Alternative Treatments For High Blood Pressure Orlando
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common condition that can significantly increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Because high blood pressure affects so many people, numerous prescription medications have been developed to treat it. Additionally, there are a number of different complementary and alternative therapies that can help lower high blood pressure.
“Some natural medicines and alternative therapies have been shown in studies to reduce high blood pressure slightly, by 3 to 6 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg),” notes Heather Zwickey, PhD, director of the Helfgott Research Institute in Portland, Ore. “It’s not huge, which means if you’re on medication you want to stay on it, but many alternative therapies for blood pressure are safe and may do some good.”
Stress Reduction and Breathing Techniques
Many people find their blood pressure rises when they experience emotional stress. Therefore, managing stress can help you keep your blood pressure in check and may even reduce it. Stress-reduction techniques effective for lowering high blood pressure include:
Qigong: This ancient Chinese art combines deep breathing and movement to promote relaxation.
Tai chi: A popular method of relaxation and fitness, tai chi uses gentle, flowing exercises and stretching movements.
Yoga: Many different forms of yoga exist, but all help to improve circulation and flexibility and enhance one’s overall sense of well-being through deep breathing and stretching exercises. “Yoga can have great cardiovascular benefits because it increases fitness, strength, and flexibility,” observes Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. “Yoga also is a great relaxation therapy.”
Slow breathing: “If you slow your breathing down and take long, slow, deep breaths, and you do this about 15 minutes every day for one to three months, it could lower your blood pressure,” Zwickey says. Acupuncture: Of three recent studies on the effect of acupuncture on hypertension, two showed that acupuncture may lower blood pressure. Zwickey notes that more research is needed to explore the use of acupuncture for hypertension, but it does not appear to be harmful. If you’re interested in giving acupuncture a try, be sure to go to a licensed acupuncture practitioner.
A number of herbal therapies have been examined to see if they can help reduce hypertension, Zwickey says. Some, such as garlic, have been studied extensively while larger studies still need to be done on other herbs. Three herbal remedies that could help lower blood pressure are:
Hawthorne (Crataegus, various species) and hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa). The best way to use either of these is to make a cup of tea by adding 1 teaspoon of dried leaves to boiling water. Drink at least 2 cups a day.
Garlic (Allium sativum). Studies have shown that eating a clove a day can help lower blood pressure. “You can cook with it or take it as a supplement,” advises Zwickey. “If someone who has a blood pressure that is just a few points over “normal,” garlic can be a wonderful therapy,” Dr. Novey says. He also points out, however, that “garlic is a blood thinner and its side effects have to be considered.”
Alternative Treatment: Supplements
Some small studies have suggested that the following supplements may lower high blood pressure:
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). CoQ10 is a substance naturally found in the body that is now available in supplement form. Zwickey notes that CoQ10 “probably provides one of the stronger pressure-reducing effects,” relative to other supplements. In one study, people with mild hypertension saw a significant drop in their pressure after taking CoQ10, she says.
Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are commonly found in salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Fish oil supplements are often used to help lower high cholesterol. “Some studies also have shown that fish oil is beneficial for people with mild hypertension,” Novey says.
Talk to Your Doctor about Alternative Treatments…
National blood pressure guidelines don’t include recommendations for patients to use alternative therapies to lower their blood pressure, notes Daniel Jones, MD, of Jackson, Miss., former president of the American Heart Association. “When patients come to me and want to use some of these alternative therapies, I am pleased that they want to do things to control their blood pressure,” Dr. Jones says. “If it is an herb or a supplement, I ask that they review it with a pharmacist just to be sure it would not interfere with their medications. It’s fine to include alternative therapies in your treatment as long as your doctor knows what you are doing.”
The best approach to controlling blood pressure is to minimize stress and take good care of yourself, Novey says. Eat a well-balanced, low-salt diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Also be certain to get enough rest and regular exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. If you do decide to try any complementary treatments for your high blood pressure, make sure you talk to your doctor first. Keep in mind that even therapies marked “natural” can have serious side effects.
If you are interested in trying alternative medicine to help lower your blood pressure call Four Seasons Acupuncture today for a consultation. We provide service to the residents of Orlando, Winter Park, Maitland, Longwood, Lake Mary.
Four Seasons Acupuncture
110 N. Orlando Ave. Suite 3
Maitland, Florida 32751