Complementary and Alternative Treatments for High Blood Pressure
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) refers to
any healthcare practice that falls outside the scope of conventional medicine.
Conventional medicine is the type taught in medical schools and practiced by
medical doctors. The following CAM approaches have shown promise for
controlling blood pressure in some studies. However, until more research is
done, the jury is still out on their safety and effectiveness.
It’s possible that CAM approaches might help prevent or
manage high blood pressure. They should be used along with, not in place of,
conventional treatments and proven lifestyle changes, such as smoking
cessation. It’s a good idea to discuss CAM approaches with your doctor. Some
herbs and supplements can interact with medications, so be sure to let your
doctor know about any you are taking.
Herbs and Supplements
There is some evidence that these dietary supplements
might help control blood pressure. They can often be found in health food
stores and some drug stores.
Fatty Acids (Fish
These healthy fats — found in fish, some nuts and
vegetables, and supplements — have well-documented benefits for heart health. According
to the American Heart Association, research shows that
- decrease triglycerides
- slow the buildup of fatty deposits inside arteries
- decrease the risk of abnormal heartbeats
- lower blood pressure slightly
Coenzyme Q-10 is produced by the human body and is also
available in supplements. It supports the basic functioning of cells. According
to the Mayo Clinic, research suggests
that there is good scientific evidence that coenzyme Q-10 does lower blood
pressure. However, they caution that further study is needed to determine the
ideal necessary dose.
Garlic is popular as a food and is also sold in
supplement form. It contains sulfur compounds that have a positive effect on
cholesterol levels. According to the National Institutes of Health, some studies suggest
that it might also lower blood pressure slightly.
Found in cocoa products and dark chocolate as well as in
supplements, cocoa is rich in antioxidant plant chemicals called flavonoids. In
a study from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), when people
with high blood pressure consumed cocoa twice daily for two weeks, it improved
the ability of artery walls to relax but did not lower blood pressure
These techniques counter the body’s stress response,
which might help control blood pressure.
Meditation is the practice of focused attention. It
calms the mind, relaxes the body, and reduces stress. In a recent study funded
in part by NCCAM, meditation lowered blood pressure in a group of
students at high risk for developing high blood pressure.
This ancient meditation practice combines physical
postures, breathing techniques, and focused attention. It can help with
flexibility and fitness as well as stress levels. According to the NCCAM, research suggests
that it may reduce heart rate and blood pressure.
Biofeedback is a technique in which you learn to control a
specific bodily function with your mind. During a biofeedback session, you are
connected to sensors that gather information about what’s going on inside your
body. This information is then fed back to you via visual or auditory cues. For
example, you’re connected to a sensor that gathers information about your heart
rate and feeds it back in a computerized graph that changes as your heart rate
changes. The aim is to learn to control the graph, and your heart rate, at