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January 10, 2023
These 10 Natural Remedies May Reverse Your High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a silent killer. It causes a devastating 1 in 5 deaths of American women—but you wouldn’t know it just by looking at someone (1).
For most people, high blood pressure (also called hypertension) shows zero symptoms. Detecting it early is critical, but despite its danger, many people with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it…
And if left untreated, you become more at risk for not only heart issues, but damage to your brain, kidneys, and eyes (2, 3, 4, 5, 6). The good news: there’s something you can do about it! In many cases, risk factors for high blood pressure can be reversed with some relatively simple changes and supplements.
In this article, we’ll cover the risks of high blood pressure, how to know whether you have it, and natural ways to treat it.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure happens when blood travels through your body at a more intense or excessive force than it should. This can increase your risk for heart attack, stroke, and many other health concerns (7).
When your doctor takes your blood pressure and gives you a number result, they’re measuring how much blood passes through your blood vessels, and how much resistance it faces as it’s pumped through. When your blood pressure is high, it can put a strain on your heart muscle, making it weaker, thicker, and more prone to heart failure. At the same time, your blood vessel walls may thicken, which creates a greater risk if cholesterol accumulates in the vessels.
If left unaddressed, chronic high blood pressure can lead to hypertensive heart disease: a long-term condition marked by a series of functional and structural changes in the heart and arteries that are caused by continuous high blood pressure over time (8, 9). Women with high blood pressure are three times more likely to experience heart failure, and men with the condition are twice as likely (10).
High blood pressure is incredibly common, but most cases aren’t properly managed: an estimated 116 million US adults have it, and only 1 in 4 of them have their blood pressure at a controlled, healthy level (11, 12).
What Causes High Blood Pressure Spikes?
For starters, let’s consider what healthy blood pressure looks like. A healthy blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mm Hg (13). (If your reading is any lower than 90 mm HG on the top number or 60 mm Hg for the bottom number, it’s considered low blood pressure, which you should also check with your doctor about.)
The first number in the reading is called your systolic pressure, which measures whether there’s a healthy level of pressure in your arteries as your heart contracts. The second number is called your diastolic pressure. It measures whether there is a healthy level of pressure in your arteries when your heart pauses between each beat.
Most cases of high blood pressure are what’s called essential hypertension. Essential hypertension develops over time. For most people, there’s not one known cause, though there are plenty of established risk factors.
Many people with high blood pressure have narrow arteries, and some experts believe this is the cause in many cases, as the blood may have to push harder to get through narrow walls (14).
Here are the most common risk factors of essential hypertension:
- Genetics, either through family history or genetic mutations
- Being 65 years old or older
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Drinking more than one alcoholic beverage per day for women, or more than two beverages per day for men
- Being African American, which can put you at a higher risk than people from other racial backgrounds (15)
- Having diabetes or metabolic syndrome
- Obesity or being overweight
- Unhealthy eating habits
Around 5 to 10% of adult hypertension cases are a rarer type called secondary hypertension (16). Unlike essential hypertension, which develops slowly over time, secondary hypertension can come on quickly. It can become severe fast (17). Secondary hypertension is caused by other pre-existing conditions, so if you have secondary hypertension, the conditions are the risk factors themselves. They include:
- Kidney Disease
- Congenital Heart Defects
- Certain Medications
- Chronic Alcohol Use
- Thyroid Problems
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Adrenal Gland Issues
- Some Endocrine Tumors
Signs of High Blood Pressure
The most common sign of high blood pressure is your blood pressure reading itself. Because there are no symptoms, it’s important to check your blood pressure regularly, especially at your annual physical. Here are the guidelines for what your blood pressure reading means:
- Healthy Blood Pressure: systolic pressure of 120 mm Hg or lower and diastolic pressure of 80 mm Hg or lower
- Pre-Hypertension: systolic pressure of 120-129 mm Hg and diastolic pressure of 80 mm Hg or lower
- Stage 1 Hypertension: systolic pressure of 130-139 mm Hg or diastolic pressure of 80-89 mm Hg
- Stage 2 Hypertension: systolic pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher or diastolic pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher
- Hypertensive Crisis (an emergency): systolic pressure of 180 mm Hg or higher or diastolic pressure of 120 mm Hg or higher
When is blood pressure high enough to go to the hospital?
If your blood pressure reading falls within the hypertensive crisis category above—systolic pressure of 180 mm Hg or higher or a diastolic pressure of 120 mm Hg or higher—it’s a medical emergency and you need to contact medical help immediately. And remember, it’s an emergency even if only one of the two numbers on the reading is that high.
This is called a hypertensive crisis. It can cause a stroke, heart attack, organ damage, and other serious issues. Some people in a hypertensive crisis have zero symptoms. Others might experience anxiety, blurred vision, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, confusion, seizures, severe headaches, trouble breathing, or unresponsiveness.
Is High Blood Pressure Preventable (or Reversible)?
Many cases of high blood pressure, especially those caused by risky habits, can be prevented. This means healthy eating, getting regular exercise, avoiding smoking or excessive drinking, and other healthy routines (18).
One of the most important tools of prevention is checking your blood pressure regularly—because early detection is vital. If you notice something off with your blood pressure readings, your doctor can help you pay close attention to your readings over a few weeks or months to look out for spikes. If readings show that you’re prehypertensive, you can take action right away in hopes of nipping the problem in the bud. The earlier you find out, the better!
If you already have high blood pressure, remember that many lifestyle-related risk factors can be reversed! Lifestyle changes can help lower your blood pressure and create a more positive outlook for your health (19).
Natural Remedies for High Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure, it’s important to approach the condition with care. The lack of symptoms can make it tempting to ignore, but don’t—that decision could mean life or death someday. Instead, try a few simple steps to lower blood pressure naturally.
Along the way, take blood pressure readings regularly and make a plan with your care provider. Some people like to get their own blood pressure cuff so they can check it at home and watch their progress toward lower numbers.
Here are a few natural remedies to try…
1. Get regular exercise.
Regular exercise can have a major positive impact on your blood pressure (20). In fact, some studies indicate that exercise may create results that are on par with the effects of certain blood pressure medications (21).
Even simple activities can make a big difference, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking or cycling instead of driving, spending time in your garden, or even doing household chores.
Work your way up to getting 40 minutes of exercise 3 to 4 times per week (25). If that feels overwhelming, start slow! Getting some exercise is always better than none. Your blood pressure may still benefit if you need to break up those 40-minute sessions into 10-to-15-minute chunks throughout the day (26).
2. Cut back on harmful ingredients.
Certain foods and ingredients can contribute to high blood pressure, like refined carbs, sugar, salt, and processed foods.
Reducing the intake of sugar and refined carbs not only helps lower your blood pressure—it also helps you lose weight (27). Salt tends to get an especially bad reputation for raising blood pressure, but in reality, sugar—particularly fructose—may raise your blood pressure more (28). Cut your intake and see results!
As for salt, its effect on your blood pressure depends a lot on you as an individual. Some people are more “salt sensitive” than others (29). Regardless, it’s a good idea to be watchful of how much salt you eat, especially at restaurants, where it’s packed into many dishes that you wouldn’t suspect. Don’t be afraid to ask for a restaurant’s nutrition info or to get sauces and dressing on the side.
At the grocery store, look for nutrition labels that list sodium as 5% or less of the daily value, and reduce your intake of foods whose labels list sodium as 20% or more (30). Think twice about buying foods that are advertised as low fat—they could be loaded with sugar and salt to make up for that missing fat.
An easy way to reduce your intake of carbs, sugar, and salt all at once is to cut back on processed foods.
3. Eat more of the good stuff.
Reducing your blood pressure isn’t just about cutting foods out…it’s about enriching your diet with blood pressure-busting foods.
Foods high in potassium like bananas, lima beans, avocados, legumes, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes can help lower your blood pressure by decreasing tension in the blood vessels and minimizing the impact of salt (31). That said, potassium can be very harmful to some people with kidney disease, so make sure it’s safe for you before eating it.
Another great ingredient for reducing your blood pressure is protein. Protein-rich foods like eggs, nuts, pasture-raised chicken, lentils, and more can make a big difference. One study found that people who ate 100 grams of protein per day on average had a 40% lower risk of high blood pressure than people on a low-protein diet—and even more so if they added fiber to their diet (32). However, much like with potassium, too much protein may pose a health risk for people with kidney disease, so be sure to talk to your doctor.
Garlic, another helpful ingredient, has been used to lower blood pressure for thousands of years. Both fresh garlic and garlic extract are great options. Research has found that garlic supplements can reduce high systolic blood pressure by up to around 5 mm Hg and reduce diastolic blood pressure by up to around 2.5mm HG (33).
And chocolate lovers, rejoice: dark chocolate can help lower your blood pressure too (34). This is thought to be due to its flavonoids, which can help dilate your blood vessels (35). To be effective, the dark chocolate needs to be 60-70% cacao. Try eating one to two squares per day to help lower your blood pressure and inflammation, and in turn your risk of heart disease.
4. Lose weight.
If you’re overweight, losing just 5 to 10 pounds may help lower your blood pressure (36). A review of studies found that weight loss diets can reduce diastolic blood pressure by an average 3.2 mm Hg and systolic blood pressure by an average of 4.5 mm Hg (37). Losing a moderate amount of weight can help lower the blood pressure of people with and without hypertension (38, 39).
5. Stop smoking and cut back on drinking.
Quitting smoking can significantly lower your blood pressure (40). Over the long term, tobacco can increase your blood pressure as it damages your blood vessel walls, narrows arteries, and causes inflammation. This can even happen around secondhand smoke (41). Quitting isn’t easy, but it can make a huge difference in your overall health.
Alcohol can also raise blood pressure, even in a relatively healthy person (42). Women who are aiming to keep their blood pressure in check should stick to one drink per day, and men should stick to two drinks per day. (By this measure, one drink is equivalent to one 12 oz beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz of distilled liquor.) (43).
6. Reduce your caffeine intake.
Caffeine can temporarily raise your blood pressure. In a 2017 study, participants saw their blood pressure increase and stay elevated for two hours after drinking a caffeinated drink or energy drink (44). Research also indicates that caffeine may cause a higher increase in blood pressure if you have hypertension (45). Some people are more caffeine sensitive than others, so get to know your own body’s reaction to it and adjust your intake accordingly (46).
7. Cut back on stress.
Many stress-reducing activities can help lower blood pressure (47)...
Take a walk or watch something that makes you laugh (48). Try listening to music daily, which has been found to reduce systolic blood pressure (49). Regular sauna use may help reduce death from heart-related issues, and acupuncture may lower both your systolic and diastolic blood pressure (50, 51).
Mindfulness, meditation, and yoga are also great options for finding relief. In 2013, research indicated that yoga could lower blood pressure by an average of 3.62 mm Hg diastolic and 4.17 mm Hg systolic compared to people who did not exercise (52).
Yoga is especially helpful when it involves breath control, meditation, and posture combined—this form of yoga is almost twice as effective as yoga practices that don’t include all three (53).
8. Get better sleep.
When you get good sleep, your blood pressure usually goes down when you’re resting. If you have trouble sleeping—especially if you’re middle-aged—you’re at a higher risk of high blood pressure (54).
In 2010, it was found that regularly sleeping less than 7 hours per night and more than 9 hours per night could be associated with higher blood pressure (55). If you regularly get less than 5 hours of sleep per night, you could be at a significant risk of hypertension in the long term (56).
9. Try medicinal herbs.
Some medicinal herbs may help lower your blood pressure (58). Check with your doctor first, and if they give the okay, consider trying herbs like ginger root, celery juice, roselle, oolong tea, and tomato extract.
10. Take supplements that can reduce your blood pressure.
Certain supplements could help reduce your blood pressure—especially omega-3s. A wide range of research has found that omega-3 fatty acids can lower your blood pressure, especially if you are hypertensive (59).
Should I Take Krill Oil or Fish Oil for Heart Health?
Many people reach for fish oil out of habit, but in reality, krill oil is a much better supplement for improving your blood pressure. The two supplements may seem like they’re the same at first, but in reality, the body absorbs krill oil much better than fish oil. This means more omega-3s—and greater health benefits (60).
Research has shown that the omega-3s in krill oil help prevent heart attacks and strokes (61). Studies also show that krill oil helps lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels (two risk factors for heart disease). The supplement has also been linked to improved cholesterol, better hearing, and a decreased risk of developing dementia (62, 63).
Help curb your blood pressure by taking NativePath Antarctic Krill Oil, which is packed to the brim with omega-3s—without the fishy aftertaste or lower bioavailability of fish oil.
- High blood pressure is an incredibly common condition, and it rarely has any symptoms.
- You can prevent or reverse high blood pressure with several natural remedies.
- Loading up on omega-3 fatty acids has been found to help lower blood pressure—and NativePath Antarctic Krill Oil is packed with omega-3s.
As a writer, editor, and wellness seeker, Claire has written for Self, Health, Prevention, CNN, Mic, Livestrong, and Greatist, just to name a few. When she's not writing, she specializes in traveling, getting lost in health-related research rabbit holes, and finding new ways to spoil her cat.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.