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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Hypertension Can Be Controlled: Dr. Jack Wolfson describes natural ways to lower blood pressure without using pharmaceuticals.

Jan 31, 2015 10:32AM ● By Dr. Jack M. Wolfson

“Hypertension: the silent killer.” This scary phrase and the imagery of stroke victims has been engrained in the brains of medical students for years. Better get the blood pressure down with pharmaceuticals ASAP. But the science is far from the truth. The reality is that drugs can lower blood pressure, but do not lower the risk of heart attacks, stroke and dying in the majority of patients. In fact, new recommendations from the European Society of Cardiology advise against pharmaceuticals unless blood pressure is above 150/90. Hypertension is a sign of an underlying problem that usually concerns two things: poor nutrition and chemicals. With that in mind, let’s take a look at 10 ways to lower blood pressure naturally.

1. Go for a hike

Hundreds of studies find exercise lowers blood pressure. Go for a hike, bike, run or swim. But don’t forget to build muscle. The combination of cardio and weights for 20 minutes each is a recipe for health. Do not overdo endurance exercise, because it may actually be pro-inflammatory.

2. Relax

Multiple studies show deep breathing and meditation help to control blood pressure. Try this for five minutes two times per day. Slow breathing and meditative practices such as yoga and tai chi decrease blood pressure. Stress, anger, depression and anxiety all increase the risk of hypertension, so do what is needed to improve mental health.

3. Eat potassium- and magnesium-rich foods

Both of these minerals lower blood pressure by causing the arteries of the body to relax. A good potassium food is the avocado, because potatoes and bananas are too high in sugar and starchy carbs. Get magnesium from green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and seafood.

4. Be salt smart

Certain groups of people (the elderly and African-Americans) are more likely than others to have blood pressure that's salt sensitive. Sea salt is definitely a better option than bleached white salt, but it can still lead to high blood pressure. Season food with herbs and spices that are packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients.

5. Soak up the sun

Sunshine produces vitamin D, and the more vitamin D we have, the better our blood pressure is controlled, so 10 to 15 minutes daily is recommended. In winter months, we may need a vitamin D supplement and eat foods (eggs, liver, seafood) which are high in vitamin D.

6. Ditch the alcohol

Binge drinking and heavy alcohol consumption increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Many people have been able to get their blood pressure under control by abstaining from this liver toxin.

7. Take a supplement

In-depth blood testing should always precede any vitamin regimen to determine which nutrients we may be missing. Low magnesium and potassium, low omega-3s and elevated heavy metals are prevalent in patients with hypertension. Probiotics, the life-giving bacteria which colonize our gut, help lower blood pressure when given in supplemental form. Food allergies may also lead to hypertension.

8. Switch to decaf coffee or quit

Caffeine can raise blood pressure whether it is found in coffee, tea, soda or energy drinks. It may constrict the blood vessels, leading to hypertension. If blood pressure is high, kick the caffeine habit. If we must drink coffee, make it organic and decaf.

9. Load up on omega-3s

People that eat the most amount of omega-3s have been proven to have the best blood pressure control. Omega-3s are an integral part of healthy cell membrane that cells use to communicate and occur in plant sources such as chia and walnut, but we need to get the DHA and EPA forms found only in the sea. Eat wild fish such as salmon, sardines and anchovies. This is the only time a hypertensive person should be using added salt. According to the data, omega-3 from fish oil supplements also consistently lowers blood pressure.

10. Work (a bit) less

When we are sick, we need to rest, not work. Too much work leads to high blood pressure. One study found that working more than 40 hours per week raises the risk of hypertension by 15 percent. As we work longer, meal quality and sleep will also suffer. We all want to get ahead, and working more hours may put us there, but all that extra work may put us out of commission permanently.

Jack M. Wolfson, DO, FACC, is the owner of Wolfson Integrative Cardiology, 10585 N. Tatum Blvd., Ste. D-135, in Paradise Valley. Contact him at 480-535-6844 or WolfsonIntegrativeCardiology.com.

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