Ask Me About Blood Pressure


‘If you don’t know your blood pressure, it’s like not knowing the value of your company.’

Dr Mehmet Oz

If you have any questions about blood pressure, please use the comments box below and I will do my best to answer as soon as possible. Please note, I can only give general advice. If you have any persistent symptoms or health worries, or are concerned about your own blood pressure readings, it’s important to consult your own doctor.

I am often asked about the effectiveness of natural remedies for high blood pressure, so I’ve given all the evidence based figures for how well different approaches work at this link: Natural Remedies For High Blood Pressure.

Let me know what remedies you’ve found most helpful!

Quick links: Here are some of the supplements I recommend for blood pressure support from Healthspan, Boots, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.


Author Details
QUORA EXPERT – TOP WRITER 2018 Dr Sarah Brewer MSc (Nutr Med), MA (Cantab), MB, BChir, RNutr, MBANT, CNHC qualified from Cambridge University with degrees in Natural Sciences, Medicine and Surgery. After working in general practice, she gained a Masters degree in Nutritional Medicine from the University of Surrey. Sarah is a registered Medical Doctor, a Registered Nutritionist, a Registered Nutritional Therapist and the award winning author of over 60 popular self-help books.

Please leave any comments or ask me a question ...

44 thoughts on “Ask Me About Blood Pressure

  • Maya

    Hi! What s the dosage of Reishi mushroom for 68 y/o female; and will it be as effective if I take it on the empty stomach in AM , as with meals? How long to wait If I take it before meals? Is it necessary to take Vitamin C at the same time or just the same day as Reishi? Do I need to take a break and when? Do I have to take it constantly? I’ve read that some people have problems with liver after taking Reishi. Is it better to take it only in the morning? Which is the best source of Reishi?

    • DrSarahBrewer

      HI Maya, I have a post on Reishi for high blood pressure here, which provides the dose and links to my recommended brands. The vitamin C enhances absorptin so is best taken around the same time of day. Reishi is used to treat some liver problems, and seems to improve liver function in people with hepatitis B, for example. I am not aware of any robust evidence of harm for the liver from reishi extracts, although 2 cases of serious liver problems were associated with a particular powdered form of Reishi which may well have been contaminated, so stick with a good quality tablet/capsule brand made to pharmaceutical standards. However, everyone is different and idiosyncratic reactions can occur. Reishi extract has been taken long term without a break for at least a year. Best wishes, Sarah B

  • tony

    Have you heard about a product called XXXXX (name withheld)? I have tried it and am about to start my 6 month. They say at my age it takes 4- 6 months to see the results.
    I am trying this because it is supposed to help the calcium score. My calcium score was a little higher than I like it to be but not dangerous. My doctor told me to use flaxseed oil and get more exercise.
    I would like to know your thoughts on this product.
    Because of this I started a plant based diet about a year ago. I dropped 20 lbs in 3 months.
    I use olive leaf twice daily, K2 with D3, kyloic garlic 109, and krill oil. I also use cocovia twice a day
    I run a 5k 6 times a week and use a good protein drink.
    Since adding the protein drink I noticed a 22 point drop in my total cholesterol and a 23 point drop in my ldl, which surprised me.
    my total cholesterol is 144, ldl 97, trg 55, and my cholesterol ratio is 4. my hdl needs to come up some so I started to use bergamot this month to see if that will help. Before this plant based diet my cholesterol was high, not drastically, but needed to be worked on.
    my bp has its days and is not totally bad just want to get it more under control.
    any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks !!!

    • DrSarahBrewer

      Hi Tony, I had a look at the product you mentioned and am horrified at the price! It appears to contain a lot of useful ingredients, however, and is made in a GMP approved facility, so at least you know will get the level of ingredients stated on the label. The main ingredient listed is l-arginine and second highest listed ingredient is cocoa powder both of which are beneficial for blood pressure. For a build-up of calcium in the arteries, antioxidants (polyphenols) and vitamin K2 are important and the other supplements you are taking are all good choices. The most effective natural supplements for lowering cholesterol are plant sterols which you can read about on my other site (Best Cholesterol Lowering Supplements). Brazil nuts also have astonishing effects on cholesterol balance. The best 45 natural remedies for high blood pressure are listed here together with their effects in clinical trials. Do let me know how the product affects your blood pressure and I may review it. Thanks, Sarah B

  • Irene

    Hello Sarah I have been looking at your website for information on isolated systolic high blood pressure but find very little. I am controlling my BP with low dose Felodopine and also taking which you do not mention but have good results is Olive Leaf Extract 1000 mg daily along with these I take KWAI bp support of magnesium / potassium and Ublinquoil . I have chest tightness on excercise which has been diagnosed as Syndrome X which apparently not a lot can be done but improves if BP is lower . Please can you tell me is there anyway ISH BP can be improved without lowering dystolic currently my BP runs around 120/ 60 with the meds . I am female aged 70
    Kind regards
    Irene

    • DrSarahBrewer

      HI Irene, Isolated systolic hypertension is the most common form in people over the age of 65 and is believed to result from stiffening of the arteries. The goal of treatment is to bring readings down to less than 130mmHg so you are doing really well. Is there are particular reason you want to stop the felodipine if it’s working for you? A DASH diet that is low in salt and enriched with garlic, oily fish and antioxidant polyphenols from fruit and veg is usually advised. Nitrates found in beetroot juice can promote arterial dilation but may lower diastolic BP too. Women are more prone to a type of heart pain known as Cardiac Syndrome X in which angina-like heart pain occurs on exercise, but investigations (angiography) show that the coronary arteries are not narrowed or blocked. This syndrome is thought to be linked with lack of oestrogen after the menopause, which affects tiny blood vessels (capillaries) within the heart muscle itself, so they fail to dilate during exercise. You could try eating more plant-based oestrogens such as soy bean products for isoflavones, and ground flaxseed and sweet potatoes for lignans. If you are not happy with your current situation, do talk to your doctor and if necessary request a cardiology referral. Olive leaf extract is on my list to feature on the blog when I find time. Best wishes, Sarah B

  • Geoff

    Hi again, Sarah. I’ve heard that pistachio nuts (non-salted) are particularly effective in BP control/reduction. I hope this is true as they are probably my favourite nut! But I wonder if there is any good research on pistachios which supports this theory. Most nuts are full of goodness (and calories!) – does the pistachio offer something different, unique and efficacious for hypertension? Thanks! And, just to give something back to the blog, I have found that, while it is difficult to keep even 90% cocoa chocolate in the house without being sorely tempted, a sachet of organic cacao nibs to sprinkle on my oats or yoghurt provides (I believe – please correct me if I err) the same benefits as very dark chocolate without testing one’s powers of restraint!

      • Geoff

        Thanks, Sarah and my apologies for missing your existing article on pistachios – I should have scrolled down. I’ve also just noticed that we have an alma mater in common – I was at King’s many years ago – small world!
        i

  • lawrence

    I’ve been back and forth trying several natural remedies for my high BP (148/89) and I’m either exhausted all the time with very moderate gains or I have no change at all. I’m in good health, I exercise and dont add salt to anything. I’m currently on fish oil, garlic, cq10. I was doing celery/hawthorne but I was tired. Any suggestions I’m very frustrated.

    • DrSarahBrewer

      Hi Lawrence. Some people find increasing their intakes of magnesium and calcium is helpful, while others find that hibiscus tea, black seed or switching to sesame oil for cooking makes the difference. Tiredness and frustration can cause stress that puts blood pressure up and you may be in the middle of a vicious cycle that needs medication to control your blood pressure. Do see your doctor as you may need to start taking a low dose medication. Once your readings come down, your doctor may be willing to monitor you while you stop medication if you prefer a fully natural approach. Don’t see this as a failure – many people need medication in addition to making healthy diet and lifestyle changes which help to prevent their hypertension from progressing. Best wishes, Sarah B

      • lawrence

        Last night I woke up and after taking Garlic, hawthorn, fish oil and CQ10 I was at 127/74 but this was at 3am, this morning I was 132/84 but after those pills I’m tired. I really want to do it naturally but this fatigue to get these results is making it hard.

      • DrSarahBrewer

        HI Lawrence, It’s important to see your doctor to look for other causes of fatigue. A raised blood pressure in itself does not normally cause fatigue, nor do the supplements you are taking. You doctor can screen you for other causes of tiredness such as underactive thyroid, iron deficiency or undiagnosed diabetes, for example. Best wishes, Sarah B

  • Geoff

    Hi Sarah – and thank you for this very helpful site. I am being treated for hypertension and take a diuretic among my meds. This puzzles me a little as, on one hand, good hydration is, I believe, important for blood pressure but, on the other, the diuretic is working to dehydrate the patient. No doubt the biochemistry is more complex than that, but there does appear to be a paradox here and I would like to understand it better! Thanks 🙂

    • DrSarahBrewer

      Hi Geoff, A good question! The interesting thing is that, while thiazide-like diuretics have an initial diuretic action to flush away excess fluid, this effect normalises the circulation within a couple of weeks, and the need to keep running to the loo then declines. The also have an effect to dilate blood vessels and this is thought to be their main long-term action. When you only need one antihypertensive drug, latest evidence suggests that a thiazide diuretic is the best blood pressure medicine and I suspect guidelines will change to reflect this. Best wishes, Sarah B

      • Geoff

        Thanks for explaining that, Sarah – I like, in a general sense, to understand how my medication works and this had been a conundrum but is no longer! :}

    • DrSarahBrewer

      Hi Roger, Boiling beetroot is one way to reduce the oxalate content of beetroot – one study found that boiling beetroot reduced the amount of soluble oxalates below that of raw or steamed beets (but don’t reuse the boiling water). Maintaining good hydration is also important. Check with your doctor however before including boiled beetroot in your diet. Best wishes, Sarah B

  • Jay

    Hello Sarah, Firstly may I thank you for a very informative and helpful website.

    Ten days ago, on a visit to the doctor for another matter, we discovered my husband’s blood pressure was extremely high (around the 180/100 mark). It was a shock, to say the least, since up until eighteen months ago he’d always had readings around 120/80. Complacency on our part meant he hadn’t had it checked in the interim, which of course we now regret because we don’t know when it started to rise. Anyhow after monitoring at home his BP was still high so yesterday his doctor prescribed Lisinopril (10mg). I’ve scared myself silly today, reading about the side effects of Lisinopril, so much so that I daren’t test my own blood pressure today because I’m sure it would be high! I’ve now just read on your site that a low dose thiazide might have been a better option…?

    I’ve been researching lowering BP naturally and my husband has been taking magnesium, co-enzyme Q10 and fish oil supplements for the last six days or so which I’m assuming are still ok to take alongside Lisinopril? Our diet is generally pretty good but we’ve turbo-charged it since finding out with pretty much all the foods/drinks associated with lowering BP. Been out today and bought aromatherapy oils too! My husband is 59 and exercises fairly regularly, when work permits. I’m trying to remain upbeat but from what I’ve read here it seems unlikely that 10mg of Lisinopril will bring his BP down sufficiently. I hate the idea of him being on meds for the rest of his life with all the possible side effects. I’d love to think we could lower it and then control it naturally through lifestyle rather than drugs but realise that is probably wishful thinking. Any reassurances gratefully received 🙂

    • DrSarahBrewer

      Hi Jay, Glad you find the info helpful. Going to the doctor is always stressful, and blood pressure can go high as a result (so-called white coat hypertension). NICE guidelines recommend offering a 24-hour blood pressure monitor with a device worn throughout the day and night (ambulatory monitoring) to confirm persistent hypertension. Once this is confirmed, then current guidelines recommend different treatments depending on age, risk factors, ethnicity and other factors. You doctor will have weighed these all up before deciding on the right treatment approach. Things may well change, however, as these guidelines are being reviewed based on changes in the definition of hypertension now used in the US, and the new analysis that suggests that some treatments are associated with better long-term outcomes than others. It’s important to trust in your doctor – general practice is an art as much as a science and finding the right treatment for each patient can take time. Only 10% of people with hypertension only need one medication to properly control their blood pressure – most need 2 or 3. In the meantime, lifestyle changes can help, such as cutting out salt, following a DASH diet, regular exercise such as walking, deep breathing exercises and more. Magnesium, coenzyme Q10 and omega-3 fish oil are great choices to supplement normal diet. Blood pressure readings usually improve quite quickly once medication, diet and lifestyle changes are started. Best wishes, Sarah B

      • Jay

        Thanks for your reply. Feeling a bit calmer about it all now. Blood pressure is lower. We’ve had readings in the 160’s, a couple in the 140’s and even one at 130/75. Highest diastolic 95.

  • Sandra

    I found out that someone’s daughter is suffering with very high blood pressure and has been taken to the hospital a few times because of it. I have been reading about Coconut Water and many other things to help her. I told her Mother I would try to get information about it. I have two questions. In your opinion does it make a difference if the coconut Water is pasteurized? I would think it would. Second question, I saw on the internet that High Blood Pressure can be caused by tumors. Is that correct? I have been thinking a lot about this problem and what the reason is for her High Blood Pressure. Since I do not know her I can only give the Mother information and hope it helps. I have other information to give her too, about weight, foods to eat, foods to avoid, vitamins and other stuff. I know that garlic sure helped me. My Doctors do not talk to me about High Blood Pressure medicine anymore.

    • DrSarahBrewer

      Hi Sandra, the blood pressure lowering effects of coconut water are due to the presence of potassium, magnesium, calcium and l-arginine – while the salts are not affected by the temperature used during pasteurisation to kill bacteria, l-arginine may be ‘denatured’ and converted to another amino acid called ornithine although this is less likely to happen during brief pasteurisation processes. Your second question is a difficult one to answer. In most cases, high blood pressure has no obvious underlying cause and is known as essential hypertension. In the few cases that are due to other causes, it is known as secondary hypertension. While tumours can produce hormones that raise blood pressure, this is relatively rare. The most important thing is to take any prescribed medical treatments and to follow the dietary and lifestyle advice provided by her doctors (eg low salt, DASH diet). There is lots of information about complementary approaches and natural remedies for high blood pressure to support medical treatment on this site, too. I’m glad you found that garlic helped! Best wishes, Sarah B

  • Keshavji

    Hi,
    I am suffering from High BP with very slow pulse while resting. ( Systolic 165 to 170, Dialostic 70 to 80, Pulse 42 to 50 ). Everyday i walk or cycle for about an hour. My BP taken 5 minutes after walk or cycling seems to be fine ( Sys 135 to 145 Dia 65 to 75 Pulse 52 to 56) . Then after blood pressure starts going up with pulse slowing down while doing work on laptop or watching TV.
    I have been taking black garlic and omega 3 since last year or so. I am pure vegetarian eating lots of fruits and veg and lentils etc. Do have very little alcohol during weekend only. I am on no medications whole of my life. Blood test is negative in respect of kidney, lever and thyroid function.
    What i am concerned about is if i go on some kind of medication to lower BP, My pulse may even go further lower . This has happened when i tried a herbal supplement called Mukta Vati. This herb brought BP down along with pulse ( Sys 125 Dia 65 Pulse 40)
    So i wonder if there is any herbs or modern medications to lower BP without affecting Pulse. OR your opinion on high BP with slow pulse while resting will be appreciated
    Thanks for your time

    • DrSarahBrewer

      Hi Keshavji, Certainly you seem to have an isolated systolic hypertension which is often due to the slow pulse rate itself (bradycardia). A slower pulse rate allows extra time for more blood to fill your heart, so that more is pumped out to cause a raised systolic blood pressure and a low diastolic blood pressure as a result. Your doctor can assess you and either select an appropriate treatment or refer you to a heart specialist (cardiologist), but do see your doctor as soon as possible to find out the underlying cause. Best wishes, Sarah B

  • Stewart

    I have been taking 10 drops of Crategus mother tincture for at least 2 years for blood pressure but am still suffering with readings anywhere from 205/107 to 244
    Is Crategus the same as Hawthorn. If so what dosage could/should I be taking?

    • DrSarahBrewer

      Hi Stewart. You need to see your doctor as soon as possible as you need medication to control your blood pressure and to have your kidney function checked. Hawthorn (crataegus oxyacantha) alone is not enough (and should not be combined with prescribed medicines except under medical supervision) The term ‘mother tincture’ is usually applied to homeopathic remedies, which contain low levels of active ingredients (from which homepathic remedies are prepared by further extensive dilution), rather than herbal medicines which contain significantly higher levels of active ingredients. There are lots of natural remedies that can help lower a high blood pressure, and which you can use alongside medicines, such as relaxation exercises, breathing exercises, the DASH diet, magnesium supplements and ubiquinol coenzyme Q10, but you do need medical support with those readings. Best wishes, Sarah B

  • Lawrence

    Hello, Are there supplements that contain Garlic, Magnesium and Hawthorne all in one ? (and potent enough to be effective) My BP is normally around 145/90 and I think the fact that I’m pretty high strung may not help me.

    • DrSarahBrewer

      Hi Lawrence, There is a supplement called Advanced Blood Pressure Support which include a variety of effective herbs and nutrients, but not magnesium. As magnesium is easily obtained on its own, you could add that in if needed. If your blood pressure remains raised it’s important to see your doctor. Following a DASH diet is also key. You may find relaxation exercises and breathing exercises beneficial, too. And here’s a link to 45 natural remedies for lowering blood pressure. Best wishes, Sarah B

      • Lawrence

        I looked at that one but thought the Hawthorne and Garlic was too low. I thought I had read that you wanted over 1000 mg of hawthorne daily ?

      • DrSarahBrewer

        When taking a combination of herbs and other ingredients which work in different ways you can use much lower doses to achieve a synergistic effect. These lower doses also reduce the risk of unwanted side effects. Hawthorn on its own is used in doses of 500mg to 1200mg per day but I believe these doses are best used under the supervision of a medical herbalist – it is a powerful herb. A lower dose in a combination supplement is a good way to start. Best wishes, Sarah B

  • Harry

    Hi— Seems that there are many supplements/herbs that can assist with lowering BP–you list quite a number of them on your very helpful website. There are dozens of different BP formulas on Amazon–hard to know where to start.

    Background–I am 59, developed hypertension 3 years ago-despite very regular exercise (5-6 days/week), regular meditation, a clean diet, and being thin (it runs in my family). Had a bad reaction to amlodipine, as well as a diuretic (and no impact on bp) –but bp lowered quickly with Lisiniprol. Shifted to Losartan after developing the dry cough. Have been maintained on 50/day, but now am having some side effects and would love to be able to lower the dose. However, even a minor reduction results in my bp increasing. My health is otherwise great.

    Do you have a recommendation of specific supplements or formulas that might be a support in allowing me to reduce the dose of Losartan successfully? Need to start somewhere–but there are so many options.

    thank you!!! Harry

  • Stephanie

    Hello, thank you very much for all the precious informations that you share on your website.
    My question is: do you know if Klamath blue green algae (Aphanizomenon flos-aquae) is as good as Spirulina to reduce blood pressure?
    Than you for your help. Best regards

    • DrSarahBrewer

      Hi Stephanie, Klamath blue green algae do not appear to have been specifically researched in relation to blood pressure, although they are likely to have similar effects as spirulina according to at least one review. However, there are concerns about levels of pollution in Lake Klamath which might contaminate supplements. Best wishes, Sarah B

    • DrSarahBrewer

      Hi Susan, Do go back to your doctor. You may need to change to a different class of antihypertensive drug, or have another one added in. Most people need 2 and sometimes 3 different medications to control their high bood pressure (often combined in one pill so you are not rattling). It’s important to bring your blood pressure down to target levels. In addition, natural approaches can help your medication to work more effectively. For example, lack of magnesium can reduce the effectiveness of some BP drugs, and correcting this will help you respond better. In the meantime, there are 45 different ‘natural’ ways to reduce blood pressure at this link. Click through on the ones that you would like to try for more details. Posts on the home page provide information too. Hope that helps, Best wishes, Sarah B

  • Roger

    Hi, I have three questions.

    I am taking Ramipril (2.5mg) before bed and Amlodipine (5mg) in the morning for my high blood pressure. I would like to also use Magnesium Bisglycinate and Apple Cider vinegar at meal times as my BP seems to go up, especially in the early evening. I have tried to check for interactions and have read the drug leaflets but can’t see any. I suppose, I am asking for clarification.

    I understand that high potassium from diet could interact with Ramipril, but what is a high potassium diet?

    I would prefer to use natural remedies to relieve or possibly eliminate my high blood pressure. I have started having cold hands and feet and poor libido, which after a year of taking my tablets may be the side effects. I know everyone is different, but is this a common reaction when taking these drugs?

    • DrSarahBrewer

      Hi Roger, magnesium deficiency is common, and adding magnesium supplements to correct this can significantly improve blood pressure that has not previously responded to medication. Depending on how well your blood pressure is controlled, you may wish to start with a low dose and work up. The DASH diet will provide a good amount of magnesium from green leaves, nuts, seeds, fish, beans and wholefoods so you may wish to try this nutritional approach instead. The DASH diet is relatively high in potassium from fruit and veg, but is medically recommended for hypertension. Poor peripheral circulation and loss of libido can result from antihypertensive drugs, and amlodipine is often cited. Do see your doctor to ask if other classes of blood pressure medication might suit you better, control your blood pressure more effectively and not affect your libido. Don’t feel embarassed – GPs deal with this problem regularly. Hope that helps, Sarah B

  • JB

    Hello – the article on red reishi is interesting. I take 32mg of Candesartan each morning, which I assume isn’t an immunosuppressive / anticoagulants or cholesterol-lowering medication, so would I be okay to take red reishi as well? I have got my BP down from the high 170s (at times it was in the 190s!) to mid 140s but am still trying to get it in to the 130s, and doing lots of intense exercise, avoiding all caffeine and alcohol and doing my best to avoid salt, but despite all these efforts, still can’t get it any lower hence my interest in red reishi.

    • DrSarahBrewer

      Hi JB, I’ve checked with the Natural Medicines interaction database and it says: “Theoretically, concurrent use of reishi mushroom with antihypertensive drugs might increase the risk of hypotension.” Having said that, any oral supplement that lowers BP would have the same flag. If you do decide to take reishi – or any other natural approach – it’s important to monitor your blood pressure closely initially, and if taking a supplement, start with a low dose. I’ve just written an overview of all the blood pressure lowering natural remedies HERE. Hope that helps – it includes 39 possible approaches and the evidence behind them. Best wishes, Sarah B

  • Arnie T Alcazar

    Is it true that while blood pressure treatments lower hypertension, they also kill the liver slowly, among other side effects.

    • DrSarahBrewer

      Hi Arnie, most antihypertensive medicines don’t have adverse effects on the liver, but if you are concerned your doctor can check your liver function for you. The Patient Information Leaflet provided with each medicine will list possible side effects. Best wishes, Sarah B