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4 Natural Treatments For High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Posted Sep 08 2012 10:34am

Termed the ‘’silent killer,’’ high blood pressure, or hypertension, is a direct contributor to heart disease, one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

It is commonly treated with medication but there are some natural approaches that you can take that may allow you to manage this condition without the use of drugs. If you are currently taking medication, however, do not discontinue it or adjust dosages without talking to your doctor first.

1. Dietary Suggestions

When you think of a diet for controlling blood pressure, you typically think of eating less sodium. This is important but there are other things to consider as well. Nutrients linked to healthy blood pressure include potassium and magnesium and you want to get plenty of them in your diet.

Good food choices include spinach, sunflower seeds (unsalted), beans of all kinds, baked potatoes, soy, bananas, raisins, apricots, beets, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, nuts and whole grains. Research suggests that dark chocolate may also help lower blood pressure when eaten in small amounts, as in less than half an ounce, so do not go nuts!

2. Natural Supplements

Certain natural supplements have been shown to lower blood pressure and they may be worth considering if they are appropriate for your individual circumstances.

A study published in the February 2011 issue of Phytomedicine, compared the effects of olive leaf extract and Captopril, a common blood pressure medication, in patients with mild-to-moderate hypertension; researchers found the herb worked equally well as the drug.

The University of Maryland Medical Center reports the following natural supplements may help lower blood pressure, though study results have been mixed in some cases: omega-3 fatty acids, coenzyme Q10, magnesium citrate, calcium, l-arginine, achillea wilhelmsii, hibiscus (tea form),  reishi mushroom, garlic, argentums nitricum, aurum metallicum, calcarea carbonica,lachesis and nux vomica.

While natural supplements typically have a better safety profile than prescription drugs, they are not without their potential risks. Because they can effect change in the body just like a drug can, they can be inappropriate for use if you have certain medical conditions or if you take other drugs or supplements. For example, calcium and garlic supplements may interact with many medications.

3. Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been touted to treat a range of conditions. It works on the premise that energy blocks in certain areas of the body lead to different types of health problems; Western medicine really does not have any equivalent theory of disease.

Research suggests acupuncture or similar techniques where pressure is applied to acupuncture points without the use of needles, such as acupressure and electrical stimulation of points, may help reduce blood pressure.

A review of available studies in 2006 suggested that acupuncture may have a role in treating hypertension based on positive research results. If needles freak you out, a study published in 2011 found that electrical stimulation of acupuncture points led to a reduction in blood pressure.

4. Meditation

The ancient practice of meditation is largely thought of as a spiritual pursuit but its ability to reduce stress and gain better control of our minds is quite practical and something that all of us could benefit from.

Research has shown that meditation has been effective in reducing blood pressure; in the last three decades over 600 studies have been conducted worldwide focusing on a particular type of meditation—Transcendental Meditation or TM, for reducing blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease.

This particular form involves sitting comfortably with your eyes closed, repeating a mantra. Two 20-minute sessions a day are recommended. If 20 minutes seems like torture, start out with less time in the beginning and as you get used to sitting, you can extend it.

About The Author: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who specializes in health and wellness content. If you are interested in learning more about heart health, visit  Cardiac Vascular and Thoracic Surgery Associates .

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