Bringing Down Blood Pressure the Holistic Way
Speak to your primary care physician if you want to undertake a holistic approach to lowering your blood pressure. If you're already taking blood pressure medication, consider any holistic steps as an addendum to the treatment you're already getting, and keep taking the prescribed meds until your doctor advises you otherwise.
Blood pressure is affected by the foods you eat. The more you add whole grains, fish, nuts, fruits and vegetables to your diet in place of high-cholesterol, high-fat foods such as red meat and dairy, the more your blood pressure benefits. Caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea and colas can raise blood pressure, so removing them from your diet helps with regulation. In addition, excessive salt intake causes water retention, which in turn increases the pressure throughout the entire circulatory system. Look for reduced-salt products, avoid adding extra salt to food, and stay away from snacks such as potato chips or french fries that are essentially delivery systems for salt.
Studies show that regular exercise can lower blood pressure as much as prescription medication in some cases. Thirty to 60 minutes a day of mild cardiovascular exercised performed at least four days a week can bring about a significant decrease in blood pressure. In addition, regular exercise typically results in weight loss, and losing weight reduces the load on the cardiovascular system, resulting in lower blood pressure.
Emotional stress causes chemical changes in the body that can increase blood pressure. Because of this, stress reduction techniques incorporating tai chi or yoga can be beneficial. Yoga's cardiovascular benefits are well-known, with the regimen of strength and flexibility training resulting in improved circulation. Even just sitting down to do some deep breathing each day for several months produces a decrease in blood pressure, as well as a decrease in stress hormones.
While many studies aren't conclusive, evidence exists supporting the idea that some nutritional supplements can help lower blood pressure. Coenzyme Q10 is shown to lower blood pressure significantly, and omega-3 fatty acids, usually taken to lower high cholesterol, may also have an effect on high blood pressure. Eating garlic daily is shown to help those whose blood pressure is only mildly elevated. Drinking hawthorn or hibiscus tea may also be helpful; it is believed that these substances work by helping to clean out plaques in the blood vessels. If you want to try nutritional supplements, discuss them ahead of time with your doctor to make sure there are no dangerous interactions with other medications you're taking, especially if you've been prescribed blood pressure medication.
While some cases of high blood pressure require medication to keep the condition under control, changes to diet and exercise routines can help lower blood pressure. In addition, stress management and relaxation techniques can be highly beneficial in lowering blood pressure holistically, and some nutritional supplements also show promise.