Natural Blood Pressure Control
On November 12, 2017, nearly one third of U.S. adults—75 million or so—had high blood pressure (HBP). On November 13, that number jumped to around 105 million. Here’s what happened, and how it might affect you.
An overnight high blood pressure epidemic?
Did 30 million people “catch” HBP overnight? Of course not—it’s not contagious.
So what happened?
The medical community redefined HBP. You know the XX / YY metric—the top number is your systolic pressure—the maximum force your heart can exert when it pumps. The bottom number is when your heart relaxes between beats, your diastolic pressure.
Since 1993, “high” has been defined as 140/90. The new measure is anything over 120/80.
Why the change in measuring HBP risk?
A major study in 2015 found the risk of heart disease was significantly lower in people who aimed for a blood pressure high of 120 / 80. The data were persuasive enough that Canada and Australia also took that as their new “high.” Most countries in Europe will do the same next year.
Does the new “high” blood pressure affect you?
It depends on a number of variables, including your age.
If you’re under 65, let’s look at how the new high of 120 affects where your own blood pressure level puts you, compared to when “normal” was 140/90:
|Blood Pressure Category||Systolic
So if your top number is 120–129 and your bottom number is 79 or lower, you’re now said to have “elevated” blood pressure.
If your top number is 130–139 or your bottom number is 80–89, you’re considered a Stage 1 HBP risk.
And if you’re at the old “normal” of 140/90, you’re now in the highest risk level, Stage 2. I’ll cover the change for those over 65 separately in a minute.
Red flag. This means that 46 percent of U.S. adults now have HBP (stage 1 or 2) versus 32 percent under the old rules. That’s an increase of some 30 million people.
I’m concerned that Big Pharma will pile on for the kill here—tens of millions of people who were “normal” yesterday are now considered at risk. Great opportunity to sell drugs.
Green flag. But the good news is that the medical community, as represented by some dozen groups behind the new guidelines, is very clear in insisting, finally, that high blood pressure at any level is fixable with lifestyle changes and natural remedies. Healthy diet, regular exercise, and an active social and intellectual life are all but miracle workers. In instances of nutrient deficiencies—easily diagnosable and far too common among those eating the over-sugared, over-processed, toxin-laden Standard American Diet—good quality, natural supplements are the go-to choice—not Big Pharma’s heavy-hitting conventional meds.
That’s why, while the number of those at risk younger than 65 skyrockets, the new guidelines recommended that only those with Stage 1 hypertension and diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or peripheral artery disease should begin medication right away (about 2% of the newly diagnosed with high blood pressure)—diet and lifestyle improvements are greatly preferable.
HBP when you’re over 65?
For people over 65, however, the new “high” has been lowered from a systolic pressure (top number) of 150 to anything higher than 130. At that level, the new guidelines recommend medication for these older adults, pointing to research that’s found a lower risk of serious HBP consequences—heart attack and stroke, for example—among those who hit and hold the 130 target. The exception: those with conditions that make Big Pharma’s conventional drugs too risky. That’s an open invitation to put those diet and lifestyle improvements to work—pronto.
Control Blood Pressure Naturally, without Drugs
There’s a really great reason to get and keep your blood pressure healthy. It’s 5. That’s how many years longer you can live compared to people with high blood pressure. That’s on average, so the healthier you are, the more years you get.
If you have high blood pressure, you’re at risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, or kidney failure.
And if you have high blood pressure, Big Pharma probably has you in the palm of its greedy hand, with one or more of its blockbuster blood thinners, diuretics, beta-blockers, or ACE inhibitors.
Yes, these can help control your blood pressure and reduce your risk of a blood clot that can block the flow of blood to your heart or brain. But don’t let your mainstream doctor tell you that these side effects are a small price you pay in the name of lowered health risks:
- Internal bleeding
- Abdominal pain
- Easy bruising
- Erectile dysfunction
No, don’t buy it. There are better natural remedies to lower and control your blood pressure—so you can grab those extra five years or more to enjoy with family and friends.
Safe, natural alternatives
When you want a shot of the quirky and wonderful, you can often find it in Japan.
Say hello to natto, a fermented soy dish that’s popular in Japan. The nutrient we’re interested in is called nattokinase, an enzyme extract from the natto.
Nattokinase is a natural blood thinner and a safe, effective, way to help normalize blood pressure, with no side effects.
Sure, you can just eat natto. But like many uber-healthy fermented foods, its taste, smell, and texture—sticky, gooey, creamy—don’t make it an instant dining table hit.
That said, it has plenty of fans online, who advise that it’s a taste you can acquire. Not everyone likes beer or kale the first time, either.
But you can also find it in a flavor- and odor-free supplement. And it’s probably worth your while. Because its talents include not just preventing clots, but also undoing them.
At healthy levels, fibrinogen is a protein that helps create the healthy clotting we sometimes need to end bleeding as the result of an injury. But elevated fibrinogen levels increase the risk of high blood pressure, as well as diabetes, cancer, and blood clots—and it’s linked to a 700 percent increase in deaths from all causes!
Nattokinase can help by spotting unhealthy clots in progress and dissolving them, and also by helping blood vessels stay smooth and flexible, another level of protection.
In a Japanese study, volunteers with high blood pressure were given 30 grams of natto extract (equivalent to one serving of natto), orally for 4 consecutive days.
- Systolic blood pressure decreased on average from 173.8 to 154.8
- Diastolic blood pressure decreased on average from 101.0 to 91.2.
That’s nearly an 11 percent drop in in systolic blood pressure, and a nearly 10 percent drop in diastolic blood pressure—after only 4 days.
Other studies show similarly dramatic results.
Given the acquired taste issues, I recommend the powdered supplement form. I recommend 50 mg per day.
Grape seed extract
After their lovely juice has been extracted, grapes still have a lot to offer. Their skins and seeds are rich in:
- Vitamin E
- Linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid
- Flavonoids and other powerful, free-radical scavenging antioxidants
Grape seed extract is a vasodilator, normalizing blood pressure by relaxing and dilating blood vessels to keep blood flowing smoothly and less likely to get trapped by plaque.
The exceptionally potent antioxidant compounds in grape seed extract can help slow the effects of aging by neutralizing the free radicals that damage your cells and your DNA.
Dosage recommendations vary somewhat from study to study. I recommend the University of Maryland Medical Center’s dosages:
- 25 to 150 milligrams daily for general antioxidant support
- 150 to 300 milligrams daily for chronic venous insufficiency
- Grape seed extract can act as a mild blood thinner, so work with your doctor if you’re already taking blood thinners or are at risk for bleeding
- Don’t confuse grape seed extract with grape seed oil—the oil contains an overload of omega-6 fatty acid, the kind we don’t want
Magnesium is a frontline protector of your blood pressure and cardiac systems, regulating the enzymes that relax constricted blood vessels or prevent them from constricting in the first place.
Who benefits from relaxed blood vessels? You do, because your heart doesn’t have to work so hard to keep your circulation moving. Translation: low blood pressure.
A substantial study of 34 separate studies of magnesium as a supplement resulted in the kind of conclusion that’s music to everyone’s ears:
“Our findings support a causal anti-hypertensive effect of [magnesium] supplementation in adults.”
Nothing tentative or cautious here. Not a “possible” anti-hypertensive effect—a causal effect.
Your best bet, as always, is to eat a magnesium-rich diet—chicken, nuts, halibut, shrimp, and leafy greens like spinach and kale. It’s a long list of delicious choices.
If you opt for a supplement, I recommend 350 to 500 mg per day.
L-arginine, found in nuts, fish, red meat, soy, whole grains, beans, and dairy products shows clear signs that it relaxes and opens arteries, which helps lower blood pressure.
Our bodies can usually make all the L-arginine we need from our food. That’s prompted some experts to claim that taking a supplement is “rarely necessary, and may be of benefit only to people who have a deficiency.”
My take? Thanks to the Standard American Diet (SAD) of over-processed, toxin-ridden, artificial non-foods … most people do, in fact, have a deficiency or deficiencies. If you’re unsure of your l-arginine status, have your doctor check it, along with other essential nutrients you might lack in effective amounts (especially D3). If you do need to supplement, remember that the best way to increase your l-arginine levels is to take l-citruline, which your body converts efficiently to l-arginine.
Good old water…our dear, life-sustaining, thirst-quenching, high blood pressure-reducing friend.
HBP or not, drink a lot of it. Every day. Ten glasses sounds like a lot, but not when you sip all day. If you’re healthy, it’ll help you stay that way. If you’re not, it’ll help you get better.
Pink Himalayan salt
This exotic salt contains trace minerals that set it apart from ordinary salt, including heavy health hitters like potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which give the salt its light pink tint.
It’s also more “pure” than ordinary salt, without the chemical anti-caking agents we get in ordinary salt.
Adding a pinch of pink salt to meals or drinks can help the body achieve optimal fluid balance, thus preventing dehydration.
Celery leaves have loads of vitamin A, and the stems are an excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C, with loads of potassium, folate, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, sodium and plenty of essential amino acids.
Celery contains an unusual organic sodium. And unlike the sodium that I always warn against, this particular form actually reduces blood pressure. A compound called phtalides helps relax the muscle around the arteries, dilating the vessels and allowing blood to flow normally.
Best bet? Celery juice for a week, then stop for three weeks, then start over.
It’s as easy as pie to pile some celery into your diet—soups, salads, sauces, juice. Eat your fill—you can’t overdose on healthy food.
Make your five-year plan
I hope this gives you some good news and good new options. But always remember what sets you on the best road toward healthy blood pressure—exercise, even a walk around the house or the neighborhood, and a healthy diet. If you’re exercising and eating a fresh, local, organic, humanely raised diet, rich in healthy oils, fruits, veggies, beans, and leafy greens, light on red meat—you’ve got a head start.
And don’t think it will take five years to collect your health benefits. You can see those in a matter of weeks. Or, in the nattokinase study, days.
If you’re on Big Pharma meds, please work with your doctor to get a safer, natural blood pressure regimen. Increasingly, natural treatments help make powerful prescription meds more effective and more tolerable.
Five or more additional years of good health, family, friends, and all of life’s treasures are the richest of all rewards.
Take good care.
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- Fidler, Julie. “Magnesium and Blood Pressure—What You Need To Know” Natural Society. Published July 28, 2016. Last accessed April 2, 2017.
- Sheps, Sheldon. “Can L-arginine supplements lower blood pressure?” MayoClinic. Published NA. Last accessed April 2, 2017.
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