Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure occurs when the pressure in your blood vessels is unusually high. The consequences of high blood pressure can be serious if not treated. Luckily, there are many prevention methods and ways to address high blood pressure through natural health, including diet and nutrition protocols, supplement regimes, herbal medicine and lifestyle adjustments.
The blood pressure reading is in two parts, systolic and diastolic. The first (systolic) measures the pressure when your heart is pushing blood out into the arteries. The second (diastolic) measures the same pressure, but between beats when your heart is at rest.
A normal reading would be around 120 systolic over 80 diastolic, usually written 120/80 mmHg. High blood pressure ranges from 135 systolic or above and over 85 diastolic[I].
Blood pressure can vary naturally, even over the course of a day. Simple, every day situations like being under stress for an exam or a trip to the dentist, for example, can raise blood pressure considerably.
High blood pressure rarely has noticeable symptoms, this is why it is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly, especially if there are any factors such as taking certain medications or herbs which may affect it. Such medications include the contraceptive pill., steroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen),some cough and cold remedies and some herbal remedies – particularly those containing liquorice.
Many lifestyle factors such as using tobacco or drinking alcohol can negatively impact blood pressure. Other factors include:
The conventional medical approach to treating high blood pressure is through popular prescription drugs such as diuretics, Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors (ACEI) and calcium channel blockers.
Nutritional therapy consultations are a great way to learn about your individual requirements in terms of improving your blood pressure and maintaining good cardiovascular health. High blood pressure can also be connected to other conditions such as headaches. Migraines have been linked with high blood pressure. However, whether high blood pressure causes migraines is yet to be confirmed with further evidence[iii].
Holistic practitioners will seek to find the root cause of high blood pressure. There are many physiological factors which may affect blood pressure. Low levels of certain vitamins such as vitamin D, for example, can impact blood pressure and cause raised blood pressure levels[iv]. Exposure to high levels of certain metals can have a similar effect. Therefore, functional testing or ascertaining a person’s nutritional profile may be especially helpful.
Cardio Multi (60 Caps) by Viridian is a specific formulation featuring a blend of supportive vitamins to promote cardiovascular health and function including vitamin D[v], magnesium, vitamin E[vi], Co-Enzymes[vii], B-vitamins[viii] and garlic[ix].
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have positive effects on high blood pressure and inflammatory mediators, which are driving factors for heart disease[x].
Eskimo Extra (50 caps) from Eskimo provide 300mg of EPA and 200mg of DHA per capsule. Alternatively, try Krill Oil (30 caps) from Kiki Health, sustainably harvested in Antarctic waters and manufactured using low temperatures and efficient fractionation methods that remove unwanted contaminants. Krill are shrimp-like crustaceans, they are a particularly good source of omega-3 fatty acids and have been shown to help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Evidence from research shows that krill oil helps lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels in the blood, which are both risk factors for high blood pressure and heart disease[xi].
The mineral elements sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium play a critical role in the normal regulation of blood pressure[xii]. Potassium contributes to the maintenance of normal blood pressure, whilst adequate magnesium supplementation has the ability to help lower blood pressure, as seen in studies[xiii].
Other top choices for healthy blood pressure:
Herbal choices for hypertension:
Rosehip in scientific studies resulted in a significant reduction of systolic blood pressure [xvii]. Hibiscus tea was also put forward as an effective application to lower blood pressure in patients with stage 1 hypertension[xviii]. Try Wild Rosehip & Hibiscus Tea.
Similarly, hawthorn berry and hawthorn extract were seen in studies to be effective in not only lowering blood pressure, but also benefiting cardiovascular health and lowering stroke risk[xix] [xx]. Try Hawthorn Berry (60 Caps) by Viridian.
Include whole-foods and reduced refined foods and refined grains. Eating a diet that includes lots of fibre, such as wholegrain rice, bread and pasta, and plenty of fruit and vegetables is beneficial for a healthy cardiovascular system and stable blood sugar.
Reduce sodium intake[xxi]. Sodium is high in processed food, pre-packaged meals, sauces and dressings. A great way to lower sodium intake is to cook from scratch, batch cooking is a great time-saving method if you are low on time during your daily schedule. Also, replace table salt with sea salt or Himalayan salt as they usually contain more minerals. Go a step further by reducing salt additions to food and replacing it with fresh herbs or dried seaweed mixes to add subtle flavours with all the goodness of these food sources.
Water intake: Don't forget the importance of drinking the right amount of water for your body, weight, activity levels. Just increasing your water intake has been shown to improve blood pressure reading, and is a simple and free step towards healthy blood pressure. For more information see our article on water.
[i] Recommendations: Hypertension in adults: Diagnosis and management: Guidance (no date) NICE. Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidan... (Accessed: October 26, 2022).
[i] Mehta V, Agarwal S. Does Vitamin D Deficiency Lead to Hypertension? Cureus. 2017 Feb 17;9(2):e1038.
[ii] Gopal, D.P., Okoli, G.N. & Rao, M. Re-thinking the inclusion of race in British hypertension guidance. J Hum Hypertens 36, 333–335 (2022).
[iii] Hagen K, Stovner LJ, Vatten L, et al
Blood pressure and risk of headache: a prospective study of 22 685 adults in Norway
Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 2002;72:463-466.
[iv] Mehta V, Agarwal S. Does Vitamin D Deficiency Lead to Hypertension? Cureus. 2017 Feb 17;9(2):e1038.
[v] Mehta V, Agarwal S. Does Vitamin D Deficiency Lead to Hypertension? Cureus. 2017 Feb 17;9(2):e1038.
[vi] Boshtam M, Rafiei M, Sadeghi K, Sarraf-Zadegan N. Vitamin E can reduce blood pressure in mild hypertensives. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2002 Oct;72(5):309-14
[vii] Ho MJ, Li EC, Wright JM. Blood pressure lowering efficacy of coenzyme Q10 for primary hypertension. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Mar 3;3(3):CD007435.
[viii] França CF, Vianna LM. Effectiveness of B vitamins on the control of hypertension and stroke events of SHRSP rats. J Diet Suppl. 2010 Mar;7(1):71-7.
[ix] Ried K. Garlic lowers blood pressure in hypertensive subjects, improves arterial stiffness and gut microbiota: A review and meta-analysis. Exp Ther Med. 2020 Feb;19(2):1472-1478.
[x] Guo XF, Li KL, Li JM, Li D. Effects of EPA and DHA on blood pressure and inflammatory factors: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019;59(20):3380-3393
[xi] Zhu JJ, Shi JH, Qian WB, Cai ZZ, Li D. Effects of krill oil on serum lipids of hyperlipidemic rats and human SW480 cells. Lipids Health Dis. 2008 Aug 29;7:30.
[xii] Karppanen H. Minerals and blood pressure. Ann Med. 1991 Aug;23(3):299-305
[xiii] Houston M. The role of magnesium in hypertension and cardiovascular disease. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2011 Nov;13(11):843-7.
[xiv] Engler MM, Engler MB, Erickson SK, Paul SM. Dietary gamma-linolenic acid lowers blood pressure and alters aortic reactivity and cholesterol metabolism in hypertension. J Hypertens. 1992 Oct;10(10):1197-204.
[xv] Filipovský J, Ducimetiére P, Eschwége E, Richard JL, Rosselin G, Claude JR. The relationship of blood pressure with glucose, insulin, heart rate, free fatty acids and plasma cortisol levels according to degree of obesity in middle-aged men. J Hypertens. 1996 Feb;14(2):229-35.
[xvi] Tran HB, Yamamoto A, Matsumoto S, Ito H, Igami K, Miyazaki T, Kondo R, Shimizu K. Hypotensive effects and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitory peptides of reishi (Ganoderma lingzhi) auto-digested extract. Molecules. 2014 Aug 29;19(9):13473-85.
[xvii] Andersson U, Berger K, Högberg A, Landin-Olsson M, Holm C. Effects of rose hip intake on risk markers of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease: a randomized, double-blind, cross-over investigation in obese persons. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2012 May;66(5):585-90.
[xviii] Jalalyazdi M, Ramezani J, Izadi-Moud A, Madani-Sani F, Shahlaei S, Ghiasi SS. Effect of hibiscus sabdariffa on blood pressure in patients with stage 1 hypertension. J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2019 Jul-Sep;10(3):107-111
[xix] Tassell MC, Kingston R, Gilroy D, Lehane M, Furey A. Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Pharmacogn Rev. 2010 Jan;4(7):32-41
[xx] Zapfe G. Clinical efficacy of crataegus extract WS 1442 in congestive heart failure NYHA class II. Phytomedicine. 2001;8:262–266. doi: 10.1078/0944-7113-00041.
[xxi] Huang, L. et al. (2020) Effect of dose and duration of reduction in dietary sodium on blood pressure levels: Systematic review and meta-analysis of Randomised Trials, The BMJ. British Medical Journal Publishing Group. Available at: https://www.bmj.com/content/36... (Accessed: October 26, 2022).
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.