These days, medication seems to be readily prescribed for patients in order to lower blood pressure, when in reality there are a number of herbs, vitamins, minerals and changes to lifestyle that can instigate a positive change in blood pressure.
The leaf and berry are the most potent parts of the hawthorn, full of flavonoids that have important cardioprotective properties. There have been a number of studies that show hawthorn can increase exercise tolerance, decrease blood pressure, decrease pulse rate, reduce cholesterol levels and improve the blood supply to the heart. It has also been used positively to treat congestive heart failure.
Most recently, olive leaf has been touted as a herb used to bolster immunity, however the more traditional use is around cardiovascular health. Oleuropein is found in high concentrations in the olive tree, and is the component responsible for lowering blood pressure. Studies have shown that in just eight weeks, olive leaf can reduce systolic blood pressure by 11.5mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 4.5mmHg.
I know that garlic seems to be mentioned for just about every ailment, but that’s because it really can benefit your health in a number of ways. To have a positive effect on blood pressure, you need to consume at least 600-900mg of dried garlic per day, which is the equivalent to approximately 1-4 cloves. This dose can drop systolic blood pressure by 11mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 5mmHg in one to three months.
This tasty herb actually has the opposite effect and raises blood pressure, so is one to be very wary of if you have high blood pressure or are taking prescribed medications designed to lower your blood pressure. If you tend to have very low blood pressure, however, it may be beneficial.
The antioxidants in bilberry soften and strengthen arteries, veins and capillaries, therefore lowering blood pressure. Because of these actions on the cardiovascular system, it is also extremely beneficial for varicose veins as well as improving circulation and reducing blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels.
Something to be mindful of when you have your blood pressure reading taken is ‘white coat syndrome’. This is a term used when being at the doctor’s office or hospital raises anxiety or stress levels and therefore blood pressure – it can be quite a dramatic rise. You may have a reading with a nurse or GP that is significantly higher than what it is in other situations such as when you are comfortable at home.
Home blood pressure machines can be bought relatively inexpensively online, and if you are concerned about your blood pressure they can be a great tool to keep a closer eye on what may increase your blood pressure.
If you are taking medication prescribed by your doctor for blood pressure, it is important that you do not stop taking it without consulting your health professional.