Natural remedies for prehypertension.

Heart disease and stroke are the first and third causes of death,

respectively, in the United States. Hypertension is the major risk

factor for heart disease and stroke. (1) According to the American Heart

Association’s “Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics, 2005

Update,” high blood pressure killed nearly 50,000 Americans in 2002

and was listed as a primary or contributing factor in 261,000 deaths.

The guidelines issued in 2003 by the National Heart, Lung and Blood

Institute state that nearly half of all American adults have blood

pressure readings that are too high! Fifty per cent of these have

hypertension. The other half has prehypertension, a condition that makes

high blood pressure and its sequela, cardiovascular and renal disease,

more likely. By definition, anyone with a systolic reading higher than

119 or a diastolic reading of 79 or more has prehypertension. (2) For

those of us truly interested in health, wellness and services designed

to promote longevity, it is clear that any “wellness care

approach” that does not at least monitor and counsel on blood

pressure is inadequate.

Risky Business

Starting as low as 115/75, the risk of heart attack and stroke

doubles with every 20-point jump in systolic blood pressure and/or every

10-point rise in diastolic blood pressure. People with prehypertension

(blood pressure greater then 119/79)–levels once considered

normal–face twice the risk of heart disease as those with normal blood

pressure. People with frank hypertension (blood pressure greater than

139/89) have four times the risk of heart disease as people with low

blood pressure. (3) According to’s

“Monograph on High Blood Pressure,” evidence suggests that

reducing the blood pressure by 5-6 mmHg can decrease the risk of stroke

by 40%, the risk of coronary heart disease by 15-20% and reduce the

likelihood of dementia, heart failure and mortality from vascular

disease! (4)

What to Do?

Unless there are other predominant risk factors, such as diabetes

or kidney disease, heavy smoking, alcoholism, a personal history or

strong family history of heart and kidney disease, many doctors are

reticent to prescribe medications for prehypertension, usually

diuretics, given their potential for side-effects. (5) However,

lifestyle factors should always be addressed. The Mayo Clinic provides

lifestyle guidelines, including the following:

* Losing 10 pounds can help to reduce your blood pressure

significantly and makes any blood pressure medications (and presumably

nutraceuticals) more effective. Carrying too much weight around your

waist, a sign of metabolic syndrome, increases your risk of high blood

pressure. In general, men and women are considered to be at risk if

their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches (102 cm) or 35 inches

(88 cm), respectively. For Asians, guidelines are 36 inches (90 cm) and

32 inches (80 cm).

* Regular physical activity–at least 30-60 minutes most days of

the week–can lower your blood pressure by 4-9 mmHg. Even moderate

activity for 10 minutes at a time, such as walking and light strength

training, can help.

* Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables

and low-fat dairy products and skimps on saturated fat, sodium and

cholesterol can lower your blood pressure by up to 14 mmHg. This eating

plan is known as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)


* Alcohol in small amounts can help to prevent heart attacks and

coronary artery disease and potentially lower your blood pressure by

2.5-4 mmHg. But that protective effect is lost if you drink too much

alcohol–generally more than one drink a day for women and more than two

a day for men.

* As well as all the other dangers of smoking, the nicotine in

tobacco products can raise your blood pressure by 10 mmHg or more for up

to an hour after you smoke.

* The role that caffeine plays in blood pressure is still

debatable. Drinking caffeinated beverages can temporarily cause a spike

in sensitive people. Regardless of your sensitivity to caffeine’s

effects, the Mayo Clinic recommends that you drink no more than 200 mg a

day, about the amount in two cups of coffee. (6)

Although not mentioned in the guidelines per se, the need for

adequate deep sleep and the correction of sleep apnea has become more

apparent. (7) Of course, all these concerns are basic to the antiageing

and wellness lifestyle, regardless of blood pressure.

Check for Medications

Researchers at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital

found that older men using NSAIDS or acetaminophen (Tylenol) daily were

at a 38% and 34% higher risk of hypertension, respectively. According to

Joe Graedon, a pharmacologist, and Tersa Gordon, PhD, coauthors of

“The Best Choices from the People’s Pharmacy,” both HRT

and decongestants can be culprits. Also, many headache pain pills

contain caffeine. Decongestants that contain pseudoepinephrine, such as

Sudafed, need to be considered. The side-effects panels on any

prescription medicines should be reviewed to see if hypertension is a

possible consequence.

Natural Remedies for Prehypertension

Fortunately, there are also many OTC nutraceuticals that show

potential in significantly lowering blood pressure. (8) These include

phytonutrients (grape seed extract, quercetin, cocoa, green tea

extracts, hawthorne berries, pomegranate, hibiscus tea, lycopene

extracts and soy isoflavones), zoonutrients (milk, whey peptides and

even peptides formed in fried eggs!) and fats (olive oil, flax oil, fish

oil), though the latter to a lesser degree. (9-19) John Zhang, MD, PhD,

associate professor of research at Logan Chiropractic College has

authored two human studies on physician-strength nutraceuticals and

prehypertension/hypertension. These studies included testing a

multi-ingredient phytonutrient “greens” powdered drink mix, a

multi-ingredient whey and colostrum-based zoonutrient powdered drink mix

(both formulated with liposomes to enhance bioavailability) and a

combination of the two nutraceutical powders together.


In 90 days, the phytonutrient formula lowered both systolic and

diastolic blood pressure (12.4 and 7.1, respectively). The zoonutrient

formula had a similar effect, eliciting reductions of 13.4 and 8.2,

respectively, and the combined powder lowered the systolic pressure by

10.9 and the diastolic pressure by 13.9. These preliminary studies

showed an average decrease in systolic blood pressure of 12.6 points and

a decrease in diastolic blood pressure of 9.7. The results match those

achieved using a combined DASH/low sodium diet (DASH II) or a commonly

prescribed blood pressure medication. (20), (21) Recent Logan

Chiropractic College studies are referenced below. (22), (23) If they

are to be effective, most nutraceuticals will show efficacy in essential

prehypertension in 60 days. If not, as there are several different

mechanisms by which they are proposed to work, and a variety of genetic

phenotypes in any patient population, trying another nutraceutical

approach or two is worth a try, considering the potential morbidity of

high blood pressure.


(1.) University of Pennsylvania Health Systems, Hypertensive Heart

Disease, General Cardiology, Health Encyclopedia


(2.) NIH News, US Department of Health and Human Sciences,

“NHLBI Issues New High Blood Pressure Clinical Practice

Guidelines,” 14 May 2003


(3.) Medscape, Medical News, “New Guidelines for Blood

Pressure Management,” 19 May 2003


(4.) Natural Standard Research Collaboration, Natural Standard

Monograph, High Blood Pressure


(5.) Center for Medical Consumers, “Prehypertension: New

Medical Condition Identified,”


(6.), “10 Ways to Control High Blood Pressure

without Medication,”


(7.) D.S. Silverberg, A. Iaina and A. Oksenberg, “Treating

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Improves Essential Hypertension and Quality of

Life,” Am. Fam. Physician 65(2), 229-236 (2002).

(8.) M.C. Houston, “The Role of Vascular Biology, Nutrition

and Nutraceuticals in the Prevention and Treatment of

Hypertension,” JANA, Suppl. 1, 20-40 (2002).

(9.) H. Negishi, et al., “Black and Green Tea Polyphenols

Attenuate Blood Pressure Increases in Stroke-Prone Spontaneously

Hypertensive Rats,” J. Nutr. 134, 38-42 (2004).

(10.) C.G. Fraga, “Cocoa, Diabetes and Hypertension: Should We

Eat More Chocolate?” Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 81(3), 541-542 (2005).

(11.) M. Rivas, et al., “Soy Milk Lowers Blood Pressure in Men

and Women with Mild to Moderate Essential Hypertension,” J. Nutr.

132, 1900-1902 (2002).

(12.) S. Teres, et al., “Oleic Acid Content is Responsible for

the Reduction in Blood Pressure Induced by Olive Oil,” Proc. Natl

Acad. Sci. USA 105(37), 13811-13816 (2008).

(13.) K. Radack, et al., “The Effects of Low Doses of n-3

Fatty Acid Supplementation on Blood Pressure in Hypertensive

Subjects,” Arch. Intern. Med. 151, 1173-1180 (1991).

(14.) G.K. Paschos, et al., “Dietary Supplementation with

Flaxseed Oil Lowers Blood Pressure in Dyslipidaemic Patients,” Eur.

J. Clin. Nutr. 61(10), 1201-1206 (2007).

(15.) K. Majumder and J. Wu, “Angiotensin I Converting Enzyme

Inhibitory Peptides from Simulated In Vitro Gastrointestinal Digestion

of Cooked Eggs,” J. Agric. Food Chem. 57(2), 471-477 (2009).

(16.) Ibid. 5, 36-40.

(17.) Ibid. 2, 980s-988s.

(18.) American Chemical Society’s National Meeting and

Exposition, “Grape Seed Extract for Blood Pressure? Grape Seed

Extract May Help Tame Prehypertension,”


(19.) R.L. Edwards, et al., “Quercetin Reduces Blood Pressure

in Hypertensive Subjects,” Nutr. 137, 2405-2411 (2007).

(20.) C.D. Furberg, et al., “Antihypertensive and Lipid

Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial (ALLHAT), JAMA 288(23),

2981-2997 (2002).

(21.) Ibid. 9, 20.

(22.) J. Zhang, G. Oxinos and J. Maher, “The Effect of Fruit

and Vegetable Powder Mix on Hypertensive Subjects,” J. Chiropr.

Educ. 21(1), 93 (2007) and

(23.) J. Zhang and J. Maher, “The Effects of Whey Zoonutrient

Powder Alone and Combined with a Green Phytonutrient Powder on Heart

Rate Variability and Pre-Hypertension and Stage 1 Hypertension,” J.

Chiropr. Educ. 23(1), 88 (2009) and

Useful Websites

On its website, the American Heart Association has a simple

“High Blood Pressure Health Risk

Calculator”––and The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute provides “Your Guide

to Lowering Your Blood Pressure” at

For more information

Dr John H. Maher, DCBCN, BCIM

Director, Education and Research

BioPharma Scientific, Inc.

9010 Kenamar Drive, Suite 101

San Diego, California 92121, USA.

Tel. +1 858 622 9493