It is generally accepted that one of the best ways to deal with the prehypertensive or hypertensive condition naturally is to invest in lifestyle changes which promote healthy blood pressure.
The most commonly recommended changes to one’s lifestyle by medical professionals usually focus on aspects such as dietary improvements, increased exercise and activity levels, and control of chronic stress.
As mentioned in previous posts, I think that the lifestyle intervention which can be most effective is the one which targets DIET first and foremost.
Many studies have shown that adopting a whole food, plant based diet which centres around the consumption of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, with lesser amounts of lean meats and minimun quantities of healthy saturated fats will produce desired results, not only for helping to maintain normal BP levels, but also for good health as a whole.
Blood lipid levels will benefit, as too the circulatory system and functioning of the cardio-vascular system.
Herbal Teas for Hypertension
One very useful addition to a healthy diet comes in the form of healthy beverages. Just as consumption of sodas and other overly sweet beverages can most definitely have a negative effect on the body, including blood pressure, so too certain HERBAL TEAS can have a very positive affect on the body… And some of these teas have been shown to work on blood pressure itself…
And one of my favourite herbal beverages for helping to manage my blood pressure is:
Hibiscus Tea – from the Hibiscus plant (Hibscus sabdariffa) is made from the calyx of the flower. The calyx of a flower is the group of leaf-like or petal-like structures arranged at the base of the flower or the top of the stalk.
As a beverage, the tea can be made from loose leaf, or more conveniently can be bought in tea bag form.
In either case when served Hibiscus tea has a deep ruby colour, and a taste which some have likened to a tart flavour with a somewhat lemony aftertaste. It can be consumed either as a hot beverage, or – and this is my preferred way of taking it – as a chilled drink which can be so refreshing on a hot summer’s day. And if you add a little stevia leaf sweetener, or manuka honey it will help take away the sour taste for those who do prefer their beverages sweeter.
How does Hibiscus Tea affect Blood Pressure?
Recently Researchers have spent more time investigating the beneficial effects of Hibiscus on blood pressure, and have been able to determine several possible reasons why it is instrumental in lowering blood pressure.
- It possesses diuretic properties
- It acts as a vasodilator, or artery widener
- It acts as a natural ACE inhibitor on the body
The last effect is significant! One group of prescription medications which is used by doctors to help manage blood pressure is known as ACE Inhibitors, where ACE stands for Angiotensin-converting enzyme. The goal of such medication is to stop your body from producing a chemical called angiotensin II. When angiotensin II gets into your blood stream it causes your blood vessels to narrow which in turn gives your blood less space to flow in, and this then raises your blood pressure.
So, having a natural substance which can perform the same function as a prescription medication is indeed a real bonus. And this of course automatically prompts the question –
How does the natural ACE inhibitor quality of Hibiscus perform when compared to a prescription ACE Inhibitor?
There have been two studies conducted in which Hibiscus Tea has gone head-to-head with a prescription ACE Inhibitor and the results are quite illuminating!
Study 1 – Comparing the BP lowering Effects of Hibiscus Tea versus Captopril
This study involving 75 participants was able to show that the blood pressure lowering results of taking an infusion prepared with 10 grams of dry calyx from Hibiscus sabdariffa mixed in 1/2 litre of water and consumed daily for 4 weeks before breakfast on the test group were just as effective as the outcome of the group who took the ACE inhibitor CAPTOPRIL 25 mg twice a day. In the test group systolic BP dropped by 15mm Hg from the initial baseline of 139mm Hg, and diastolic BP by 11mm Hg from 90mm Hg. A similar result was recorded in the control group who took the Captopril.
Study 2 – Comparing the BP lowering Effects of Hibiscus Tea versus Lisinopril
The outcome of this study was not quite as good, but still impressive. Here the study included 171 people with hypertension, and looked at the effects of Hibiscus tea (250mg anthocyanin extracts mixed in water) taken before breakfast daily, against the ACE inhibitor drug LISINOPRIL (10mg).
The chart** below shows the results with the Lisinopril performing slightly better than the Hibiscus tea in this instance in terms of lowering both systolic and diastolic BP readings.
Hibiscus ▼ by 17.14/11.97 mmHg Lisinopril ▼ by 23.31/15.39 mmHg
**(chart courtesy Dr Sarah Brewer)
How much Hibiscus Tea should you drink each day?
This will depend on the form of tea you choose to make. If you are making the loose leaf form of the tea then you can try anywhere from 1 teaspoon of the dried “flowers” up to 5 teaspoons. Added to a cup of boiling water and allowed to steep for around five to ten minutes should work.
My recommendation is to experiment with these guidelines and, using a reliable home blood pressure monitor, check your BP readings about one hour after you have consumed the tea. This way you will be able to figure how the Hibiscus is affecting your BP levels and adjust accordingly.
If on the other hand you choose to buy the tea bags and make the tea this way – and this is my preferred method, simply because it is so convenient – then one teabag steeped in a cup of boiling water for 5 – 10 minutes and taken two or maximum three times a day before meals should do the trick.
Again the idea is to monitor your BP so that you can find the ideal dose for your own individual needs.
One important thing to bear in mind if you are already on a BP lowering prescription medication, especially an ACE inhibitor, is that drinking the Hibiscus Tea may very well further depress your BP levels.
Now, if your intention is to try and replace your prescription medications with a natural BP reducing agent such as Hibiscus tea (which in my opinion is an admirable goal) please make sure you first consult with your physician and develop a strategy which will be both safe and effective for achieving this ultimate goal.
When we consider natural approaches to lowering blood pressure, I believe that Hibiscus tea has a role to play in an overall lifestyle plan which emphasizes healthy nutrition, keeping active and finding balance in one’s life.
I have been drinking this refreshing and delicious natural tea for a couple of years now, and it has definitely helped me manage my blood pressure without any noticeable side effects. In fact I would go so far as to consider it my best herbal tea for high blood pressure…
Taking on board enough fluids each day is important for your body as a whole and also helps to control blood pressure. Often beverages are not given as much consideration as food is when looking to make healthy changes to one’s diet.
But the choices of what to drink can most certainly make a difference, and teas are amongst the healthiest options. So when it’s time for a cuppa, why not give Hibiscus tea a try?
***If you would like to make a contribution to today’s topic, I would welcome any comments below.***