Does Black Pepper Raise Blood Pressure?

Pepper
A close-up of black peppercorns in a wooden bowl. (Image: JanPietruszka/iStock/Getty Images)

High blood pressure can be a serious condition that affects as much as one quarter of the world's population but is extremely treatable through medication, diet or lifestyle changes. Chronic elevation of blood pressure is a risk factor for many diseases and can lead to a decreased life expectancy. A compound in black pepper, a common ingredient in many cuisines, can have a drastic effect on blood pressure. Before using this or any other remedy to treat high blood pressure, consult a doctor first.

High Blood Pressure

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is higher than normal systolic or diastolic pressure in the blood vessels due to a number of causes. According to the journal "Lancet," approximately one billion people worldwide have hypertension. This number is expected to increase to 1.6 billion people by the year 2025. In addition, the journal "Hypertension" reports that almost one quarter of the adult population in the United States is taking medication for hypertension and this number is steadily increasing.

Causes of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a very common problem that can either be chronic or temporary depending on the underlying case. Essential hypertension is the most common type and is characterized by an elevated blood pressure of unknown mechanism that is due to underlying causes such as obesity, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, alcoholism, diabetes and aging. Secondary hypertension is when the increase is due to a definite transient cause such as change in hormone levels, pregnancy or other disorders.

Effects of Black Pepper

Limiting the intake of sodium in the diet is crucial for reducing blood pressure in people with hypertension, but black pepper may have the opposite effect. Piperine is the substance in black pepper that gives it its heat and many studies have been performed on the role of this compound in lowering blood pressure. The "Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology" reports that piperine can lower blood pressure in normal animals. In addition, piperine lowers blood pressure in an experimental model of hypertension in rats according to the "Bratislava Medical Journal".

Other Ways to Reduce High Blood Pressure

In addition to antihypertensive drugs, there are many ways to control high blood pressure by natural means and lifestyle modifications. Exercise, weight loss, and eating a healthy diet can help to lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients. The reduction of stress through relaxation techniques and meditation have also been suggested by some to alleviate the problem. However, these suggested treatments may not have the sufficient effects to lower blood pressure and medication may be necessary.

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