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Complementary and Alternative Medicine - Cam

Search Health Information    Hypertension (Holistic)

Hypertension (Holistic)

About This Condition

Beat hypertension—Lower your blood pressure with simple lifestyle changes to protect yourself from this hidden health problem. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
  • Watch what you eat

    Choose a diet low in cholesterol and animal fat, and high in produce, whole grains, legumes, and low-fat dairy, with some nuts and seeds.

  • Get more soy

    Add 10 grams of soy protein or 16 ounces soy milk twice daily into your diet to help lower blood pressure.

  • Boost heart health with supplemental garlic

    600 to 900 mg a day of a standardized garlic extract can improve heart and blood vessel health, and also has a mild blood pressure–lowering effect.

  • Try CoQ10

    Taking 100 mg a day of this powerful antioxidant may have a significant impact on your blood pressure after one to several months.

  • Sidestep salt

    Avoid using too much table salt, limit salty fast foods, and read labels to find low-sodium foods (less than 140 mg per serving) in your grocery store.

  • Take minerals

    Supplements of calcium (800 to 1,500 mg a day) and magnesium (350 to 500 mg a day) may be helpful.

These recommendations are not comprehensive and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or pharmacist. Continue reading for more in-depth, fully referenced information.
  • Sidestep salt   

    Avoid using too much table salt, limit salty fast foods, and read labels to find low-sodium foods (less than 140 mg per serving) in your grocery store.

  • Watch what you eat

    Choose a diet low in cholesterol and animal fat, and high in produce, whole grains, legumes, and low-fat dairy, with some nuts and seeds.

  • Maintain a healthy weight

    Lose excess weight and keep it off with a long-term program of healthier eating and regular aerobic exercise for 30 to 60 minutes per day, four or more days per week.

  • Go vegetarian

    Vegetarians have lower blood pressure than meat eaters, partly because of the mineral potassium in fruits and vegetables, which helps blood pressure.

  • Limit alcohol

    Keep daily alcohol intake to two drinks or less per day, and fewer than 9 drinks per week for women to help prevent hypertension.

These recommendations are not comprehensive and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or pharmacist. Continue reading for more in-depth, fully referenced information.

About

About This Condition

Approximately 90% of people with high blood pressure have “essential” or “idiopathic” hypertension, for which the cause is poorly understood. The terms “hypertension” and “high blood pressure” as used here refer only to this most common form and not to pregnancy-induced hypertension or hypertension clearly linked to a known cause, such as Cushing’s syndrome, pheochromocytoma, or kidney disease. Hypertension must always be evaluated by a healthcare professional. Extremely high blood pressure (malignant hypertension) or rapidly worsening hypertension (accelerated hypertension) almost always requires treatment with conventional medicine. People with mild to moderate high blood pressure should work with a doctor before attempting to use the information contained here, as blood pressure requires monitoring and in some cases the use of blood pressure-lowering drugs.

As with conventional drugs, the use of natural substances sometimes controls blood pressure if taken consistently but does not lead to a cure for high blood pressure. Thus, someone whose blood pressure is successfully reduced by weight loss , avoidance of salt, and increased intake of fruits and vegetables would need to maintain these changes permanently in order to retain control of blood pressure. Left untreated, hypertension significantly increases the risk of stroke and heart disease .

Symptoms

Essential hypertension is usually without symptoms until complications develop. The symptoms of complications depend on the organs involved.

Healthy Lifestyle Tips

Smoking is particularly injurious for people with hypertension.1 The combination of hypertension and smoking greatly increases the risk of heart disease –related sickness and death. All people with high blood pressure need to quit smoking.

Consumption of more than about three alcoholic beverages per day appears to increase blood pressure.2 Whether one or two drinks per day meaningfully increases blood pressure remains unclear.

Daily exercise can lower blood pressure significantly.3 A 12-week program of Chinese T’ai Chi was reported to be almost as effective as aerobic exercise in lowering blood pressure.4 Progressive resistance exercise (e.g., weight lifting) also appears to help reduce blood pressure.5 At the same time, blood pressure has been known to increase significantly during the act of lifting heavy weights; for this reason, people with sharply elevated blood pressure, especially those with cardiovascular disease, should approach heavy strenuous resistance exercise with caution. In general, people over 40 years of age should consult with their doctors before starting any exercise regimen.

Most people with high blood pressure are overweight. Weight loss lowers blood pressure significantly in those who are both overweight and hypertensive.6 In fact, reducing body weight by as little as ten pounds can lead to a significant reduction in blood pressure.7 Weight loss appears to have a stronger blood pressure-lowering effect than dietary salt restriction.8

A specific chiropractic adjustment has been shown to produce a sustained reduction in blood pressure that was equivalent to that produced by two blood pressure-lowering medications.9

Holistic Options

Anxiety in men (but not women) has been linked to development of hypertension.10 Several research groups have also shown a relationship between job strain and high blood pressure in men.11 , 12 , 13 Some researchers have tied blood pressure specifically to suppressed aggression.14

Although some kind of relationship between stress and high blood pressure appears to exist, the effects of treatment for stress remain controversial. An analysis of 26 trials reported that reductions in blood pressure caused by biofeedback or meditation were no greater than those seen with placebo.15 Though some stress management interventions have not been helpful in reducing blood pressure,16 , 17 those trials that have reported promising effects have used combinations of yoga , biofeedback, and/or meditation.18 , 19 , 20 Some doctors continue to recommend a variety of stress-reducing measures, sometimes tailoring them to the needs and preferences of the person seeking help.

Preliminary laboratory studies in animals21 and humans22 , 23 , 24 suggest that acupuncture may help regulate blood pressure. Most,25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 but not all,31 preliminary trials also suggest that acupuncture may be an effective way to lower blood pressure. Whether blood pressure goes back up after acupuncture is discontinued remains an unsettled question.

Auricular (ear) acupressure has been reported to be an effective treatment for hypertension,32 , 33 , 34 though in one case the improvement was not significantly better than use of traditional herbal medicines.35

Spinal manipulation may lower blood pressure (at least temporarily) in healthy people, according to most preliminary36 , 37 , 38 and controlled39 trials. However, some research suggests the effect is no better than the blood pressure-lowering effect of sham (“fake”) manipulation.40 In hypertensive people, temporary decreases in blood pressure have also been reported after spinal manipulation.41 , 42 , 43 However, most,44 , 45 , 46 but not all,47 trials suggest that manipulation produces only short-term decreases in blood pressure in hypertensive people.

Eating Right

The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.

Recommendation Why
Add some fiber
Several studies have shown that adding around 7 grams of fiber per day to the diet reduces blood pressure, although other studies have not shown a benefit.

Several double-blind trials have shown that adding 6.5–7 grams of fiber per day to the diet for several months leads to reductions in blood pressure.48 , 49 , 50 However, other trials have not found fiber helpful in reducing blood pressure.51 , 52 The reason for these discrepant findings is not clear.

Fry with good oils
Frying with more stable oils (such as olive oil) does not appear to increase high blood pressure risk, unlike cooking with unstable oils such as sunflower, corn, canola, and flaxseed.

Reusing vegetable oils for frying, especially oils with high concentrations of unsaturated fatty acids (such as sunflower or safflower oil) has been associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure.53 Presumably, this increased risk is due to some of the degradation products (such as lipid peroxides or polymers) that result from the excessive heating of these oils. Frying with more stable oils, such as olive oil, is not associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure.

Limit sugar
Some doctors recommend that people with high blood pressure eat less sugar, as it has been reported to increase blood pressure in short-term trials.
Sugar has been reported to increase blood pressure in animals54 and humans in short-term trials.55 Though the real importance of this experimental effect remains unclear,56 some doctors recommend that people with high blood pressure cut back on their intake of sugar.
Try a vegetarian diet
Vegetarians have lower blood pressure than meat eaters, partly because fruits and vegetables contain potassium—a known blood pressure–lowering mineral.

Vegetarians have lower blood pressure than do people who eat meat.57 This occurs partly because fruits and vegetables contain potassium —a known blood pressure-lowering mineral.58 The best way to supplement potassium is with fruit, which contains more of the mineral than do potassium supplements. However, fruit contains so much potassium that people taking “potassium-sparing”diuretics can consume too much potassium simply by eating several pieces of fruit per day. Therefore, people taking potassium-sparing diuretics should consult the prescribing doctor before increasing fruit intake. In the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) trial, increasing intake of fruits and vegetables (and therefore fiber ) and reducing cholesterol and dairy fat led to large reductions in blood pressure (in medical terms, 11.4 systolic and 5.5 diastolic) in just eight weeks.59 Even though it did not employ a vegetarian diet itself, the outcome of the DASH trial supports the usefulness of vegetarian diets because diets employed by DASH researchers were related to what many vegetarians eat. The DASH trial also showed that blood pressure can be significantly reduced in hypertensive people (most dramatically in African Americans) with diet alone, without weight loss or even restriction of salt.60 Nonetheless, restricting salt while consuming the DASH diet has lowered blood pressure even more effectively than the use of the DASH diet alone.61

Try some tomato
In one study, supplementing with a tomato extract significantly lowered blood pressure in people with hypertension.

In a double-blind trial, supplementation with a tomato extract significantly lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, compared with a placebo, in people with hypertension.62 The amount of extract used was 250 mg per day (providing 15 mg per day of lycopene plus other carotenoids ) for eight weeks.

Cut back on coffee
In some studies, coffee drinking has led to small increases in blood pressure. Many doctors tell people with high blood pressure to avoid caffeinated products.

Right after consuming caffeine from coffee or tea, blood pressure increases briefly.63 , 64 In trials lasting almost two months on average, coffee drinking has led to small increases in blood pressure.65 The effects of long-term avoidance of caffeine (from coffee, tea, chocolate, cola drinks, and some medications) on blood pressure remain unclear. A few reports have even claimed that long-term coffee drinkers tend to have lower blood pressure than those who avoid coffee.66 Despite the lack of clarity in published research, many doctors tell people with high blood pressure to avoid consumption of caffeine.

Sidestep salt
Avoid using too much table salt, limit salty fast foods, and read labels to find low-sodium foods in your grocery store.

Primitive societies exposed to very little salt suffer from little or no hypertension.67 Salt (sodium chloride) intake has also been definitively linked to hypertension in western societies.68 Reducing salt intake in the diet lowers blood pressure in most people.69 The more salt is restricted, the greater the blood pressure-lowering effect.70 Individual studies sometimes come to differing conclusions about the relationship between salt intake and blood pressure, in part because blood pressure-lowering effects of salt restriction vary from person to person, and small to moderate reductions in salt intake often have minimal effects on blood pressure—particularly in young people and in those who do not have hypertension. Nonetheless, dramatic reductions in salt intake are generally effective for many people with hypertension.

With the prevalence of salted processed and restaurant food, simply avoiding the salt shaker no longer leads to large decreases in salt intake for most people. Totally eliminating salt is more effective, but is quite difficult to achieve. Moreover, while an overview of the research found “There is no evidence that sodium reduction presents any safety hazards,”71 reports of short-term paradoxical increases in blood pressure in response to salt restriction have occasionally appeared.72 Therefore, people wishing to use salt reduction to lower their blood pressure should consult with a doctor.

Try a hypoallergenic diet
In one study, people with migraines who also had high blood pressure experienced a significant drop in blood pressure when put on a hypoallergenic diet.

Food allergy was reported to contribute to high blood pressure in a study of people who had migraine headaches.73 In that report, all 15 people who also had high blood pressure experienced a significant drop in blood pressure when put on a hypoallergenic diet. People who suffer migraine headaches and have hypertension should discuss the issue of allergy diagnosis and elimination with a doctor.

Supplements

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by some in the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Supplement Why
3 Stars
Coenzyme Q10
100 mg twice per day
Taking coenzyme Q10 may have a significant impact on blood pressure.

Both preliminary74 , 75 , 76 and double-blind77 , 78 trials have reported that supplementation with coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) leads to a significant decrease in blood pressure in people with hypertension. Much of this research has used 100 mg of CoQ10 per day for at least ten weeks.

3 Stars
Fish Oil
3 to 15 grams daily omega-3 fatty acids
EPA and DHA, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, have been repeatedly shown to lower blood pressure.

EPA and DHA , the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil , lower blood pressure, according to an analysis of 31 trials.79 The effect was dependent on the amount of omega-3 fatty acids used, with the best results occurring in trials using unsustainably high levels: 15 grams per day—the amount often found in 50 grams of fish oil. Although results with lower intakes were not as impressive, trials using over 3 grams per day of omega-3 (as typically found in ten 1,000 mg pills of fish oil) also reported significant reductions in blood pressure. One double-blind trial reported that DHA had greater effects on blood pressure than EPA or mixed fish oil supplements.80 DHA is now available as a supplement separate from EPA.

3 Stars
Green Coffee Extract
Extracts providing at least 50 mg per day chlorogenic acids
Extracts of green, unroasted coffee that are high in chlorogenic acids might help lower blood pressure.
While drinking regular coffee or other sources of caffeine may slightly raise blood pressure,81 coffee also contains chlorogenic acids that may have a blood pressure–lowering effect, according to animal research.82 However, a double-blind study found that a substance produced by roasting coffee can inhibit this blood pressure–lowering effect, and by removing this substance, coffee lowered blood pressure.83 This suggests that extracts of unroasted (“green”) coffee that are high in chlorogenic acids might help lower blood pressure. A double-blind trial found that eating soups containing green coffee extracts providing at least 50 mg per day chlorogenic acids lowered blood pressure significantly better than soup containing no green coffee extracts in people with mild hypertension, but that lower amounts of green coffee extracts in the soup were not effective.84 A double-blind trial of green coffee extract supplements containing 140 mg per day of chlorogenic acids reduced systolic blood pressure by an average of 10 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 7 mm Hg in people with mild hypertension.85 One controlled trial found no blood pressure–lowering effect of green coffee extract supplements in people with normal blood pressure.86
3 Stars
Pycnogenol
100 to 200 mg per day
Pycnogenol has been shown to reduce systolic blood pressure in people with mild hypertension.
In a small double-blind trial, 200 mg per day of Pycnogenol lowered systolic blood pressure by about 5 mmHg in a group of people with mild hypertension.87 Another double-blind trial found that 100 mg per day of Pycnogenol made it possible to significantly reduce the amount of blood pressure medication necessary to normalize blood pressure.88 In a controlled study, hypertensive patients with signs of early kidney dysfunction were treated with blood pressure medication and either 150 mg of Pycnogenol or placebo.89 After six months, the group receiving Pycnogenol had a greater reduction in diastolic blood pressure and improved in some measures of kidney function.
3 Stars
Soy
10 grams soy protein or 16 ounces soy milk twice per day
Supplementing with soy protein may significantly lower blood pressure.

In a double-blind study of postmenopausal women, supplementing with 10 grams of soy protein twice a day for six weeks significantly reduced diastolic blood pressure by an average of 5 mm Hg, compared with a diet not containing soy protein.90 In another study, men and women with mild to moderate hypertension consumed 500 ml (approximately 16 ounces) of soy milk or cow's milk twice a day for three months. After three months, the average systolic blood pressure had decreased by 18.4 mm Hg in the soy group, compared with 1.4 mm Hg in the cow's milk group. The reductions in diastolic blood pressure were 15.9 mm Hg with soy milk and 3.7 mm Hg with cow's milk.91 In another study of people with hypertension who were consuming a low-protein, low-fiber diet, supplementing with a combination of soy protein and psyllium (a fiber source) lowered systolic blood pressure by an average of 5.9 mm Hg.92 The blood pressure reduction with soy protein alone or with fiber alone was less pronounced than that with combination treatment. Other research has also shown a blood pressure–lowering effect of soy protein.93 , 94

2 Stars
Asteraceae
15 to 20 drops of an herbal tincture twice per day
In one trial, people with mild hypertension who took a tincture of Achillea wilhelmsii experienced significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

In a double-blind trial, people with mild hypertension took a tincture of Achillea wilhelmsii, an herb used in traditional Persian medicine.95 Participants in the trial used 15–20 drops of the tincture twice daily for six months. At the end of the trial, participants experienced significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared to those who took placebo. No adverse effects were reported.

2 Stars
Calcium
800 to 1,500 mg daily
Calcium supplementation has been shown to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.

Caution: Calcium supplements should be avoided by prostate cancer patients.

Calcium supplementation—typically 800–1,500 mg per day—may lower blood pressure. However, while an analysis of 42 trials reported that calcium supplementation led to an average drop in blood pressure that was statistically significant, the actual decrease was small (in medical terms, a drop of 1.4 systolic over 0.8 diastolic pressure).96 Results might have been improved had the analysis been limited to studies of people with hypertension, since calcium has almost no effect on the blood pressure of healthy people. In the analysis of 42 trials, effects were seen both with dietary calcium and with use of calcium supplements. A 12-week trial of 1,000 mg per day of calcium accompanied by blood pressure monitoring is a reasonable way to assess efficacy in a given person.

2 Stars
Flavonoids
300 mg per day of hesperidin, for 4 weeks
A study has found that hesperidin, a flavonoid found primarily in oranges and other citrus fruits, decreased diastolic blood pressure in healthy, overweight males.
Hesperidin is a flavonoid found primarily in oranges and other citrus fruits. In a placebo-controlled trial, supplementation with approximately 300 mg per day of hesperidin for 4 weeks significantly decreased diastolic blood pressure by an average of 3.2 mm Hg in healthy, overweight males. Hesperidin had no effect on systolic blood pressure.97
2 Stars
Flaxseed (Atherosclerosis)
Refer to label instructions
In a double-blind trial, eating foods with milled flaxseed lowered both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients with atherosclerosis of the lower extremities.
In a double-blind trial, patients with atherosclerosis of the lower extremities (most of whom had high blood pressure) consumed foods that provided daily 30 g of milled flaxseed or placebo foods for 6 months. After 6 months, mean systolic blood pressure was 9.4 mm Hg lower and mean diastolic blood pressure was 6.7 mm Hg lower in the flaxseed group than in the placebo group.98 It is not known whether flaxseed would have a similar effect in people who do not have atherosclerosis.
2 Stars
Garlic
600 to 900 mg of a daily herbal extract
Taking garlic may improve heart and blood vessel health and may help lower blood pressure.

Garlic has a mild blood pressure-lowering effect, according to an analysis of ten double-blind trials.99 All of these trials administered garlic for at least four weeks, typically using 600–900 mg of garlic extract per day. Onion —closely related to garlic—may also have a mild blood pressure-lowering effect, according to preliminary research.100

2 Stars
Grape Seed Extract
300 mg per day
According to one study, grape seed extract may lower blood pressure in people with mildly elevated blood pressure.
In a double-blind study, supplementing with 300 mg per day of grape seed extract for eight weeks resulted in a statistically significant decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in adults with prehypertension (mildly elevated blood pressure).101 In another double-blind study of people with prehypertension or mild hypertension, 300 mg per day of grape seed extract for eight weeks produced a small decrease in blood pressure that was not statistically significant compared with the placebo group.102
2 Stars
Hawthorn
1,200 mg per day of an herbal extract standardized to 2.2% flavonoids
Hawthorn leaf and flower extracts have been reported to have a mild blood pressure–lowering effect.

Hawthorn leaf and flower extracts have been reported to have a mild blood pressure–lowering effect in people with early stage congestive heart failure .103 In a double-blind study, supplementation with a hawthorn extract significantly decreased diastolic blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes. The amount used was 1,200 mg per day of an extract standardized to 2.2% flavonoids corresponding to 6 grams per day of dried flowering tops.104

2 Stars
Hibiscus
2 tsp (5 to 6 grams) dried flowers brewed as tea, taken two to three times per day
Two clinical trials have shown that hibiscus can lower blood pressure. The trials have suggested that Hibiscus sabdariffa tea may be as potent as some blood pressure medications.

Controlled clinical trials have shown that hibiscus can lower blood pressure.105 In one, people with high blood pressure who went off their medications were given either 2 teaspoons (5 to 6 grams) Hibiscus sabdariffa infused in 1 cup (250 ml) water or black tea three times per day.106 After 12 days the hibiscus group had significantly lower blood pressure than the black tea group. In another trial 10 grams of Hibiscus sabdariffa tea was compared to the drug captopril for four weeks in people with high blood pressure.107 Blood pressures fell an equal amount in both groups, suggesting this herbal tea may be as potent as some blood pressure medications.

2 Stars
Magnesium
350 to 500 mg daily
Taking magnesium may lower blood pressure, especially in people who are taking potassium-depleting diuretics.
Some,108 but not all,109 trials show that magnesium supplements—typically 350–500 mg per day—lower blood pressure. Magnesium appears to be particularly effective in people who are taking potassium-depleting diuretics.110 Potassium-depleting diuretics also deplete magnesium. Therefore, the drop in blood pressure resulting from magnesium supplementation in people taking these drugs may result from overcoming a mild magnesium deficiency.
2 Stars
Melatonin
Take under medical supervision: 2 mg daily of sustained-released supplment at night
For people with nighttime hypertension, supplementing with melatonin may reduce nighttime systolic blood pressure.

In a double-blind study, supplementation with 2 mg of sustained-release melatonin each night for four weeks significantly reduced nighttime systolic blood pressure, compared with a placebo, in people with nocturnal hypertension.111 Normally, blood pressure declines at night. People with hypertension who do not have this nighttime blood pressure decline are at increased risk of developing and dying from heart disease. Melatonin supplementation may therefore be beneficial for this subgroup of people with hypertension.

2 Stars
Olive Leaf
Refer to label instructions
Olive leaf has been used traditionally to treat people with hypertension. In animal studies a constituent of olive leaf has decreased blood pressure and dilated arteries surrounding the heart when given by injection.

In animal studies oleuropein, one of the constituents of olive leaf , has decreased blood pressure and dilated arteries surrounding the heart, when given by injection or intravenously.112 Olive leaf has been used traditionally to treat people with hypertension,113 In a double-blind trial, the blood pressure-lowering effect of an extract of olive leaf was nearly as great as that of captopril, a drug used to treat hypertension. The olive leaf extract used in the study was EFLA 943, and the amount given was 500 mg twice a day for 8 weeks.114

2 Stars
Vitamin C
Refer to label instructions
Some doctors recommend that people with hypertension supplement with vitamin C, which has been found to have a blood pressure–lowering effect.
In a pooled analysis of 29 randomized controlled trials, vitamin C supplementation, as compared with placebo, resulted in statistically significant reductions in systolic (average decrease, 3.84 mm Hg) and diastolic (average decrease, 1.48 mm Hg) blood pressure. Average blood pressure reductions in the studies that included only people with hypertension were 4.85 mm Hg for systolic and 1.67 mm Hg for diastolic blood pressure.115 Thus, vitamin C when given in moderate amounts (such as 500 mg per day), has a modest blood pressure-lowering effect, both in people with high blood pressure and in those with normal blood pressure.
2 Stars
Vitamin D
800 to 2,000 IU daily
In one trial, women with low blood levels of vitamin D who were given calcium supplement plus vitamin D experienced significantly reduced systolic blood pressure.
In a double-blind trial, women with low blood levels of vitamin D (measured as 25-hydroxyvitamin D3) were given a calcium supplement, plus either 800 IU of vitamin D per day or a placebo for eight weeks. Compared with the placebo, vitamin D significantly reduced systolic blood pressure by an average of 9.3%, but did not affect diastolic blood pressure.116In another double-blind trial, vitamin D supplementation (1,000, 2,000, or 4,000 IU per day) for 3 months produced a modest but statistically significant decrease in systolic but not diastolic blood pressure in African Americans who had low blood levels of vitamin D. The reduction in blood pressure was greater with higher amounts of vitamin D intake.117
2 Stars
Vitamin E
200 IU daily
In a study of people with high blood pressure, vitamin E was significantly more effective than placebo at reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

In a double-blind study of people with high blood pressure, 200 IU of vitamin E per day taken for 27 weeks was significantly more effective than a placebo at reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.118 This study was done in Iran, and it is not clear whether the results would apply to individuals consuming a Western diet.

1 Star
Arginine
Refer to label instructions
The amino acid arginine is needed by the body to make nitric oxide, a substance that allows blood vessels to dilate, thus reducing blood pressure. Arginine given orally and intravenously has been reported to help reduce blood pressure.

The amino acid arginine is needed by the body to make nitric oxide, a substance that allows blood vessels to dilate, thus leading to reduced blood pressure. Intravenous administration of arginine has reduced blood pressure in humans in some reports.119 In one controlled trial, people not responding to conventional medication for their hypertension were found to respond to a combination of conventional medication and oral arginine (2 grams taken three times per day.)120

1 Star
Coleus
Refer to label instructions
Forskolin, the active ingredient in Coleus forskohlii, has lowered blood pressure in a trial with people suffering from cardiomyopathy.

Human trials investigating the use of Coleus forskohlii in blood pressure reduction have yet to be conducted. However, forskolin, the active ingredient in Coleus forskohlii, has lowered blood pressure in a small, preliminary trial with people suffering from cardiomyopathy .121 Extracts of coleus standardized to contain 15–20% forskolin are available, but further trials are needed to determine effective levels for treating people with hypertension.

1 Star
Indian Snakeroot
Refer to label instructions
Indian snakeroot contains powerful alkaloids that affect blood pressure. It has been used traditionally to treat hypertension, especially when associated with stress and anxiety.

Indian snakeroot (Rauwolfia serpentina) contains powerful alkaloids, including reserpine, that affect blood pressure and heart function. Indian snakeroot has been used traditionally to treat hypertension, especially when associated with stress and anxiety .122 Due to possible serious side effects, Indian snakeroot should only be taken under the careful supervision of a physician trained in its use.

1 Star
L-Tryptophan
Refer to label instructions
The brain chemical serotonin may affect blood pressure regulation, and animal research suggests its precursur L-tryptophan may help prevent and manage hypertension.
The brain chemical serotonin may play a role in blood pressure regulation,123 and animal research suggests L-tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin, might be helpful in the prevention and treatment of hypertension.124 , 125 , 126 Preliminary human studies suggest that 3 to 4 grams per day of L-tryptophan can lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.127 , 128 Double blind trials are needed to confirm these promising reports.
1 Star
Mistletoe
Refer to label instructions
European mistletoe has reduced headaches and dizziness associated with high blood pressure, according to preliminary research, and has a small blood pressure-lowering effect.

European mistletoe  (Viscum album) has reduced headaches and dizziness associated with high blood pressure, according to preliminary research.129 Mistletoe may be taken as 0.5 ml tincture three times per day.130 The blood pressure-lowering effect of mistletoe is small and may take weeks to become evident. Due to possible serious side effects, European mistletoe should only be taken under the careful supervision of a physician trained in its use.

1 Star
Onion
Refer to label instructions
Onion may have a mild blood pressure-lowering effect, according to preliminary research.

Garlic has a mild blood pressure-lowering effect, according to an analysis of ten double-blind trials.131 All of these trials administered garlic for at least four weeks, typically using 600–900 mg of garlic extract per day. Onion —closely related to garlic—may also have a mild blood pressure-lowering effect, according to preliminary research.132

1 Star
Reishi
Refer to label instructions
One trial reported that reishi mushrooms significantly lowered blood pressure.

A double-blind trial reported that reishi mushrooms significantly lowered blood pressure in humans.133 The trial used a concentrated extract of reishi (25:1) in the amount of 55 mg three times per day for four weeks. It is unclear from the clinical report how long it takes for the blood pressure-lowering effects of reishi to be measured.

Hawthorn leaf and flower extracts have been reported to have a mild blood pressure–lowering effect in people with early stage congestive heart failure .134 In a double-blind study, supplementation with a hawthorn extract significantly decreased diastolic blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes. The amount used was 1,200 mg per day of an extract standardized to 2.2% flavonoids corresponding to 6 per day of dried flowering tops.135

1 Star
Sea Buckthorn
Refer to label instructions
Research suggest that flavonoids from sea buckthorn may have blood pressure–lowering effects.
Test tube, 136 animal studies,137 and preliminary human research suggest that flavonoids from sea buckthorn may have blood pressure–lowering effects.138 In a controlled trial, a group of overweight women, some of whom had high blood pressure, consumed for one month either 100 grams per day of fresh sea buckthorn berries, or an equivalent amount of sea buckthorn oil or sea buckthorn berry extract.139 None of these forms of sea buckthorn had any blood-pressure lowering effect on the group as a whole. Double-blind research in people with hypertension is needed to clarify the possible benefits of sea buckthorn for this condition.
1 Star
Taurine
Refer to label instructions
Research has found that supplementing with taurine lowers blood pressure in people, possibly by reducing levels of the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline).

A deficiency of the amino acid taurine , is thought by some researchers to play an important role in elevating blood pressure in people with hypertension.140 Limited research has found that supplementation with taurine lowers blood pressure in animals141 and in people (at 6 grams per day),142 possibly by reducing levels of the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline).

References

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2. Keil U, Liese A, Filipiak B, et al. Alcohol, blood pressure and hypertension. Novartis Round Symp 1998;216:125-44 [review].

3. Kukkonen K, Rauramaa R, Voutilainene E, Lansimies E. Physical training of middle-aged men with borderline hypertension. Ann Clin Res 1982;14(Suppl 34):139-45.

4. Young DR, Appel LG, Jee SH, Miller ER III. The effect of aerobic exercise and T'ai Chi on blood pressure in older people: results of a randomized trial. J Am Geriatr Soc 1999;47:277-84.

5. Kelley GA, Kelley KS. Progressive resistance exercise and resting blood pressure. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Hypertension 2000;35:838-43.

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