Herbs Used for Treatment of Hypertension

Herbs have been used medicinally for centuries for treatment of many ailments including hypertension. An herb (urb) is a low growing plant with a fleshy or juicy stem when it is young. Herbs are usually perennials, although some are annuals. In addition to making medicines, herbs are used for food flavorings and scents in perfumes. Herbal medications are extremely beneficial when used appropriately for hypertension. As with any medicine, extreme caution should be used when administering the recommended dosage. Overdosing can cause serious side effects and even death.

Herbs that are extremely potent should only be used under supervision of a physician and with caution. These herbs include:

• Rauwolfia – Most potent medicinal herb. May cause nasal congestion.
• Mistletoe – Not as potent as Rauwolfia and usually better tolerated.
• Hawthorne Berry – Many possible side effects.
• Coleus forskohlii – Many possible drug interactions.

It is never advisable to self-prescribe without first becoming educated. Much information is available regarding medicinal herbal use. Books and the internet are good general sources; however a good herbalist, one who is experienced and knowledgeable in the use of herbs, is the best choice. Misuse of medicinal herbs is dangerous. Herbs are used in many prescription medications. When natural herbs are mixed with prescription medications, serious drug interactions can occur. For instance, combining the prescribed drug, Coumadin, with a blood thinning herb, such as Ginkgo biloba, can create a dangerous health risk. For this reason, herbs should only be used under a physician’s supervision. If the physician agrees that a medicinal herb can replace a traditionally prescribed medicine, side effects are less likely to occur with the natural herb.

Herbs which are useful in treating hypertension fall into three main categories. Diuretics help decrease excess bodily fluids, also promoting easier blood flow through the arteries. Some herbs also work as blood thinners, much like a daily aspirin regimen. Vasodilators work to relax the arteries and the surrounding arterial muscles, thereby allowing better blood flow. There are many herbs that cause more than one favorable effect on hypertension. The most widely used herbs are listed below. Those herbs which are marked with an asterisk (*) fall under more than one group.

Herbal Diuretics

• Juniper Berry – Actually the seed cone from various Juniper species.
• Dandelion Root – Avoid if allergic to dandelion, ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, chamomile, yarrow daisies, and iodine.
• Green Tea (decaf) – Used by Chinese since ancient times.
• Buchu leaves – South African plant used for centuries.
• Parsley *
• Black Cohosh Root * – Has many side effect possibilities.

Herbal Blood Thinners

• Cayenne * – Made from dried chili pepper pods. Also contains pain reliever properties.
• Ginkgo biloba* – Many side effect possibilities.
• Reishi mushroom * – Popular Chinese mushroom.
• Garlic

Herbal Vasodilators

• Hawthorne Berry – Many possible side effects.
• Dan Shen – Oriental Salvia root used for centuries.
• Cayenne * – Made from dried chili pepper pods. Also contains pain reliever properties.
• Ginkgo Biloba * – Many side effect possibilities.
• Rauwolfia Serpentina – Most potent medicinal herb and is widely used.
• Garlic
• Parsley *
• Aloe Vera
• Black Cohosh Root * – Used for centuries for many ailments.
• Reishi mushrooms * – popular Chinese mushroom.

Medicinal herbal use to treat hypertension has many benefits when used cautiously, correctly and under a physician’s supervision. Prescription medications often carry many possible side effect warnings on the label. Medicinal herbs, in the proper quantity, generally do not produce serious side effects. In addition, natural herbs used to treat hypertension are usually much more cost effective than prescription medications. Self-prescription is never recommended. Seek expert guidance when considering herbal use as a treatment for hypertension. And proceed with caution.

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