The causes are most often some combination of clogged “pipes” and excessive salt in the diet. Lifestyle changes, such as appropriate diet and exercise, are among the most effective treatment strategies for high blood pressure. Relaxation, meditation, and otherwise “taking it easy” are not effective solutions, as valuable as such strategies may be for your psychological well-being.
As much as I want, these alternative therapies do not replace traditional approaches for blood pressure control (low salt diet, medications). The best way to look at them is as strategies to complement what your doctor has already been prescribing you for your high blood pressure. This could really help if you have mild hypertension, where alternative therapies could potentially help you get off your blood pressure medications, but I highly doubt anyone with severe hypertension is getting off their Norvasc just because they started doing transcendental meditation.
Exercise can also lead to lower blood pressure. Although performing moderate to vigorous exercise leads to higher blood pressure during activity, it is lowered afterwards. A wealth of studies indicate that getting 150 minutes per week of exercise—whether walking, cycling, gardening, dancing, or weights—can lead to significant drops in blood pressure over time. Try to exercise every day, but even three or four times per week can bring on big improvements.
If you’re already suffering from high blood pressure, eating garlic regularly can reduce your blood pressure by about 20 points, or 10 to 15 percent. When garlic is crushed it releases allicin, which decreases blood pressure and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory. Make sure you let your garlic sit for about 15 minutes after chopping or crushing, to allow the allicin to release. Cook on a low temperature to get the maximum benefit, as a high temperature will kill many of garlic’s healing properties.
Exercise can help you lose weight, but it does much more. Exercise strengthens your heart, improves circulation, and it can even reduce stress. Aim to fit in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio most days of the week, which can lower your blood pressure by 4-9 millimeters of mercury. Good choices include cycling, jogging, aerobic dance, swimming, and tennis. If exercise is new to you, talk to the staff at First Choice Medical for guidance about how to start.
Aerobic activity can be an effective way to control high blood pressure. But flexibility and strengthening exercises such as lifting weights are also important parts of an overall fitness plan. You don't need to spend hours in the gym every day to benefit from aerobic activity. Simply adding moderate physical activities to your daily routine will help.
Some examples of aerobic exercise you may try to lower blood pressure include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing. You can also try high-intensity interval training, which involves alternating short bursts of intense activity with subsequent recovery periods of lighter activity. Strength training also can help reduce blood pressure. Aim to include strength training exercises at least two days a week. Talk to your doctor about developing an exercise program.
10. Increase intake of potassium: Potassium is important to keep blood pressure under control as it helps the body to get rid of sodium. Including more fresh and whole foods in your diet can contribute to healthy levels of potassium in your body. Foods rich in potassium include bananas, beans, nuts and seeds, tuna, salmon, dairy products and green leafy veggies are rich sources of potassium.
If you are insulin resistant, you'll definitely want to include weight training in your exercise program. When you work individual muscle groups, you increase blood flow to those muscles. Good blood flow will increase your insulin sensitivity. Depending on your physical condition when you embark on your exercise program, you may need to consult with a health care professional for help increasing to the intensity required to lower your insulin level. Exercise in combination with the supplement L-arginine has been shown to correct the abnormal functioning of blood vessels seen in people with chronic heart failure. However, I would view this more as a drug approach and not necessarily a supplement you would consider using for optimizing health in general. L-arginine probably works through its interaction with nitric oxide. I would consider it an adjunct, not a replacement, for coenzymeQ10, which is a well-proven therapy for heart failure.
Blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day, so measuring it in the morning might yield a different number than, say, the afternoon. Conditions like stress and lack of sleep can also fluctuate blood pressure. Visiting your doctor might feel nerve-wracking, which can elevate your blood pressure and create a condition called white coat hypertension.
Studying men with hypertension who came to Pritikin, scientists at UCLA found that within three weeks, the men had significantly healthier levels of blood pressure. In fact, those who arrived at Pritikin taking hypertension drugs left Pritikin two to three weeks later no longer needing their medications, or with their dosages significantly reduced.1
In a 2014 review of previous studies, people who consumed probiotics—healthy bacteria found in yogurt and other fermented foods—saw their systolic blood pressure reduced an average of 3.6 points, and their diastolic reduced 2.4 points, compared to those who didn’t. Those with blood pressure higher than 130/85 experienced the greatest reductions, along with those who took probiotic supplements or ate probiotic foods for longer than two months. (Any blood pressure over 120/80 mm Hg is considered elevated.) Experts say any effect probiotics have on blood pressure is likely modest, but that they may play a role in an overall heart-healthy lifestyle.
Dr. Palanismy notes that a particular form of stress reduction called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction has been proven in research studies to reduce blood pressure. This approach to stress reduction uses meditation, body awareness and movement such as yoga to help people better observe their experiences, instead of being completely immersed in them. This helps them take a step back in stressful situations.
While most Americans with hypertension are treated primarily with drugs, “these drugs do not come close to eliminating all the cardiovascular ills associated with the typical American diet and sedentary lifestyle,” observes Danine Fruge, MD, Medical Director at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami. Over the last four decades, the Center has helped thousands worldwide lower blood pressure naturally and significantly reduce many cardiovascular risks.
Groundbreaking research published in 1998 in the journal Diabetes reported that nearly two-thirds of the test subjects who were insulin resistant (IR) also had high blood pressure, and insulin resistance is directly attributable to a high sugar, high grain diet, especially if accompanied by inadequate exercise. So, chances are that if you have hypertension, you also have poorly controlled blood sugar levels, because these two problems often go hand in hand.
Now I work with patients with high blood pressure every single day in my clinic. I’m board-certified chiropractic physician and people come into my office all the time with high blood pressure. And over the years I learned that traditional lifestyle changes do not have the answers for these patients. On top of that many hate the idea of taking drugs to manage their high blood pressure.
If it’s even slightly high, we will recommend you take appropriate steps to lower it, such as adhering to the DASH diet (fresh vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, low salt, and low-fat dairy), losing weight, stopping smoking, exercising, and reducing stress. If those non-medical approaches don’t achieve the necessary results, we will prescribe medication.
Going hand-in-hand with the first two methods, body weight is a major factor associated with blood pressure. In general, weight loss in those who are considered overweight or obese makes a significant, positive impact, and even a few pounds lost can help. Likewise, waist size has also been linked with blood pressure. Ideally, a man’s waist circumference should be less than 40 inches, and a woman’s should be less than 35 in order to minimize risk.
A rising heart rate does not cause your blood pressure to increase at the same rate. Even though your heart is beating more times a minute, healthy blood vessels dilate (get larger) to allow more blood to flow through more easily. When you exercise, your heart speeds up so more blood can reach your muscles. It may be possible for your heart rate to double safely, while your blood pressure may respond by only increasing a modest amount.
It goes without saying that when you don’t sleep well, you don’t feel well, and your body just doesn’t work well. In fact, research has shown for decades that a strong link between insomnia and hypertension exists. Reevaluating your daytime decisions or nighttime routines leading up to bedtime can help you find what works best for you in getting a good night’s rest.
Monitor your blood pressure and talk with your doctor. A medical professional can check your blood pressure by using a sphygmomanometer and a stethoscope, or you can check it yourself using an automatic blood pressure monitoring device. If you have concerns about your blood pressure, talk to your doctor to determine what treatment options may work best for you. Blood pressure is usually divided into categories, which include: