Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, occurs when the resistance to blood flow in the arteries increases. It occurs when the heart pumps excess blood or when the arteries become narrow.
If left untreated, high blood pressure can cause stroke and heart attack. Uncontrolled hypertension weakens the blood vessels that supply blood to the kidneys, thereby impairing the functions of the kidneys. It may even damage the blood vessels in the eyes, which may rupture, leading to permanent loss of vision. Hypertension may also cause memory problems.
Regardless of the underlying cause of high blood pressure, it can be treated with herbs. The effectiveness of certain herbal therapies in reducing the blood pressure level is supported by numerous scientific studies.
Herbal Remedies for High Blood Pressure
Garlic is an excellent herbal remedy for high blood pressure. Studies suggest that it is as effective as standard hypertension medications such as ACE inhibitors and beta blockers in lowering the blood pressure level. Moreover, people with hypertension who cannot tolerate standard blood pressure lowering drugs can use garlic for reducing their blood pressure level. The sulfur-containing components in garlic help to dilate the blood vessels by stimulating synthesis of nitric oxide in the cells.
The Indian snakeroot is recommended in Ayurvedic medicine for reducing the blood pressure level. The blood pressure lowering property of the herb is attributed to the chemical called reserpine that helps to dilate the blood vessels and reduces heart rate.
In traditional Chinese medicine, ginseng is recommended for treating hypertension. The active constituents of ginseng, known as ginsenosides, induce the endothelial cells of the blood vessels to increase nitric oxide synthesis. Nitric oxide facilitates dilation of the blood vessels. Ginseng is also a powerful anti-stress agent. Elevated stress is a common cause of high blood pressure, which can be treated with the help of ginseng. Among the different ginseng species, Siberian Ginseng and Panax Ginseng are best suited for reducing the blood pressure level.
The berries, flowers and leaves of hawthorn are used in Native American folk medicine for lowering the elevated blood pressure level. Hawthorn contains flavonoids called oligomeric procyandins, which promote dilation of blood vessels by boosting nitric oxide production in the inner lining of the blood vessels. Apart from easing blood flow, the antioxidant compounds in hawthorn protect the blood vessels from oxidative stress.
Stephania tetrandra is an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine for treating hypertension. The root of the herb contains an alkaloid called tetrandrine, which is a natural calcium channel blocker. By dilating the blood vessels, it helps to lower the blood pressure level.
The root of angelica, known as dong quai in traditional Chinese medicine, is an effective herbal remedy for high blood pressure. The calcium channel blocker-like compounds in the herb help to ease blood flow by widening the blood vessels.
Barberry is a natural hypotensive substance. The blood pressure lowering property of the herb is attributed to its active component berberine, which is present in the bark, root and fruit of the barberry plant.