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    Antioxidant May Help Lower Blood Pressure

    Supplement May Reduce Dependence on Blood Pressure-Lowering Drugs

    Antioxidant Supplement Helps Lower Blood Pressure continued...

    The study, which appears in the Jan. 2 issue of the journal Life Sciences, showed side effects that were similar in the two groups.

    Rohdewald says the most powerful ingredient in the antioxidant supplement appears to be procyanidins, which are bitter tasting compounds that used to be commonly found in many foods.

    "My theory is that our food industry and our plant cultivation over past 200 years has nearly eliminated these very useful substance because most people don't like to eat astringent-tasting apples and grapes. They like to have sweet ones," Rohdewald tells WebMD.

    "I think for our well-being these procyanidins had been very useful. Now we lack these substances, and we would do better if we take these substances," says Rohdewald, who also serves a consultant to the company that produces Pycnogenol.

    New Use for Antioxidants?

    Experts say it's not the first time that plant-based antioxidants have been shown to mildly reduce blood pressure levels. But this study is unusual because it looked at the benefits of using antioxidant supplements in combination with conventional medicines.

    "What's interesting to me, is that by and large complimentary and alternative medicine have focused on these natural remedies as an alternative to traditional medicines, and in this case they are being a little more integrative, using a natural remedy in combination with a drug remedy," says antioxidant researcher Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, professor of nutrition at Tufts University in Boston.

    Blumberg says previous studies have already shown that antioxidants, such as those found in green tea and vitamin C, have a slight blood pressure-lowering effect when used instead of drugs in treating people with mild high blood pressure. But this study shows antioxidant therapy may also benefit people already on drug therapy for their high blood pressure.

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