How to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally

High blood pressure is one of the top risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Find out what you need to know about blood pressure, what is normal and how to lower it without the need for drugs.

High blood pressure (BP) is one of the top risk factors for heart disease and stroke. It has been linked with 50% of coronary artery disease, 75% of strokes and kills over 110,000 people in England every year. It’s an essential part of every health check and while doctors know that exercise combined with a low GL, Mediterranean style diet rich in fruit and vegetables can bring it down, the general view is that such a regime is hard to stick to, so if your level is up, the chances are you will be offered drugs. Drugs will bring it down by an average of 5.5mmHG diastolic but at a cost. They all come with a fairly nasty number of side effects, which is why many people don’t stick to them either; these range from short term ones like fatigue, muscle weakness and depression to long term illness including heart disease and a pre-diabetic state with high levels of insulin and blood sugar. The drugs come in four main types and their mechanisms range from relaxing the muscles of the blood vessel walls to making you pee more. The latest trend is to market a combination of two different types in one, with the promise of even more effective lowering. There are, however, four naturally remedies that work as well as drugs – magnesium, vitamin C, a low GL diet and beetroot juice. Sun exposure, exercise and Heartmath’s simple exercise are also extremely effective.

How your system works

But if you want to get control of your blood pressure, it helps to have some idea of how the whole system works; that way it’s easier to decide on a treatment plan that’s going to work for you. Unlike the pipes in your domestic plumbing system, your blood vessels play an active role in speeding up or slowing down your blood circulation. Their muscular walls tense and relax all the time. When you’re frightened or exercising you need them to tense and narrow to pump more blood around the body, but then they should relax. When they stay tense for too long the result is hypertension.

It’s a complex, normally self-regulating system that is partly controlled by the ebb and flow of two pairs of minerals in and out of the cells lining the blood vessel walls. One of these pairs consists of sodium (salt) and potassium; sodium inside the cell pushes the pressure up, potassium inside brings it down. The other pair consists of calcium and magnesium – calcium raises while magnesium lowers. This explains why you’re advised to keep your salt intake down (more sodium raises BP) and why one of the types of drug is a calcium channel blocker (keeping calcium out lowers BP). But it also highlights the way that the two halves of the pairs are largely ignored by the conventional approach.

Getting good amounts of potassium and magnesium in your diet or via a supplement is a sensible starting point for any BP lowering regime. The downside of drugs Understanding the system also highlights the downside to some of the drug treatments, such as the diuretics which make you pee a lot. That in turn means there’s less liquid in your blood and so the pressure drops. This downside of this is that a lot of minerals and vitamins are...

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