Treating High Blood Pressure the Natural Way
You have a lot more control over your blood pressure’s fate than you may realize. High blood pressure is not inevitable. The cavemen didn’t have it. If you exercise 30 minutes a day, lose weight, and cut out processed foods that are high in salt, your hypertension will likely disappear.
To this end, if you have high blood pressure, you should stop consumption of all frozen, processed, and fast foods. This means no more trips to McDonalds or the like, potato chip binges, or frozen food entrees. All of these foods are extremely high in sodium content. Canned vegetables should be avoided but if you have to eat them rinse off. Look for low-sodium versions of chicken stock and broth, prepared soups, crackers and other foods.
If these measures don’t lower your blood pressure, it may be high stress that is driving your blood pressure up. A change in your circumstances may help, but that could be unrealistic.
Extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary means. We may need to go beyond our usual repertoire to find techniques to cope with these increased stressors, including muscle relaxation, deep breathing, and yoga. Transcendental meditation, a mental technique requiring deep concentration and focus to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve overall quality of life, has been shown to not only promote relaxation but actually to decrease blood pressure. Other methods like Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction reduce anxiety and stress and probably are effective in reducing high blood pressure.
Exercise can also go a long way toward reducing blood pressure.109 Research studies show that regular exercise lowers blood pressure in 75% of people with hypertension, with reductions of 11 mm Hg in systolic pressure and 8 mm Hg in diastolic pressure. These reductions are clinically significant, as demonstrated by a 25% reduction in heart attacks because of reductions in blood pressure. Aerobic exercise is better for blood pressure than resistance exercise. The beneficial effects of exercise on blood pressure are seen in the first 24 hours after exercise, and go away 1-2 weeks after the last period of exercise. Furthermore, the effects of modest exercise (e.g. moderate walking for 30 minutes three times a week) are as good as more vigorous exercise, and may be safer for previously sedentary individuals (for whom vigorous exercise before you have had a chance to get in shape may trigger a heart attack).
So what is the bottom line for getting your blood pressure down without resorting to drugs? First things first. Cut sodium from your diet. That means making your own dinner whenever possible, since processed, canned and frozen foods are full of sodium, as food meals. Exercise by moderate walking for 30 minutes three times a week. Try stress reduction or meditation. Stop smoking. Do not drink alcohol in excessive amounts.
If these changes fail to lower your blood pressure, you may need medication. Work with your doctor to find which one is best for you. As I write elsewhere, some of the cheapest drugs (e.g. diuretics) actually work better than newer drugs that cost much more.