Herbs for Control Blood Pressure

No medicine can cure high blood pressure! Medicines can eliminate the symptoms and restore blood pressure to normal as long as you keep taking the medicines. Herbs cannot accomplish this either.

If anyone tells you they can, proceed at your own risk of health and money! Herbs can, however, reduce blood pressure if the high blood pressure has resulted from stress and Type A behavior.

Herbs can help reduce the effects of stress. Ginseng is the only herb known to reduce blood pressure by reducing the anxiety associated with stress, similar to modern tranquilizers.

However, it takes time for ginseng to work, so you must use it for two to three weeks to see if it works for you. Ginseng has been used as a tonic to counteract stress and improve health for millennia.

Since its use undoubtedly predates the first Asian medical writings, it is safe to bet that ginseng has been in active use for over twenty-five hundred years. While its actual effects are still elusive to modern medical science, its extensive use over two millenniums suggests it’s doing something useful.

In Chinese medicine, ginseng is considered an adaptogen. Since this doesn’t fit any standard classification in Western medicine, this term can be confusing. Chinese herbalist physicians say that ginseng is particularly effective for treating a person stressed to his limits.

So, its use is appropriate in our complex, competitive, and stressful society. Western clinical studies of ginseng and its many components have corroborated Chinese claims.

Ginseng has many active compounds called genesides, and it is not clear whether ginseng itself or a specific geneside is the active agent. Ginseng has been shown to elicit the following physiological effects:

  • Lowers blood pressure.
  • Improves reaction to visual and auditory stimuli.
  • Improves oxygen utilization during physical exercise.
  • Reduces heart rate in physical exercise.
  • Improves work output.
  • Improves aerobic capacity.
  • Improves mood and outlook

This list suggests that an adaptogen is both a stimulant under some conditions (improves alertness) and a relaxant (lowers blood pressure) under other conditions. Perhaps adaptogen is an appropriate designation given ginseng’s ability to adapt to the needs of the user.

In China, Korea, and Japan, ginseng is used in tea. However, in the United States, people usually want a more convenient delivery and want things to work quickly. Hence, ginseng can be found in pills, capsules, and even candies.

No proof exists that these forms work or do not work, so experience must be your personal guide. When using any herb that has a history as rich as ginseng’s, it is best to follow traditional use.

Ginseng tea is quite pleasant and simply taking your time to drink it will have a calming effect. Take one teaspoon (1.75 grams) dried ginseng root in a cup of boiling water twice daily. Most experts recommend drinking ginseng tea for at least three weeks; others suggest up to three months.

Ginseng is now sold in doses of from 100 to 500 milligrams as tablets, capsules, or powder. It is important to follow the directions that come with these preparations. One consistent point in the folk wisdom surrounding ginseng is that it takes regular use of three weeks to three months for its effectiveness to fully emerge.

Therefore, it makes sense to take a smaller dose regularly than a large dose just once or twice. Although ginseng’s history indicates it’s very safe for most human use, it makes sense to exercise caution.

Common sense dictates that pregnant women should consult their doctors before using any herb or medication, even though ginseng is used by pregnant women in Asia.

Valerian root was probably the first human tranquilizer, and its appearance in human use is lost in the fog of prehistory. As far as we know, it has been used for at least one thousand years to calm people and help them cope with stress.

As with many herbs, it can be found in copies of the United States Pharmacopoeia before 1940, and it first appeared around 1850. Valerian’s biochemicals work by attaching themselves to the same sites in the brain that are affected by modern tranquilizers and mood elevators that a doctor would prescribe for stress and anxiety.

Valerian use is supported by human clinical and animal research, proving that valerian is effective in helping people cope with stress and the anxiety that follows. Determining herb dosages can be problematic because herbs aren’t standardized as are medications and vitamins.

A dose of valerian varies with the method of preparation. Daily use should not exceed 1.5 grams of plant material. That translates to fifteen to twenty drops of a 1:5 tincture in water two or three times daily; 1 teaspoon of root steeped ten minutes in hot water, three times daily; or 1 tablespoon of valerian juice three times daily.

Valerian comes with several precautions:

  • Not for pregnant women.
  • May cause frequent urination.
  • Use caution when operating machinery.
  • Never use when taking Ativan, Valium, or Xanax. Ask your pharmacist about other drugs.

Kava-kava, or simply kava, is a muscle relaxant and anti-anxiety herb that has been clinically tested and proven effective. Kava-kava has been used for hundreds, if not thousands, of years in Polynesia.

Since no historical records exist for this area, no one can say when kava-kava’s use began, but we do know it has been used as a relaxant for centuries.

Clinical studies comparing kava-kava to prescription anti-anxiety medications indicate that kava-kava is reasonably effective. A daily dose of about 200 milligrams of kava-kava can be spread over three doses of about 65 milligrams each.

The actual amount will vary according to the source. Try taking a 40 to 70 milligram dose three times daily and see if it helps you through a period of stress and anxiety. Kava-kava, like most herbs, has not been tested specifically for safety in either large quantities or in normal use over long periods of time.

However, its widespread employment over hundreds of years amounts to millions of human years of use with few reports of side effects. It is a physiologically active relaxant, though, and caution is appropriate when using it, as with any psychoactive medication.