Many people with high blood pressure are looking for natural remedies to help control their blood pressure. In some cases, these natural approaches can avoid the need to start medication, or reduce the need for increasing drug doses and additional prescribed treatments.
Natural remedies for high blood pressure
Natural remedies for high blood pressure are effective. I’ve seen patients come off their prescribed blood pressure medicines when they’ve changed their diet and lifestyle habits, lost weight and reduced the causes of stress in their life.
I’m often asked which are the most effective natural remedies for high blood pressure. Different natural remedies work for different people, depending on the underlying cause of their hypertension. Some respond to mineral supplements such as potassium or magnesium if their diet is lacking, some do well with breathing exercises and relaxation therapies, while others prefer to try to herbal medicines such as reishi or hibiscus.
Not all approaches work for all people. I’ve therefore scoured the published literature to find results from meta-analyses and systematic reviews for 44 different natural remedies for high blood pressure. These provide the average blood pressure reductions achieved in the greatest number of people.
Where meta-analyses aren’t available, I’ve extracted the results from single randomised controlled trials as the best evidence available for the most effective natural remedies for high blood pressure.
As these are average reductions, some people will find their blood pressure improvements are greater than those quoted, while others will find they are less effective for them, as an individual.
Diet and lifestyle changes tend to produce the most dramatic results in people whose blood pressure is the highest. As your blood pressure reduces down towards the normal range, reductions in blood pressure readings become smaller as your physiology adjusts.
Improved regulation of blood vessel dilation, fluid and salt balance means that once your blood pressure is normalised, it will not reduce further. As a result, the reductions listed below are not necessarily additive, but are indications of the effects recorded in randomised, controlled, clinical trials, when each single approach was compared against placebo.
The most effective natural remedies for high blood pressure, based on average systolic blood pressure reductions are as follows.
Click on the links to find out more about each natural remedy and the research which shows how effective it is in lowering a high blood pressure.
Natural Remedies For High Blood Pressure
Average Blood Pressure Reduction
|Apply acupressure to Tai Chong point. This natural remedy is one of the simplest as it just involves massaging a point on your foot for 3 minutes. This is easily done whenever you are sitting down. This post includes video clips to show you exactly how to apply acupressure to lower your blood pressure.
|Take Reishi herbal supplements. Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is also known as the mushroom of immortality, and is one of the oldest natural remedies for high blood pressure, having been used in China and Japan for at least 2,000 years. Reishi supplements contain four peptides that act in a similar way to ACE inhibitor antihypertensive drugs.
|Take Magnesium supplements. Magnesium is one of the best natural remedies for high blood pressure if you are lacking in dietary magnesium. Magnesium is needed for muscles in artery walls to relax, so that blood vessels can dilate and allow blood pressure to fall. Magnesium also reduces arterial spasm. For those with high blood pressure, a magnesium dose of 300mg to 400mg per day is ideal (higher amounts can have a laxative effect).
|Practise Qigong. Qigong is an ancient Chinese healing art that combines gentle movements, postures and breathing exercises and is often referred to as Chinese yoga. The Qigong post includes a link to download an instruction booklet that shows the 18 Qigong movements used in medical trials that showed significant improvements in blood pressure readings.||17/10 mmHg|
|Drink Hibiscus tea. Hibiscus tea is one of the nicest natural remedies for high blood pressure. Made from the red calyx of a tropical plant, known as Roselle, Hibiscus tea has a mild diuretic action to flush excess fluid and salt from the body, and also works in a similar way to ACE inhibitor drugs. Clinical trials show that Hibiscus tea is as effective at lowering blood pressure as the prescribed drugs capropril and lisinopril, and more effective than a thiazide diuretic.||15/11 mmHg|
|Eat more ground flax seed. Ground flax seeds are a surprisingly effective natural remedy for high blood pressure, and are effective even in people with hardening of the arteries. Flax seed is believed to work thanks to their rich content of lignans and other antioxidants, and their high level of omega-3 in the form of the essential fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid.||15/7 mmHg|
|Eat more grana padano cheese. Grana padano cheese is an Italian cows’ milk cheese similar to Parmesan. During ripening, a strain of beneficial bacteria breaks down some of the milk proteins to produce peptides with a smilar blood pressure lowering action to ACE inhibitor drugs. Shaving Grana padano onto your salads has to be one of the tastiest natural remedies for high blood pressure!||12/8 mmHg|
| Use aromatherapy essential oils. Aromatherapy involves inhaling the scent of pure plant essential oils
or massaging them into the skin. A blend of Lavender, Ylang-Ylang and Bergamot is particularly effective, and are thought to work by reducing the effects of psychological stress.
|Practise transcendental meditation. Transcendental meditation is such an effective natural remedy for high blood pressure that it is recommended by the American Heart Association. It is believed to work by reducing stress responses, and this post includes a video clip on how to fit it into your daily routine.||11/7 mmHg|
|Take coenzyme Q10 supplements. Coenzyme Q10 is needed for energy production in muscle cells, including those lining your arteries. Coenzyme Q10 levels fall with increasing age, and this may reduce the reactivity of artery walls so they are less able to dilate. The ubiquinol form of coenzyme Q10 (at a dose of 100mg per day) is one of the best supplements to take if you have high blood pressure, and can be taken together with magnesium.||11/8 mmHg|
|Quit smoking. This lifestyle advice almost goes without saying. Smoking causes arteries to constrict, hastens hardening and furring up of the arteries, and increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke among other health issues. If you are a smoker, please give up – or at least cut back.||9/8 mmHg|
|Cut back on salt intake. Most of us eat too much salt as it is hidden in processed foods. Salt has an effect on the kidneys that promotes water retention and raises blood pressure. At the very least, avoid adding salt to your food during cooking and at the table. Use black pepper, herbs, spices and lime juice to flavour meals instead. Ideally, check labels and select food products with the lowest salt or sodium content, too.||8/4 mmHg|
|Do deep breathing exercises.Taking in deep breaths stimulates blood pressure receptors in your chest wall which can quickly bring down your blood pressure. This tip works whether or not you are on blood pressure medication, so when ever your readings are high, just breathe in-and-out, as slowly and deeply as you can, just six times.||9/3 mmHg|
|Try floatation therapy. This one is not for the faint hearted, but if you have a float centre near you, I recommend that you give it a try. Floating on a concentrated solution of magnesium salts (similar to the Dead Sea) in a warm, dark, quiet environment is a great way to relax, meditate and bring down your blood pressure.||8/6 mmHg|
|Have an acupuncture session. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical technique in which sterile needles are inserted at specific points in the body. This is believed to improve the flow of energy around the body and to stimulate the release of the brain’s own opiate-like endorphins to help lower a high blood pressure.
|Drink beetroot juice.This is another tasty natural remedy for high blood pressure. Beetroot and beet juice contain high levels of nitrates – substances which are converted by mouth bacteria into nitrites, which are rapidly absorbed. Within the circulation, nitrites are used to make nitric oxide, which helps blood vessels to dilate so your blood pressure comes down.
|Take black cumin seed supplements. Black cumin seed, also known as Blessed Seed or simply as Black Seed, is a traditional herbal medicine used to lower a high blood pressure. Black seed is thought to work by dilating blood vessels in a similar way to calcium channel blocker drugs, to help the heart pump more efficiently, and through a mild diuretic action.||7/4 mmHg|
|Have a reflexology session. Reflexology involves gentle massage of specific areas on the feet or hands, and helps to lower a high blood pressure through relaxation and effects on blood vessel dilation and by reducing any fluid build up.||7/5 mmHg|
|Take regular aerobic exercise. Physical exercise helps to dilate blood vessels and improve general circulation. You need to exercise regularly, for 30 to 60 minutes per day to obtain persistent benefits on blood pressure control. Brisk walking is ideal.||7/5 mmHg|
|Take vitamin E supplements. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that lowers blood pressure by improving the elasticity and reactivity of arteries. It is believed to work via nitric oxide, in a similar way to drinking beet juice.||7/5 mmHg|
| Drink cherry juice. If you’re not keen on the earthy taste of beet juice, then drinking cherry juice is a useful alternative. Tart cherry juice contains high levels of antioxidant polyphenols, which improve artery elasticity and promote blood vessel dilation.
|Take Spirulina supplements. Spirulina is a nutritious type of blue-green algae that contains potassium, magnesium and antioxidants which have blood pressure lowering effects. Like beet juice, Spirulina is believed to partly work through effects on nitric oxide. Spirulina is available as a powder, which you can mix into smoothies and juices, or as spirulina tablets.
|Lose 3kg excess weight. While it may seem easier said than done, cutting back on food intake (while maintaining good intakes of vitamins and minerals) and exercising more, will help you lose weight slowly and steadily. A loss of just 3kg excess fat has significant beneficial effects on blood pressure. If you are very overweight, then losing at least 5% of your body weight (5kg if you weight 100kg) can produce significant improvements in your blood pressure readings.||6/4 mmHg|
|Take aged garlic supplements. Aged garlic and black garlic provide powerful antioxidants that improve arterial elasticity and lower blood pressure, as well as improving cholesterol balance. This makes aged garlic an effective natural remedy for high blood pressure, and one of the most popular supplements among people with hypertension. Diet should always come first, of course, so increase your intake of fresh garlic, too. Add garlic towards the end of cooking for best results.
|Follow the DASH Diet. The Mediterranean way of eating is associated with a lower risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke compared with a typical Western style diet. Researchers have found that a modified form of the Mediterranean diet, which is also low in salt, can help to reduce blood pressure. This is known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet. Your doctor has probably already advised you to follow this eating plan. You can download a free DASH Diet food list at this link.||6/3 mmHg|
|Listen to classical or rhythmic music. It may seem strange, but listening to certain types of music can have effects on your heart rate and lower your blood pressure. This link includes some great video clips of relaxing music that can help to bring down a high blood pressure.||6/2 mmHg|
|Go shinrin-yoku forest bathing. This may sound odd, but spending time in natural settings, such as a forest, can significantly reduce blood pressure. Known as shinrin-yoku in Japan, the practice of walking, sitting or viewing the landscape is an effective natural remedy for high blood pressure. While this promotes relaxation, it is more effective than just relaxing in a non forest area, so it may relate to breathing in oxygen or to another, poorly understood biological effect of spending time with trees.||6/1 mmHg|
|Try mindful meditation. If you prefer a less structured practice than transcendental meditation, then mindful meditation may suit you. Mindful meditation involves focussing on the present moment by, for example, paying close attention to everyday activities such as walking, or simply on your breathing. By concentrating on the sensations, textures, colours, smells and sounds around you, this practice prevents your mind dwelling on potentially negative or stressful thoughts. Mindfulness can help lower your blood pressure in any situation, especially if a repetitive task (like breathing!) is involved.||5/11 mmHg|
|Practise yoga. Yoga is one of the most popular natural ways to maintain fitness and, as a bonus, can lower your blood pressure, too. Hatha yoga is one of the most popular forms, and combines stretching exercises and postures with breath control and meditation. Performing yoga regularly can lower blood pressure within 9 days, according to one study.||5/4 mmHg|
|Take L-arginine supplements. L-arginine is an amino acid that is used to make nitric oxide – the same substance that gives beet juice its blood pressure lowering properties. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow to the peripheries so that arterial blood pressure is reduced. Doses vary from 2g to 3g, up to three times a day. It can take several weeks to achieve the full effect.||5/2 mmHg|
|Eat more oily fish. Oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, fresh anchovies and fresh tuna, are a key part of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. Oily fish are a rich source of long-chain omega-3s (EPA and DHA) which help to regulate heart rate, arterial dilation and blood pressure. Ideally, your diet should provide two servings of oily fish per week to meet your omega-3 needs. Unfortunately, many people eat no fish at all.
|Take lycopene supplements. Lycopene is a red, carotenoid pigment that is present in tomatoes and other pink-red fruit and vegetables such as pink grapefruit, papaya and watermelon. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that lowers blood pressure by improving the elasticity of artery walls. A typical dose is 6mg to 30mg lycopene per day.
|Take fish oil supplements Diet must always come first, but if you don’t like eating oily fish then fish oil supplements are the next best thing. clinical trials show they have beneficial effects on heart rhythm and blood pressure. The usual dose is 1g to 3g per day.
|Drink cocoa. This is another, tasty way to lower your blood pressure, but the cocoa must be made from high quality cacao beans with a high level of antioxidant polyphenols. These cacao polyphenols act like l-arginine, and beet juice, increasing the availability of nitric oxide so that blood vessels dilate and blood pressure comes down. Whatever you do, don’t add sugar. Eating dark chocolate offers similar benefits!||4/2 mmHg|
|Cut back on caffeine. Caffeine raises your blood pressure, at least temporarily, and some people are more sensitive to this effect than others. Monitor your blood pressure before drinking a cup of coffee, and keep checking every 15 minutes, to assess how you respond as an individual. If you are sensitive, then restrict your intake of caffeine. Drink tea rather than coffee, as tea contains a relaxing amino acid called l-theanine which neutralises the effects of caffeine, to help reduce your blood pressure.||4/2 mmHg|
|Take vitamin C supplements. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is also needed to maintain elastic arteries. Trials show that taking a 500mg vitamin C tablet per day can lower blood pressure. Eating more fruit and veg will help increase your vitamin C intake, too.||4/1 mmHg|
|Take vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D has numerous beneficial effects for hypertension including the absorption of calcium, and by regulating the activity of genes involved in blood pressure control. If you are under 50 with a high blood pressure, a dose of 25mcg is ideal. If you are aged 50 and over with high blood pressure, a dose of 50mcg is better.||3/3 mmHg|
|Invest in the RESPeRATE device. RESPeRATE is a guided breathing device that is recommended by the American Heart Association, and accredited by the NHS in the UK. Using it to guide your breathing exercises for at least 10 minutes, four times a week, produces long-term improvements in blood pressure readings.||3/2 mmHg|
|Take hawthorn extracts. Hawthorn is a traditional herbal medicine used to treat high blood pressure, and to relieve angina, strengthen heart contractions and reduce abnormal heart rhythms as well as reducing anxiety and insomnia. Hawthorn is best taken under the supervision of a medical herbalist if you have heart problems.||3/2 mmHg|
|Avoid excess alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol causes blood pressure to rise. Aim to keep within the recommended healthy limits for alcohol intake, and have several alcohol-free days each week, too.||3/2 mmHg|
|Increase your intake of potassium. Potassium is a mineral that reduces sodium and fluid retention through effects in the kidneys. The best way to increase your potassium intake is to eat more fruit and veg. Potassium supplements are also available and are usually combined with other beneficial nutrients such as magnesium and B vitamins.||3/1 mmHg|
|Take calcium supplements. Calcium has a blood pressure lowering effect by regulating the dilation of blood vessels. The easiest way to increase your calcium intake is to increase your intake of dairy products – a pint of milk provides almost all your daily calcium requirements. Nuts, seeds, pulses and green leaves are other good sources. Calcium supplements are also available.
|Avoid stress. Excess stress increases blood press due to the effects of stress hormones preparing you for the fight or flight response.||2/1 mmHg|
|Drink chamomile tea. Chamomile tea has a relaxing effect and also helps to reduce anxiety and promote a good night’s sleep.It has a pleasant, sweet taste, and is also available flavoured with natural vanilla or manuka honey.
|Do relaxation exercises. Although the effects of relaxation exercises in clinical trials have not proved that impressive, for individual people the right form of relaxation can significantly lower a high blood pressure.||1/1 mmHg|
Select the natural remedy that resonates with you
Some people will thrive when sitting in a forest chanting ‘om’, while others would find this acutely stressful and their blood pressure would rise at the thought of being seen.
Select the natural remedies for high blood pressure which suit your life and philosophy best, and which you are confident you can maintain on a regular basis going forward.
Keep a record of your blood pressure (download a sheet here My Blood Pressure Chart) so you can see how you respond to your chosen approaches.
This record sheet will also help your doctor assess whether or not your blood pressure medication can be reduced.
My book, Overcoming High Blood Pressure, provides 3 different diet, lifestyle, herbal and supplement programs: Gentle, Moderate and Full-Strength, to help bring down your blood pressure fast.
Which natural remedies have worked best for your high blood pressure? Please share your experiences below.