85 range. However, my goal since then has been to get off meds all together and to obtain the new levels of BP that just came out in the past year or so. Therefore, I started looking at alternatives.

Controlling stress is very important so a fresh outlook of life will do wonders for you so make sure you reduce the stress in your life. I also never add salt to anything and read the labels of all foods that I eat to insure I'm not ingesting large amounts of salt (the food industry is hell bent on adding salt, sugars, and fat to all of our foods). However, I must admit that after studying the test data/results on salt intake versus BP and contacting the NIH the data seems so show relatively small changes in BP as linked to salt intake. Basically lowering systolic numbers in the 160s by 6 points to me is not very encouraging. However, there are other benefits relative to artery health that result from low intakes of salt. Bottom line... cut out the salt where you can.

With all of the above I was surprised the most when linking exercise to BP levels. I exercise very vigorously but that in itself didn't seem to make much of a difference in my BP numbers. I felt great but that was it. What made the biggest differences was the slow breathing exercises. This practice has taken my numbers below 120/80 and typically (depending on the time of day) I will be in the 110/70 range. Before my blood pressure is taken at a doctor's office I do five minutes of slow breathing exercises and I always ends up with low BP numbers.

I also do these exercises throughout the day whenever I think about it. So I am a real believer in this technique. I'm now down to 25mg of Cozaar and at my next visit I'm going to ask my doctor to get off the Cozaar altogether (the last visit he didn't want me to go cold turkey so he is slowly lowing my dosage rate).

I've tried beets and juice and didn't see any noticeable change in BP. However, one should be careful of beet juice since it is not supposed to be good for anyone succeptable to having kidney stones and it supposedly can affect your calcium levels.

Cinnamon is also supposed to be good for controlling diabetes so it wouldn't hurt to have a daily dose of this spice also. However, this is the first that I've heard about cinnamon and its affect on BP. Cinnamon on applesauce has always been a favorite of mine so I will add this to my current regiment for lowering my BP.

For 10 years I have been severely overweight, so the DR told me lose the weight and my blood pressure would go down. Well I lost 70 lbs and it has not gone down. So I will be trying both the beets and the cinnamon. Because my DR wants to put me on 2 more meds and I am sick of the meds. Thank you your information, I will try to give and update in a few weeks.

Wendy, Please look at the sodium content of the food you are eating. I think sometimes people think if they lose weight, that's the answer, but it is also how the weight is lost. You could try to eat all fresh food with no added sodium and you may see your BP drop in two days.

I just returned from the grocery store where I had to look at all the ingredient lists of frozen veggies, because often they add salt! How crazy that? So, for example... wonderful broccoli with salt! If I don't read that fine print in the ingredients section and also make sure that the sodium is less than 1 to 1 (calories to mg of sodium) in salad dressings, cans of tomato sauce, etc., my bp goes right up, regardless of how much weight I lost.

It may help to add beets and cinnamon, but also try taking out sodium at the same time. I hope this suggestion helps.

Susan, the salts in prepared foods, along with the other chemical additives, are not great for anyone but I'm not sure that is the problem. We eat very few packaged and tinned foods.

My mom was a "salt-a-holic" so I've always been salt averse. One thing I have tried to do is increase my salt intake and have done so with good sea salt over the last several years (as I have lost weight). It has absolutely no effect on my BP. Sea salt makes a huge difference in how I feel though-especially during the summer.

I recently had my yearly physical and my BP numbers were high. I consulted my favorite go-to author, Adelle Davis ("Let's Get Well"), and discovered that I was creating a choline and inositol deficiency by not properly balancing all of the B-vitamins. So, I started taking 1000 mg. of each with breakfast and then again at bedtime.

In the meantime, I was instructed by my doctor to monitor my BP at home. After two days of the vitamin regimen, both my systolic and diastolic numbers were down by 15-20 points on average!! My numbers have stayed that low over a week and a half. I have also noticed that the constant dizziness I had disappeared.

It may be due to the medication prescribed for high blood pressure which is a common side effect. Check out your med online and see if it has a side effect of coughing. Sometimes it isn't even listed as a side effect!

Thanks for the cinnamon and beet juice hints. I will try both and see how it works on me. My BP has slowly gone up to now 140's systolic and mid 80's diastolic. I'll be hitting 50y.o. this year. I'm not overweight.

My parents started being hypertensive when they were in their 50's. My mom was overweight, but my dad was very thin and ate very healthy. So, weight is not a factor for hypertension, it's our blood vessels aging and not being elastic as it used to be. Just like our aging eyes, needing reading glasses, since our lenses doesn't adjust like it use to (presbyopia).

Salt, does increase our BP, since salt causes water retention. But it's STRESS that cause a significant rise in our BP, and, of course chronic KIDNEY DISEASE (brought on by diabetes or other factors).

I've had good luck with Hawthorne extract pills in reducing and controlling my BP.

I have noticed that when I have a cold with coughing, sneezing, much congestion, that my blood pressure goes up.

"Grapeseed extract may also be helpful. Fish oil and a low-carb diet can lower triglycerides and raise good HDL cholesterol." - This has been very helpful to boost healthy circulation and body. I expect more information next time.

Salt is salt... sea salt is still salt. It takes longer to dissolve in food, so typically people who use sea salt use more to taste, because it hasn't been dissolved completely in the food you taste and so when cooking, more if often added. Some people think it is better than other types of salt so they also may use it more liberally... but it is salt!

It is important to track the actual mg of salt you use and to read labels and keep track throughout the day. If after tracking everything and adding it up results in confirmed low consumption, then try the other suggestions too.... Celery for example is LOADED with salt... You can find all naturally occurring salt amounts on the internet. It's not easy to acknowledge all the salt we are consuming and to reduce it enough.

My husband tried the beet juice and it raised his blood pressure. Beets have a high salt content. We were also surprised to learn that celery has a high salt content.

Actually celery is not full of SALT (sodium chloride). It is high in sodium. But studies show celery can actually help lower blood pressure due to two factors:

1. a yellow crystalline chemical called apigenin. Studies have shown apigenin causes blood vessels to dilate.
2. a chemical called "3nb" which gives celery its unique smell and taste. That chemical is thought to make blood vessels more elastic.

Both dilated and elasticized blood vessels help maintain normal blood pressure.

How much celery should we eat then? Researcher reported from the University of Chicago says that when some people with high blood pressure ate 4 oz. of celery per day for one week, their blood pressure returned to normal.

Note that celery is on the dirty dozen list. So try to buy organic celery whenever possible.

Severe hypertension runs in my family. My mother suffered her first major stroke younger than what I am now. Having watched what my mother went through, it helped me to be more aware and try to maintain a healthy diet and be active all my life. Yet, it wasn't enough. I did ignore the symptoms I had for a short time as I believed I was too young, too healthy. But when I began suffering chest pain on top of the pounding headaches and majorly blurred vision, I finally called my doctor.

I had done everything right, yet over the last few years, my blood pressure has been 150/170 over 90/100. I completely changed my life style and "again" changed my diet. I eat very little processed foods and stick with veggies, fruits and wisely choose my snacks, even intentionally increasing potassium. Being as active as I am, my diet is crucial. And of course, I avoid salt. I know it's impossible to eliminate it completely, but I watch what I eat very carefully. I eat several small meals through out the day, avoiding larger heavy meals. I am "very" active everyday and have been most of my life. My job is physically demanding and I absolutely love it, so stress is not the cause.

Once I was cleared by my doctor, I returned to my martial arts class 3 days a week as it includes a 30 minute workout and I play softball at least 4 days a week. I'm 41 years old and in the best shape of my life. However, my blood pressure still remains high. I'm looking for a natural way to lower my blood pressure. If anyone has any suggestions I'd be grateful.

>>I'm looking for a natural way to lower my blood pressure.

One woman's opinion: at what point will you decide you have tried enough, and it's time to try prescription meds? For your sake, should this point come, I hope it's before the stroke and not after.

In my case, I had four years of trying, and vastly lower numbers than yours, before I "gave up" and accepted that family history may be bigger than I am. "Lowering" may be all you will get out of "natural"--you have "lowered" your BP. Whether "natural" can get you to "Low enough" is a million-dollar question.

I take a very low dose of a very old medication that doesn't cost much at all, and my numbers are back to what they were when I was 30. If I have to take this for the rest of my life, and pay for it out of pocket, I will be ahead of the cost of one minor little stroke or any of the other end-stage products of high BP.

I still follow all the "natural" methods. My neighbor, who doesn't (AFAIK) takes four, expensive, high-dose meds, and has ongoing problems related to BP. YMMV. If your family has a history of already being dead at your age, maybe it's time. Or not. Your call.

Hello Bob,

I just read what you have written about lowering BP. You did mention that slow breathing exercises helped you in bringing down the BP numbers.

I am interested in knowing more about slow breathing exercise and would like to know how is slow breathing exercises are done.

Please do share with me if any tips for the above.

Many Thanks,
Lisa.

My sincere apologies... in re-reading my last post, I wasn't careful about what I wrote (salt v. sodium). I very much appreciate MaryJane's corrections and additional information about celery. Although I didn't do a good job of it, I do agree with her.

When I misspoke about celery with what seemed like advice that it should be avoided, I tried to say there are naturally occurring things in the food we eat. So I do not add salt and/or sea salt, on top of naturally occurring nutrients. Eating clean, whole, unprocessed food with no added salt has reduced and maintained my blood pressure to below 120/80.

There are times in a restaurant or at a friends home where it's impossible to eliminate added salt, so it shows up in very small moderation from time to time. I also agree with Karen, after doing all we can to correct our BP, if BP is not normal, medication is key.

Lisa:
Slow breathing exercises has been around for a long time. There are even companies who sell products to help with this routine. However, I don't believe these are necessary.

I don't know what the body's physiological reaction is to this technique but what most articles seem to agree on is that we all tend to shallow breath most of the day which is not good. Maybe this triggers something in the brain to restrict the arteries in order to increase blood flow which in turn will increase blood pressure (just a guess). So the goal is simple..........start breathing normally again.

Slow breathing techniques is nothing more than slowly inhaling to say a count of 5 or 6 seconds. Then slowly exhaling for another 5 or 6 seconds. Do this for a couple minutes at a time and do it several times during a day.

Don't forget that drinking lots of water helps regulate your blood pressure as well. So many of us are actually dehydrated (even borderline dehydrated) and don't even know it. Water flushes out the toxins in our bodies and helps our blood pressure along with a number of other things.

I heard that hibiscus leaves help lower high blood pressure. What is the ratio of dried leaves to water?

Most but, not all doctors today are nothing more than glorified legal drug dealers. They & Big Pharma are self-serving entities. Darn if we do, darn if we don't. We are at their mercy. However,I will say this, that if it were not for modern medicine/chemistry/surgery etc., I would be completely crippled or dead.

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