Do you have high blood pressure and want to learn more about natural ways to address it? Then you’ve come to the right place!
You happily have several great natural options for hypertension, without any of the side effects of prescription high blood pressure medications (which often don’t work very well, anyway, for many people).
These natural options include: herbs, supplements, diet, and lifestyle.
Today, we’re going to talk mainly about my 4 favorite supplements for hypertension, with a brief touch on food (with links to more info on that). And, you can also check out my article on my top 5 natural stress relievers that I’ve found to be very effective for helping to reduce high blood pressure.
If your blood pressure is mildly to moderately high, then just one or two of these natural interventions is often enough to bring it down to a healthy level (= below 120/80). The more severe your high blood pressure, or the longer it’s been high, the more you should consider employing all of these natural options at once, since high blood pressure can be life-threatening, and is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
So, first, how do we define hypertension?
|Top number (Systolic)||Bottom number (Diastolic)||Your category|
|Below 120||and Below 80||Optimal|
|120-129||and Below 80||Elevated (pre-hypertension)|
|130-139||and/or 80-89||Stage 1|
|140-179||and/or 90-119||Stage 2|
|180+||and/or 120+||Hypertensive crisis*|
*Call your doctor or 911 immediately
Supplements for Hypertension
Whether you’re pre-hypertensive or at Stage 1 or 2, the following supplements can often help get and keep your blood pressure in the healthy range. (For a hypertensive crisis, however, these are not typically strong enough or fast enough; come back to these once your blood pressure is out of the danger zone.)
First, Vitamin D
The very first thing I recommend for people with hypertension is a Vitamin D test, since multiple studies (1,2,3) – as well as my decades of clinical experience – have consistently shown that having a robust Vitamin D level can safely, naturally and effectively lower blood pressure, short and long term, for many people (in addition to conferring the many other benefits of an optimal Vitamin D level).
The mechanisms at work here are still not fully understood, but there are several possibilities for why filling up the Vitamin D tank helps lower high blood pressure:
- Vitamin D receptors are present in several types of cells in the cardiovascular system, possibly pointing to Vitamin D having a regulatory effect on this system;
- Vitamin D has been shown to reduce the number of proteins called cytokines which are thought to contribute to the development of hypertension; and
- Vitamin D reduces the expression of renin, an enzyme that increases blood pressure.
How Much Vitamin D?
A lot of well-meaning docs will tell you that a level of 30-50 of Vitamin D is “adequate”, “average” or “fine”. Well, I’m here to tell you, that just ain’t good enough. What I want for you is plentiful, optimal, and fabulous! Particularly when you have high blood pressure, it just makes sense to optimize your Vitamin D level.
And what is optimal? I typically want to see Vitamin D above 70, with 80-100 being plentiful, optimal and fabulous! Getting your Vitamin D level up to the high end has no downside and is way better for you than being deficient in Vitamin D, which is associated with all sorts of health issues, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and depression.
So, if your Vitamin D test comes back at less than 70, then IMO, supplementation is in order. What I recommend to my patients is that Vitamin D be taken first thing in the morning, since that is when our bodies are most primed to absorb it (and morning sunshine exposure seems to aid the absorption of Vitamin D supplements, btw), and then do a retest in 2-3 months. If your level is quite low (<30), it can take several months to bring it up to an optimal level, so hang in there (or talk to your doc about doing 2-4 weeks at high dose).
Once your level is optimized, a daily or weekly maintenance dose is recommended to remain at that level, with once or twice yearly testing to monitor, typically in spring (when Vitamin D is usually at its lowest level, after the winter season of less daylight and outdoor time), and in autumn (when Vitamin D is naturally at its highest, after the summer season of more daylight and outdoor time).
What About Vitamin D Toxicity?
Toxicity level doesn’t even begin until over 150, and that’s incredibly difficult to reach for most people with at-home Vitamin D supplementation, unless you’re taking 50,000 IU per day for several months straight (which I do not recommend). In my clinical experience, I have never seen toxicity be an issue, even at doses of 50,000 IU per day for up to 1-2 months at a time, which I use for patients whose Vitamin D levels are chronically low, or critically low (<30).
[Of course, I have to say, check with your doctor about this… especially if you are taking supplemental calcium (which I strongly recommend against), and/or have one of a few very rare diseases.]
This is a medical treatment used in patients with chronically or extremely low Vitamin D levels and related conditions, and involves getting a daily dose of 100,000 to 600,000IU of Vitamin D for one or more days. Stoss therapy is also used to boost immunity and has promise as a treatment for opportunistic infections, as well. The prevalence, long history of success, and lack of adverse effects of high-dose Vitamin D Stoss therapy all demonstrate that Vitamin D toxicity issues are nil.
Second, Ramp Up Potassium
While the RDA of Potassium is 4,700mg, according to the 2015 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the average daily Potassium intake for the past 2 decades has hovered around 2,500 mg per day for Americans. Note that RDAs are recommended minimums to avoid serious illness. The optimal amount for Potassium is estimated to be 10,000+mg per day (4). Fewer than 2% of people nowadays even meet the recommended minimum of 4,700mg, let alone the optimal amount, with women consuming less Potassium than men on average.
How does Potassium relate to high blood pressure?
Adequate intake of Potassium is associated with a decreased risk of dying from all causes, including high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease, and also correlates to lower rates of dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, cataracts, kidney stones, ulcers and stomach cancer, in large part because it helps balance sodium. On the flip side, Potassium deficiency causes electrolyte imbalances, which can lead to hypertension, as well as to heart irregularities/arrhythmias, anxiety, insomnia, muscle weakness and cramps, excess thirst, and constipation. So getting enough Potassium can improve health, quality of life, and healthspan, and reduce the occurrence of many diseases, including high blood pressure.
Supplementing with Potassium
For people with elevated or Stage 1 or 2 hypertension, I favor organic beetroot powder, as it is easy to use and usually very effective for lowering blood pressure (often within minutes). And, as added benefits, it is energy boosting, improves the digestion, and aids the body’s natural detoxification processes (which can always use a boost in these modern times, when exposure to environmental toxins is rampant and on the rise).
The typical dosage of beetroot powder is 1 teaspoon (4g) taken 1-3 times per day. Start with 1 dose per day and gradually work your way up, if needed (and of course, check with your doc and make sure this isn’t contraindicated with anything else you’re doing/taking). Dissolve the powder in a few ounces of water, to taste, and take it with food (to buffer the carbs and insulin response). And don’t take it later in the day, since it is energizing and can disrupt sleep. [Note that if you are in the early days of shifting to low carb/Keto, wait to start beetroot powder, since it can derail those efforts due to its mildly sweet flavor and carb content (3-4g/teaspoon).]
The dose needed depends on several variables, including severity and duration of symptoms, and on how Potassium-rich your diet, so most people find that they need to experiment with the amount they’re taking to find the sweet spot. And give it a few months of daily use before assessing efficacy.
Many whole foods are rich in Potassium, so working on increasing Potassium intake through diet is also a great option, either concurrently or instead of beetroot powder.
The best low carb/Keto dietary sources of Potassium are beet greens and spinach, artichokes, seafood, avocadoes, bamboo shoots, bok choy, tomatoes, and dark chocolate. For my list of Potassium-rich foods and their Potassium content per serving, go here. And, check out my guide What to Eat for Optimal Health – following these guidelines also typically improves blood pressure dramatically.
More Magnesium, Please
Third on our list of supplements for high blood pressure is Magnesium. In a meta-study of 34 trials involving 2,028 participants, Magnesium supplementation was found to significantly and consistently reduce blood pressure. Intake of magnesium and blood (serum) magnesium levels are – independent of other risk factors – inversely associated with death from all causes, and especially from heart disease. And since Magnesium deficiency is common, and the benefits of taking adequate levels of Magnesium are many (better sleep, less anxiety, more regular bowel movements, and so much more), Magnesium supplementation is often a big help to many in the quest for optimal health.
The form of Magnesium that I typically recommend is Magnesium Glycinate, because it is:
- the most absorbable form of Magnesium
- less gut-irritating than most of the other forms of Magnesium
- more effective for hypertension due to its calming effect
- and budget-friendly.
Take your Magnesium in the evening, as it is relaxing and aids sleep. Like with many supplements, the way to find your optimum dose is to gradually ramp up, taking 1 additional capsule each evening until you have a softer stool the next morning. When that happens, reduce the dose by 1 capsule and continue at that level, ongoing. If you find that the dose that gives you softer stools makes you a bit groggy in the morning, take your Magnesium earlier in the evenings (ie. with dinner), so it has more time to wear off before the morning.
And to increase your dietary intake of Magnesium, check out my list of Magnesium-rich foods for the best Paleo+Keto food sources of Magnesium.
Say Yes to Vitamin C
A meta-analysis of 29 randomized, controlled trials showed a significant decrease in blood pressure in participants. And women with the highest levels of Vitamin C intake had the biggest drop in both systolic and diastolic pressure (top and bottom numbers).
Vitamin C lowers blood pressure through a few different mechanisms: 1) as a natural diuretic, it helps to reduce fluid volume throughout the body, which naturally lowers blood pressure; 2) as a powerful anti-oxidant, Vitamin C influences the innermost layer (endothelium) of arterial blood vessels, stimulating them to expand and contract in response to blood flow, and this expansion and contraction directly affects blood pressure; and 3) because high blood pressure can be caused or aggravated by exposure to toxins, and Vitamin C helps your body to effectively detoxify, increasing Vitamin C intake can help to reduce toxin load and thus hypertension.
The form of Vitamin C supplement that I like best is Nutrivein’s Liposomal Vitamin C. It is potent (825mg per gelcap), with no flavors, additives or other junk (unlike a lot of liposomal vitamin C supplements), and it is in a very absorbable form, without causing the digestive upset that a lot of people experience from other forms of supplemental Vitamin C.
Like with many supplements, I find that bursts of Vitamin C are the most effective and best tolerated way to go, ramping up quickly to bowel tolerance, then continuing at that high dose for a few days to a few weeks, and then taking a break. Do be cautious with Vitamin C supplementation if you have a history of high oxalates and/or gout, though.
The best low carb/Keto dietary sources of Vitamin C are the dark leafy greens, especially kale and spinach, and fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juice.
Want more guidance on natural ways to lower your blood pressure? Then check out my article, Top 5 Stress Relievers for Hypertension.
And if you’re feeling inspired to do more to deal with your high blood pressure, naturally, then Dr Emily’s 10-Day Detox is an excellent next step! You’ll learn what detoxing really is, how your body does it naturally, the common (and surprising) foods that actually block detoxing, and how you can enhance your body’s natural detoxification processes – to slow aging, greatly improve your health and vitality, and prevent and reverse disease – using specific foods, beverages and activities. Check it out here.
Disclosure: I receive a small commission for qualifying purchases made using some of the links in this article.