Managing Blood Pressure Without Prescription Drugs
Yesterday I talked about the problem of misdiagnosis of high blood pressure. I want to be perfectly clear. Many people do have high blood pressure. It is a serious, even life threatening condition. For some people, prescription medications are the difference between life and death.
THE TREATMENT MAY BE WORSE FOR YOU THAN THE DISEASE
But a 2003 study in the UK found that 97% of people taking blood pressure medications suffer one or more serious side effects during their treatment. Think about that for a second. If you take prescription medications for your blood pressure, you have nearly a 100% chance of an adverse side effect!
With those kinds of odds, doesn’t it make sense to try every sensible non-prescription alternative first? Especially in face of a study reported in the Journal of Internal Medicine study that found that 30% of people with mild or moderate hypertension completely resolved their condition by taking a placebo. 
Research also shows that 85% of people diagnosed with high blood pressure could fix their problem completely with relatively simple lifestyle changes.
LIFESTYLE CHANGES ARE USUALLY ALL THAT IS NEEDED
It’s seldom a welcome recommendation. It is so much more appealing to take a pill to fix our problems than to make a change in lifestyle. But this tempting quick fix option loses its appeal when you consider that a) you are likely contemplating a life-long expensive drug dependency and b) have a 97% chance of an adverse reaction.
The basic lifestyle changes to reduce hypertension are not going to surprise anyone. They are the same changes that most of us should be considering anyway in order to improve our overall longevity and health. They include,
1. Improved Diet - The link between high blood pressure and diabetes is well documented. The presence of chronic surplus of sugars in the blood stream causes inflammation of the blood vessel tissue. Your body responds by mobilizing cholesterol to repair the inflammatory damage. The cholesterol then builds up in the blood vessels restricting blood flow and, just like a clogged garden hose, the pressure in the blood vessels increases.
Elevated insulin levels also have the effect of raising blood pressure. Insulin resistance reduces your ability to store magnesium, a crucial for muscle relaxation. It also causes sodium retention which results in elevated blood pressure. Two-thirds of people with insulin resistance are also hypertensive. 
The first stop for people with high blood pressure should be a test of their blood sugar levels. Even if the blood sugars are not elevated you should consider eliminating grains and sugars from your diet. Consumption of any type of grain or sugar results in elevated insulin levels.
You might also consider increasing consumption of fatty fish. Increased Omega-3 consumption has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to re-sensitize insulin receptors.
Finally, eliminate caffeine from your diet, sadly, this implies eliminating non-herbal teas. There is a clearly demonstrated adverse effect of caffeine on blood pressure levels.
2. Reduce Stress - Life throws a lot at us that is not within our control. Short of moving to cave someplace, we can’t do much about that. But we can address how we respond to the stressful events that come our way.
In one study people with a history of heart disease given stress management training reduced their risk of cardiac events by 70%.
Handling stress better is not simple for many people but practices like meditation, yoga and taichi can be beneficial. Research shows that the simple act of taking action, of any kind, in response to a problem, reduces stress. That action can be as simple as adding a daily walk to your routine or taking time to read for relaxation each day. The important thing is that your psyche perceives that you are doing something about the situation and thus you feel more in control and stress levels reduce.
3. Exercise – I recently published a series of posts on the importance of adding High Intensity Training to your exercise routine. This kind of training reduces insulin sensitivity, reduces stress and improves anaerobic conditioning, all of which have the effect of lowering blood pressure. I won’t spend a lot of time on it here, but the science behind this recommendation is in my earlier blog post series found HERE.
NATURAL HERBS MAY ALSO HELP
These three lifestyle changes alone will dramatically improve most blood pressure problems. Additionally there are a number of herbs shown to support an active blood pressure management regimen. Here are just a few,
Jiaogulan – You folks already know my favorite herb is the herb I started Immortalitea to promote, Jiaogulan. In addition to it’s well-known longevity benefits, jiaogulan causes an increase in your body’s production of Nitric Oxide. Nitric oxide is a natural vasodilator. Larger blood vessels may result in reduced blood pressure.
Ginger – Ginger is now commonly available throughout North America. Ginger is both a blood thinner and anti-inflammatory. Compounds in Ginger have been shown to have the effect of relaxing the tissues surrounding blood vessels. My Chinese herbalist insists there is a marked difference in the potency of the ginger available in most grocery stores and the ginger in Asian specialty stores. A trip to you local Korean grocer may be worth the extra effort.
Olive Leaf Tea – A recent study that patients receiving 1,000 mg of olive leaf extract daily experienced significant drops in LDL cholesterol. There is a strong correlation to elevated LDL and high blood pressure. Instead of extract I recommend just brewing a strong olive leaf tea. It’s a thick heavy leaf so you will need to use boiling water. Steep about 2 grams of dried olive leaf for 5 to 10 minutes. It’s not a great tasting tea at first pass but it’s one of those herbs that one tends to develop a taste for over time.
Hawthorn – Several of you guessed that Hawthorn might be the new tea I’m introducing. That’s not right but it is an excellent guess. The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook recommends Hawthorne for both toning the heart muscle and reducing blood pressure.
All of these herbs are used in traditional medicine for helping lower blood pressure. There is modern research to support their benefits. But, none of these are my top recommendation for lowering blood pressure specifically (Jiaogulan is still my fave for overall health benefits :) ).
In a couple of days I’ll share with you my top recommendation for an herbal assist to your blood pressure management and how you can make it part of your daily routine.
As you may have guessed, it is the latest addition to our Wellness Collection and the next post will be all about the new tea including it’s health benefits, how to prepare it and what makes ours special.
See you then.
As always, I am not a doctor and not qualified to offer medical advice. If you have any concerns about our products or their potential interactions with your condition or other medications you might be taking, PLEASE do discuss with your doctor.
Our products have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration and are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. The information provided on our site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional.
 Mercola, Rob,. Et al “The Surprising Causes of High Blood Pressure”, Accessed Jan., 2016.
 Archives of Internal Medicine, 2001;161:2677-2681, Left Ventricular Changes in Isolated Office Hypertension, Grandi, Anna M. M.D. et al,
 Harris, M., Diabetes in America: Epidemiology and Scope of the Problem, Diabetes Care, Feb. 1998.