If you or a loved one suffer from hypertension — or elevated blood pressure — you may be wondering how to reduce blood pressure without medication. Many patients reach out to our practice after they have been diagnosed with hypertension and prescribed blood pressure medication for long-term use. Although blood pressure medication may be necessary and unavoidable in some cases, many hypertension patients are able to reduce blood pressure naturally, and eventually stop taking medication or reduce their dosage. While it is important to discuss medications and lifestyle changes with your healthcare provider, here are some evidence-based, natural remedies that may help you to reduce your blood pressure medication.
Is Hypertension Dangerous?
Elevated blood pressure or hypertension is the risk factor for heart attack, stroke, heart failure and kidney disease. Medications for lowering blood pressure are some of the most prescribed in the country. There are many modifiable risk factors that improve cardiovascular health including stopping smoking, making dietary changes and reducing body weight.
Intermittent Fasting and Hypertension
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a very popular term in the health and wellness industry and refers to a form of time-restricted eating. It can be beneficial for a number of health markers including weight loss and reducing inflammation. There are several different approaches to IF with the most popular being eating within a time restricted window of either 8 hours, 6 hours or 4 hours. The remaining time during the day is spent fasting. Another popular form is referred to as alternate day fasting (ADF) with fasting and feeding days alternating. Some people will limit caloric intake to 500 or fewer calories on feeding days. Both forms of IF have been shown to reduce weight while maintaining muscle mass. Another benefit of IF is improved insulin sensitivity, which is helpful in type II diabetes and cardiovascular health.2 When we engage in IF, we force our bodies to rely on stored energy from our liver and fat cells for fuel.2 This has been shown to reduce inflammation, improve blood lipid values and reduce blood pressure.2
Manage Hypertension With The Mediterranean Diet
Regardless of whether or not you are experimenting with fasting, the food you put in your body has a profound impact on your cardiovascular health. While there are a number of different opinions on the “best diet” for cardiovascular health, one thing that most people are in agreement of is that we all should be eating more vegetables. At the Holistic Healing Heart Center, we recommend eating 5-7 servings of vegetables per day to ensure you are supporting your body’s natural detoxification process as well as ensure you are getting enough fiber and reduce overall inflammation in the body. One of the diet’s that has been the most studied and shown to have benefits on blood pressure is the Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes vegetables and fresh fruit, whole grains, fish and seafood, legumes, nuts and extra virgin olive oil. Processed foods, red meat and dairy are consumed in moderation.(3)
Exercise Your Way To A Lower Blood Pressure: HIIT
Exercise has long been recognized as an important aspect of cardiovascular health and lowering blood pressure; however, recently research has shown that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been more effective at reducing blood pressure, improving vascular health and insulin sensitivity than sustained moderate intensity training. HIIT consists of short bursts of exercise where the heart rate reaches 85-95% of the maximum for 1-4 minutes followed by rest or active recovery. It is important to check with your doctor before starting a HIIT program; however, if you are healthy enough for moderate exercise, 30 minutes of HIIT three times per week may be enough to reduce blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health.(4) Additionally, not enough time to exercise is often cited as the most common reasons people avoid working out. HIIT can help solve this problem by having huge cardiovascular benefits in a shorter amount of time.
Benefits of Mindfulness For High Blood Pressure Patients
Elevated blood pressure is associated with high levels of cortisol, which is the hormone that our body produces when we are under stress. While it is normal and part of normal physiology to have short bursts of cortisol in response to stressors, it becomes problematic when we are stress for prolonged periods of time or are operating with chronically elevated levels of cortisol. There are a number of ways to reduce stress; however, practicing mindfulness is one that has been well studied. It has been shown that individuals who undergo mindfulness-based stress-reduction training are able to lower blood pressure naturally by reducing reactivity to stress.
At the Holistic Healing Heart Center, we are well equipped to discuss many ways to address your hypertension as well as overall health. We take an integrative approach to health care and will help come up with a customized treatment approach for you.
5 Surprising Facts About High Blood Pressure. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published May 27, 2016. Accessed February 24, 2020.
Malinowski B, Zalewska K, Węsierska A, et al. Intermittent Fasting in Cardiovascular Disorders—An Overview. Nutrients. 2019;11(3):673. doi:10.3390/nu11030673
Pergola GD, D’Alessandro A. Influence of Mediterranean Diet on Blood Pressure. Nutrients. 2018;10(11):1700. doi:10.3390/nu10111700
Wisløff, Ulrik, et al. “High-Intensity Interval Training to Maximize Cardiac Benefits of Exercise Training?” Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, vol. 37, no. 3, 2009, pp. 139–146., doi:10.1097/jes.0b013e3181aa65fc.
Parswani, Manishj, et al. “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program in Coronary Heart Disease: A Randomized Control Trial.” International Journal of Yoga, vol. 6, no. 2, 2013, p. 111., doi:10.4103/0973-6131.113405.