What we know as high blood pressure is termed as ‘hypertension’ by the medical fraternity. Stress is perhaps one of the most commonly known causes of hypertension, but it is not the only cause. Primary hypertension is the most common type of hypertension. It has unknown causes and is manageable/treatable by making basic lifestyles modifications and sometimes even without high blood pressure medication. Secondary hypertension is normally caused by an underlying clinical disorder. Pregnancy and certain medications like oral contraceptives can also result in an increase in blood pressure.
Obese people are more prone to primary hypertension and so are those who smoke, indulge in alcohol abuse or are generally stressed. An impairment of the kidneys, hormonal disorders, disorders of the thyroid and the adrenal glands is usually the underlying cause behind secondary hypertension.
According to the American Heart Association nearly 33% of adults have high blood pressure. It is a silent disease, and most people who suffer from hypertension do not even realize that they have a condition that needs monitoring.
Natural remedies for high blood pressure like herbal and homeopathic medicines can lower blood pressure in hypertension patients to a great degree. Herbs can provide multiple benefits as they contain complex compounds, which have long lasting effects.
- Hawthorn (Crataegus xyacantha) helps the body to adequately dilate blood vessels, thereby maintaining a healthy supply of oxygen and energy to the heart and facilitating normal pumping ability. Numerous recent studies have confirmed the benefits of Hawthorn on the health of the cardiovascular system. (Pittler MH, Schmidt K, Ernst E. "Hawthorn extract for treating chronic heart failure: meta-analysis of randomized trials." Am J Med 2003;114(8):665-674.)
- Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) has flavonoids which are compounds found in fruits and vegetables that have diverse beneficial biochemical and antioxidant effects, glycosides (that play numerous important roles in living organisms), alkaloids (that have pharmacological effects on humans) and saparin. Passiflora has stood up well to clinical studies on animals that support its traditional usage to assist in cardiac health. (Ichimura T, Yamanaka A, Ichiba T, et al. "Antihypertensive effect of an extract of Passiflora edulis rind in spontaneously hypertensive rats". Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. 2006;70(3):718-721).
- Cramp bark (Viburnum ppulus) is known for its natural ability to relax muscles while supporting cardiac muscle health. (Nicholson JA, Darby TD, Jarobe CH. Viopudial, "A hypotensive and smooth muscle antispasmodic from Viburnum opulus". Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1972;40:457-61).
- Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba) is highly prized for its medicinal properties in Chinese Traditional Medicine. One of the most important active ingredients, ginkgolide, has been clinically shown to be an effective cardiac muscle tonic. Recent studies have demonstrated this herbs ability to support cardiac health. (He M, Zhang XM, Yuan HQ. "Clinical study on treatment of pulmonary interstitial fibrosis with ginkgo extract" Dongfang Hospital, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing. 25(3):222-4. PMID: 15842142) Further studies have proven Ginkgo biloba as a natural antioxidant with regards to cardiac health (Shen J-G, Zhou D-Y. "Efficiency of Ginkgo biloba extract (EGb 761) in antioxidant protection against myocardial ischemia and reperfusion injury". Biochem Mol Biol Int 1995;35:125-134). (Akiba S, Kawauchi T, Oka T, Hashizume T, Sato T. "Inhibitory effect of the leaf extract of ginkgo biloba L. on oxidative stress-induced platelet aggregation". Biochem Mol Biol Int 1998;Dec;46(6):1243-8).
Unlike conventional medicines, herbal medicines seldom have any side effects when taken in accordance with recommended doses. Some herbs are not recommended in certain cases as they may have an adverse affect on other conditions that a hypertensive patient may be struggling with. For example, Rauwolfia Serpentina should not be taken by patients suffering from depression, stomach ulcers or ulcerative colitis. Garlic, on the other hand, can result in thinning of the blood, as can aspirin, and cause problems with blood clotting if taken in excess.