©2007 Publications International, Ltd. High blood pressure must be monitored regularly.

A majority of middle-aged Americans suffer from high blood pressure and risk disease associated with this condition. Fortunately, there are a number of herbal remedies for high blood pressure than can decrease your risk for heart disease.

About High Blood Pressure

Clogging of the blood vessels combined with excessive constriction are the major problems behind elevated blood pressure. This blockage puts stress on the heart, causing it to beat harder to push the blood. This can eventually lead to heart attack, stroke, and even kidney failure.

Blood pressure readings above 140/90 mm Hg are considered high, and those over 130/80 mm Hg are suboptimal. Low blood pressure carries few known long-term health risks but can produce symptoms such as fainting and dizziness upon standing.

Herbal Remedies for High Blood Pressure

To reduce high blood pressure, it's important to eat fewer foods rich in sodium if you are sensitive to this mineral. Processed foods account for 80 percent of the sodium in most diets. It is helpful to increase the amount of potassium, calcium, and magnesium in your diet. Most vegetables and fruits in the garden are rich in potassium. Broccoli and dark leafy greens are full of magnesium and calcium, except for spinach and Swiss chard, whose calcium is unavailable for absorption. Researchers have found that celery contains a substance that lowers blood pressure; the Chinese have used celery for this purpose for centuries.

Garlic helps lower blood pressure by keeping the arteries clear of cholesterol and potential plaque buildup. It also decreases blood clotting and widens the arteries. Hawthorn berries and ginkgo biloba are reputed to dilate arteries, too, making the heart's job of pushing blood through them a little easier.

Passion flower, valerian, limeflower (Tilia cordata), and lemon balm have sedative properties, so if your blood pressure condition is thought to be connected to stress and anxiety, tranquilizing herbs such as these can lend a hand without side effects. Valerian also relaxes the smooth muscles that line the artery walls, preventing them from constricting.

Low blood pressure can be treated with herbs that stimulate circulation. Cayenne pepper, horseradish, and angelica may be helpful. Licorice tea may also increase blood pressure.

Eric Yarnell, N.D., R.H. (A.H.G.) is a naturopathic physician and registered herbalist in private practice specializing in men's health and urology.  He is an assistant professor in the botanical medicine department at Bastyr University in Seattle and is president or the Botanical Medicine Academy.  He is the author of several textbooks including Naturopathic Gastroenterology, Naturopathic Urology and Men's Health, and Clinical Botanical Medicine; He writes a regular column on herbal medicine for Alternative and Complementary Therapies. This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies.   Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.