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High blood pressure or hypertension is a serious condition that leads to heart attacks, strokes, and even death.
While there is no cure, taking prescribed medications and making lifestyle changes can enhance your quality of life and reduce your risk of high blood pressure.
Natural Remedies to Manage High Blood Pressure
The following food-based home remedies may help provide relief from hypertension.
Both cooked and raw garlic release hydrogen sulfide and nitric oxide gases that help dilate the arteries, thereby reducing blood pressure.
Also, aged garlic extract can be used as a safe agent for alleviating uncontrolled hypertension, similar to standard medications. Therefore, it can be used effectively in combination with other antihypertensive treatment methods. (1)(2)
One review stated that garlic supplements could be used to manage blood pressure in patients with hypertension, boost the immune system, and regulate cholesterol levels. (3)(4)
How to use:
Consume one or two crushed garlic cloves daily. If you are unable to eat garlic in its raw form due to the burning sensation, consume it along with milk.
While garlic has been shown to be effective in managing hypertension, long-term clinical studies are required to establish its role in cardiovascular mortality and morbidity.
Lemons help maintain the flexibility and softness of the blood vessels to ensure proper blood flow at optimum pressure. The more rigid the blood vessel, the greater the blood pressure due to the tight unyielding space for the blood to flow.
One study showed the positive effect of regular walking and lemon consumption on blood pressure levels. (5) Another study demonstrated the efficiency of consuming garlic and lemon juice in improving fibrinogen, lipid levels, and blood pressure in patients with hyperlipidemia. (6)
How to use:
Extract the juice from half a lemon and mix it with 1 cup of warm water. Drink this juice on an empty stomach every morning. Refrain from adding sugar or salt.
Lemon intake in the right amounts can help with the management of hypertension by improving the elasticity of your blood vessels so that they can carry a greater volume of blood without any spike in blood pressure.
The vasodilation properties of watermelon have been elucidated. It was found that watermelon supplementation was beneficial for patients with prehypertension. (7)
Watermelon extracts can be used for the reduction of systolic and diastolic numbers in patients with prehypertension and hypertension. However, their cardiac autonomic modulation was not affected. (8)(9)
Daily consumption of watermelon for 4 weeks facilitates reductions in blood pressure, body weight, and cardiovascular risk in overweight and obese participants. (10)
How to use:
Include watermelon in your everyday diet. This fruit can also act as a substitute for desserts.
Watermelon is mostly composed of water, which helps prevent dehydration while also curbing inflammation and oxidative stress. All its beneficial properties make it a healthy addition to your diet, especially for reducing high blood pressure.
4. Black seeds
Nigella sativa, or black seeds, has various health benefits and diverse pharmacological properties that help treat hypertension, cardiac health problems, and even cancer. (11)
A study demonstrated that the use of black seed oil or powder helps in lowering blood pressures without any side effects. (12)(13)
How to use:
Consume ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) of black seed oil twice a day, either directly or by incorporating it in your cooking to better control high blood pressure.
Black seed is considered good for your overall cardiovascular health due to its inherent antioxidant potential, which justifies its use in the management of hypertension.
It has been suggested that flaxseed may help in the mild reduction of blood pressure. The potency is higher when flaxseed is consumed whole, for more than 12 weeks, especially for lowering diastolic blood pressure. (14)(15)(16)
However, flaxseed, flax lignan complex (FLC), and flax oil cannot be considered as therapeutic agents. Instead, they may be used as adjuncts for the treatment of hypertension. (17)
How to use:
- Include flaxseed in your daily cooking by adding it to dishes, salads, and drinks.
- Consult your doctor about taking a flaxseed supplement, and stick to the prescribed dosage.
Flaxseed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and lignans and may help alleviate cardiovascular problems and peripheral artery disease.
A study stated that pomegranate juice might reduce systolic blood pressure, inhibit the activity of serum ACE, and offer various benefits on cardiovascular health in general. (18)
Studies also reveal that pomegranate is useful in controlling high blood pressure. (19)(20)
How to use:
Daily consumption of pomegranate juice can help prevent or manage hypertension and atherosclerosis.
Pomegranate, or Punica granatum L., contains a variety of bioactive compounds with potent antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects, both of which can help in the management of high blood pressure.
Note: It is important to keep in mind that these natural remedies may not be sufficient in lowering your blood pressure, and you may still need medication. As always, when you want to try a natural remedy, you should discuss it with your doctor.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help improve gut microbiota and overall health in various ways. A study suggested that consuming probiotics may help in lowering blood pressure. (21)
How to use:
- Probiotics are found in various food sources, but curd and buttermilk are some of the most convenient and effective options for managing hypertension. This is because they are readily available, go well with a lot of dishes, have a mild flavor that is palatable to most people, and do not contain added salts.
- Alternatively, ask your doctor to start you on a probiotic supplement, and always stick to the prescribed dosage for best results.
8. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa content is renowned for its cardiovascular benefits.
Cocoa is rich in various flavonoids that not only work as antioxidants but are also known to expand blood vessels to help bring down elevated blood pressure. Higher intake of dark chocolate can be associated with lower readings of blood pressure. (22)
How to use:
Consume a piece of dark chocolate every day. It is a versatile ingredient that can be eaten raw or added to various dishes, fruit salads, or smoothies.
9. Apple cider vinegar
The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar (ACV) significantly lowers blood pressure levels. It also showed a reduction in the activity of renin, an enzyme that increases blood pressure. (23)
How to use:
- Mix 1–2 tablespoons of ACV in a glass of water and drink this tonic in the morning.
- Use ACV as a salad dressing.
Beets are loaded with nitrates that are transformed into nitric oxide during the digestive process. Nitric oxide is known to dilate blood vessels to reduce the pressure within these circulatory channels. (24)
How to use:
- Consume beetroot juice daily.
- Add beetroot to your salads and dishes to make it part of your regular diet.
11. Hibiscus tea
Hibiscus extracts are credited with antioxidant activity that can help relieve high blood pressure by relaxing your blood vessels. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials showed a significant effect of hibiscus tea in lowering both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. (25)
How to use:
Start your day with 1–2 cups of hibiscus tea to keep your blood pressure under control.
Note: Every time you drink this tea, make sure to rinse your mouth thereafter to prevent its natural acids from eroding your tooth enamel.
12. Olive oil
The high phenolic content of olive oil makes it a healthy alternative to other edible oils, especially for those suffering from hypertension. Olive oil has been found to have a greater antihypertensive effect in patients suffering from high blood pressure. (26)
How to use:
Consume around 2 tablespoons of olive oil a day, either for normal cooking or as a salad dressing.
13. Green tea
Green tea is beneficial because of its polyphenols, which exhibit significant antioxidant effects. One particular type called catechins is linked to improved blood flow and pressure, related to nitric oxide. (27)
How to use:
Consume 2 cups of green tea in a day to relax your blood vessels and thereby lower your blood pressure.
At-Home Treatments to Manage High Blood Pressure
Several home remedies, in addition to lifestyle and dietary changes, can be done to manage high blood pressure naturally.
The following modifications in your lifestyle may aid treatment:
1. Exercise regularly
Perform moderate-intensity aerobics for 2.5 hours per week or high-intensity exercises for a total of 1.25 hours per week.
An easy way to break this down is to exercise for 30 minutes, 5 days a week. (28) Any exercise that increases the needed oxygen supply and heartbeat, such as brisk walking, is recommended. (29)
Your doctor should clear you to begin an exercise routine based on your other medical problems.
2. Avoid smoking
Nicotine in cigarettes is one of the major triggers of hypertension. Blood pressure returns to normal within 20 minutes of stopping cigarette smoking.
3. Get proper sleep
Adequate rest, including 7–9 hours of sleep per day, is necessary to maintain good health.
4. Consume alcohol in moderation
Excessive alcohol intake can increase your blood pressure over time. Refrain from drinking more than two servings of alcohol daily if you are a male and more than one serving if you are a female.
5. Drink coffee in moderate amounts
Caffeine can contribute to an increase in blood pressure and, therefore, should be consumed in moderate amounts or cut out altogether.
6. Maintain a healthy body weight
Excessive weight, or obesity, is a risk factor for cardiovascular problems, as it further strains the arteries and the heart. Therefore, consult a doctor for your ideal weight range and try to achieve it.
7. Manage stress
Relaxation techniques, such as meditating, listening to music, exercising, and focusing on calming sources, can help in stress management. Reduced stress helps lower blood pressure and maintain physical and emotional health.
Taking the following measures to change your diet may help prevent increased blood pressure:
1. Follow the DASH diet
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension include guidelines for a diet that helps in lowering blood pressure. (30)
- Increase the amounts of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain food products consumed.
- Consume low-fat or fat-free dairy products, nuts, beans, poultry, and vegetable oils.
- Limit the intake of food products with a high content of saturated fats, such as fatty meats, tropical oils (coconut, palm kernel, and palm oil), and full-fat dairy products.
- Curtail the intake of sweets and sugary drinks.
2. Limit sodium intake
High intake of sodium is one of the major factors contributing to hypertension. Therefore, regulate the amount of sodium or salt you consume and limit it to 1,500 mg per day. Additionally, it is recommended to increase your potassium intake. (31)
3. Reduce fat consumption
Eat lesser amounts of foods containing saturated fats and cholesterol.
Some Questions on Hypertension Answered
How can high blood pressure increase the chances of stroke?
An increase in blood pressure causes excessive dilation and weakening of all blood vessels in the body, including those supplying blood to the brain. This increases the risk of rupture or developing a clot, eventually leading to a stroke. In fact, high blood pressure is the number one cause of strokes.
Can one correctly check their blood pressure at home? How often should one check it?
With the development of various digital blood pressure monitors, it has become easy to measure your blood pressure at home. The AHA recommends the use of devices that have the upper arm cuff for accuracy, rather than finger or wrist blood pressure monitors.
Initially, you need to take your blood pressure reading once before taking your blood pressure medications in the morning and once in the evening for a week. Following this, take one or two readings in a month, or as suggested by your doctor.
To ensure your blood pressure machine is accurate, you can take it to your doctor’s office and compare the blood pressure reading of your machine with that of your doctor.
Can zinc deficiency cause high blood pressure?
It has been reported that zinc may participate in blood pressure regulation and the pathogenesis of hypertension. However, the results of previous studies on the association between zinc status and blood pressure are controversial. (32)
Is yoga helpful in the management of hypertension?
Yes. It is suspected that daily yoga practice restores the baroreceptor reflex, which plays a key role in maintaining blood pressure by sensing any blood pressure discrepancies. (33)
Yoga also helps in reducing the activity of the sympathetic nervous system while stimulating the parasympathetic system, leading to lower blood pressure. The breathing and meditation techniques involved in yoga exercises also aid relief from arterial hypertension. (34)
Is hypertension common in pregnancy? Does it cause any complications?
Hypertension in pregnancy may lead to premature birth and low birth weight or maternal mortality and morbidity. Therefore, women with hypertensive pregnancy disorders should seek advice from a doctor and follow the suggested care plan. (35)
Can anxiety increase the chances of hypertension?
Prolonged anxiety, similar to hypertension, can cause problems in the blood vessels, heart, and kidneys.
While the mechanism is complex, anxiety in general results in elevated blood pressure, sympathetic nervous system activity, increased blood lipid levels, increased plasma renin activity, increased systemic vascular resistance, and the homeostasis model. (36)
Prolonged high blood pressure can cause various health complications. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with hypertension, take measures to help manage the condition.
It is vital to take the prescribed medications and get regular checkups along with following doctor-approved home remedies.Continue ReadingHigh Blood Pressure: Causes, Risk Factors, and Complications
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