A pair of cardiologists combed the scientific literature for studies on effective ways to treat blood pressure and concluded, in a new paper, that there are good data that some of the nondrug remedies work, but there is scant evidence for others. Kevin Woolf, a cardiologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center and one author of the new paper. Among the top recommendations from physicians for patients trying to control high blood pressure, or hypertension, without drugs: exercise, a change in diet, and limiting alcohol intake.
But over-the-counter supplements can also have their place in a treatment plan, the researchers said. The DASH Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension plan includes lowering sodium intake and eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. The researchers looked at studies of nine dietary supplements, including garlic, calcium, vitamin D, fish oil and soy protein.
The evidence was strongest, Woolf said, for the effectiveness of potassium and coenzyme Q10 supplements on lowering blood pressure. Both need to be studied more, he said, but the data so far indicate that both work better than a placebo at reducing blood pressure. The other dietary supplements may do little to treat hypertension, but there's no harm in trying them, the researchers said.
Is medication a part of your high blood pressure (HBP) treatment?
Among the herbal supplements the researchers looked at were hawthorne, mistletoe and forskolin, an Indian plant. None were shown to lower blood pressure, and they may even be harmful, the study said. Mistletoe, for example, is toxic at high concentrations. And other pills found in your medicine cabinet, Woolf pointed out, can even worsen hypertension. Johns Wort, ephedra and licorice — all available over-the-counter — have been shown to increase blood pressure. There are many prescription medications used for the treatment of hypertension. These medications fall into categories based on their different mechanisms of action.
How to Prevent High Blood Pressure
In general, if you have hypertension, it is likely that you will need to be treated for the duration of your life to maintain this target blood pressure. They are believed to lower blood pressure by reducing the volume of fluid circulating in the blood vessels. Examples of these drugs include:. Examples of ACE inhibitors include:. Side effects include constipation, leg swelling, and headaches.
Herbs and Supplements for Hypertension
Examples include:. Beta-blocker examples include:. ARBs include:.
Lotensin minoxidil is a vasodilator. It works by causing blood vessels to relax and widen, which lowers the pressure necessary to push blood through them. Minoxidil doesn't act directly on the blood vessels. It stimulates the action of an enzyme to produce chemicals that facilitate the relaxation of blood vessels.
Use of a single antihypertensive medication is referred to as monotherapy. If one medication is not effective or if it causes intolerable side effects, your doctor may switch to another monotherapy, and then to a third, if necessary. Sometimes, combining medications that have a different mechanism of action can enhance the therapeutic effects without exacerbating the side effects. Resistant hypertension is defined as blood pressure that remains well above the target goals despite the use of optimal, three-drug therapy. There are some natural remedies that may lower blood pressure, particularly if you have pre-hypertension.
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This Doctor Discussion Guide has been sent to. Though this doesn't happen to everyone who uses these medications, this may be a concern for you, especially if you are taking a drug for the first time. Looking to start a diet to better manage your high blood pressure? Our nutrition guide can help. Thank you, , for signing up.
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Monotherapy and Combination Therapy. Resistant Hypertension.
10 ways to control high blood pressure without medication
There are a few things that can cause resistant hypertension:. Not taking medications as prescribed Secondary hypertension Fluid retention, often the result of kidney failure. Garlic : Garlic has long been thought to reduce hypertension. Studies show that garlic extract can lower blood pressure, although the optimal dose, frequency, and form are not well established.