How to reduce high blood pressure would be on top of your mind if you are suffering from any of the troublesome symptoms of hypertension.
While very common, even amongst the younger generation, high blood pressure often goes unnoticed till you come across an uncomfortable scenario pertaining to your heart health.
And that’s what we want to address with this post. High blood pressure can be naturally prevented and treated by making suitable changes in your diet and lifestyle.
And of course, Ayurvedic medicine along with therapies and herbs can really help you to achieve health much more effectively. So, let’s check it out!
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What is Hypertension | High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure or hypertension is a medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is chronically high.
Here’s how you can get an idea of this. Picture water coming from a fire hose. Now, imagine how the walls of the hose keep bulging under the high flow of water that is going through it. The walls seem hard and tough to touch, isn’t it?
That’s exactly the thing happening to your blood vessels, when your blood pressure is high. The blood flowing through the arteries is too fast and puts too much pressure on the blood vessels.
And as a result of this high pressure on the walls of the blood vessels, they become fragile and prone to damage.
Understanding the problem
Now, an immediate rise in blood pressure levels does not show any symptoms. Your body has mechanisms in place for taking care of that.
However, if blood pressure is consistently high, then your health risk of developing several serious conditions increases tremendously.
Some health risks of high blood pressure are coronary artery disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, vision loss, heart failure, or chronic kidney disease.
How is Blood Pressure Measured?
Blood pressure is measured based on two parameters: systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. These are the maximum and minimum pressures respectively. Systolic blood pressure is the point when the heart contracts and diastolic when the heart relaxes.
You might have seen the value 120/80mmHg before. That is the systolic/diastolic blood pressure.
120/80mmHg is taken as the average normal blood pressure.
However, normal systolic blood pressure can range from 100 – 140 mm Hg. Similarly, normal diastolic blood pressure can vary between 60-90 mm Hg.
What is considered High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure or hypertension is present if the resting blood pressure is at or above 140/90 mm Hg for adults. Different numbers apply to children.
Blood pressure is classified into stages, from the normal to the progressively worse.
|Stages||Systolic Pressure||Diastolic Pressure|
Types of High Blood Pressure
High Blood Pressure can be of two types: primary and secondary hypertension. Let’s see what it means and what are the health symptoms of each type.
Primary hypertension, also called essential hypertension can be traced down to lifestyle and/or genetic factors. Some factors implicated as causes of high blood pressure are thus:
Causes of High Blood Pressure
- Being overweight or obese
- Lack of physical activity
- Excessive salt consumption
- Too much alcohol consumption (more than 1 to 2 drinks per day)
- Old age
- Family history of high blood pressure
- Chronic kidney disease
- Adrenal and thyroid disorders
- Sleep Apnea
It is called primary because it happens due to poor choices of diet and lifestyle.
Primary hypertension accounts for the majority of the cases of hypertension. It takes a whopping 90-95% of the incidence.
Symptoms of Primary Hypertension
Following are common symptoms of primary hypertension:
- Migraine and Headache (at the back of the head)
- Dizziness and feeling of light headedness
- Tinnitus (buzzing or hissing in the ears)
- Altered vision. On physical examination by ophthalmoscope, changes may be found in the optic fundus (hypertensive retinopathy) whose severity varies from grades I to IV
- Fainting episodes
- Transient insomnia and sleep disorders
Secondary Hypertension (High blood pressure due to underlying conditions)
Secondary hypertension is high blood pressure that arises due to an underlying cause like an existing health condition.
Some of the reasons for secondary hypertension are chronic kidney disease, endocrine disorders, atherosclerosis of renal arteries, use of birth control pills, etc.
As such the symptoms can vary. There will be some classical symptoms of high blood pressure (like the primary hypertension). In addition to those, there will also be other symptoms that depend on the root cause of that hypertension.
This type of hypertension is less common and accounts for 5-10% of cases.
Here are some health conditions that cause Secondary Hypertension and the accompanying symptoms.
Arises as a result of excess cortisol hormone. Symptoms include:
- moon face,
- Abdominal obesity or high belly fat,
- a hump of fat behind the neck/shoulder,
- glucose intolerance,
- purple abdominal stretch marks.
High levels of thyroid hormones that result in high metabolism. Symptoms include:
- weight loss
- increased appetite,
- tachycardia (very fast heartbeat, more than 100 per minute!),
- bulging eyes,
- tremor also develops.
Renal artery stenosis (RAS)
The artery that carries blood to the kidneys narrow abnormally. This may be associated with secondary hypertension with localized abdominal bruit (blood is flowing turbulently).
Meaning narrowing of the short section of the aorta.
There is high blood pressure in arms along with relatively decreased blood pressure in the lower extremities of arms. This happens due to delayed or absent femoral arterial pulses.
Health Complications due to High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure on its own might not necessarily be an illness. However, it should be taken seriously because of the lhealth complications that can arise from it.
Some of the health risks of hypertension are thus:
- Cerebrovascular accidents (CVA) or heart strokes
- Myocardial infarction (Heart attack due to no flow in part of heart)
- Hypertensive retinopathy (complications affecting the eyes)
- Blurring of vision owing to retinal changes
- Hypertensive nephropathy (affecting the kidneys)
- Hypertensive encephalopathy (brain complications)
- Congestion in the lungs
- Left ventricular hypertrophy (thickening of walls of heart’s pumping chamber)
- Epistaxis (bleeding from the nose)
- Hypertensive cardiomyopathy (heart failure)
- Angina pectoris (chest pain)
A lifestyle disorder that is spreading fast across all age groups!
The World Health Organization estimates that currently, 600 million people with high blood pressure are suffering from the risk of stroke, heart attack, and cardiac failure.
Hypertension is estimated to cause 7.1 million deaths worldwide, which is around 13 percent of the total global fatality.
Out of 7.1 million, 5 million deaths are premature. Research suggests that about 62% of all strokes and about 49% of all heart attacks are triggered by hypertension.
A study stated that the prevalence of hypertension will increase to 1.56 billion by the year 2025.
In India, the situation is no less grim. Cardiovascular diseases caused 2.3 million deaths in India in the year 1990 and this is projected to double by the year 2020.
The rate at which hypertension is rising is steep – around 20-40% annually. One in every three adults suffers from hypertension in India.
As many as 20% of the Indian youth suffer from hypertension with a very high growth rate. Current estimates show that the incidence of hypertension is 20 to 40 percent in urban areas and 12 to 17 percent in rural areas.
However, the bigger risk is that almost 60% of the people who suffer from hypertension are not aware of it.
How to Reduce High blood pressure with Ayurveda?
Ayurvedic texts refer to high blood pressure as rakta kapha vriddhi, meaning imbalance in blood tissues and Kapha Dosha. Also, hypertension is linked to vyanabala vaishamya, meaning an imbalance in Vyana Vata Dosha.
Vata Dosha in Hypertension
During regular blood circulation, Rakta dhatu (blood tissue) is ejected from the heart, distributed through the body, and brought back to the heart through the blood vessels (sirah).
Now, all the blood circulation is regulated by vata dosha. In fact, Vata dosha governs all movement and communication in the body. That’s why an imbalance in the Vata dosha can disturb the circulation and trigger high blood pressure.
Pitta Dosha and Rakta Dhatu
Pitta dosha controls transformation and metabolism in our body. It is directly related to quality and quantity of blood in our body through an action on Pittashaya (the liver).
That’s why an imbalance of Pitta dosha can lead to high blood pressure also.
Kapha Dosha and Hypertension
While Vata and Pitta are most important in high blood pressure, Kapha dosha can also be implicated, indirectly.
Kapha dosha is responsible for the quality and quantity of fat in our body. If there is an excess of fat, it can get deposited in blood vessels. This causes the blood vessels to narrow down (atherosclerosis).
All of this further causes an increase in blood pressure.
Thus, high blood pressure involves imbalances in the dosha and dhatu (body tissues).
Ayurvedic Treatment of High Blood Pressure
Since Vata and Pitta dosha are the primary dosha that trigger high blood pressure, Ayurvedic treatment for hypertension focuses on regulating these two doshas.
Now, if atherosclerosis or obesity is also involved, then Kapha dosha is also addressed.
So you see, Ayurvedic treatment of high blood pressure really goes deeper to identify the root cause. Hence, Ayurvedic treatment addresses the specific dosha and dhatu that got disturbed.
Thus, it helps to remove the cause and reduce high blood pressure in the long term.
Ayurvedic Guidelines to Lower High Blood Pressure
As a time-tested and trusted medical system, Ayurveda has highly effective therapies and natural remedies to lower blood pressure. Let’s get some tip-off on these.
1. Ayurvedic Diet and Foods to Lower Blood Pressure
Ayurvedic diet for hypertension should follow these general guidelines listed below.
- Increase intake of foods rich in Potassium, Magnesium and Fibre. This will help you to boost levels of electrolytes that reduce Sodium in the body. As high sodium is primary cause of poor circulation and high blood pressure for many, it will help you relieve one reason for hypertension. Some examples are banana, green leafy vegetables, squashes, coconut water, whole grains and pomegranate.
- Your largest meal should be taken about mid-day. This is when the digestive fire is highest, and you have a good chance of digesting the food completely.
- Avoid cold foods and cold beverages with your meals.
- Take your dinner before 7 PM. This will give your body sufficient time to digest the food before you sleep.
- Do not talk or engage in entertainment while eating. This disturbs your digestive fire and slows down metabolism. Food should be consumed in relaxed and sitting position.
- Do not drink excess water during or after meals. Warm water just before the meal and few sips along with are alright.
- Use less salt and replace table salt with rock salt.
Best Foods for High Blood Pressure
|Grains||Whole wheat flour, Oats, Whole grains cereals, Porridge, Brown rice, Rice flakes, Puffed rice, Whole grain bread, Barley|
|Fruits||Banana, Avocados, Apple, Pomegranate, All kinds of berries including, Cranberries, and Oranges, Kiwi, Watermelon, Muskmelon, Papaya, Dates, Squash, Figs, Apricot, Pineapple, Pears, Plum, Olives.|
|Vegetables||Dark green leafy vegetables, Asparagus, Broccoli, Carrots, Onion, Garlic, Beans, Cabbage, Bottle gourd, Ridge gourd, Round gourd, Bitter gourd, Cauliflower, Bell peppers, Red pepper, Green peas, Sweet Potatoes, Cucumber|
|Pulses||All Pulses and Lentils, Soya products|
|Hernbs and Spices||Fennel, Turmeric, Cumin, Thyme, Black pepper, Coriander, Rock Salt (limited), Cardamom, Cinnamon, Fenugreek, Mint, Lemon grass, Dill, Roselle, Hibiscus|
|Meats (Limited)||Eggs white part only, Steamed chicken and lean meat, bone broth|
|Dairy products (Limited)||Low fat curd, Buttermilk|
|Fats (Limited)||Olive oil, Cow ghee|
|Seeds and Dry fruits (Limited)||Coconut, Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds, Walnuts, Almonds, Cashew nuts, Pistachio, Raisins|
|Sweeteners (Limited)||Candy sugar (Mishri), Jaggery|
|Drinks||Coconut water, Buttermilk, Clear soups, Homemade soups (without salt), Green tea, Beetroot juice, Herbal tea, Aloe Vera juice, Gooseberry juice, Pomegranate juice|
Worst Foods for High Blood Pressure
|Grains||Processed grains, Sweet biscuit, Cream-filled biscuit, Cream crackers, Cheese biscuits, Noodles, Pasta, Macaroni, White refined flour, White rice, White bread, Corns|
|Fruits||All canned and packaged fruits|
|Pulses||Canned and frozen pulses|
|Vegtables (Limit them)||Mustard Leaves, Taro Root, Yam, Potatoes|
|Spices||Red chili and Table Salt|
|Flesh foods||Fish fried in a suitable oil, Prawns, Lobster, Crab, Lean Beef, Pork, Lamb, Ham, Very lean minced meat, Turkey, Veal, Rabbit, Egg yolk, Fish roe, Sausages, Mutton, Salami, Bacon, Duck, Goose, Hot dogs, Meat pies, Visible fat on meat, Organ meat like Liver, Kidney, Chest, Red meat, Smoked and canned fish, Marbled and fatty meats|
|Dairy products||Whole milk and cream, Cream cheese, Condensed milk, cheese, milk|
|Fats||Trans fat foods, Butter, Palm oil, Hydrogenated oil, Cocoa butter|
|Seeds and Dry fruits||Peanuts, Flax seeds|
|Prepared foods||All bakery products or processed, Pastry, Pies, Doughnuts, Chips, Puddings, Cakes, Biscuits, Sauces, Fruit Jellies, Jams, Mayonnaise, White sugar, Ice-cream, Cream soups, Milk chocolate, Butterscotch, Coconut bar, Chutneys, Pickles, Deep-fried foods, Tomato sauce, All Spicy foods, Junk foods, Too much salty food, Buttered popcorn, Soya sauce.|
|Drinks||Whole milk drinks, Cream-based liqueurs, Canned soup, and packaged soup, Alcohol, Sweetened drinks, Culinary Squashes, Hot chocolate drinks, Diet soda, Coffee, Tea|
2. Regular Exercise to Reduce High Blood Pressure
Regular exercise helps the flow of blood around your body, helps you burn weight, and ultimately helps to keep your blood pressure under check.
Physical activity makes your heart stronger, which means it can pump more blood with less effort. In fact, exercise along with diet is one of the primary handles to lower blood pressure naturally.
It is recommended that you spend up to 150 minutes exercising daily. You can achieve that by 30minutes of exercise for 5 days a week.
Try these exercises to achieve the best results on your blood pressure:
- Walking: You can have ten minutes of brisk walking three times a day. That makes up your 30 minutes for the day. That is simplest and most effective ways for high blood pressure.
- Running at low speed while breathing through nose (twice or three times in a week)
- Pedal pushing
b) Strength Training
You should include strength training at least two days a week. Examples:
- Weight lifting.
- Use resistance bands
3. Yoga for High Blood Pressure
Regular practice of yoga is highly effective to reduce high blood pressure.
In research conducted, yoga had a modest but significant effect on both systolic and diastolic pressure. Yoga routine reduced systolic blood pressure by 4.17mmHg and dropped diastolic blood pressure by 3.26mmHg.
In addition, yoga can also reduce anxiety, depression, stress, and obesity-related health problems.
These Yoga asanas (poses) are effective for lowering blood pressure:
- Balasana (child pose): It reduces stress and improves circulation around the body.
- Shavasana (corpse pose): This was designed for relaxation. It helps calm the brain, relieves stress, and relaxes the body as a whole. It is also beneficial for headaches, fatigue, and insomnia.
- Sukhasana (easy pose): This helps to regulate breathing. It stretches the back and neck, improves posture. But that’s only part of it. It also promotes a peaceful mind by reducing stress.
- Bhujangasana (Cobra pose): It promotes circulation and enhances the distribution of oxygen around the body. The corpse pose will also improve your flexibility.
- Bridge pose: This yoga pose reduces blood pressure by relaxing the brain and alleviating stress. It also promotes the functioning of your abdominal organs.
4. Pranayama (Breathing Exercises) to Lower High Blood Pressure
Breathing effects our blood pressure through the parasympathetic nervous system. Increased intake of oxygen through deep breathing exercises as pranayama can send positive nerve signals to the heart and blood vessels.
It helps to reduce the heart beating rate and blood pressure as well.
Additionally, the oxygen supply from pranayama helps blood purification, boost immunity and reduce inflammation in the body. Here are recommended breathing exercises for hypertension:
- Sheetkari Paranayama – Regular practice of sheetkari pranayama keeps high blood pressure levels under control. It also helps to reduce stress levels and prevents a spike in blood pressure.
- Sheetali Pranayama – This breathing exercise helps to cool down the body. Sheetali in Sanskrit means cooling down. It is quite similar to Sheetkari Pranayama. Sheetali pranayama reduces stress, anxiety, and pitta dosha related elevations in the blood pressure.
- Nadi Shodhana Pranayama – It helps to detoxify, calm your nervous system and improves the circulation. Anuloma Viloma is a highly effective de-stress exercise. It is also known to lower the risk associated with lifestyle disorders related to diabetes and hypertension.
- Brahmari Pranayama – Humming bee breath or Brahmari pranayama involves the primary senses of eyes, ears and nose. It instantly reduces blood pressure levels and prevents headaches associated with hypertension.
5. Ayurvedic Herbs for lowering blood pressure
- Kushmanda (Wintermelon): Kushmanda is a good diuretic. It can help reduce blood volume, purify blood tissues and balance Vata dosha.
- Ashwagandha: This herb also is effective for controlling blood pressure. It is rich in adaptogens that help you relax and alleviate stress.
- Basil: Basil contains calcium channel blockers. Thus calcium channel blockers go into the cells of the heart and blood vessels, causing them to relax. With the heart and blood vessels relax, blood pressure will be reduced.
- Amla (Indian gooseberry): Amla contains vasodilators. What do vasodilators do? They widen the blood vessels. The result is then similar to what happens with basil. Eventually, blood pressure is reduced. Eat one amla on an empty stomach in the morning. Alternatively, drink amla juice with warm water.
- Arjuna: The bark of the arjuna tree has anti-hypertensive properties. Aside from this, it also has inotropic (affects heart rate), anti-oxidant, and many more properties that are extremely beneficial to the body.
6. Ayurvedic Home Remedies for lowering blood pressure
- Add a teaspoon of coriander and a pinch of cardamom to one cup of freshly squeezed peach juice. Drink this two or three times a day.
- Mix two parts of orange juice and one part of coconut water. Drink half to one cup of the mixture at least two to three times a day.
- Honey water is also helpful. Add a teaspoon of raw honey and 5-10 drops of apple cider vinegar to a cup of warm water. Drink it early morning on an empty stomach. This drink will help reduce cholesterol, maintain vaso dilation and regulate blood pressure.
- Mix one part punarnava, one part passion flower, and two parts hawthorn berry. Steep half a teaspoon of this mixture in a cup of hot water for 5-10 minutes. Drink this tea after lunch and dinner to keep blood pressure levels in check.
- Eat some watermelon with a pinch of cardamom and a pinch of coriander added. This is said to act as a mild diuretic and will help to regulate blood pressure.
7. Best Lifestyle tips for a Healthy Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure depends to a large extent on the choices you make every day. Remember that Primary or Essential Hypertension accounts for 90-95% of the cases of hypertension that we have around.
Therefore, if you want to have and maintain healthy blood pressure, you must live like it.
So, what can you do?
- Regularly practice abhyanga (self-massage). Massage improves circulation in the body. It also promotes release of neurotransmitters and hormones that relax the mind and nervous system. This allows your entire body to relax and muscles to be less tense.
- Maintain a healthy weight by following recommended diet above.
- Regular Exercise.
- Control stress and anxiety.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Always make sure that you are catching on 7-8 hours of sleep in between 10 PM to 6 AM daily.
- Quit smoking and avoid alcohol.
- Monitor your blood pressure. You can get simple digital sphygmomano meter (blood pressure monitoring apparatus) that you can operate for yourself at home.
- Cut back on added sugar and refined carbs.
- Practice meditation and deep breathing exercises (pranayama). Make sure you include meditation and pranayama in your daily routine (specifically in the morning) to relax your body and rmanage your blood pressure.
8. Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety create a havoc on multiple body systems including circulation and heart function. It increases blood pressure and load on the heart as beats much faster.
Managing your stress and emotional wellness can go a long way to reduce blood pressure and promote heart health.
Manage and lower stress by:
- Deep breathing exercises and yogic breathing
- Spending time in nature and with your loved ones
- Remove and reduce stress triggers
- Take time off and invest in self care measures
- Deep body massage
- Practice meditation
9. Your Sleep and Blood Pressure
A good sleep of about 7 – 8 hours at night can improve secretion of relaxation hormones, detoxify the body naturally and promote circulation.
As a result of restful sleep, our appetite and stress hormones get reorganized; heart beat is reduced and our brain gets rid of toxic chemicals that block its functioning.
To get sufficient sleep, try different soothing essential oils before bed, reduce caffeine and sleep in a dark, peaceful place.
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Day One or One Day…You Decide! These Ayurvedic guidelines on how to reduce high blood pressure will work well for you if you stick to them and follow consistently.
Don’t rush it though! Take baby steps…and start with one thing at a time. Give yourself and your body time to adjust to the change that you are bringing in. Once, you are cool with the new thing, move on to the next step.
Now we would like to hear from you. Have you tried any of the above Ayurvedic remedies to reduce high blood pressure? What worked for you and what was your experience? Do let me know in the comments below.
Or if you have any queries. Ping me here and I’ll get back the soonest. Wishing you vibrant health!
- Vyanabala vaishamya (Hypertension)
- Understanding hypertension in the light of Ayurveda
- HYPERTENSION – AN AYURVEDIC PERSPECTIVE, International Ayurvedic Medical Journal ISSN:2320 5091, Vithalani Lalitkumar V., Dalvi Sanjay A., Lele Vinayak T., Sakharkar Bhagyashri V.
- Essential Hypertension – An Ayurvedic View, International Journal of Science and Healthcare Research, Vol.4; Issue: 2; April-June 2019, ISSN: 2455-7587
- Yoga linked to lowered blood pressure with regular practice
- Breathing your way to preventing high blood pressure
- Sleep and blood pressure