Is your recent diagnosis of hypertension worrying you? According to statistics from CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) 33.5% adults over the age of 20 suffer from high blood pressure in the USA. And here’s the worrying part — you don’t have to be over 40 years old to get diagnosed with hypertension. A stressful lifestyle with a hectic work schedule coupled with poor eating habits increases risk of high blood pressure, which means that many Americans in their 30s are already diagnosed with hypertension.
Your doctor has probably prescribed drugs to get your blood pressure under control, but none of these come without undesirable side effects. If you’d like to try alternative therapies that are safer, gentler and more affordable, we highly recommend you start adding these herbs and spices to your diet.
Wondering what’s the difference? Herbs come from the leafy and green part of the plant. On the other hand, Spices come from non-leafy parts of the plant — such as the root, stem, bulb, bark or seeds.
And now that we’ve cleared this up, let’s take a quick look at some of the best herbs that lower blood pressure, along with a few spices thrown in to give you a more comprehensive list, and also discuss why they’re good for you.
Black Cumin Seeds
Also known as Nigella sativa seeds, these have been traditionally used as a spice but also revered for their medicinal properties. Studies suggest that daily use of black cumin seed extract for 2 months may have a blood pressure-lowering effect in patients with mild hypertension (HT). It also helps reduce LDL cholesterol levels, which is further beneficial for cardiac health. Similar results were seen when 70 healthy volunteers aged 34 to 63 years were given Nigella sativa oil for 8 weeks in a clinical trial.
Take 100 and 200 mg of Nigella sativa seed extract twice a day, or 2.5 mL Nigella sativa oil twice every day.
Hawthorn is rich in flavonoids like quercetin and OPC’s (oligomeric procyandins) that boost heart health. These reduce risk of hypertension by reducing arterial blood pressure, while also boosting blood circulation.
A pilot study aimed at investigating the hypotensive potential of hawthorn extract found that it showed a promising reduction in the resting diastolic blood pressure at week 10, while it also helped reduce anxiety.
You can make a tea with powdered hawthorn berry to enjoy a relaxing, BP-lowering beverage on a cold day. Or, take 500mg hawthorn extract as a daily supplement to reap the same benefits.
Used commonly as a flavor-enhancer for stews, soups and casserole dishes, celery seeds are an effective therapy for hypertension in traditional Chinese medicine. Studies have proven that celery seeds can be used as a safe and effective treatment for high blood pressure, while celery juice also has a similar effect on blood pressure levels because it’s a natural diuretic.
When it comes to supplementing your diet with celery, you have a lot of options. According to experts, you may consume:
- 4 celery stalks every day
- 8 teaspoons of celery juice 3 times a day
- 1000 mg celery seed extract twice a day
- ½ to 1 teaspoon of celery oil 3 times a day in tincture form
Garlic truly is a wonder spice. It is rich in allicin which is a potent antioxidant, antibacterial, lowers lipid levels, reduces high blood cholesterol levels, decreases serum glucose and also helps lower blood pressure. In a 2008 study published in BMC Cardiovascular Disorders, it was found that garlic is effective in reducing blood pressure in individuals with hypertension when compared to a placebo.
If you want to add more garlic to your diet (because it’s such a fantastic seasoning!), choose fresh garlic instead of processed garlic seasonings as the fresh produce has enhanced cardio-protective properties. Fresh raw or dried garlic has more allicin-forming potential when compared to aged or cooked garlic.
If you aren’t such a big fan of the taste and smell of garlic, you can buy it in supplement form and take 600 to 900 milligrams of garlic per day to reduce hypertension.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is the natural precursor of the cardio-protective long-chain n-3 fatty acids, flaxseeds protect heart health by reducing serum cholesterol, stabilizing blood pressure, and improving glucose tolerance. It’s also a potent antioxidant and so easy to add to any dish.
According to research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, dietary supplementation with flaxseed oil (8d/day) lowers blood pressure. Another study found that there’s a significant reduction in both Systolic BP and Diastolic BP following supplementation with various flaxseed products.
Since whole flaxseeds can pass virtually undigested through the human body, its best to grind flaxseeds to enjoy their nutritional benefits. This makes it very easy to stir a spoonful or two into any cooked dish, beverage, smoothies or even salads. Add 30 grams of milled flaxseed to your diet every day.
This fragrant spice from India is another effective all-natural way to reduce blood pressure levels because it’s a potent antioxidant. It’s also rich in potassium and magnesium, which boosts heart health and helps lower BP.
In a clinical trial in India, 20 newly diagnosed individuals with primary hypertension of stage 1 were administered 3 g of cardamom powder in two divided doses for 12 weeks. Even though this was a rather small amount, researchers found decreased systolic, diastolic and mean blood pressure and significantly increased fibrinolytic activity at the end of 12th week.
Add a pinch of powdered cardamom to your cup of tea every day. It can also be easily added to desserts, baked goods, savory curries or soups. You can also chew on the fragrant pod after meals for an all-natural mouth freshener.
I am a huge fan of cinnamon for its natural blood sugar and blood pressure lowering abilities. It’s so easy to sprinkle some on your oatmeal, breakfast cereal, tea, stir-fry, stew, soup, and it tastes delicious in Indian curries.
Studies have found that consuming cinnamon produces short term, but notable reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and it’s highly recommended for diabetics. It has been used in traditional Indian medicine for thousands of years because of its potent medicinal properties. Look for true cinnamon or Cinnamonum verum that comes from Indonesia, or Cinnamonum tamala from South India.
Aside from its blood pressure lowering properties, cinnamon also offers other incredible health benefits.
Buchu is a South African medicinal plant that has also been scientifically proven to be effective in lowering blood pressure. It’s a natural diuretic and anti-inflammatory agent, making it a safe and effective treatment for high blood pressure. Early Dutch settlers used buchu to make a brandy tincture, which is still used today to treat many disorders.
You can find buchu supplements online in the form of capsules or dried leaves which can be used to brew a tea. There is no proven safe dosage recommendation, though you can try
- 1-2 gms taken in capsule form thrice a day
- 125-0.25 fluid ounces, if you get the fluid extract
- Use 1-2 teaspoons of buchu leaves to brew a tea by infusing in a cup of water for 5 minutes. You can have this tea twice a day.
- 10-20 drops of tincture in a glass of water, thrice a day
Caution: If you want to use buchu as a medicine to treat hypertension, increase your intake of potassium rich foods like green vegetables and bananas. Pregnant women are advised not to take therapeutic amounts of buchu as it may work as an abortive.
Also, Try Hibiscus Tea
Studies have shown that dried hibiscus can be an excellent, all-natural way to manage blood pressure. A clinical trial on pre- and mildly hypertensive adults who were given 3 cups of brewed hibiscus tea per day for 6 weeks found that it lowered BP effectively when compared to a placebo.
Hibiscus is a natural diuretic, which removes excess sodium from blood and this helps stabilize blood pressure. Additionally, it mimics the action of ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors which are common drugs prescribed for hypertension.
To make hibiscus tea, brew 1 teaspoon of dried hibiscus flowers with a cup of water, and enjoy a cup up to three times a day, or as advised by your Naturopath.
Caution: If you are taking drugs to lower blood pressure, be careful about how much hibiscus tea you drink.
It’s simple to add many of these easy-to-find herbs and spices to your diet. To get you started, here are some recipes you can try: Blueberry and Cinnamon Oatmeal, Mixed Bean Soup, Hot Garlic Stuffed Mushrooms, Golden Baked Apple Pudding and One-Pan Baked Chicken with Vegetables