UPDATE: I visited my naturopath 10 days after starting this protocol, and my BP was down to 128/78. AND I was nervous about her taking it, something that used to jack it up historically. This protocol WORKS!
Are you concerned about your blood pressure? Or maybe you’re on meds and would like to lower or taper off them? If you’re looking for natural solutions to lower your blood pressure, you’ve come to the right place.
Recently I’d been stressed and feeling off, dizzy, and wired. I decided to measure my blood pressure (dizziness can be a sign of high BP) and was shocked to find it read 140-150/90! So, I went to work and put myself on a protocol.
We all know that blood pressure is the pressure of the blood in the circulatory system, and it’s measured with a blood pressure cuff, typically whenever you visit your doctor. If your blood pressure is high, it means your heart is working too hard to pump blood through your body, increasing the force on arterial walls and causing weakness in your blood vessels. This makes the vessels more prone to rupture or tiny tears that leave scar tissue on the walls of arteries and veins, increasing the risk of blockage and upping heart attack and stroke risk.
Ideal blood pressure is 110/70 – 120/80. The top number is systolic pressure and refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries during contraction of your heart muscle. The bottom number is the diastolic pressure and refers to your blood pressure when the heart is between beats. Blood pressure that is too low (lower than 90/60) does not supply your body and heart with enough oxygenated blood.
High blood pressure is know as hypertension and is categorized into stages. You are considered prehypertensive if your systolic pressure is between 120 and 139 or your diastolic pressure is between 80 and 89. You won’t be placed on meds yet, just told to clean up your diet, avoid the salt, lose weight, and exercise.
You’re typically diagnosed with high blood pressure if your systolic blood pressure is 140- 159, or if your diastolic blood pressure is between 90- 99. This is considered stage 1 hypertension, and you need to monitor your blood pressure to see if it’s consistently high and how it responds to interventions. Stage 2 readings are a systolic number of 160 or more, or a diastolic number of 100 or more, and that’s pretty serious. You’ll be sent packing with meds in this case. And anything higher than stage 2 is the danger zone: Readings above 180/110 indicates a serious health problem. High blood pressure is dangerous because the heart is working harder to pump blood out to the body, increasing risk of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), stroke, kidney disease, and heart failure.
High BP may not cause any symptoms, which is why it’s called the silent killer, but it may cause chronic headache or dizziness.
What Causes Hypertension?
The most common factors are heredity, age, and stress. In other cases, certain medical conditions such as kidney or heart issues can cause high blood pressure. Smoking and alcohol use are big ones, too. In holistic health we seek to examine all possible underlying causes, and here are some of the contributing factors your doctor may not mention:
- Being overweight: even as much as 10-15 pounds can raise blood pressure
- Lack of exercise/sedentary lifestyle
- A diet high in sugar and refined carbs
- Too much refined salt (in processed foods, refined table salt)
- Too much coffee/caffeine
- Smoking and alcohol
- Mineral deficiencies
- High cortisol/stress
- Poor blood sugar control
- Hypo or hyper thyroid
- “white coat” hypertension: the mere presence of a doctor can raise readings
- Birth control pills
It’s also worth noting that improper blood pressure measurement can lead to false high readings. (wonder how many people are taking meds because of this!). The size of the cuff, position of your arm, and other factors influence the readings. Make sure you are sitting quietly, not talking, and have not eaten or had caffeine for at least 30 minutes prior to measurement. Get 2-3 readings for accuracy.
How I Lowered by Blood Pressure 20 Points
NOTE: you may not see such dramatic results, so give this protocol 30 days.
My main objective in my case was the figure out the cause. I do take meds (natural desiccated WP thyroid) to address hypothyroidism, and if meds aren’t dosed properly, blood pressure can rise. I ordered labs to check thyroid, and while waiting, I addressed the next obvious cause, which was stress. I am very sensitive to stress and work hard to keep my stress levels in check. I knew I needed to mix up my morning meditation practice and get stricter about focusing on breathwork and stress relief. Here’s the rest of the protocol I developed for myself to lower blood pressure:
- AM meditation, 10 minutes deep breathing
- Get sleep in check! 8 hours, in bed by 10 ideally. (ok, fine 11pm)
- Keep blood sugar levels balanced
- Take adaptogenic herbs (AVOID licorice root if you have high BP)
- Magnesium, 200mg three times daily. Excellent for dilating blood vessels and relaxing the nervous system.
- CoQ10 has a great track record for lowering BP. Studies show that CoQ10 can lower BP as much as 20 points.
- Hibiscus-based and/or blood pressure tea blends are good for arterial health.
- Potassium and minerals are essential for healthy BP. Try a mineral supplement.
- I took chlorophyll to oxygenate my system and address low red blood cell production (which can increase BP).
- Hydrate! Dehydration can raise BP.
- CBD oil: This, for me, was the key player and star of the show. Fortunately I live in an area where I can easily access this magical elixir. I’m somewhat convinced this alone was the reason for the dramatic and swift reduction in my blood pressure. CBD is the non-psychoactive constituent in marijuana that has amazing health benefits (pretty sure it elevated my mood also) without getting you high.
- Berberine and olive leaf extract may also help. Olive leaf may lower BP as effectively as drugs. (source)
- Use sea salt only, no sodium chloride.
- Eat 4 celery stalks daily.
- Ditch the coffee. Drink green tea instead. It contains relaxing theanine.
- 20 minutes of exercise daily
- Get outside daily! Try some earthing (don’t laugh, I LOVE it, and it works).
- Make sure your vitamin D levels are within normal range.
- Acupuncture can really help.
I also use and highly recommend this formula, only 2 caps needed daily (though decrease magnesium if you take this, because it also contains magnesium). I did the above for 2 days, beginning on a Friday. I took my BP on Sunday and lo and behold it was averaging 130/80 and lower. Much better!
I already have my diet in check, but if you don’t, ditch the soda, white bread, refined carbs, sugar, and alcohol right away. Also watch processed meats and cured foods. These foods raise BP and insulin levels. Focus on an anti-inflammatory, plant-based diet (reduce red meat; focus on fatty fish like salmon), as it will yield the minerals we desperately need and are so deficient in. Add to that organic protein (how much you mean depends on your age, activity level, and gender), legumes, fruit, and minimal gluten free grains (you might want to remove grains entirely which can be very effective especially for men). Add green juices and fermented foods. Get a fatty acid supplement to balance your omega 3:6 levels.
A word about alcohol: despite what you’ve read about the health benefits of wine or whatever the latest news blast says, removing alcohol has far more benefit than drinking it. It’s a proven carcinogen, a stress on your system, and is proven to raise blood pressure.
Measure your BP at home. A high reading at the doctor’s office doesn’t mean you have chronic hypertension. Do a few readings, as it can be elevated with the first reading if you’re tense about measuring it (as I am). If you’re running high, get blood work to check for anemia, thyroid function, vitamin D levels, blood sugar, lipid panel. Start the above protocol and give it a month. If you’re still running above 130/80, see a practitioner for a more thorough workup. Ideally, you want 120/70 or below.
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.