Herbs for Hypertension

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three Americans have hypertension or high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force exerted by the arterial blood on the walls of blood vessels. Rising blood pressure, especially if it stays high, can damage the heart, kidneys and blood vessels. This condition can cause heart disease, congestive heart failure, stroke and kidney disease. High blood pressure is a primary or contributing cause of death for many Americans and Europeans.

Many people today seek natural treatments for their ailments. Lifestyle changes, especially in diet and exercise, can have a strong effect on high blood pressure as well as many other symptoms of disease. Cutting out the use of tobacco, caffeine and alcohol also has positive effects on blood pressure. The modern American diet of overly processed foods, high in fat and sodium, has an adverse effect on health overall, and is known to be a causal factor in obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease. For those seeking to better their health using natural methods, dietary changes are key.

Fortunately, a number of herbs can be used to treat high blood pressure. Many of them have been scientifically studied to have a positive effect on hypertension, with few, if any, contraindications or side effects. Treating high blood pressure can be as simple as drinking three cups of hibiscus tea a day or using two to three cloves of garlic in a salad dressing. Herbs that can be used for treating high blood pressure include hawthorn, hibiscus, ginkgo biloba, cayenne pepper and garlic.

The ancient Greeks knew of the benefits of hawthorn in treating heart disease. Rich in antioxidants, hawthorn lends a nutritional punch in the treatment of heart and circulatory ailments. Hawthorn also contains flavonoids, plant pigments that are beneficial to health. One of these flavonoids, proanthocyanidin, is responsible for dilating blood vessels. Hawthorn is a natural vasodilator that can help lower blood pressure by relaxing smooth muscles in artery walls, which allows more blood to flow.

A recent study published in the journal Phytomedicine reports that a standardized extract of hibiscus can lower blood pressure. Many herbal teas contain hibiscus, a popular and tasty ingredient. Drinking hibiscus tea, three cups a day, lowered systolic blood pressure by seven points, or about the same as any standard blood pressure medication. Drinking hibiscus tea would be an easy, delicious way of lowering blood pressure.

Ginkgo Biloba
One of the oldest trees in the world, the leaves of the ginkgo biloba are studied extensively in the United States and Europe. Traditionally, ginkgo has been used for blood disorders and to enhance memory. Ginkgo contains flavonoids and terpenoids, which act to dilate blood vessels and reduce blood platelet stickiness. In some cases, ginkgo can cause stomach upset, headaches and dizziness. Sixty milligrams twice a day will help lower blood pressure.

Cayenne Pepper
Capsicum or cayenne pepper exerts a variety of actions on the circulatory system. It can increase cardiovascular performance, while simultaneously lowering blood pressure. Fibrin, a protein that promotes blood clotting, is reduced when cayenne is taken. Cayenne is considered a catalyst herb, which heightens the effects of other herbs, vitamins and minerals when taken simultaneously. Capsicum boosts circulation of the blood and expedites the nutrient/waste exchange at the cellular level.

Garlic is another potent natural vasodilator and is also rich in antioxidants, which help to rid the body of dangerous free radicals. Garlic acts as an anticoagulant or blood thinner, which can help lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease. Garlic has been shown to slow down atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. One to three garlic cloves a day will lower blood pressure by seven or eight percent. Garlic is available fresh, in aged extract form, tablets, fluid extracts or tinctures or in capsules.

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