Hypertension, the medical term for high blood pressure, afflicts over 30% of non-institutionalized people over the age of 20, according to statistics released by the CDC. Not everyone requires prescription medication to treat this condition, and there are some common herbs that should be avoided which can elevate the blood pressure and could cause problems. It is also recommended that you check with your health care professional before implementing any kind of herbal remedy program.
Blood pressure is the measurement of the force of the blood pumping through the veins and arteries of the body. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the chronic elevation of this measurement. Left untreated, hypertension can lead to increased risk of heart attack, stroke, or heart failure. It is called the “silent killer” because often no symptoms are presented, and the only way to diagnose the condition is by regular monitoring of the blood pressure. African Americans are more likely to suffer from hypertension, and it is estimated 73 million Americans are affected.
Blood pressure can fluctuate, and stress often is a factor. Some people suffer from “white coat syndrome”, in which the blood pressure is elevated only when in a doctor’s office. This is attributed to the stress and worry some people feel when visiting their physician. Therefore, regular monitoring is important and can be done from home.
Since herbal remedies have become more popular, before implementing an herbal program to promote good health, education about possible side effects or interaction with prescription medications is imperative. Many common herbs can have an effect on blood pressure, so it’s good to be aware of what they do and of which ones to be cautious.
Some herbs regulate blood pressure, as opposed to just elevating it. This means that certain herbs and herbal remedies will lower the blood pressure if high, or elevate the blood pressure if low. These herbs must be used carefully, and their effects closely monitored, if you use them, on a regular basis. These regulating herbs are:
• Evening primrose
• Wood betony
• Passion flower
Other herbs that elevate (as opposed to regulating) blood pressure include:
Some of these are common herbs found in most kitchens and pantries, but most will hide in the ingredients panel of other products. If suffering from hypertension, it is recommended that all products, especially those used for an herbal remedy program, be scrutinized closely for these ingredients and the effects monitored closely. Checking with your physician, pharmacist, or health care professional is also highly recommended.
Although hypertension is “silent”, there are some symptoms to be aware of. These are:
• Severe and recurring headaches
• Fatigue or confusion
• Problems with vision
• Chest pains
• Difficulty breathing
• Irregular heartbeat or palpitations
• Blood in the urine
If any of these symptoms occur when using an herbal remedy, discontinue use immediately and contact your doctor.
The most effective treatment for hypertension is lifestyle changes. High risks for hypertension include obesity, smoking, a poor diet high in salt, and a sedentary lifestyle. Making a few key changes can make a big difference and may reduce or eliminate prescription medications entirely. Maintaining a healthy weight; smoking cessation; reducing salt in the diet and incorporating healthier choices; exercising as little as three times a week; all these are simple changes that can improve a blood pressure reading.
In the meantime, careful scrutiny of herbs that can elevate blood pressure is also necessary. Becoming educated about ingredients in popular products, and monitoring the common herbs in the kitchen is a good way to get a handle of this silent, but deadly, disease.