These days, most of us might feel like we’re about to burst something, but for one third of American adults, that possibility is all too real. Those unlucky souls are living with a ticking time bomb.
When your heart pumps, each life-giving squeeze sends blood coursing through your arteries, which pipe that blood to every corner of your body. The force of blood pushing against those arterial walls is, simply put, your blood pressure. Normal pressure is less than 120/80, but if it climbs above 150/90 (stage 2 hypertension), you’re about to blow.
About 75 million people in the United States age 20 and older—an astounding one in three adults—have high blood pressure. Upwards of 90 percent of those with chronic high blood pressure have no obvious damage or disease, so perhaps 30 percent are unaware of their condition, prompting its “silent killer” moniker. Over time, high blood pressure is likely to damage every one of your organs.
Without a doubt, it’s important to decisively normalize your blood pressure, but rarely would it ever need to be lowered instantly, so you have some time to bring it down. Just don’t ignore it.
Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha), a member of the rose family, is the European jack-of-all-trades herb for safe and effective treatment of heart and circulatory disorders. According to a 2016 paper, hawthorn is well-known for its use in the treatment of various heart problems, particularly heart failure, angina pectoris, hypertension, myocardial insufficiency, mild alterations of cardiac rhythm, and atherosclerosis. This herb also exerts several other pharmacological activities, such as hypotensive, antihyperlipidemic, antihyperglycemic, anxiolytic and immunomodulatory. The bush contains potent bioflavonoid-like complexes responsible for its actions. Traditionally, the berries were used, but scientists have found active ingredients in other parts of the plant. Several studies have shown that hawthorn extract lowers blood pressure. A recent British study successfully used hawthorn to lower blood pressure in diabetics. A monograph published in Alternative Medicine Review confirms that hawthorn works through diverse mechanisms by dilating coronary vessels, regulating heart rhythm, and exerting a mild diuretic activity.
Dosage: A common dose is 80–300 mg of standardized extracts with total bioflavonoid content (often 2.2 percent) or oligomeric procyanidins (usually 18.75 percent), two to three times per day. You may also use a tincture of 4–5 ml three times daily, or at least 4–5 grams per day in capsules. Allow at least for two to four weeks for the herb to take effect. It’s long-term therapy, so the effectiveness of hawthorn may still be increasing even after one to two months.
Though it is rather new to us in North America, Arjuna bark (Terminalia arjuna) is a famous Ayurvedic medicine. Its thick, red bark is the most widely used cardiac herbal medicine. Modern clinicians here are using arjuna for coronary artery disease, heart failure, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. A 2017 study in The Journal of Ethnoppharmacology confirms that many studies have validated its anti-ischemic, antihypertensive, antihypertrophic, and antioxidant effects, and that it was successful in preventing pulmonary hypertension.
Several studies over the last few years have shown that arjuna reduces total cholesterol and increases HDL. One study showed that this herb was as effective an antioxidant as vitamin E, and that it reduced cholesterol in human subjects quite substantially. Considering its benefit for cholesterol, it is not surprising that it lowers blood pressure.
Dosage: Use 1–3 grams of dried arjuna bark per day, in capsules. Higher doses may work faster. You can use up to 30 grams, dry herb weight, of this very safe herb as tea. Simmer the chopped bark.
Aged garlic extract has the ability to reverse early heart disease by stripping plaque buildup from artery walls.
AGED GARLIC EXTRACT
Maybe high blood pressure can be reversed with spaghetti sauce. According to recent research, garlic seems to reduce blood pressure by about 5–10 percent. Pretty small potatoes, but every bit helps in offsetting the total chronic damage from hypertension. Garlic, in the hands of clinical herbalists using higher doses, usually produces greater declines, however.
One study looked at 47 subjects with mild hypertension. For 12 weeks, the patients received a daily dose of 600 mg of garlic powder, standardized to 1.3 percent alliin, which reduced systolic blood pressure by 6 percent and diastolic pressure by 9 percent. Another study found garlic to be effective for blood pressure in men with mild and moderate arterial hypertension. Numerous other experiments showed about the same results.
Dosage: Garlic powder extract standardized to contain 1.3 percent alliin is typically given in a dosage of 900 mg daily. Still, garlic is a food. Larger doses should not hurt, and you almost certainly will have better results if you include more in your diet or use a higher dose as a supplement.
A 2016 paper in Phytomedicine looked at hawthorn, arjuna and garlic and mentioned that these remedies have been used in the treatment of heart disease for hundreds of years, and that current research methods show us they can be utilized effectively in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases including ischemic heart disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias and hypertension.
Green tea is a panacea for the cardiovascular system. Look for it to reduce total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides, and to improve the ratio of LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol. People who drink more of the beverage have lower blood pressure, and research also confirms this action. EGCG, a main active ingredient, reduces blood clotting about as much as aspirin or Ginkgo biloba extract, reducing the chance of stroke. A scientific review found that green tea likely reduces heart attack and stroke.
Dosage: Most of the research supports a dose of about three cups per day (providing 240–320 mg of polyphenols). Standardized extracts of poly-phenols, particularly EGCG, are available.
The world out there might be a pressure cooker, but that’s no reason your cardiovascular system needs to be one. Take a breather, put a cup of hawthorn berry tea on the stove, and depressurize.