improving blood pressureHealth & Wellness

How to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally: 10 Ways that Work

Perhaps you’ve been told you have “high blood pressure.” Or maybe you checked it yourself one day and noticed that it was 146/90. What now? Today I will discuss some ways in which you can improve your own blood pressure without taking medications. But before I do, let’s first answer an important question: What is hypertension and what’s the big deal?

Blood Pressure: Understanding the Basics

Systolic pressure (top number) = Pressure in your arteries when your heart squeezes to push blood through your body.

Diastolic pressure (bottom number) = Pressure in the arteries when your heart relaxes and fills with blood.

improving your blood pressure


Hypertension = The Silent Killer

10 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Without Medications killer

While some people experience symptoms (often headache and fatigue) when their blood pressure is elevated, the majority of those with hypertension and prehypertension can go about their days feeling just fine.

Why, then, is it important to treat it?

It is important, because high blood pressure—by damaging your blood vessels—harms almost every organ of your body. If it is not addressed properly, it can cause a sudden heart attack or stroke. Even if that doesn’t happen, chronic high blood pressure will break down your organs over time, leading to aneurysms, kidney failure, heart failure, and dementia. Fortunately, aside from prescription medications, there are many things that you can do—even starting today—that have been proven to help your blood pressure return to a healthy level.

If you are in the “elevated” stage, these techniques are perfect for you and will prevent you from needing medications in the future. Even if you have already been diagnosed with hypertension and are taking blood pressure medications, you will still benefit from incorporating these changes into your life. For many, it can help decrease their medication dose or eliminate the need for them altogether.

How to Improve Your Blood Pressure

Step 1:
Identify the Culprits

10 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Without Medications stress

While your genetics play a role (as well as certain medical conditions), environmental factors and lifestyle are major contributors to high blood pressure. See if any of the following could apply to you:

  • Stress
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Eating too much salt
  • Being overweight
  • Not getting enough calcium, potassium, and magnesium in your diet
  • Drinking moderate to large amounts of alcohol
  • Tobacco use
  • Medications (eg. diet pills, birth control pills, ADHD medications, some OTC pain medications, steroids, a few allergy medications)
  • Herbal supplements (eg. ephedra, guarana, kola nut, yerba mate, ginseng, yohimbe)

Step 2:
Start Making Changes

#1 Take a Daily Walk

As one of the best things you can do for your blood pressure (and overall health), exercise helps make your heart stronger and more efficient at pumping blood, which lowers the pressure in your arteries. Regular physical activity—even 30 minutes of brisk walking a day—can lower your blood pressure considerably.

How much exercise do you need? 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise divided up over the week is a good goal that has been proven to be effective.

#2 Vow to Cut Down on Salt

10 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Without Medications

Even a small reduction in salt consumption can noticeably improve blood pressure. For the general population, a daily limit of less than 2,400 mg of sodium is appropriate. However, if you fall into the following categories, your body may be even more sensitive to the effects of it, therefore you should try to consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day. These groups are:

  • Anyone 51 years or older
  • Those who are African-American
  • Anyone already diagnosed with hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease

Not sure where to start? Here are some tips to help:

  • Read food labels. If possible, choose low-sodium alternatives of the foods and beverages you normally buy.
  • Eat fewer processed foods such as chips and canned soups. Only a small amount of sodium occurs naturally in foods. Most sodium is added during processing.
  • Don’t add salt. Just 1 teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium. Instead, use salt-free seasonings (eg. Mrs. Dash).

Just remember: every little bit counts when it comes to salt. Even cutting down a little will help your blood pressure. So don’t be discouraged if you can’t meet these strict guidelines all at once.

#3 Meditate

Reducing stress is key. It has been shown that 20 minutes of meditation, deep breathing, or yoga done twice daily can noticeably improve your blood pressure.

If you haven’t yet, check out these tips on how to effectively de-stress.

#4 Drink [only a little bit of] alcohol

Alcohol can be both good and bad for your health…it all depends on amount. In small amounts, it can potentially lower your blood pressure by 2 to 4 mm Hg, but drink more, and it can actually increase it. Therefore, in order to reap its potential benefits, limit your daily alcohol intake to the following:

  • Women (all ages): 1 drink
  • Men < 65 years: 2 drinks
  • Men > 65 years: 1 drink
  • One drink =
    • 12 ounces of beer
    • 5 ounces of wine
    • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor

#5 Lose a few pounds

If you’re overweight, your extra body mass is putting more burden on your heart and blood vessels. Studies have shown that even losing 5% of your body weight can significantly lower high blood pressure. The effect is even greater when weight loss is paired with exercise (as opposed to only calorie restriction).

Here are some tips to help you jump-start your weight loss efforts.

#6 Choose Nutritious Foods

One of the factors that can elevate your blood pressure is not getting enough important minerals—particularly potassium, calcium, and magnesium. The following are a list of good choices:

  • Vegetables: leafy greens, tomatoes, sweet potatoes
  • Fruits: melons, bananas, avocados, oranges and apricots
  • Fish: especially tuna and salmon
  • Milk and yogurt
  • Beans and peas
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts and seeds

While these are all nutritious, you should aim to eat at least 8-10 servings of just fruits and vegetables a day.

#7 Cut Down Those Sweets

Here’s another reason to nix the soft drinks: there is a growing body of evidence showing a link between added sugar and high blood pressure. Studies have shown that just cutting out one sugary beverage a day can start to improve your blood pressure.

And it’s not just sugar—all refined carbs (the kind in white flour), convert rapidly to sugar in your bloodstream and have a similar effect.

#8 But…Go Ahead and Enjoy That Dark Chocolate

Cocoa contains flavonoids—plant compounds that help relax blood vessels and lower your blood pressure. While non-sweetened cocoa powder, which is especially high in flavonoids, is the best choice, a half an ounce daily of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) can also be beneficial.

#9 Take a Supplement

Fish Oil: One of the main causes of high blood pressure is inflammation in the arteries over time.  Omega-3 fatty acids, contained in fish oil, can help reduce this inflammatory process. Take 1,000 mg daily with your meals. Want to learn more about fish oil supplements? This article will help.

Aged Garlic Extract: The compounds in garlic work similarly to decrease inflammation and improve elasticity of blood vessels, in turn improving your blood pressure.

#10 Drink some Hibiscus Tea

Hibiscus is rich in anthocyanins and polyphenols that are beneficial to a healthy heart, including improving blood pressure. If you enjoy teas, look for blends that contain hibiscus as one of its main ingredients.

For more information on how to measure and keep track of your own blood pressure, check out this article on hypertension. With that said, I encourage you to always involve your personal physician when deciding whether or not a new supplement, diet regimen, or exercise program is right for you. Because remember, we are all rooting for your health!

*The information presented in “How to Lower Blood Pressure Naturally: 10 Ways that Work” can be found in Being Empowered for a Healthy Heart: A personal guide to taking control of your health while living with chronic conditions, by Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH.

Phoebe Chi, MD
Phoebe Chi, MD

As a physician, clinical educator, and managing editor of PhoebeMD: Medicine + Poetry, Dr. Chi aims to inspire, educate, and empower the reader community. She is the author of Being Empowered for a Healthy Heart: A personal guide to taking control of your health while living with chronic conditions, a poetry-infused health guide, and founder of Pendants for a Cause, a nonprofit organization aimed toward helping others.

60 replies »

          • They’re pretty steady right now. They average around 97 to 110 over high 60’s to low 70’s. I don’t have any symptoms. Over the past year and even before that, I’ve had some low readings, like 98/59 and I was just curious what it meant.

            A year ago last Sept, I was really dizzy and took it. It was 103/85 and my pulse was crazy. Next day out the blue, I was in the hospital… 😊

          • Given your average BP (which is actually not too low), if you normally have no symptoms, I would not worry about it. Every person’s blood pressure runs differently, so that may be a completely normal range for you.

            The important thing is to stay hydrated (sometimes if you are dehydrated your blood pressure will get a little low and you will feel lightheaded), and if you find that you are getting dizzy after standing up from a seated position (which happens to some people), be mindful to rise more slowly.

            Without knowing more about your medical history and assuming that you are in average to good health, it is safe to say that you needn’t worry too much about it.

            I hope this helps!

          • Yes ma’am. This is very helpful. Thank you so much for your time. I thought it was probably just “my” normal. Thanks for the information about staying hydrated. That’s actually something I’m working on. I do appreciate your time. 🙂

  1. Great advice, meditation absolutely works with deep breathing in and out through the nose. I was up at 170/100 when I first went to the dr for my back. I told the nurse that I’m pre-hypertensive and that the pain was probably pushing it up even more. She said i couldn’t leave until it was down so I told her wait 5…. meditated and got it back down to 120/80… killer salt tho… dang so hard to give up!

  2. wonderful post Phoebe, the silent killer, high blood pressure can be controlled by lifestyle changes and you are doing a great service to get the information out there. 🙂

  3. Wow. The commentary was in its way almost as instructive as the epistle. Thanks, Pheoebe! I regularly harvest, dehydrate and then rehydrate into tea my several-to-many (for some) hibiscus…the process is made easy for many by going to a Latin aisle in many grocery stores or in Latin American markets under the heading of Jamiaca (high-mack-ee-ah) in Spanish. I use mostly Florida native “Sleeping Hibiscus” whose flowers do not open, but the stamen protrudes, flush with pollen, but care must be taken not to entrap a bee or wayward wasp when picking. With a frozen strawberry and a couple of rehydrated flowers, a very tasty vinaigrette salad dressing may be composed (with the tea and freshly squeezed orange juice) – from Pati Jinich’s Mexican Table TV (pbs) cooking show.

  4. There is something that I would like to point out. My husband has a kidney problem, but it is currently controlled. However, he has had a problem with high potassium. Medical people like yourself quite rightly tell us about the dangers of sodium and recommend using potassium salts instead with no warning of the dangers of potassium. It is, after all, very similar to sodium, being in the same group in the periodic table, and high potassium can be as dangerous as high sodium.

    • I’m glad you brought up this point. You are absolutely right. People with chronic renal insufficiency are at risk of high potassium (which is dangerous).

      However, those with normal functioning kidneys are able to excrete excess potassium so they are at much lower risk. Rather, most people don’t get enough potassium in their diet.

      Btw, I never recommend the replacement of regular salt with the use of potassium salt. I apologize if you have been mislead in the past.

  5. Don’t forget flowers! I’ve been looking into how having flowers and plant around the house and office can affect the mind and stress. 😁

    • Does that include Flugelhorns? Especially in tight shotgun-style blues bars – they did stop smoking inside and I am considering making more stops now, and seek your advice. Or were you discussing swans nearby as you tried to meditate by Lake Eola in downtown Orlando? You two are/were so cryptically having a ball in the midst of this thread I just had to interject. But I digress – and I have more comments to glean before I hit “share.” Thanks, ladies!

  6. Never had high, when I was a very young teenager I started smoking…for one of the reasons you indicated. It raises blood pressure! mine was so low then that I was fainting. It varies to abnormally low now, particularly with the “Om mani padme hum” mantra; I errored out a VA machine. The one healthy thing I have. But that all has to be blogged tonight. I may spend as much of the next week as I can awake and writing. EEG soon…you’ll read it, though. No sense in depressing repetition. And there will be some useful bits as well. You’re doing a good thing. Hey, why are they trying to kill me with anti-seizure meds? (Acetaminophen and don’t answer.)

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