High blood pressure is a potentially dangerous condition and if overlooked, it can result in life-threatening implications like heart disease, stroke and chronic kidney disease. It has been rightly termed as “the silent killer” by the American Heart Association, on account of its subtle symptoms.
Regular monitoring is essential to keep blood pressure under check and in case of high blood pressure, one needs to take prescribed medication regularly, in order to keep it within normal limit. Natural management of high blood pressure incorporates certain lifestyle modifications, namely healthy diet coupled with regular physical activity and stress management. Healthy diet with respect to hypertension refers to excluding foods high in sodium and fats, alcohol and caffeine and having more of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy products.
There are certain herbs and spices which can help lower blood pressure, though including them in daily diet cannot substitute medication, but it can help reduce blood pressure to a considerable extent.
This pungent herb is used in Indian and Chinese medicine as a natural medication for hypertension since ancient times. Allicin, the active compound found in garlic gives it anti-oxidant, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-coagulant properties and has also been linked with reduction of blood pressure, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Garlic has been known to relax and dilate blood vessels, preventing stiffening and facilitating free flow of blood, resulting in lowering of blood pressure. According to a study published by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming garlic extract daily for 8 weeks resulted in significant reduction in blood pressure.
One can addfresh garlic to curries, stews and soups. 2-3 cloves of raw garlic can be consumed on empty stomach, every morning with a glass of water, as a home remedy for high blood pressure.
Popularly known as tulsi in India, this herb is helpful as a home remedy for a multitude of ailments like cough, cold, congestion and skin problems. Basil has also been shown to be beneficial for lowering blood pressure as it helps cleanse the blood vessels and also decrease adrenaline levels in the body.
It also provides cardiac benefits like decreasing cholesterol and blood thinning. Basil leaves can be added to pastas, salads and soups. One can chew fresh basil leaves daily or use them to prepare herbal basil tea.
Cinnamon has been found useful for lowering blood pressure, particularly in diabetics. Daily intake of half a teaspoon of cinnamon has been found effective for lowering blood pressure levels. A recent publication by the Centre of Biotechnology, Andhra University, Visakhapatnam suggested that cinnamon has blood thinning properties and also improves blood circulation, both of which play a vital role in decreasing blood pressure.
Cinnamon can be added in cereals, curries and soups and can also be used to make herbal tea.
This aromatic herb is potassium rich and diuretic in nature and has been found to be beneficial for lowering blood pressure, besides having anti-oxidant properties. According to a study published by Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics, consumption of 1.5 grams of cardamom twice a day for 12 weeks reduced blood pressure of patients of stage one hypertension.
It can be used in curries, rice dishes and herbal teas.
Turmeric contains curcumin, a potent compound which makes it anti-inflammatory in nature and also provides cardio-vascular benefits, including reduction of blood pressure. Curcumin has blood thinning properties and also helps keeping blood vessels in a healthy condition, consequently lowering blood pressure. Turmeric can be taken in supplement form, besides including it lavishly in everyday cooking.
This strong spice helps in blood detoxification and opening up of blood vessels naturally, which enables them to lower the blood pressure rapidly. Studies have shown that it can prevent hardening of arteries by dilating blood vessels. It can also help lower LDL cholesterol as well as triglyceride levels.
It can be included in daily cooking or had in supplement form.
This flavorful herb is used in soups, stews and various other dishes and has been used as a traditional medicine in Ayurveda since ancient times. Celery seeds as well as juice are helpful in lowering blood pressure as they are diuretic in nature. According to University of Maryland Medical Center, flavonoids (natural compounds) found in celery seeds have a positive effect on reduction of blood pressure.
Onions are high in Quercetin, an anti-oxidant effective for treating heart disease and stroke. Quercetin has also been associated with decrease in systolic as well as diastolic readings of blood pressure. Studies have shown consumption of onions to be associated with increased blood circulation in the body. Consuming raw onion salad helps lower blood pressure by flushing out toxins from the body.
Olives are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, considered to be favorable for reducing blood pressure as well as supporting cardiovascular health. Olive oil is becoming increasingly popular as a cooking medium as polyphenols found in it cause a considerable reduction in blood pressure. Olive leaf extract taken as a supplement has also been shown to be beneficial for lowering blood pressure as well as cholesterol.
These herbs and spices can be include in our daily diet as natural ways of treating hypertension, while supplement forms of these herbs can be taken in consultation with a physician. Judicious use is advisable as over use can have certain side effects or may interfere with medications.