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How to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally
If you've recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, chances are you're eager to lower those numbers. The first step is to identify the factors contributing to your hypertension. The next is to talk to your physician, then make the necessary lifestyle changes. Finally, consider natural remedies like supplements and stress-reducing exercise or treatments.
The American Heart Association reports that one in three Americans suffer from hypertension. Perhaps the most common treatment involves a regular regimen of prescription blood pressure medicine. Thankfully, a lot of people are realizing that those pills are temporary treatments, not cures, and may have adverse effects on the body if taken repeatedly for a long period of time. If you want to lower your blood pressure naturally, without all the meds, it comes down to making healthy lifestyle choices.
Step 1: Understand the role of your contributing factors
Before you can determine if — and how — your lifestyle needs to be overhauled, it is important to understand the causes of hypertension. In most cases, there is not one single identifiable cause, but rather a combination of contributing factors, such as:
- Body mass: Weight. The more excess body weight, the more pressure on the artery walls.
- Age: The risk increases with age.
- Family history: Hypertension often runs in families.
- Activity level: A lack of exercise increases heart rate, forcing your heart to work harder per contraction.
- Sodium intake: Too much sodium in the diet causes fluid retention, which leads to hypertension.
- Potassium intake: Too little potassium can result in elevated sodium in cells.
- Stress: No brainer; stress raises your blood pressure.
- Tobacco: All those nasty chemicals in cigarettes damage artery walls.
- Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption increases risk.
- Underlying conditions: Kidney disease, hormonal disorders, adrenal gland disease, thyroid disease and certain drug use can cause secondary hypertension.
Step 2: Talk frankly to your physician
You may be wary about admitting bad habits to doctors and forget that physicians are there to help you. Your doctor will be able to point out which habits need to change, how critical those changes are and how to do so gradually and safely.
Step 3: Start making healthy lifestyle changes
Having looked at all the factors contributing to your high blood pressure, it becomes obvious that the most effective natural remedies involve lifestyle changes. Take a look at what you can and cannot control and take it from there. You can't change your age, but you can change the amount of weight pushing on those arterial walls, and you can cut back on alcohol consumption and/or cigarettes. Hopefully, one healthy lifestyle change begets another and another and, before you know it, you are choosing a potassium-rich banana instead of a side of fries. Eating right is bound to boost your energy level, so take advantage of that and start an exercise regimen.
Step 4: Talk to your doctor about natural remedies
If healthy lifestyle changes alone aren't lowering your blood pressure, here are a few natural remedies, such as herbs and dietary suggestions, to consider:
- Garlic: Research has shown that garlic supplements have aided in reducing systolic blood pressure.
- Hawthorn: This herb is used often to treat high blood pressure, as well as Type 2 diabetes, but can damage the heart and circulatory system, so consult a physician before you use hawthorn.
- Fish oil: The jury is still out on this one, but early studies have shown modest results.
- Folic acid: Recommended for smokers; may help reduce elevated homocysteine levels.
- Calcium and magnesium: Like potassium, research indicates these supplements help reduce systolic and diastolic pressure.
Again, it is extremely important to talk to your doctor about any supplement you may be considering before trying it, because dangerous interactions with prescription drugs can occur.
Alternative methods like acupuncture and yoga are often suggested to those seeking a natural remedy for hypertension. Reducing stress is a big piece of the pie, so meditation, be it through yoga poses, taking a nature walk each morning or with the energy-channeling help of an acupuncturist, all come highly recommended by alternative healers and physicians alike.