Nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure, also called hypertension, according to the American Heart Association (1).
You have high blood pressure when the amount of blood pumped by the heart is done with excessive force or pressure.
Blood pressure readings have two numbers:
- Systolic number: The pressure in your blood vessels when your heart contracts.
- Diastolic number: The pressure in your arteries when your heart relaxes between beats.
A high systolic (130 and over) or diastolic (80 and over) number is considered high blood pressure.
But because hypertension does not show any symptoms in the beginning, many people are not even aware of the problem unless it turns out to be serious. This is why it is known as a “silent killer”.
So, experts recommend getting your blood pressure checked as part of your regular checkups.
- If you are age 18 or older, ask your doctor about checking your blood pressure every two years.
- If you are age 40 or older, you’ll want to check your reading once a year.
There are several factors that contribute to high blood pressure, such as genetics, stress, poor diet, smoking and inactive lifestyle to name a few.
If you have one or more risk factors, you need to have your blood pressure checked more often as it increases your risk of several health problems, such as a heart attack, a stroke, diabetes, heart failure, kidney disease, vision loss and metabolic syndrome.
Healthy dietary changes can help manage and prevent high blood pressure. For instance, several herbs can help control it without causing any side effects.
Here are some of the herbs and spices that help control high blood pressure.
Garlic is an herb that offers blood pressure-lowering benefits. It helps relax the blood vessels by stimulating the production of nitric oxide, which in turn lowers blood pressure, especially systolic pressure.
A 2011 study published in Pharmacognosy Reviews found that garlic helps increase nitric oxide production, resulting in smooth muscle relaxation and vasodilatation (2).
Another study published in Integrated Blood Pressure Control in 2014 found that a sulfur deficiency might play a part in causing hypertension, and it could be alleviated with supplementation of organosulfur compounds derived from garlic (3).
Not just blood pressure, garlic is also beneficial for improving blood circulation, lowering cholesterol levels and preventing heart disease.
- Eat 2 or 3 raw garlic cloves daily on an empty stomach.
- Alternatively, you can take garlic supplements, but only after consulting your doctor.
Cinnamon is another herb that may bring your blood pressure numbers down. This potent antioxidant can reduce hypertension, thanks to the presence of cinnamaldehyde and other water-soluble organic compounds.
A 2006 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reports that cinnamon may have additional roles in glucose metabolism and blood pressure regulation (4).
A 2013 study published in Nutrition reports that consumption of cinnamon (short term) is associated with a notable reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Although cinnamon shows hopeful effects for blood pressure-lowering potential, more research is needed in this field (5).
- Add a cinnamon stick while making a cup of warm tea, such as black, ginger or any other herbal tea.
- Also, you can include cinnamon in your diet by sprinkling it on your breakfast cereal, oatmeal and even in your coffee.
Different cultures across the world have used hibiscus for ages to manage blood pressure. But today, research has also proven the benefit of hibiscus.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that regular intake of hibiscus tea helps lower blood pressure in pre- and mildly hypertensive adults (6).
In a 2015 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Hypertension, researchers found that drinking hibiscus tea significantly lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. However, more trials are necessary to validate these results (7).
Apart from having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, hibiscus also has diuretic properties that help the kidneys remove excess sodium from the body, thus lowering your blood pressure.
- Add 2 dried hibiscus flowers to 2 cups of water.
- Bring the water to a boil.
- Let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- Strain it, and add raw honey and a little lemon juice for taste.
- Drink this tea once or twice daily.
Hawthorn is another herb that is good for your heart, especially if you have hypertension.
This herb is rich in flavonoids and quercetin that help reduce arterial blood pressure and the risk of hypertension.
A 2002 study published in Phytotherapy Research found that hawthorn extract showed a promising reduction in resting diastolic blood pressure. It also helped reduce anxiety (8).
- Boil 1 teaspoon of hawthorn berries in 1½ cup of water, then let it simmer for another 7 to 10 minutes. If you have dried hawthorn berries, then soak them in water overnight then use 1 tablespoon of the berries for the tea. Drink this healthy herbal tea once daily.
- Alternatively, you can take 500 mg of hawthorn extract as a daily supplement, but consult your doctor first.
To keep your blood pressure level in check, you can also use the herb basil.
With significant amounts of ursolic acid and eugenol, basil can help reduce symptoms of hypertension. It also promotes calmness and reduces stress, which also help in keeping your blood pressure readings under control.
A 2010 study published in Hypertension Research found that the effects of basil on blood pressure, cardiac hypertrophy and endothelin-1 are consistent with an effect on an endothelin-converting enzyme, and warrant further exploration (9).
To reap the benefits of basil, simply add fresh basil leaves to soups, stews and pastas.
Cardamom is another effective spice that helps control hypertension. This is most likely due to the heavy concentration of flavonoids in cardamom.
It also has potassium, a mineral that is required to regularize your heart rate and keep your blood pressure under control.
In addition, the spice is linked to lower levels of stress and depression, which can also be factors behind hypertension.
A 2009 study published in the Indian Journal of Biochemistry & Biophysics found that participants who were given powdered cardamom daily for several months saw significant reductions in their blood pressure (10).
- Add cardamom powder to beverages as well as sweet or savory foods for a flavorful and healthy boost in your meal.
- Also, you can drink a cup of cardamom tea, once or twice daily. To make the tea, simply simmer a few cardamom seeds in 1 cup of boiling water for a few minutes.
7. Green Tea
There are several substances in green tea that may be useful in controlling high blood pressure. Its polyphenols, which are rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, are to be given credit for this.
A 2004 study published in the Archives in Internal Medicine found that habitual moderate-strength green or oolong tea consumption, 120 mL (½ cup) or more per day for 1 year, significantly reduced the risk of developing hypertension in the Chinese population (11).
A 2014 study published in Scientific Reports highlights the positive effect of green tea consumption on management of high blood pressure (12).
- Put 1 to 2 teaspoons of green tea in a cup of hot water.
- Cover and allow it to steep for 5 minutes.
- Strain it, then add some honey and lemon for taste.
- Drink 2 to 3 cups of green tea daily.
8. Cat’s Claw
In traditional Chinese medicine, the use of cat’s claw to treat high blood pressure is very common. Also, this herb helps inhibit platelet aggregation and blood clot formation, which makes it effective at warding of heart attacks and strokes.
A 2011 study published in Pharmacognosy Reviews show that cat’s claw can help reduce your blood pressure by acting on the calcium channels inside cells (15).
- Add 1 tablespoon of dried cat’s claw herb to 1½ cups of water in a small saucepan. Cover and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Strain it and add honey or lemon juice if desired. Drink it once daily.
- Alternatively, you can opt to take a 250 to 350 mg capsule of cat’s claw daily, but consult your doctor first.
Caution: Do not use cat’s claw if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Eat a heart-healthy, low-sodium diet. Include foods high in potassium and magnesium in your diet.
- Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity three days a week.
- Do not smoke, as this can damage the walls of your blood vessels.
- Limit your intake of alcoholic drinks.
- Do your best to maintain a healthy body weight.
- Keep stress under control by learning stress management techniques, such as deep breathing, yoga and meditation.
- Get 7 to 8 hours of sound sleep daily.
- New ACC/AHA High Blood Pressure Guidelines Lower Definition of Hypertension. American College of Cardiology. http://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/articles/2017/11/08/11/47/mon-5pm-bp-guideline-aha-2017.
- Role of natural herbs in the treatment of hypertension. Pharmacognosy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210006/. Published 2011.
- Potential of garlic (Allium sativum) in lowering high blood pressure: mechanisms of action and clinical relevance. Integrated Blood Pressure Control. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4266250/. Published 2014.
- Whole Cinnamon and Aqueous Extracts Ameliorate Sucrose-Induced Blood Pressure Elevations in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats. Taylor & Francis. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07315724.2006.10719525.
- Effect of short-term administration of cinnamon on blood pressure in patients with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Nutrition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23867208. Published October 2013.
- Hibiscus Sabdariffa L. Tea (Tisane) Lowers Blood Pressure in Prehypertensive and Mildly Hypertensive Adults | The Journal of Nutrition | Oxford Academic. OUP Academic. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/140/2/298/4600320. Published December 16, 2009.
- Effect of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) on arterial hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomize. Journal of Hypertension. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25875025. Published June 2015.
- Promising hypotensive effect of hawthorn extract: A randomized double‐blind pilot study of mild, essential hypertension. Freshwater Biology. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ptr.947. Published January 23, 2002.
- Antihypertensive effects of Ocimum basilicum L. (OBL) on blood pressure in renovascular hypertensive rats. Hypertension Research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20448636. Published July2010.
- Blood pressure lowering, fibrinolysis enhancing and antioxidant activities of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum). Pndin Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20361714. Published December 2009.
- The Protective Effect of Habitual Tea Consumption on Hypertension. JAMA Internal Medicine. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/217219. Published July 26, 2004.
- Effect of green tea consumption on blood pressure: A meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials. Scientific Reports. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4150247/. Published 2014.
- Role of natural herbs in the treatment of hypertension. Pharmacognosy Review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210006/. Published 2011.