Everyone loves pills. Doctors love to prescribe medicine. Patients love to swallow drugs. We are a pill-taking society. But all medications come with pros and cons. That is true of anti-hypertensive drugs as well as everything else. Even a seemingly simple diuretic like hydrochlorothiazide (HCT or HCTZ) can cause problems for some people (see this link). That’s why many people would like to lower blood pressure naturally. The good thing about this approach is that it’s easy to test. People can use a monitor to see if what they are doing is working.
Can Hawthorn Improve Heart Health?
Q. Could you comment on the value of taking hawthorn berry tincture for heart health? Are there any studies on this?
A. You might be surprised to learn that hawthorn herbal products have been used to treat cardiovascular problems in China since 659 AD (Frontiers in Pharmacology, Feb. 21, 2020). Researchers have found that hawthorn can relax blood vessels, lower blood fats, reduce inflammation and fight oxidation. These all suggest that hawthorn could be helpful for heart health.
A review of the evidence of a specific hawthorn extract, WS 1442, considered clinical trials as well as nonclinical research and post-marketing reports (American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs, Feb. 2018). It is used to help treat hypertension and normalize heart rhythm. The authors concluded that the scientific evidence supports the use of this extract for people with mild to moderate heart failure.
One reader was taking prescription pills for high blood pressure. The doctor reluctantly agreed to let the patient try hawthorn tincture. To the physician’s surprise, the blood pressure was under good control after six weeks. Like our reader, anyone who considers using hawthorn extract or tincture should work with a physician to make sure the desired results are achieved.
Will Hawthorn Lower Blood Pressure Naturally?
Q. My question is about hawthorn supplements. I know someone who takes it to lower blood pressure and blood sugar. It seems to be very beneficial for her, lowering those quite a bit.
I currently take hydrochlorothiazide for blood pressure and was on metformin for blood sugar. However, that gave me an upset stomach all day and awful stomach pain at night. So I stopped it. My doctor doesn’t have any suggestions other than writing a prescription for more powerful drugs. I’d prefer to go the natural route if there are other solutions that may work but are not instantaneous. Might hawthorn be helpful?
A. Hawthorn has been utilized in several traditional formularies for problems likely related to elevated blood sugar or blood pressure (Frontiers in Pharmacology, Aug. 20, 2021; Natural Products and Bioprospecting, April 2021). However, most of the studies used animal subjects. In mice and rats, hawthorn extract can help lower cholesterol as well as blood sugar and blood pressure. That might work for people, too. Until we see a large, randomized controlled trial in humans, though, we cannot endorse hawthorn for blood sugar or hypertension. You might find some of the suggestions below helpful.
Hawthorn Fizzled | What Else Works?
Hawthorn has been used for heart conditions, including angina, because it helps dilate blood vessels. But this reader was disappointed in the results.
Q. I have high blood pressure and would like to take natural things to lower it. A friend suggested hawthorn, but it doesn’t seem to do much. Can you help?
A. There are a lot of non-drug approaches that can be useful for blood pressure control. Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) is popular in European herbal medicine for cardiovascular health (Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, Aug. 2017).
You can learn more about Hawthorn at this link.
We don’t see the point in continuing with something that isn’t helping, though. Another approach may work better to lower blood pressure naturally.
Other Ways to Lower Blood Pressure:
Measuring and Managing Stress:
Have you ever been late to an important meeting? Maybe a doctor’s appointment or a wedding? There’s nothing worse than to be caught in traffic when you know you are running late. If you mess up a job assignment or have to deal with a difficult person it is also highly stressful.
Research has demonstrated that even the stress of video games can have negative consequences. Investigators measured blood pressure changes in young adults while they played really hard video games.
More than a decade later they performed CT scans of their coronary arteries. Subjects who had reacted with elevations in their blood pressure during the psychological stress experiments with video games had an increased risk of developing calcification of their coronary arteries more than 13 years later (Hypertension, March, 2006).
Blood pressure readings are usually lower on weekends than on weekdays (Physiology & Behavior, April 15, 2006). We suspect that is because work can be stressful and weekends should be relaxing.
Tracking Your Stress to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally:
How can you measure your stress level without taking your blood pressure or monitoring your heart rate? This is going to sound simplistic, but we are big fans of mood rings. During the 1970s mood rings were all the rage. The ring is supposed to reflect your emotional state.
The truth is that the liquid crystals in the ring are sensitive to body temperature. Normal skin temperature is right around 82 degrees F. That’s when the ring should be green. If you are really relaxed and having fun with friends, your skin may be warmer and the ring could turn blue.
When you are a bit stressed out, the ring may turn amber. Get really anxious, though, and your hands turn cold and clammy. That’s when the ring could go to gray or black. Where can you find a mood ring? It’s as simple as searching mood rings on Amazon. You can get your own stress monitor for $5 to $10.
The point of the exercise is to stay away from people and situations that make your hands cold. Hang out with people that make your hands warm. You can use this simple biofeedback approach to avoid conditions that are likely to raise your pressure.
Pomegranate Juice Lowers Blood Pressure:
Doctors love ACE inhibitor blood pressure medications. The number one ACE inhibitor drug for treating hypertension is lisinopril. At last count 113 million prescriptions were dispensed for this drug annually. But lisinopril comes with a number of side effects. Read more about them here.
Pomegranate juice can reduce ACE activity by about 36 percent (Atherosclerosis, Sept. 2001). This may explain why drinking the juice regularly can help to lower blood pressure (Pharmacological Research, Jan. 2017).
In our Guide to Blood Pressure Treatment you will find lots of information on other ways to lower blood pressure naturally, including deep breathing, purple grape juice and a DASH diet to maximize your intake of potassium and magnesium. These minerals are crucial for healthy blood pressure. Almonds, cashews and spinach are high in magnesium.
There are many more natural approaches to controlling hypertension. They include regular sauna baths, drinking hibiscus tea and drinking tart cherry juice. You have doubts? Well, there is science to support each of these strategies. Here is a link to learn more about the science behind these and other ways to get blood pressure down.
Perhaps the best studied and most impressive natural way to lower blood pressure is with beet juice.
What Have You Done to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally?
We love to learn from visitors about what has worked for them. Have you managed to get your numbers down naturally? Perhaps you lost weight or started exercising. Both have a substantial impact on blood pressure. Share your secret in the comment section below.