Herbs for Blood Pressure

Expert advice on which herbs can help correct hypertension.

| August/September 2010

  • Silent killer: 73 million Americans have high blood pressure, and 30 percent may be unaware of their condition.

Q. Can herbs help keep my blood pressure in a healthy range? Why is regulating blood pressure important, anyway?

A. When your heart pumps, each life-giving squeeze sends blood coursing through your arteries, which pipe that blood to every corner of your body. The force of blood pushing against those arterial walls is, simply put, your blood pressure. Normal pressure is less than 120/80, but if it climbs above 150/90 (stage 2 hypertension), you’re getting into rough territory. The wall of the artery can be weakened by the constant high blood pressure, and eventually can tear and cause complications, such as a stroke. 

About 73 million adults in the United States—one in three people older than 20—have high blood pressure. Upwards of 90 percent of those with chronic high blood pressure have no obvious damage or disease; the American Heart Association conjectures that 30 percent are unaware of their condition, prompting its “silent killer” moniker. Over time, high blood pressure is likely to damage every one of your organs.

It’s important to normalize your blood pressure, but rarely would it ever need to be lowered instantly. Just don’t ignore it. Herbs can be an effective way to lower blood pressure over a period of one to two months, and then to maintain healthy blood pressure.

4 Effective Herbs

Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) is the European jack-of-all-trades herb for safe and effective treatment of heart and circulatory disorders, due to its potent bioflavonoid-like complexes. Traditionally, the berries were used, but scientists have found active ingredients in other parts of the plant. Studies have shown that hawthorn extracts lower blood pressure. A recent British study successfully used hawthorn to lower blood pressure in diabetics.

A common dose is 80 to 300 mg of standardized extract with total bioflavonoid content (often 2.2 percent) or oligomeric procyanidins (usually 18.75 percent), two to three times per day. You also can use a tincture of 4 to 5 ml three times daily, or at least 4 to 5 grams per day in capsules. Allow at least two to four weeks for the herb to take effect. It is a long-term therapy, so the effectiveness of hawthorn might still be increasing even after one to two months.

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