High Blood Pressure

So what’s a little high blood pressure (hypertension) among friends? Nothing if you don’t expect to have a sex life:  nearly 70% of men with high blood pressure have erectile dysfunction.  [1]  This is particularly scary because it is estimated that nearly 25 percent of Americans have high blood pressure.  That means a heck of a lot of guys struggling with erectile dysfunction and other problems associated with high blood pressure, including stroke and some of the items I cover below.

Elevated blood pressure (hypertension) usually comes with a suite of symptoms called Metabolic Syndrome which, besides robbing you of all your bedroom glory and erectile strength, leads to heart disease and stroke:  having high blood pressure even slightly above youthful 120/80 values leads to greatly increased risk of heart disease. In fact, one 2006 study found that readings of 120-129/80-84 led to a 180% greater heart disease risk probability. [6] And, as I emphasize on this site, heart dysfunction means erectile dysfunction.

High blood pressure is also associated with “brain damage” and that is largely because it is a huge risk factor for strokes. Not all strokes are the kind that leave you drooling and incoherent:  your brain can suffer microstrokes that do month-by-month damage to your precious grey matter.  Microstrokes and microscopic brain damage are yet another reason you MUST lower your high blood pressure:  one large study of 999 men found that “cross-sectional measurements at age 70 showed that high 24-hour BP, nondipping, insulin resistance, and diabetes all were related to low cognitive function”. [10] Other researchers quantified this and found that for each 10 point rise in the last blood pressure number (diastolic), there was a 7% greater risk of cognitive decline. [24] In other words, high blood pressure destroys your ability to learn and remember.

WARNING:  High blood pressure medications have recently been implicated as cancer-causing. [37]  The specific class of drugs involved are the ARB’s (Angiotensin Receptor Blockers).  Talk with your doctor about possibly using some of the more natural approaches given below if applicable.

Fortunately, modern research has found many strategies to lower your  blood pressure back down to normal and thus decrease your risk of erectile dysfunction.  What is “normal” blood pressure?  120/80.  Those are the magic numbers.  Do not settle for anything over that.  Keep working and working and working – with your doctor of course – at lowering your high blood pressure until you get it below 120/80.

Here are 35 Natural and Research-Backed Solutions to Lower Your Blood Pressure based on the lastest research, of course, in order to keep you out of the land of stroke, heart disease and erectile dysfunction.  Note that the items designated “HEAVY HITTER” lower blood pressure as much as most pharmaceutical blood pressure medications.

CAUTION:  Do NOT make any changes to your blood pressure medications without consulting first with your doctor.  And, if you have high blood pressure, stroke-related issues or heart disease, it is always a good idea to check with your doctor first.

1. HEAVY HITTER: DASH Diet .  This diet is a clinically proven lowerer of high blood pressure .  It is somewhat similar to the Ornish Diet and Mediterranean Diet that I write about in many links on this site in the sense that whole grains, fruits and vegetables are emphasized and saturated fats are avoided. But there are many key differences.  For example, the DASH Diet allows fish, non-fat dairy and nuts (including peanut butter). Furthermore, the DASH Diet does even allow some meat but you have to trim away the fat, buy lean cuts, etc.  Furthermore, there is a kind of ‘pyramid’ where a certain number of servings of different types of food is laid out.

Here is the standard daily eating pattern on this diet:  a) 8 servings of grains, b) 5 servings of vegetables, c) 5 servings of fruit, d) 2-3 servings of skim or low-fat milk, e) yogurt or cheese, f) 5 servings per week of nuts, seeds or beans, g) 1-2 servings of meat, poultry or fish and h) restrict sweets and fats.

But all the effort is well worth diet:  the DASH Diet is also fast at producing results:  in the clinical study it began working within 14 days. Average blood pressures in the original study were 131/85 and the DASH Diet reduced this by 5.5/3.0 (although bigger gains were achieved by those with higher than average pressures). [12So the DASH Diet almost took the study participants back to normal pressure. Even greater results were achieved in a follow up study that limited sodium as well.

A recent study, which studied 88,000+ nurses found that stroke and heart attacks were significantly reduced as well.  Those whose diets most closely resembled DASH were 24 percent less likely to develop heart disease and 18 percent less likely to have a stroke than those women whose diets strayed most from DASH. [11] Other studies have shown that the DASH Diet lowers bad cholesterol and homocyteine, both strong risk factors for heart disease, as an added bonus.   (The Ornish Diet is still King at heart protection.  But the Ornish Diet is significantly harder to follow for the typical Westerner than the DASH Diet since it is low fat and does not allow meat of any kind.)

<pCAUTION: If you have a medical condition or are on any medications, please discuss any changes with your doctor first. Certain supplements, foods and even juices can alter absorption rates of certain medications for example. Play it safe.2. HEAVY HITTER: Vitamin C and Garlic.  A 2013 study came out showing that the combination of Vitamin C (2 grams/day) and garlic (2.5 grams/day)  greatly lowered blood pressure in marginally high hypertensive patients, which means right on the border of 140/90. [43] Neither supplement by itself did much of anything, but, in combination, it took blood pressure down to below 120/80 and increased nitric oxide by three times! Now it would be nice if they did some followup study work, but these two supplements are very well tolerated and appear to be as powerful as any medication that I have read about.  (I would recommend also reading my links on Why Take Vitamin C and Increase Your Nitric Oxide with Vitamin C for some additional information.)

3) HEAVY HITTER: Citrulline. A couple of studies that use a combination of Citrulline + Arginine have shown very substantial decreases in blood pressure. One study gave obese adults with hypertension or prehypertension 6 grams daily of Citrulline with Arginine, which I believe would be 4 grams of Citrulline with 2 grams of Arginine. This led to ankle and brachial reductions in systolic blood pressure of 11.5 and 15.1 mm, respectively! [42]

4. HEAVY HITTER: Ornish Diet.  The Ornish Diet dramatically lowers blood pressure and also cleans out your arteries while it’s at it. In fact, it’s an understatement to say that the Ornish Diet lowers high blood pressure:  it drops it like a rock.  One study of diabetics (half with heart disease) found that their average blood pressure was a high 136/79 and fell to an average of 124/72 on the Ornish Diet.  This is a huge drop and put people with very serious medical condition(s) just a hair above normal! Similar results were found with ‘1,245 participants who had coronary heart disease (55%), diabetes, and/or at least three other risk factors (hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and obesity)’. [13]

5. Sex.  That’s right – researchers found that penile-vaginal intercourse (PVI) improved stress reactivity, i.e. arterial blood pressure response to stress. [29]  And you thought research was dry and boring? Now it’s important to note that only PVI and not other sexual activity had this effect. I have already written to the department chair asking if they need volunteers for any follow-up study work.  Also, remember that sex also improves overall mortality and erectile dysfunction!

6. HEAVY HITTER: Dark Chocolate (Cacao).  A little known fact is that dark chocolate lowers blood pressure almost as much as the much more well-known DASH Diet mentioned above.  A recent study found that average systolic blood pressure in healthy subjects went from 113.9 to 107.5, a very healthy drop indeed. [25] This is one of the secrets of the ultra heart healthy Kuna peoples. You can bet these folks have lower rates of impotence and erectile dysfunction to go along with it.

7. HEAVY HITTER: Quercetin.  A 2007 study showed that supplementation with about 700 mg of quercetin lowed blood pressure by an average of 7 and 5.  [9]  Quercetin is commonly found in various fruits and vegetables. (This is large amount of quercetin.)

8. HEAVY HITTER: Pomegranate Juice .  Heart patients with significant artherosclerosis were given an ounce of pomegranate juice daily and blood pressure lowered on average by 20% .  [2]

9. HEAVY HITTER: Grape Juice. One study on Korean men with mild hypertension who took Grape Juice decreased their systolic blood pr9sure by 7.2 mm on average and their diastolic by 6.2 mm.  [16] This is a very significant decrease. Don’t go crazy with grape juice, however, as it is relatively high in fructose and high fructose consumption is increasingly associated with a host of health issues. CAUTION:  Red wine and Alcohol should, theoretically, lower blood pressure but, in fact, are associated with a small increase in blood pressure. [17] Alcohol is very cardioprotective overall, but if you are hyptertensive, this is definitely a factor to consider.

10. HEAVY HITTER: Juvenon.  This is a supplement that is basically a combination of Acetyl-L-Carnitine, the mitochondria booster, and ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid), the powerful antioxidant. One study showed a nice reduction in blood pressure in those with Metabolic Syndrome (139 to 130) and hypertension (151 to 142). [18]

11. HEAVY HITTER: Music and Breathing. One study showed that “rhythmically homogenous” music combined with breathing exercises for a half hour a day reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure in mildly hypertensive patient by 4 and 3, respectively. [31] Furthermore, the results persisted for one month. A variety of music was allowed, including classical, Celtic and Indian, but rhythmic consistency was required.

12Nitrates in Plant Foods. Researchers have also been discovering that the nitrate content of many plants gets converted to nitrities by the saliva which then raises Nitric Oxide levels in the body and relaxes arteries.  (Yes, that will be good for erections.  One study showed that beetroot juice was particular powerful in this regard, but many other vegetables and grains have nitrates, especially green leafy vegetables. [22] See my link on Beetroot Juice for more details.

13. Pycnogenol. Pycnogenol lowered blood pressure in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study performed in mildly hypertensive patients. [3][35]  This is just one of the many reasons that Pycnogenol Helps with Erectile Dysfunction.

14. Orange Juice.  One 2009 study showed that the flavinoid hesperidin, found in citrus fruits, lowered blood pressure in adults. [27] The good news is that the amount of hesperidin in the study was the equivalent amount in one (500 ml) glass of orange juice.  Hesperidin also has anti-cancer qualities as well. [28]

15Grains, Legumes and Beans. Researchers recently found out that the high glutamic acid content in plant products, such as grains in particular, led to a drop in blood pressure. [21]  Glutamic acid is the primary amino acid in plant protein.  Later research uncovered the fact that those who ate whole grains daily, over about 46 grams/day, were 19% less likely to develop hypertension. [38]  All of this may explain some of the powers of the Ornish and DASH Diets to lower blood pressure.

16. Excess Weight.  Lose the Excess Weight.  Studies show that as weight increases so does blood pressure (and blood pressure is a huge risk factor for erectile dysfunction [8] and heart disease).  You cannot expect to lower your blood pressure with that spare tire strapped to the middle of your body!  And, not too suprisingly, those excess pounds are directly associated with erectile dysfunction and lowered testosterone as well.

17. Heme Iron.  There are two types of iron:  iron from meat (heme) and iron from plants (non-heme).  Heme iron is much more readily absorbed and a recent study found that it is significantly correlated with high blood pressure. [14] This was a large study involving almost 5,000 men and women from Asia, the UK and the US.

18. Fructose.  Watch your fructose consumption.  Fructose is contained in corn syrup, fruits and table sugar and studies show that high blood pressure is significantly correlated with high uric acid levels and – you guessed it – fructose consumption leads to elevated uric levels. [15] One 2009 study found that men put on a high-fructose (200 g/day) diet raised their blood pressure by 6 mm and 3 mm, respectively.  In addition, putting them on a uric acid blocker almost eliminated the increase. [26] You don’t need to worry about the small amount of fructose in fruit:  200 g is a LOT of fructose.  But you should definitely limit sweets and cokes and anything with a substantial amount of sugar or corn syrup.

19. Exercise.  Exercise increases nitric oxide output, which relaxes the vessels and lowers blood pressure.  Exercise also leads to lower body inflammation levels which lowers the plaque buildup in your arteries.  Exercise has also been shown to greatly improve erectile dysfunction.

20. Olive Oil.  One recent study showed that olive oil was associated with a 3% drop in systolic blood pressure. [4] (You probably have to have high polyphenol olive oil for this effect, however.)

21. Cutting Carbs.  One recent study found that replacing high glycemic carbs, such as white bread, pasta and sugars, with lean read meats decreased blood pressure by four points. [5] Note:  High levels of cheap carbs are associated with Metabolic Syndrome and insulin resistance, which is in turn associated with hypertension.

22. Magnesium, Calcium and Potassium.  Is sodium the only mineral that affects blood pressure?  Definitely not – researchers have found a trinity of other minerals that are probably more important.  Magnesium, calcium and potassium were found in one British journal, for example, to be associated with lower blood pressure. [7]  Of course, whole grains and veges are loaded with potassium and magnesium. Don’t go crazy with calcium as it’s associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer.

23. L-Arginine. Men with high cholesterol were given 12 g of Arginine per day, which is a lot in my opinion, but did achieve decreased blood pressure and significantly decreased homocysteine, a leading heart disease risk factor. [19] Another study gave 6 g/day of L-Arginine and also found a decrease in blood pressure and an increase in blood flow. [20] Read my link on Arginine. There is study with pycnogenol and Arginine that shows an improvement in erectile dysfunction as well. CAUTION:  Do not take L-Arginine if you have had a heart attack recently and read all side effects on the above link as well as discussing with your doctor.

24. Salt Intake .  Be very careful of your salt intake. Time was when the prevailing wisdom was that salt only affected the blood pressure of “salt sensitive” individuals.  However, salt draws water into the arteries increasing the burden on the heart and often increasing blood pressure.  One study published in Sep. of 2009 showed a significant reduction in blood pressure for patients with existing hypertension by decreasing salt to 1, 150 mg per day. [32]

25. Vinegar.  Vinegar probably lowers blood pressure.  It also does a host of other semi-miraculous things as well.  Please read How Vinegar Lowers Blood Pressue and Keeps the Weight Off.

26. Nicotine and Alchohol.  1-2 drinks of alchohol per day is likely heart healthy:  studies of light drinking show that it raises HDL (good cholesterol) and decreases cardiovascular risk.  However, the studies show that 3+ drinks per day of alchohol actually leads to increased blood pressure and that means potential erectile dysfunction.  And, as if you didn’t need another reason to quit smoking, nicotine actually constricts blood vessels which of course can lead to increased blood pressure.

27. Insomnia.  Insomnia is correlated with both heart disease and heart failure.  Researchers in one study have found one reason why:  it raises nighttime blood pressures which could be deadly. [23]

28. Eggs. Believe it or not, eggs may actually lower blood pressure.  See my link on Beef and Eggs for details.

29. Nostril Breathing. Did you know that the olfactory nerves connect to the hypothalamus and the hypothalamus helps regulate blood pressure?  Researchers tested a breathing technique involving alternating breathing through each nostril back and forth for about 7 minutes.  This led to a 1 mg drop in blood pressure.  This is a small drop but shows how little we understand the body.

30. Garlic. Supplemental garlic (600-900 mg/day of Kwai powder) lowers blood pressure very significantly.  A meta-analysis found a decrease of about 8 and 7 points in systolic and diastolic pressure for hypertensive patients and the researchers noted that the results are similar to standard high blood pressure medications. [30] Again, anything that lowers high blood pressure is likely to help and improve erectile dysfunction and impotence.

31. Mineral Water. I have covered elsewhere the many problems in tap water, and it may be no surprise that natural water confers some surprising health benefits.  For example, Pelligrino – not the seltzers – has 56 mg of magnesium and 208 mg of calcium and in one study significantly lower blood pressure in individuals with mild hypertension. [33] CAUTION:  This may lower stomach acid a bit, which is critical for digesting certain nutrients and vitamins.

32. Berries. A 2008 study showed that moderate berry consumption resulted in decreased blood pressure levels (and increased HDL) in a group of middle subjects. [36]

33. Transcendental Meditation and Progressive Muscle Relaxation.  Both of these techniques decreased blood pressure according to one recent meta-analysis. [39]  Forgetting about some of Transcendental Mediation’s strange spiritual connections may be difficult for some [40], but it was the most powerful stress reducing technique when examined just based on the physical evidence.

34. Hibiscus Tea.  Hibiscus Tea is a favorite of mine.  It is much-loved in Mexico and known there as Jamaica. I live in the southwest and you can buy it in most of the supermarkets in the Mexican herbal section.  Just throw it in some boiling water for several minutes and pour it over ice (with maybe a half teaspoon of sugar) and – voila! – you’ve got an excellenet ice tea with some bite to it.  In fact, Hibiscus Tea is very popular in a variety of cultures around the world and is a common long-standing ingredient in many herbal tea preparations even here in stodgy, non-exotic America.  Researchers have found that Hibiscus tea has many many excellent properties iincluding ample Vitamin C and the lowering of cholesterol. Perhaps best of all, a 2009 study discovered that the equivalent of about 3 cups of hibiscus tea per day can significantly lower blood pressure. [41]  If you can’t find it locally for some reason, you can order it off of Amazon: Hibiscus Tea – Certified Organic – 24 Teabags.

35. Hand Grip Devices. Using a hand grip device for 10 minutes was recently shown to lower blood pressure several points. This is not a bad reduction for such a simple procedure. It may not produce the same results in those who are already exercising regularly. However, it may be way for someone working a desk job to get some downward motion in this blood pressure during the day? [44]

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41) J. Nutr, First published December 16, 2009; “Hibiscus Sabdariffa L. Tea (Tisane) Lowers Blood Pressure in Prehypertensive and Mildly Hypertensive Adults”

42) Am J Hypertens, 2012, 25(6):640-643, “Watermelon extract supplementation reduces ankle blood pressure and carotid augmentation index in obese adults with prehypertension or hypertension”

43) Nutrition Research, Feb 2007, 27(2):119 123, “Cellular effects of garlic supplements and antioxidant vitamins in lowering marginally high blood pressure in humans: pilot study”

44) , “Can squeezing a computerised stress ball help cut your blood pressure?”, by PAT HAGAN

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