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Dr. Joel Kahn: 11 ways to control blood pressure naturally and inexpensively

Originally Published at Deadline Detroit

High blood pressure is called the silent killer because it can bring heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and aneurysms, as well as sexual dysfunction. One of every three Americans have this malady.

Of course, many medications can be prescribed for hypertension. But for a good number of people, elevated blood pressure is a lifestyle disease related to poor nutrition, sedentary lifestyle, stress, poor sleep, obesity, smoking and other factors that can be controlled or eliminated. In other words, freedom from medication is an attainable goal for many.

These natural approaches work for all ages, aren’t expensive and don’t carry the side effects common with prescription medication:

1. Aromatherapy: Essential oils have become widely popular and many users report a relaxing effect. In a study of spa workers, essential oil vapors reduced blood pressure and heart rate when used for an hour (but no longer). Consider lavender, ylang ylang, clary sage and frankincense.

2. Probiotics: The role of our gut health, or microbiome, has been in medical news over the last five years. Several studies show that probiotics alter blood pressure. I recommend a high-quality, broad-spectrum daily probiotic with over 10 million colony forming units and eating fermented foods like sauerkraut and pickles.

3. Asparagus: The hundreds of active chemicals called cladophylls in this popular vegetable have positive effects on the heart. Eating asparagus can help lower blood pressure while also packing in lots of fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

4. Meditation: Research shows that regular practice is associated with a drop in blood pressure. There are many different styles, so you can find one that works. Join the movement.

5. Yoga: While meditation is certainly a part of this, the movement and sweating that come with yoga practice offer additional benefits — including reduced blood pressure. Best of all, this ancient practice is suitable for young and old.

6. Flaxseed: Flaxseed is a rich source of alpha linolenic acid that can reduce inflammation, plus help lower blood pressure. I recommend adding two tablespoons of ground flax to your daily diet by adding it to smoothies, yogurt and baked goods.

“Freedom from [hypertension] medication is an attainable goal,” our medical columnist says. (Posed photo: DepositPhotos)

7. Beetroot: Beets are a rich source of nitrates and can help relax blood vessels, resulting in lower blood pressure. Whether cooked or juiced, the impact of beetroot juice on blood pressure is worth exploring.

8. Blueberries: This popular berry is another great source of nitric oxide and can help lower blood pressure. The additional benefits  of blueberries on brain and bowel health make them a true superfood.

9. Sauna: Whether dry, steam or infrared, saunas have been shown to offer some heart benefits. Studies have found that sauna therapy can lower the risk of hypertension and offer physical benefits similar to those achieved from activities like walking.

10. Sleep therapy: Poor sleep can result in inflammation, stiffer arteries and elevated blood pressure. Identifying and treating sleep apnea, avoiding stimulants before bed, applying sleep hygiene methods like dark and cold rooms, and limiting bright lights for at least 30 minutes before sleep can all assist in better sleep and lower blood pressure.

11. Consider the “Daniel Fast:” This ancient program, rooted in the Bible, involves eating only fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains for 21 days. One study found impressive improvements in cardiovascular health for both men and women, including a significant drop in blood pressure.

Time-tested lifestyle factors — a diet rich in brightly colored fruits and vegetables, exercising, maintaining proper body weight and not smoking — are the foundation of blood pressure control. Focus on a daily practice of these core habits.

As Dr. Thomas Sydenham, a 17th Century English physician, supposedly said 400 years ago: “Man is as old as his arteries.” You now have 11 steps to help you remain young at heart and body.