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How to Lower Blood Pressure with Hibiscus Tea

Hibiscus tea (made from Hibiscus flowers) has a pleasantly tart flavor. There is now scientific evidence that it can lower blood pressure.

Blood pressure control is essential to maintain good kidney health and reduce the possibility of a stroke or heart attack. But it can be difficult to find blood pressure medication that does not have unpleasant side effects. You and your doctor might have to use trial and error to find a medicine you can tolerate. But if blood pressure is only moderately high, could you lower it with hibiscus tea or other kitchen remedies?

Using Hibiscus Tea to Control Blood Pressure:

Q. At my last physical my blood pressure was 158/90, the highest reading I’ve ever had. (I chalked that up to white coat hypertension). It had been running 135/82 or so, which still concerned me. I bought a high-end BP monitor that keeps records on my smartphone.

I started drinking hibiscus tea, 20 ounces iced per day, minimum. After 6 months my readings average out to 109/71.

I don’t add salt when I cook, and I have also started to avoid food with added sodium. I’m sure that has helped as well. I read about the DASH Diet online and found it very enlightening. I’m a 54-year-old menopausal woman who exercises regularly.

Hibiscus as a Blood Pressure Remedy:

A. Hibiscus tea is made from the petals of the bright-red flowers of Hibiscus sabdariffa. The taste is tart and many people find it pleasant.

Hibiscus tea seems to act as an ACE inhibitor, similar to the blood pressure drug lisinopril. It was tested head-to-head with lisinopril in a small study and found to be about equally effective (Indian Journal of Pharmacology, Sep-Oct., 2015).

The same clinical team found that it worked better than hydrochlorothiazide, a standard blood pressure medication (Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice, Nov-Dec., 2015). In another recent comparative study by these investigators, hibiscus tea improved markers of kidney function at least as well as lisinopril did (Nwachukwu et al, Journal of Physiological Science, Jan. 2017). The subjects in this trial had mild to moderate hypertension.

People taking statin medication should probably not drink hibiscus tea, however. Research suggests that this lovely red beverage can reduce the concentration of simvastatin and might interfere with its effectiveness (Showande et al, Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, online Sep. 18, 2017).

Controlling Blood Pressure:

We discuss the phenomenon of white coat hypertension and the proper way to measure blood pressure in our Guide to Blood Pressure Treatment. In it, we included many other non-drug approaches such as chocolate, beet juice, grape juice and pomegranate juice. Exercise, meditation and slow breathing can also bring blood pressure down.

You might find that a combination of these remedies can make a difference. Be sure to keep good records of your blood pressure and discuss your approach with your physician. Not everyone will be able to control blood pressure without drugs, but adding the DASH diet and an exercise regimen to medication will probably help.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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