Treating Hypertension 'Naturally'
High blood pressure treatment isn't limited to drugs. Lower blood pressure naturally. Natural treatments such as meditation and diet can have a significant effect.
According to Appel, salt intake should be limited to 2,400 mg per day; less sodium will reduce blood pressure even more in many people. To reduce the amount of salt you consume, the National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute suggests these tips:
- Buy fresh, plain frozen, or canned no-salt-added vegetables.
- Use fresh poultry, fish, and lean meat, rather than canned or processed foods.
- Use herbs, spices, and salt-free seasonings in cooking and at the table.
- Cook rice, pasta, and hot cereals without salt. Cut back on instant or flavored rice, pasta, and cereal mixes, which usually have added salt.
- Choose "convenience" foods that are lower in sodium. Limit frozen dinners, pizza, packaged mixes, canned soups or broths, and salad dressings.
- Rinse canned foods, such as tuna, to remove some of the sodium.
- When available, buy low- or reduced-sodium, or no-salt-added versions of foods.
- Choose ready-to-eat breakfast cereals that are lower in sodium.
The NHLBI also suggests eating at least 3,500 mg of potassium a day, from foods such as yogurt, cantaloupe, spinach, and bananas. Potassium may help rid the body of too much sodium by acting as a diuretic.
Chiropractor Peter Cox, director of the Chiropractic Care Center of Charlotte in North Carolina, suggests chiropractic therapy as another means of controlling stress, and by extension, blood pressure.
Though chiropractors cannot directly affect high blood pressure treatment, many of the conditions they see -- including misalignment of the C1 (or first) vertebra -- can affect blood flow to the head and result in symptoms of high blood pressure, says Cox. "In treating misaligned vertebrae," he says, "the treatment itself can often result in lowered blood pressure."
However, not all experts agree chiropractic is an effective treatment. "From a clinical perspective, from what we know today, chiropractic care will have no direct bearing on lowering blood pressure," says Henry Punzi, MD, FCP, author of Hypertension, Clinical Cardiovascular Therapeutics: Vol. 1, and a principal investigator in more than 60 cardiovascular clinical trials.
"There's a misconception that hypertension is related only to stress, and that's not always the case," he says. While decreasing stress and anxiety may help overall general well-being, these measures are not going to be a specific treatment for blood pressure. "Hypertension occurs when pressure is high inside the arteries. Misaligned spines or blood flow to the brain ... don't really have an impact on blood pressure," Punzi says.