Hypertension or high blood pressure is often called the "silent killer". "Silent" because it does not produce any significant recognizable symptoms and "killer" because even slightly high blood pressure can increase the risk of heart disease significantly.
Hypertension is in most cases, a lifestyle disease caused by unhealthy eating habits, smoking and alcohol abuse. A single cigarette can increase blood pressure for about 30 minutes. A fat rich diet and lack of exercise can lead to high cholesterol, which ultimately causes fatty deposits in blood vessels to narrow them. When blood vessels narrow the heart has to work much harder in order to maintain blood pressure to supply the requisite amount of blood to different organs in the body. Chronic blood pressure can therefore lead to a heart attack, stroke and other potentially fatal cardiovascular disorders.
High blood pressure medication, like other conventional medicines, can cause side effects that need to be treated separately. More medication many times means more side effects that will need to be carefully managed. Natural remedies for high blood pressure are considered to be equally effective in treating hypertension. A large number of people have been able to combat hypertension with modifications to lifestyle alone. This includes important factors such as a regular exercise regime, diet changes, giving up smoking and cutting down on alcohol.
In addition to lifestyle changes, herbs can play a significant role in the overall treatment of high blood pressure. Herbs can also help in preventing the development and onset of high blood pressure. Some of the herbs that can assist in lowering or maintaining blood pressure levels include:
- Garlic (allium sativum)
- Arjuna (terminalia arjuna)
- Gotu kola (hydrocotyle asiatica)
- Cayenne pepper
- Ashwagandha (withania somnifera)
- Hawthorn (crataegus oxycanthus)
- Rauwolfia (Rauwolfia serpentina)
- Nutmeg (myristica fragrans)
- Valerian (valeriana)
- Ginger (zingiber officinale)
- Cardamom (elettaria cardamomum)
- Kelp (fucus visiculosis)
- Black cohosh
- Stinging nettle
Unlike conventional medicines that contain a single compound, herbs contain multiple compounds that have the potential to provide multiple benefits for overall balance and health. Garlic, the single most significant herb for blood pressure, reduces fat levels, breaks up cholesterol, and cleans plaque in blood vessels while boosting the immune system and lowering blood pressure.
Many herbs for blood pressure stimulate the circulatory system to regulate blood flow to the farthest organs. Others reduce blood pressure by removing mucus from bronchial arteries and calm the nervous system to remove stress and anxiety, one of the major causes behind primary hypertension.
Herbs are rich in calcium and minerals. Calcium-rich herbs help in maintaining blood vessels and heart functions. Magnesium, on the other hand helps in relaxing muscles in the walls of blood vessels thus maintaining their elasticity. Magnesium also helps in regulating the levels of two other essential mineral particles in the blood: sodium and potassium.
Herbs are an alternative therapy. They can efficiently manage blood pressure fluctuations. However, hypertension can prove to be a serious condition if it is left unattended. If blood pressure ranges above the danger marks, self medication of herbs should be discontinued and a physician consulted immediately.