12 Ways to Control Blood Pressure Without Medication
It’s estimated that one of every three Americans has high blood pressure, and 20 percent of them may not even know it. In addition, less than half of all people with high blood pressure have the condition under control. If left unmanaged, the disease can lead to several health problems, including heart attacks, strokes and heart failure.
Fortunately, there are many natural approaches and home remedies for high blood pressure. Below are 12 ways to control blood pressure without medication.
1. Lose extra weight and watch your waistline.
In many cases, blood pressure increases as weight increases. In addition, being overweight can place stress on other parts of the body, also increasing blood pressure. For example, being overweight can affect your breathing while asleep, inducing sleep apnea.
Losing just 10 pounds can help reduce your blood pressure significantly.
In addition to watching your weight, be mindful of your waistline. Too much weight around your waist can increase your risk of high blood pressure. Generally speaking, men are at risk if their waistline measurement is over 40 inches and women 35 inches. However, these numbers vary slightly by ethnic group, so it’s always best to consult your doctor to figure out a healthy measurement for you.
2. Make regular physical activity a priority.
By exercising regularly, you can actually lower your blood pressure by four to nine millimeters of mercury (mmHg). To achieve this dramatic effect, make it a goal to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. By staying consistent, you’ll prevent your blood pressure from rising again.
Exercise can help you whether you only have slightly high blood pressure or full-blown hypertension. If you’re still at the pre-hypertension phase, physical activity can prevent the disease from developing further. If you already have it, exercise can help lower your blood pressure to a safer level.
Physical activity doesn’t always have to take place in a gym. Start by simply walking around the block every evening. Other good forms of exercise to lower blood pressure include swimming, dancing, jogging and cycling. Strength training is another great option, though not ideal for everyone.
3. Be mindful of your diet.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do for your body and your health is to eat a diet rich in whole foods, and avoid ingredients that wreak havoc on your health, such as artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, etc. If you have trouble keeping on track with your diet, consider a food diary. You can do this manually in a notebook, or you can use one of many online counters. Using an online tracker is great for seeing exactly what you're eating and the expanded nutrient profiles of the foods you consume.
4. Reduce your sodium intake.
The effect of sodium on the body varies by individual. In general, it’s recommended that you keep your sodium intake under 2,300 milligrams per day. However, those with high blood pressure can benefit by reducing this number even further, down to 1,500 milligrams per day, or less. While it can be difficult to know just how much sodium you are consuming, there are a few tips and tricks that make it a little easier:
1. Read the label before you buy. Be mindful of the foods you’re purchasing. Whenever possible, choose low-sodium alternatives.
2. Cut out processed foods. Processed foods are notorious for packing in the sodium. Plus, most processed foods do not contain sodium naturally, it’s added during processing.
3. Don’t add salt to your food. If you feel a food or meal lacks flavor, reach for other herbs and spices rather than salt. Just one teaspoon of salt contains 2,300 milligrams of sodium.
5. Consider a supplement such as CBD.
CBD is a powerful nutrient with numerous medicinal properties and therapeutic applications. Several studies have shown extremely promising results when it comes to CBD’s ability to lower blood pressure. It’s thought that this ability stems from CBD’s anxiolytic and analgesic effects that help reduce resting blood pressure as well as stress-induced hypertension. One study found CBD was able to reduce systolic pressure by an average of five mmHg before and after stress.
→ For more information on how CBD can help you, click here.
6. Watch your alcohol consumption.
Studies have shown that in small amounts, alcohol can actually be good for your health and effectively lower your blood pressure by two to four mmHg. However, when consumed in larger quantities, alcohol can instead significantly raise your blood pressure. In addition, overconsumption of alcohol can reduce the effectiveness of many blood pressure medications.
In general, it’s recommended that you limit alcohol intake to one drink per day for men and women older than 65, or two a day for men age 65 and younger. One drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
7. Incorporate probiotics into your daily diet.
A 2014 review of numerous studies found that people who consumed probiotics, healthy bacteria found in yogurt and fermented foods had great success in lowering both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. On average, systolic blood pressure was reduced by 3.6 points, diastolic by 2.4 points.
8. Make an effort to relax more.
Stress is one of the most common causes of high blood pressure. Stress can cause blood pressure to rise short term and long. By finding a consistent way to relax your body and mind, you can help prevent or reduce hypertension. Research shows that relaxing activities such as yoga, meditation and even laughing can help lower blood pressure.
9. Try herbal remedies.
Herbal remedies and medicines have been used since ancient times to treat a wide variety of ailments and health conditions. Several herbs have also been shown to lower blood pressure, though more research needs to be done to figure out the exact compounds that provide the benefits.
Some herbs that have been studied with positive results include:
- Black bean (Castanospermum australe)
- Giant dodder (Cuscuta reflexa)
- Indian plantago (blond psyllium)
- Cat’s claw (Uncaria rhynchophylla)
- River lily (Crinum glaucum)
- Sesame oil (Sesamum indicum)
- Celery juice (Apium graveolens)
- Chinese hawthorn (Crataegus pinnatifida)
- Ginger root
- Coffee weed (Cassia occidentalis)
- Maritime pine bark (Pinus pinaster)
- Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
- Tomato extract (Lycopersicon esculentum)
- Tea, especially green and oolong
- Umbrella tree bark (Musanga cecropioides)
*Always make sure you check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking herbal supplements, as some can interfere with prescription medications.*
10. Watch your caffeine intake.
While moderate caffeine consumption does not appear to have negative side effects, excessive caffeine intake has been shown to increase blood pressure. In addition, energy drinks have been shown to cause significant spikes in blood pressure and cause irregular heart rhythms.
11. Try acupuncture.
A small 2015 study found promising evidence that acupuncture may help lower blood pressure. In this study, participants received 30 minutes per week of electroacupuncture focusing on their inner rests and legs below their knees. Electroacupuncture needles carry low-level electrical currents.
Overall, the group saw six to eight points reduced for systolic blood pressure and four points for diastolic. This was then compared with another group whose electroacupuncture treatment focused on other areas of the body and who saw no real difference. Some participants continued with a monthly treatment and saw even more-dramatic reductions.
12. Invest in an at-home monitor.
To actively and accurately monitor your blood pressure, consider investing in an at-home monitor. While this won’t lower your blood pressure in and of itself, it will help you become more familiar with your personal numbers and allow you to determine what factors increase or decrease them. Remember, numbers can vary day to day, depending on the situation at hand. Most doctors recommend patients monitor their blood pressure each morning and evening. In addition, research has shown those who keep track of their blood pressure may have greater incentive to make better lifestyle choices and develop healthy habits.
From simple lifestyle changes to alternative therapies and herbal remedies, there are many ways to lower your blood pressure naturally and control your blood pressure without medication.