The 7 Best Herbs for Lowering Blood Pressure

Elevated blood pressure, also called hypertension, impacts almost 50% of all American adults. Doctors note that hypertension is the most preventable risk factor for heart disease. This article looks at …

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Written by: Daniel Powers, MS
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Elevated blood pressure, also called hypertension, impacts almost 50% of all American adults.

Doctors note that hypertension is the most preventable risk factor for heart disease.

This article looks at the scientific research behind the best herbs for lowering blood pressure.

the 5 best herbs for lowering blood pressure

Blood Pressure Overview:

Elevated blood pressure (called hypertension) occurs when your blood moves through your arteries at a higher pressure than normal.

High blood pressure can cause atherosclerosis (i.e. hardening of the arteries), which can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or other complications.

High blood pressure is also tied to an increased risk for an aneurysm. Increased blood pressure can cause your blood vessels to weaken and bulge, forming an aneurysm. If an aneurysm ruptures, it can be life-threatening.

Blood pressure is typically measured using two numbers:

  • Systolic Blood Pressure: Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
  • Diastolic Blood Pressure: Diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats.

Best Herbs for Lowering Blood Pressure

Below are the best herbs for lowering blood pressure.

1. Olive Leaf Extract (with Oleoropin)

Olive leaf extract is one of the best herbs for high blood pressure.

Research indicates that olive leaf extract may help to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Olives are one of the most popular foods in the world, however, the leaf of this beloved plan is often overlooked.

In particular, olive leaf contains a phytochemical called oleuropein, which appears to be the active component that helps to lower blood pressure.

In an 8-week long double-blind, randomized study of individuals with pre-hypertension, olive leaf extract (500mg taken twice daily) was compared against Captopril. Captopril is a pharmaceutical drug used to treat high blood pressure, it’s known as an ACE inhibitor. In the comparative study, the olive leaf extract group reduced systolic blood pressure by ~11.5 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by ~4.8 mm Hg.

These results were similar to the Captopril group, which had a reduction of ~13.7 mm Hg and ~6.4 mm Hg respectively. The researchers noted that the olive leaf extract was similarly effective as Captopril at reducing blood pressure, with the additional benefit that the olive leaf group also saw a decrease in triglyceride levels.

human clinical trial involving 60 pre-hypertensive participants looked at the impact of taking 142mg daily of an extract containing oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol. The control group took a placebo. After six weeks, it was discovered that the oleuropein group had a 3-4 point decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Another clinical trial involving pre-hypertensive identical twins looked at the impact of olive leaf extract on blood pressure. Individuals were given either 500mg or 1,000mg of olive leaf extract over the course of 2 months. The 500mg group showed a 6 mmHg decrease in systolic blood pressure and a 5mmHg decrease in diastolic blood pressure. The 1,00mg group showed a 13mmHg decrease in systolic blood pressure and a 5mmHg decrease in diastolic blood pressure.

human clinical trial looked at the impact of a combination of olive leaf and hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) in individuals with high blood pressure. There were 134 participants who were divided into three groups, a Captopril group (i.e. a standard pharmaceutical approach), a low dose hibiscus/olive leaf group, and a high dose hibiscus/olive leaf group. The results were similar across the three groups, with the following report results:

  • The Captopril group had a 16.4/9.9 mm Hg (p < .0001) decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure
  • The low dose hibiscus/olive leaf extract group saw a 15.4/9.6 mm Hg (p < .0001) reduction
  • The high-dose hibiscus/olive leaf extract group saw a 14.9/9.4 mmHg (p < .0001) reduction

meta-analysis study found that 500-1,000mg of olive leaf extract daily appears to be helpful in reducing elevated blood pressure levels.

An open pilot study involving 663 pre-hypertensive individuals found that taking two capsules per day (100mg daily of oleuropein and 20mg daily of hydroxytyrosol) helped to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 13 and 6.6 mm Hg respectively.

Summary:

In-depth clinical research shows that olive leaf extract standardized to contain oleuropein may be able to help reduce elevated blood pressure levels.

2. Hibiscus

Another effective herb for lowering blood pressure is hibiscus.

Hibiscus is a tropical plant known for its beautiful bright red flowers. While often used as a flavoring agent in beverages, recent research shows that this plant may be helpful for blood pressure.

A meta-analysis review of clinical studies conducted on hibiscus for hypertension found that, on average, hibiscus helps to lower both systolic blood pressure by -7.58 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 3.53 mm Hg.

A clinical trial involving 46 individuals with stage 1 pre-hypertension looked at the impact of hibiscus tea on blood pressure. At the end of the study, the researchers found that the group that was given 2 cups of hibiscus tea a day had a 7.43 mm Hg reduction in systolic blood pressure and a 6.7 mm Hg reduction in diastolic blood pressure.

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted in 65 mildly hypertensive adults not taking blood pressure-lowering medications. The study participants were split into two groups and given either three cups of hibiscus tea or a placebo. After 6 weeks, the hibiscus tea group saw a decrease in systolic blood pressure by 7.2 mm Hg compared to 1.3 mmHg for the placebo group. Diastolic blood pressure was also lower, although this change did not differ from the placebo (-3.1 vs. -0.5 +/- 7.5 mm Hg).

The researchers noted that the study participants with higher baseline blood pressure numbers had a greater positive response to hibiscus treatment.

A small-scale pilot study found that drinking hibiscus tea helped to reduce blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure.

An animal study looking at the mechanism of action discovered that hibiscus extract has a vasodilator effect on the body’s aortic rings which helps to reduce blood pressure.

Another clinical trial looked into the benefits of hibiscus for blood pressure. The researchers found that hibiscus extract helped to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

One other study looked at the impact of Hibiscus sabdariffa extract in 25 men with cardiovascular disease risk. The researchers discovered that hibiscus improved postprandial vascular function.

Summary:

Research indicates that hibiscus can help to reduce elevated blood pressure levels.

3. Lemon Balm

Another effective herb for blood pressure is lemon balm.

Lemon balm is a relative of mint. It’s a perennial plant that is commonly used to help with anxiety and relaxation.

double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 49 individuals with hypertension showed that lemon balm can notably decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressures. In this study, the participants were given 400mg of lemon balm (or placebo) three times daily over a four-week period. The researchers reported a 10% (or greater) decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

A meta-analysis study found that lemon balm intake is associated with reduced systolic blood pressure levels.

Additionally, various animal studies have shown that lemon balm is associated with reduced blood pressure levels.

Summary:

Initial clinical research indicates that lemon balm can help to reduce elevated blood pressure levels. Additional large-scale trials are needed to confirm these effects.

4. Green Tea

Green tea may be beneficial herb for lowering blood pressure.

One randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial involved 20 obese female participants with elevated blood pressure. The participants were given either 500mg of green tea extract or a placebo. Researchers noted that when compared to the placebo group, the group treated with green tea experienced a more significant decrease in systolic blood pressure.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 58 obese, hypertensive participants found that green tea supplementation over a period of three months reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

In a 12-week double-blind clinical trial involving 240 obese adults, participants given a green tea extract with 583mg of catechins experienced significant reductions in systolic blood pressure.

One randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in 111 healthy adults found that supplementation with green tea capsules worked to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, among other cardiovascular risk factors.

Summary:

Human clinical trials indicate that green tea may work to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

5. Gotu Kola

Research indicates that gotu kola may work to reduce blood pressure and inhibit conditions such as microangiopathy and edema that may develop due to hypertension.

One randomized, clinical trial involved individuals diagnosed with both microangiopathy, a disease affecting small blood vessels in various areas of the body, and hypertension. Study participants who were treated with either 60 or 120mg of gotu kola extract experienced improved circulation and healthier blood vessels.

 A placebo-controlled, randomized, clinical trial involving individuals with high blood pressure found that gotu kola supplementation was linked with reductions in ankle swelling and capillary filtration rate, which is a risk factor for the development of edema.

In a placebo-controlled, randomized trial, 40 hypertensive individuals were treated with either 120 mg of gotu kola or with a placebo. The group treated with gotu kola experienced significant decreases in ankle swelling, symptoms of microangiopathy, and a lower capillary filtration rate when compared to the group treated with a placebo.

Another randomized study involving 40 individuals diagnosed with high blood pressure found that the study participants treated with gotu kola extract experienced improvements in both circulation and blood flow. The gotu kola group also experienced reductions in leg swelling when compared to the control group.

Lastly, a study involving 22 participants diagnosed with hypertension found that gotu kola tea consumption worked to decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Summary:

Clinical research has found that gotu kola may work to reduce blood pressure and benefit symptoms of microangiopathy and edema.

6. Nattokinase

Nattokinase has been shown to help reduce elevated blood pressure levels.

While nattokinase isn’t a herb, it is a natural enzyme made from natto, a traditional Japanese food, that helps to reduce blood pressure.

randomized, double-blind trial involving 86 individuals with hypertension found that nattokinase helped to reduce blood pressure levels. The nattokinase group was given 2,000fu (fibrinolytic units) of nattokinase each day. The researchers found that the nattokinase group had a -5.55 mm Hg decrease in systolic and -2.84 mm Hg decrease in diastolic blood pressure.

The researchers commented that these findings suggest that daily intake of nattokinase may play an important role in preventing, or even treating, hypertension.

Another randomized, double-blind trial found that nattokinase helped to reduce blood pressure in study participants with hypertension. The nattokinase group was given 100mg of nattokinase daily over the course of 2 months.

The average reduction in systolic blood pressure in the nattokinase group was statistically significant when compared to the placebo group. The average diastolic BP remained constant at 87 mmHg for the nattokinase group. However, it should be noted that in males, the average diastolic BP dropped from 86 mm Hg to 81 mm Hg.

Summary:

Nattokinase is a natural enzyme that appears to help to reduce blood pressure levels.

7. Dulse

Dulse is a type of red seaweed. It’s thought to be a natural remedy for lowering blood pressure.

In one study involving hypertensive rats, researchers found that both the protein hydrolysate and specific tridecapeptide found in dulse decreased blood pressure levels significantly. In fact, in both cases, the blood pressure level dropped over 30mmHg.

Also, a in vitro study found that certain dulse extract peptides led to efficient renin inhibition, which aids in relaxing and widening blood vessels, which in turn lowers blood pressure.

Another in vitro study found hydrolysate, a protein found in dulse, also effectively inhibited angiotensin-converting enzyme activity, which may play a role in preventing or controlling hypertension.

Summary:

Research shows that dulse may be useful in improving heart health and blood pressure by working to relax and widen blood vessels.

Blood Pressure Ranges:

Blood pressure is measured via a unit of measurement called millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

Blood pressure is measured using two primary numbers:

  • Systolic Blood Pressure: The first number listed, systolic blood pressure measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats.
  • Diastolic Blood Pressure: The second number listed, diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats.

Normal blood pressure for adults is defined as a systolic pressure of fewer than 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and a diastolic pressure of less than 80 mm Hg.

Prehypertension is defined as a systolic pressure from 120–139 mm Hg or a diastolic pressure from 80–89 mm Hg.

Hypertension is defined as a systolic pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher, or a diastolic pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher.

Managing Hypertension:

Hypertension is often managed through the use of medication, including angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and calcium channel blockers.

Common ACE inhibitors include:

  • Benazepril (Lotensin)
  • Captopril.
  • Enalapril (Vasotec)
  • Fosinopril.
  • Lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril)
  • Moexipril.
  • Perindopril.
  • Quinapril (Accupril)

Common calcium channel blockers include:

  • Amlodipine (Norvasc)
  • Diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac, others)
  • Felodipine.
  • Isradipine.
  • Nicardipine.
  • Nifedipine (Procardia)
  • Nisoldipine (Sular)
  • Verapamil (Calan SR, Verelan)

While standard medication usage can help to manage high blood pressure, there are a variety of dietary and lifestyle changes that can reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease.

Research shows that various herbs and spices may help to reduce blood pressure levels. Consider adding some of these blood pressure-lowering herbs to your diet.

As always, make sure to speak with your personal healthcare provider before making a diet/supplement change.

Conclusion:

Elevated blood pressure is the most common, preventable risk factor for heart disease. It affects nearly half of all American adults.

The ideal way to manage high blood pressure is through a combination of the right medications, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and engaging in various healthy lifestyle behaviors.

As with all supplements, make sure to talk with your doctor prior to making any changes to your standard routine.

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About Daniel Powers, MS

Daniel has a master's degree in herbal science from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. He has a passion for herbal medicine and how it can be used to support everyday health & wellness.

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