The American Heart Association reports that one in three people suffer from hypertension in the United States. The symptoms of high blood pressure are not evident, and by the time symptoms develop, it has often become a life-threatening condition. Along with dietary and lifestyle changes, you might decide to try herbs to help reduce your blood pressure. Many herbs can cause side effects, so consult your health practitioner before using herbs to treat this serious condition.
Garlic has numerous medicinal properties. Nutritionist Dr. Liz Applegate reports that garlic may be helpful in lowering cholesterol, preventing blood clots and relieving hypertension. German scientist professor Güautnter Siegel, M.D., of the University of Medicine in Berlin, discovered that garlic may remove preliminary forms of plaque, called nanoplaque, that deposit on artery walls causing artherosclerosis. Garlic is available as a supplement in capsule form from health food stores. Capsules are recommended over tablets because tablets are heated during their formation, reducing the potency of the garlic. However, you may also want to use fresh garlic and make tea by crushing one clove and simmering it in 1 cup of water for about 15 minutes. Strain and cool when finished and add a small spoonful of honey to sweeten. Drink 2 cups daily for heart health. Garlic can thin your blood, so speak to your health practitioner if you take blood-thinning medicines.
Hawthorn is used as a heart tonic and strengthens heart walls, supporting overall cardiovascular health, according to "The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook." Hawthorn may lower blood pressure in certain individuals when it is taken according to directions. This herb should only be used under the supervision of a knowledgeable health practitioner or herbalist.
Ginkgo may help dilate blood vessels and thin the blood, improving circulation, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center. Ginkgo leaves are high in antioxidants called flavonoids and terpenoids, substances that have been shown to prevent heart disease and lower blood pressure, adds UMMC. Because ginkgo can thin the blood, do not use it if you are taking blood-thinning medicines unless under supervision. Ginkgo supplements are available in health food stores.
Rauwolfia serpentina, or Indian snakeroot, has been used traditionally to treat the cardiovascular system and lower blood pressure. Rauwolfia contains high levels of the alkaloid respirine, a potent herbal ingredient that affects heart function and blood pressure, especially when problems are related to anxiety or excess stress, notes the University of Michigan Health Services. Do not self-treat with Rauwolfia serpentina. Only use this herb under the supervision of a trained herbalist or knowledgeable health practitioner.
- "The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook: Your Everyday Reference to the Best Herbs for Healing"; James Duke; 2002
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