When we talk about health, we can’t skip over the subject of high blood pressure. Go for any doctor appointment, be it with a GP or a medical specialist—most likely, your blood pressure (BP) will be checked. Take any household or visit a large pharmacy—you’ll find a sphygmomanometer there (yes, this is how blood pressure meter is actually called). Grab a random book on general health and you’ll most definitely find a chapter on how to keep your BP in check.
It is not surprising that modern medicine attributes so much importance to healthy blood pressure levels. A Harvard study revealed that high BP contributes to over 15 percent of deaths in the U.S. Often referred to as the “silent killer” due to absence of the telltale symptoms (28 percent of Americans don’t know their levels are higher than normal), high blood pressure is associated with increased risk of life-threatening cardiovascular conditions such as heart attack and stroke, along with other health issues. (Your tiredness is not just because of aging.)
Modern-day pharmacology is a blessing and a curse. There is a pill for practically everything, giving an impression that any condition—including high blood pressure—is very easy to treat. But here’s the catch: any medication comes along with a slew of side effects. You never know for sure how your body is going to react to a particular formula. So, while the benefits of prescription and over-the-counter drugs are undeniable, it is always a good idea to try treating your condition with home remedies. (Why NASA has banned blood pressure drugs for all astronauts.)
5 non-prescription remedies to lower blood pressure
While maintaining a healthy weight is almost a pre-requisite to successful blood pressure management, here are a few tricks you can try to lower your levels:
Deep breathing. When we’re stressed, our body produces hormones that bring the levels of renin, a kidney enzyme, up, resulting in elevated blood pressure. Some doctors even advocate for a routine renin test to help diagnose hypertension. As high renin levels are correlated with high levels of stress, it only makes sense to relax for the sake of your cardiovascular health. Inhale deeply into your belly. Release any built-up tension on exhale. Practice deep breathing for five minutes in the morning and at night.
Potassium. Dr. Linda Van Horn, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, stresses the importance of eating potassium-rich foods for lowering blood pressure. You can meet your daily potassium needs by drinking orange juice and eating sweet or white potatoes, tomatoes, kidney beans, peas, bananas, cantaloupe, prunes, and raisins. A delicious way to diversify your diet all the while working on your healthy BP levels.
Hibiscus tea. In a study from Tufts University, participants who had three cups of a hibiscus tea every day experienced a decrease in their systolic blood pressure by seven points in six weeks—which is comparable to the results achieved with many prescribed medications. The researchers believe such an impressive drop in blood pressure can be attributed to the phytochemicals in hibiscus. If you’re not a big fan of a pure hibiscus tea, you can drink an herbal blend—just make sure the mix still offers a high concentration of hibiscus per serving.
Music. Another way to deal with stress and high blood pressure comes from the University of Florence in Italy, where researchers studied the effects of music relaxation. Twenty-eight hypertensive participants who were already taking meds were asked to listen to calming classical, Celtic, or Indian music every day for half an hour. They also had to breathe slowly during their sessions. By the end of the week, the participants experienced a 3.2-point drop in their systolic blood pressure; by the end of the month, the readings went down 4.4 points.
Sleep apnea treatment. Sleep apnea is a condition characterized by interruptions in breathing while asleep. If you wake up with a headache, feel tired during the day, and snore loudly at night, sleep apnea may be the cause—and it may also be the cause of your high blood pressure. If you suspect you may be having sleep apnea, talk to your doctor about a sleep test to confirm the diagnosis. Treating sleep apnea may very well resolve your BP problem too. (A revolutionary formula that helps combat the three hidden causes of sleep loss.)
These remedies are simple and easy to implement into your daily routine—and they may be all you need to address your blood pressure concerns. You can try them even if you’re currently taking medication—they won’t cause any side effects or drug interactions. As always, when in doubt, get a professional medical advice and don’t make any changes to your medication plan without consulting your doctor first.