Q and A: Herbal Relief for Hypertension

Health professionals answer readers' questions.

| January/February 1997

In every issue of Herbs for Health, professionals from a variety of health-care fields will answer your questions about using medicinal herbs. Herbalist Mindy Green and physician Robert Rountree responded for this issue.


I am a 27-year-old male diagnosed with hereditary hypertension approximately a year ago. I am 5 feet 9 ­inches tall and weigh 160 pounds; my blood pressure is 155 over 95. I take ubiquinone and garlic for cholesterol (although I do not have high cholesterol); thymuplex, Mexican yam extract, and potassium and magnesium aspartate for weak adrenal glands; and lecithin and silymarin-complex for my weak liver. I eat a high-fiber, low-fat, no-salt diet, drink two liters of water a day, abstain from caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco, and exercise for one hour five days a week. I even practice tai chi daily.

I wish to avoid prescription blood-pressure medications. Are there any herbal treatments you can recommend?
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) blossom or berry would be a good addition to what you are already doing. Both have a long history of safe use for the cardiovascular system and can be taken several times a day for an extended period of time. They are common foods, usually eaten as jam in many European countries. The garlic (Allium sativum) that you are taking will do double duty for cholesterol and for its hypotensive action. With the amount of water you consume, be sure your kidneys are functioning optimally. Vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene also offer free-radical protection.
—Mindy Green

I have found several supplements helpful for lowering blood pressure. I would definitely continue the ubiquinone, garlic, and the magnesium-potassium aspartate. In addition, you might try one or all of the following: (1) essential fatty acids, either in the form of flax oil, 1–3 tablespoons daily, or EPA (oil from cold-water fish such as salmon), 3–15 capsules daily, (2) powdered extract of maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa), 2–3 grams daily, (3) Plectranthus barbatus (synonym Coleus forskohlii) solid extract, standardized to contain 18 percent of forskohlin, 100–200 mg daily. Bear in mind that a program such as this may take up to three months to work, so be patient and keep up the tai chi.
—Robert Rountree 

Mindy Green is an herbalist and aromatherapist who ­currently works at the Herb Research Foundation and teaches at the Rocky Mountain Center for Botanical Studies in Boulder, Colorado.  

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