Q. I have been dealing with high blood pressure for years. When I am under stress my blood pressure goes up to around 150.

My doctor has prescribed lots of different drugs with mixed results. Atenolol caused fatigue and depression. Amlodipine made me dizzy to the point I couldn’t function. Lisinopril caused a horrible cough. Now I am on Diovan with no problems, but I read recently that drugs like this are linked with cancer.

I am ready to try a more natural approach. I heard that beets can lower blood pressure. How effective are they and what else might help?

A. An article in Lancet Oncology (July, 2010) has raised questions about the safety of drugs like Atacand, Diovan and Micardis. The investigators analyzed many scientific studies and concluded that such drugs “are associated with a modestly increased risk of new cancer occurrence.” Drug regulators and clinicians don’t know what to make of this new information.

An article published in the journal Hypertension (online, June 30, 2010) suggests that about 8.5 ounces of beet juice can significantly lower systolic blood pressure. We are sending you our Guide to Blood Pressure Treatment with more information about beet and pomegranate juice plus other non-drug approaches to controlling hypertension.

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  1. Jac

    Won’t beets or beet juice raise blood sugar. I am a diabetic, and have high blood pressure and on medication for both.

  2. juliett

    yes the beet does work I drink also

  3. juliett

    I take onion escallion garlic blend togather for my high blood pressure an it work

  4. joy

    I started drinking beetroot juice after my doc told me I had high blood pressure 140/90 he put me on a of.that makes me use the bathroom a lot. I refuse to take it. My question is to anybody I’m going through menopause would that make my blood pressure go up sometimes and how often should I drink beetroot juice to keep it down and keep it down always?

  5. steve

    I started drinking beet juice not knowing that it is a diuretic. I am taking 30 mg of chlorothidone. I soon found out that I was more regular, REALLY good wow. My blood pressure dropped way to normal. However because I am a hiker I suffered from horrible cramps. Note to self; this beet juice is very medicinal. I had to cut the pills way back, or actually the beet juice will replace the diuretic pills totally. Anyway it works for me but I have to drink 1/2 cup or less a day or it will just drain me… but its so good for you I am going to add the juice in some amount daily…

  6. eric

    so did the beatroot juice really work?

  7. Robin H.

    I also found out I had high blood pressure and cannot take medication because of liver cysts. So I decided to try beet root juice. A small amount every day brings my blood pressure down so quickly and it stays that way for the whole day. I also found it too expensive to buy continually so I went out and bought a juicer and juice one beet a day in with other leafy green vegetables. I am telling you, the beet juice works! My blood pressure now when I check it is always on the low side. You won’t regret drinking beet juice, but you need to drink it EVERY day for it to continue to work.

  8. bp1950

    A natural way to lower blood pressure every day, would be to drink 2 cups of beet juice a day! I wanted to pass a blood pressure check by my doctor as she wants to wait until my bp is lower before she prescribes a stimulant (for ADHD) to me. She prescribed a third medication. I now take Enalapril 20 mg twice daily, hydrochlorothiazide, which is a diuretic, and the new medication, Amlodipine, which is slow to work – doc said could take three weeks or more.
    I had read that drinking two cups of beet juice 2-3 hours prior to a test would lower bp by 10. Well it didn’t, as my bp was higher than ever for my test! (hence my 3rd medication was prescribed). But, the next morning, 24 hours later than my drinking the beet juice, my blood pressure was around 123/72, which for my age, is perfect! So I will drink it 24 hours before the test on my next doctor visit, which is next week! (and also another two cups 2 1/2 hours prior to the test. I will re-post my results then!

  9. Scott

    I had the same problem/issue with waking up with high blood pressure in the middle of the night. Do you eat large/late dinners in the evening (after 7:00pm)? I found out that if you eat late in the evening that many times it cause your blood pressure to go up dramatically during the night and early morning (especially if the meal had high sodium content).
    The reason is this food will just “sit” in your system for the whole night (instead of being metabolized and worked off during your active daytime hours) and slowly feed into your bloodstream which can dramatically raise your blood pressure at night. Try eating before 7:00 pm and having a large glass of water an hour or so before retiring (spring, mineral or filtered water – not distilled or purified).
    Also if you have a juicer, you can juice a a few stalks of celery, a beet and a few carrots which may also help lower your blood pressure during the night.

  10. MB

    If you have a vegetable juicer, just juice the beet through it for fresh and highly potent beet juice. Some folks add garlic…

  11. MB

    I was once told by a person I highly respected that too much beet juice, especially freshly juiced, is NOT good for the kidneys. This is just a bit of non-official info, but two cups a day seems a bit much.

  12. DK

    For about 8 months now, I have been waking up with high blood pressure. I am 62, and so worried about this. My doctor keeps changing, and increasing my medication, but when I am asleep, nothing brings it down. I don’t know what to do anymore. I know when it’s high because my head starts to pound. It’s running 150/99 during the night, and I am waking up with it like that.
    It levels out during the day, and sometimes even goes extremely low. I read that sleep apnea can cause this, so I borrowed my husbands CPAP machine for one night, and in 8 months, that was the first morning I woke up, and my pressure was normal. I go to a clinic, so I can’t be too demanding with them about my care, but at my age, I am starting to be concerned about this a lot. Any suggestions?

  13. Tim

    How many beets would you have to eat to get some benefits? I’m not a big fan of drinking beet juice but I do enjoy eating beats.

  14. SNH

    CHERYEL: His doctor should be consulted and told what you’ve said here. You don’t say whether he stopped his meds on his own, or his doc did, and you didn’t say whether his doc knows about his night-time B/P. If his doc doesn’t think that’s a problem, I would get a second opinion.

  15. Anonymous

    My husband only has high blood pressure while sleeping. 150/ 100 to 160/103. His daily blood pressure is 104/75 to 120/80 but at times has dropped as low as 90/60 . He changed his diet eating more fruits,veggies & a lot more physical activity. He used to be on Divan 160 mg & norvac 5mg but as his BP improved during the day he stopped medication. My question is if he went back on medication to try to take care of his sleeping hypertension wouldn’t it bring his good blood pressure during the day too low? How would he keep both day & night at a good level?

  16. Cheryel M.

    My husband has had high BP all his adult life and is on an ungodly amount of BP drugs. We would like to try beet juice (without stopping his Rx, of course). Beet juice is $17.00 for 16 ounces at the health food store, so we will be making our own. Do you know how many ounces of water to how many ounces of beets? We will let you know if this works. Thank you for your column.

  17. JEM

    My husband has found phenomenal benefits by removing gluten from his diet. He is in very good health; regularly exercises and maintains a healthy weight. But he has been fighting a family tendency towards high blood pressure his whole adult life and since he passed the age of 50 he found he could no longer control it with diet and exercise alone. He began a gluten free diet 8 months ago for stomach issues; and the side benefit has been a dramatic drop in his blood pressure. He was regularly measuring 145/90 plus. Now he is a steady 120/70, the lowest he has ever had. There have been no other changes in his life style and he takes NO meds. Has anyone else heard of this benefit from a gluten free diet?

  18. jw

    How often are you suppose to eat these beets or drink beet juice, which is very expensive.

  19. Brent B.

    Beets are high in potassium and also great for endurance. Most cases of high blood pressure have a physical reason behind them and the emphasis on drugs is misguided, especially when there are so many non-drug ways to lower blood pressure. Those include meditation, daily exercise, and hawthorn — which moderates blood pressure.
    You should avoid bad forms of sodium like MSG, but salt (good forms like sea or kosher) is also something that your body needs. Hippocrates’ advice to “first do no harm” should be followed — try the nutritional approach before resorting to drugs, especially since those drugs have generally been “tested as safe” by the drug companies themselves!

  20. lynda

    I eat 3 canned round whole beets with my breakfast. I drink the juice from the 16 oz. can and still eat 2 beets when I finish one can of beets. I do not like to waste the juice although it has sodium according to the can. I am answering this in the summer and my body feels warm in a warm house. I have noticed when I eat cold food or am in very cool air conditioning or in the winter when I keep the house at 65, that my blood pressure goes way up to about 135/87 from a summer low of 110/78.

  21. SNH

    There are different kinds of hypertension.
    One kind (particularly dangerous) blood pressure is high during sleep. Another, it’s high during work and stress but otherwise normal.
    Another, it’s only high in the doctor’s office (white coat hypertension)–probably this kind is high in other situations too.
    They should probably be treated differently, which would require 24 hour BP monitoring (there are portable units) but unfortunately this is rarely done and everyone gets the same treatment–and scarily it may be that the people who need treatment the most are untreated.

  22. M

    One clinical paper in Lancet. We should not jump until science has been verified by other published article. Diovan appears to be safe based on current science.

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