Avoid or eliminate the following:
- MSG (monosodium glutamate)
- baking soda
- canned vegetables
- over-the-counter medications that contains ibuprofen
- diet soft drinks
- most sugar substitutes
- meat tenderizers
- soy sauce
- saturated fats, margarine, and foods containing trans fatty acids or trans fats
- processed foods elevate cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and risk for obesity and diabetes.
- Increase consumption of cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and halibut to at least three times a week. These foods contain omega-3 essential fatty acids that “thin” the blood and have numerous beneficial effects on cardiovascular health.
- A high fiber diet is necessary for heart health. You need 25-35 grams of dietary fiber daily. There are two fiber categories – soluble and insoluble.
- For those taking MAO inhibitors, avoid the chemical tyramine and its precursor, tyrosine. Tyramine-containing foods include almonds, avocados, bananas, beef or chicken liver, beer, cheese (including cottage cheese), chocolate, coffee, fava beans, herring, meat tenderizer, peanuts, pickles, pineapples, pumpkin seeds, raisins, sausage, sesame seeds, sour cream, soy sauce, wine, yeast extracts, and yogurt In general, any high protein food that has undergone aging, pickling, fermentation, or similar processes should be avoided.
Foods for Optimal Blood Pressure
Insoluble Fiber moves waste through the intestines and maintains intestinal acid balance.
Soluble Fiber is the type of fiber responsible for lowering total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
- Fruit and vegetables: apples, asparagus, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, eggplant, garlic, grapefruit, green leafy vegetable, melons, peas, prunes, raisin, squash, and sweet potatoes
- Brown rice, buckwheat, millet, and oats
- Seeds and nuts
- Legumes (dried beans and peas)
- Drinking the following juices are helpful: beet, carrot and celery, currant, cranberry, citrus fruit, parsley, spinach, and watermelon.
Spices such as fennel, oregano, black pepper, basil, rosemary and tarragon have active ingredients that are beneficial in hypertension. Use them in your cooking.
- Smoking should be moderated, or preferably totally avoided, and alcohol should be kept to a minimum.
- Minimize consumption of caffeine.
- Weight loss reduces blood pressure and should be a primary goal for those who are obese or moderately overweight.
- Consistent aerobic exercise can prevent hypertension and lower blood pressure. Exercise is highly recommended because it reduces both stress and blood pressure. Exercise a minimum of thirty minutes, three times a week. Walking is a good exercise with which to start.
- Stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, qigong, and relaxation exercises have all proven successful in lowering blood pressure. Learn how to control anger or express it appropriately. Avoid aggressive or passive behavior. Be assertive, but express your thoughts and feelings in a kind way, as you would wish to be treated.
Below are herbs that support your body to counteract hypertension, calm and strengthen heart muscles, reduce stress, reduce tension, promote sound sleep, rejuvenate the nerves and purify the blood.
Cayenne helps to regulate the heart and blood pressure. It improves blood circulation and is thought to normalize both high and low blood pressure. It is said to increase heart action without increasing blood pressure and significantly lower serum cholesterol and triglycerides.
How-to: a quarter teaspoon three times a day. After a week, increase the amount of cayenne pepper to half a teaspoon three times a day. The optimal therapeutic dose is one teaspoon three times a day. If this is rough for you, try taking capsules with your meals.
Celery Seed is an excellent diuretic that promotes the flow of urine through the kidneys and increases uric acid excretions, helping to clear toxins from the system. This diuretic action also helps to relieve the heart from any undue stress due to excess fluids within the circulatory system. Although Celery is said to be a stimulant (particularly in kidney function), it is also known as a sedative that will calm stressed nerves and promote restfulness and sleep.
How-to: 8 ribs of celery per day or take a celery extract 75 to 150 mg twice daily. Add celery seed to salads, dressings, and sauces.
Ginger Root is a natural blood thinner and may help to prevent strokes, heart attacks and hardening of the arteries. Ginger helps to retard the production of cholesterol by the liver and has been known to reverse the increase in triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, thus helping to combat heart attack.
How-to: Common forms of ginger include fresh root, dried root, tablets, capsules, liquid extract, tincture, and tea. 1 to 4 grams daily.
Garlic helps prevent heart disease by reducing blood pressure and blood lipids. Scientific studies support the use of Garlic in lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood.
How-to: One clove a day, preferably raw. Use caution if you already take a blood thinner.
Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthero) Studies in Japan have shown that taking Ginseng will lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol and raise the beneficial HDL cholesterol. Preliminary research found that unpurified Korean Ginseng’s saponins not only inhibited the growth of malignant cells, but also actually converted the diseased cells to normal cells. Long before scientists researched this herb, Chinese herbalists prescribed it to normalize blood pressure, improve blood circulation and prevent heart disease.
Dried root: The recommended dose is 500 – 3,000 mg, daily (tea, or in capsules).
Tincture: (herb and alcohol; or herb, alcohol, and water), 1/2 – 1 tsp, 2 – 3 times daily
Standardized extract: 100 – 200 mg, 2 times daily
Siberian ginseng can be taken for 3 months, followed by 2 – 3 weeks off. These cycles can be repeated, but this should be done under the supervision of a health care provider.
Ginkgo Biloba has been clinically shown to be an effective cardiac muscle tonic. Recent studies have demonstrated this herb’s ability to support cardiac health and have proven Ginkgo biloba as a natural antioxidant with regards to cardiac health. “Efficiency of Ginkgo biloba extract in antioxidant protection against myocardial ischemia and reperfusion injury”. Biochem Mol Biol Int 1995;35:125-134). (Akiba S, Kawauchi T, Oka T, Hashizume T, Sato T. “Inhibitory effect of the leaf extract of ginkgo biloba L. on oxidative stress-induced platelet aggregation”. Biochem Mol Biol Int 1998;Dec;46(6):1243-8).
How-to: Clinical studies have often used dosages of 120 mg to 480 mg of ginkgo biloba per day, usually taken in two or three smaller doses. It is a good idea to start with a low dose (120 mg per day or less), to avoid stomach upset. In all cases, be sure not to exceed the recommended dose on the label of your particular product.
Goldenseal Root has been shown to lower blood pressure in laboratory experiments due to the content of the alkaloids, hydrastine and berberine.
How-to: A daily dosage of 4 – 6 grams. Doses of 4 to 6 ml are often used when taking the liquid herbal extracts
Not for long-term use. Do not exceed three weeks continuous use. Take a break of at least two weeks
Hawthorn (berry, leaf, flower) reduces cholesterol and regulates blood pressure (both high and low). When taken for at least 8 weeks, is thought to be effective in lowering pressure, since its action develops slowly. It also appears to increase the liver’s conversion of LDLs (bad cholesterol) into HDLs (good cholesterol) that do not clog arteries, which helps to stop plaque formation. Hawthorn helps the body to adequately dilate blood vessels, thereby maintaining a healthy supply of oxygen and energy to the heart and facilitating normal pumping ability.
How-to: Typical dose for a tincture is 4 to 5 ml three times daily, or at least 4 to 5 grams per day in capsules.
Allow at least two to four weeks for the herb to take effect. It is a long-term therapy, so the effectiveness of hawthorn might still be increasing even after one to two months.
Most have a drop in blood pressure of 10 to 15 points over 8 weeks. Once blood pressure is down, you may be able to reduce the dosage to stop taking the herb altogether.
Kelp’s rich supply of nutrients from the sea has a buffering ability to neutralize wastes from the body fluids to be more easily discharged from the body. Kelp absorbs toxins from the digestive system, improving digestion, stimulating kidney function, increasing circulation and purifying the blood.
How-to: There is no appropriate “therapeutic” dosage of kelp. Due to its iodine content, use caution if you have thyroid disorder.
Motherwort is useful as a tonic for the heart. Ideal for palpitations with anxiety and nervous tension.
How-to: Tincture and capsules or tablets are the most common form of motherwort medication.
Capsules: Take 1 to 4 per day.
Tincture: Take up to 1 tablespoon per day.
Olive Leaf exhibits powerful antioxidant properties which protect the heart and circulatory system from free radical damage. It inhibits the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad cholesterol” that are connected to various heart problems. Other research has demonstrated that Olive Leaf may significantly decrease blood pressure and increase blood flow through the coronary arteries (by dilating them), thereby helping to ward off heart attacks.
Tea 1-3 cups/day
550 mg. capsules 1-2/day
Olive Leaf Tincture Extract 1-2 droppers/day
Passion Flower is thought to relieve hypertension and lower blood pressure. Some tests claim that it relaxes the walls of the arteries, which helps to improve circulation, and may be useful for maintaining good heart health. Passion Flower has flavonoids which are compounds found in fruits and vegetables that have diverse beneficial biochemical and antioxidant effects.
How-to: Different preparations and doses have been used traditionally.
1-4 milliliters of tincture (1:8) have been taken 3-4 times daily by mouth.
Tea made from dried herb (four to eight grams) has been taken daily. A dose of 2.5 grams in an infusion has been used 3-4 times daily.
Parsley is highly nutritious. The leaves contain more vitamin C than oranges by weight and also provide a good source of iron (important for the proper formation of red blood cells), potassium (good for lowering blood pressure), calcium and manganese, and folic acid (which may help prevent cardiovascular disease).
How-to: The daily dose of parsley herb is 2-4g taken three times daily.
Infusion/tea: between meals three times a day.
Parsley root is recommended with the dosage of 2-4 grams taken three times daily directly or as an infusion
Skull Cap is said to strengthen the heart muscle, improve circulation and be helpful for treating cardiovascular disease. It is also helpful for relieving anxiety.
tea two to three cups daily
tincture, 1/2-1 tsp (2-4 ml) 1-3 times daily
Valerian Root has been known to strengthen the heart and may reduce high blood pressure, particularly when it is caused by hypertension, or if anxiety is a factor. Some lab studies claim that its use helps to stabilize heart rhythm and helps treat palpitations.
How-to: there is no standardization of the dosage
Dosage guidelines: tincture, ½ teaspoon (daily).
capsules or tablets between 150 to 250 mg daily.
Herbs to Avoid: Licorice elevates blood pressure
The aroma of Lavender was found by a research team at Yale University to be one of the best essential oils in reducing blood pressure and having a calming effect. You can use it many different ways. One way is as an inhalant, where you can use the Lavender essential oil in a diffuser, or you can simply inhale directly from the bottle by wafting it under the nose to have a calming effect. Another way is to incorporate Lavender essential oil into a massage oil. This combines two healing therapies, the massaging action and the effects of the essential oil itself. Using it as a massage oil stimulates the skin’s capillaries and helps improve blood circulation, very helpful when you’re dealing with hypertension.