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occ's avatar

alternative treatments for hypertension?

Asked by occ (4173points) October 9th, 2007

My father (in his 60s) is generally healthy but has hypertension…he had a pretty bad reaction to the medication and is wondering about alternative treatments through diet or other holistic approaches (acupuncture? chinese medicine? etc). Anyone have good books/resources to recommend or a good doctor in the NYC area who uses other approaches besides just pills?

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6 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Dr. Andrew Weil has a sensible and useful newsletter.


Is your father overweight, does he eat his greens and a lo-fat diet, does he exercise and keep his stress down by meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, humor, etc.?

There is also the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY – not far from the city- that has zillions of interesting alternative wellness programs. and a fascinating catalog.

Omega catalog

occ's avatar

He’s slim (definitely not overweight) and eats a healthy vegetarian low-fat diet, so he’s already on the right track. Thanks for the great recommendations. Any other ideas?

JoeCsekoBrainBuilder's avatar

Natural Remedies for High Blood Pressure
Lifestyle changes and natural remedies may help to control high blood pressure, but your doctor may also recommend medication to lower high blood pressure. It is important to work with your doctor, because untreated high blood pressure may damage organs in the body and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, brain hemorrhage, kidney disease, and vision loss. See a drawing of a hypertensive heart.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
There is some evidence that the supplement CoQ10 may help to reduce high blood pressure.

A 12 week double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 83 people with systolic hypertension examined the effect of CoQ10 supplements (60 mg twice daily). After the 12 weeks, there was a mean reduction in systolic blood pressure of 17.8 mm Hg in the Coq10-treated group.

Another study conducted at the University of Western Australia looked at the effect of CoQ10 on blood pressure and glycemic control in 74 people with type 2 diabetes. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 100mg CoQ10 twice daily, 200mg of the drug fenfibrate, both, or neither for 12 weeks.

CoQ10 significantly reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure(mean reduction 6.1 mm Hg and 2.9 mm Hg respectively). There was also a reduction in HbA1C, a marker for long-term glycemic control.
To learn more about CoQ10, read the Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) fact sheet.

In a meta-analysis of seven randomized controlled trials of garlic supplements, three trials showed a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure and four in diastolic blood pressure. Researchers concluded that garlic powder supplement may be of clinical use in patients with mild high blood pressure.

Garlic supplements should only be used under the supervision of a qualified health practitioner. Garlic can thin the blood (reduce the ability of blood to clot) similar to aspirin. Garlic may interact with many drugs and supplements such as the prescription “blood-thinners” drugs such as Coumadin (warfarin) or Trental (pentoxifylline), aspirin, vitamin E, gingko. It is usually recommended that people taking garlic stop in the weeks before and after any type of surgery.

To learn more about garlic, go to the articles about garlic.

The herb hawthorn is often used by traditional herbal practitioners for high blood pressure.

In a randomized controlled trial conducted by researchers in Reading, UK, 79 patients with type 2 diabetes were randomized to receive either 1200 mg of hawthorn extract a day or placebo for 16 weeks. Medication for high blood pressure was used by 71% of the patients.

At the end of the 16 weeks, patients taking the hawthorn supplement had a significant reduction in mean diastolic blood pressure (2.6 mm Hg). No herb-drug interactions were reported.

Fish oil
Preliminary studies suggest that fish oil may have a modest effect on high blood pressure. Although fish oil supplements often contain both DHA (docohexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), there is some evidence that DHA is the ingredient that lowers high blood pressure. Learn more about fish oil.

Folic acid
Folate is a B vitamin necessary for formation of red blood cells. It may help to lower high blood pressure in some people, possibly by reducing elevated homocysteine levels.

One small study of 24 cigarette smokers found that four weeks of folic acid supplementation significantly lowered blood pressure. Learn more about folic acid.

Weil is a quack!!!!

The first step in reducing blood pressure is changing your diet, particularly if you are overweight. In one study where various means of treatments were tried in an effort to lower pressure, weight loss was by far the most effective. Some people are discouraged when they hear this because they’ve tried dieting and found it difficult. But you don’t have to get down to your ideal weight in order to reduce your pressure. If you’re overweight, even a small drop can lower your pressure significantly. So don’t feel overwhelmed by having to lose twenty or fifty pounds: Just aim for five or ten pounds. You may well want to go on and lose additional weight, if need be, once you achieve this goal.

A vegetarian diet has been shown to be prophylactic against hypertension. Most vegetarians enjoy lower blood pressure readings than meat eaters. The reason is that the components of a vegetarian diet—more fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and significantly less salt and less total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol—help to fight hypertension. I don’t advise my patients to become vegetarians. Many people don’t do well as vegetarians; they feel tired and run-down on a vegetarian diet, especially if they have been eating sugars and have low blood sugar. And for many people it’s impractical to go a strictly vegetarian diet. But some of my patients are vegetarians and are quite robust and healthy. While strict vegetarianism may not be sensible for many patients, I do advise them to adopt as many of the aspects of a vegetarian diet as possible, particularly the reduction of saturated fat and cholesterol. Studies have been done with Finns, who eat more saturated and less polyunsaturated fats compared with Americans, and who have a higher incidence of hypertension. When their saturated fat intake was decreased, despite the fact that their sodium intake was unchanged, they experienced an average pressure drop of 7.5 mmHg systolic and 2.8 mmHg diastolic. When their previous, high saturated fat intake levels were resumed, their pressure once again went up.

Sodium or salt has always been an issue for people with hypertension. In the past it was assumed that if you had high blood pressure you had to eliminate salt from your diet. Today we know that not everyone with hypertension is salt sensitive. In fact, only about 30 to 40 percent of the population is sensitive to salt. If you have heart or kidney problems in addition to high blood pressure, you should definitely avoid salt, because your body doesn’t properly eliminate sodium. But if you’re restricting sodium solely for hypertension, you might want to test yourself to see if sodium restriction is doing you any good. After having your pressure taken, follow a diet that is as sodium-free as possible for two weeks

waterbaby's avatar

I would recommend Acupuncture by a Licensed practitioner, and one that you have good reviews on. Acupuncture has been shown in clinical studies to be quite effective in the treatment of hypertension. It has the capacity to affect the body’s autonomic nervous system, which mediates blood pressure.

Beyond diet changes and exercise, stress management is important. We all face daily stressors, and part of the body’s stress response is an increase in blood pressure.

Robert Sapolsky is an amazing Stress Physiologist who teaches at Stanford and has done detailed research on the stress response. If you are interested in reading about the correlation between stress and hypertension, his books are very accessible and fascinating. Hope this is helpful!

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