Monthly Archives: April 2019

Hibiscus Tea, The Best Drink for High Blood Pressure

References: J HypertensionFitoterapia

Everything you do that helps high blood pressure adds to other actions. Losing weight, cutting salt, eating more vegetables, snarfing down ground flax seed, reducing alcohol all add up. In fact, they don’t just add up, they are synergistic and are multiplicative. Now that you have done such a good job, time to reward yourself with a nice cuppa. Whoa, not black tea, hibiscus tea. This shouldn’t have been last in the series, it should have been first. Why, well because it is so easy and has such a profound effect.

This is not just hype. This really works. And a lot! In fact, so much so that anyone with any sort of high blood pressure should consider this foundational to their care.

Here is the data. Combine 5 studies that used randomization and controls, with 390 participants, and you get today’s results. The average lowering was in the range of 7.5 mm Hg. systolic and 3.5 mm diastolic. The higher your initial blood pressure, the greater the effect. Of course, with only 390 participants scattered over 5 studies, the authors note that “larger studies are needed”. Can you imagine that? Not a chance that will ever happen as there isn’t much of a market for expensive hibiscus pills. It’s too cheap. Which means you must do it. You can afford it and it’s ever so good for you. 
Why on earth does Hibiscus sabdariffa have such a powerful effect? The flower is particularly rich in organic acids, polyphenols, and anthocyanins that are salutary for the human vascular system. High blood pressure is essentially the lining of your blood vessel tree being fed up with all the assaults you place on it. HIbiscus’s good stuff evidently calms all that firestorm down. Fat tissue is exuding inflammatory cytokines. The transfats, sugars, alcohol, and caffeine we slurp down are all setting off all our fire alarms that startle our vascular system into alarm mode.

It’s no wonder we have high blood pressure. If you don’t, living in America today, you are an outlier. By 70, 70% of us have it. And for this, we take a pill, or two or three. If you travel to parts of the world where folks naturally don’t have all our American dietary insults, you find that people’s blood pressure actually declines with advanced age. The two go hand in hand. 
So, if you want to live to be 100, you have to address your blood pressure. If it’s already pretty good, great. Make it a little better. Reward yourself with a nice afternoon cuppa. Hibiscus. Not camellia sinensis (black tea).

WWW: What will work for me. I went on Amazon and bought myself a pound of hibiscus tea and two tea strainers. It’s cheap. I don’t want as much caffeine, particularly after lunch. So, the afternoon cuppa……hibiscus.

Pop Quiz

  1. Hibiscus tea will lower your blood pressure by how much? Answer: 7 mm Hg / 3 mm Hg.
  2. How does that compare to a pill? Answer: Equal to virtually every pharmaceutical. And not as fun
  3. As we age, our blood pressure naturally goes up? Answer. True, in America if you consider drinking alcohol, gorging on salt, getting overweight, shunning vegetables to be natural behavior. In parts of the world where those behaviors are less prevalent, blood pressure falls with age.
  4. What ingredient in Hibiscus does it? Answer. We don’t know and likely won’t’ find out anytime soon. No big dollars to support something that is cheap.
  5. Can you name 5 strategies that help high blood pressure you are willing to add to your own lifestyle?                        Answer:     Your call?

Treat High Blood Pressure Naturally: Lose the Weight

References: Thirty Days to Natural BP Control by DeRoseVascular Health Risk Manag., PLos One,

Losing weight is so important to blood pressure control, it is always in the big three means by which to lower your blood pressure naturally. The data is absolutely unequivocal. For every 1 mm of systolic blood pressure you drop, your risk of stroke drops 2.8%. That adds up. 
It gets to the core problem of blood pressure. What is it? In effect, high blood pressure is better called “endothelial dysfunction”. The lining of your blood vessels is called the endothelium. It gets upset by various features. It’s actually a pretty simple little affair. The endothelium is the last barrier between the outside world and your fragile cells. It is the last line of defense. Its job is to help protect the cells. The endothelium can only do three things. It can relax. That’s called low blood pressure. It can go ballistic and constrict. That’s called high blood pressure. Or it can call for help by sending out cytokines (morse code) for troops. 
We thought fat tissue was just a convenient place to store calories from beer. That may be the case, but more ominously, fat turns out to be incredibly inflammatory. 
If you look at fat tissue under a microscope, the greater the size of fat cells, the greater the number of white blood cells (pus). This phenomenon occurs particularly in “visceral fat”. Your belly.

To get to low blood pressure, you need to have your fat cells not setting off inflammation in your endothelium, getting it all upset and constricting. It’s that simple. And that means losing weight and keeping it off. 
And that’s the big conundrum. If we could simply lose weight, we all would do it. Weight loss is not a two-week affair. It is the natural consequence of lifestyle choices you choose to do for the rest of your life. That requires change in habits that you stick with for the rest of your life.

Losing weight means avoiding some foods, all of which have been tied to high blood pressure. You don’t avoid sugar for a month to lose weight. You look at sugar very skeptically for the rest of your life. You look at every food you eat and choose not to get the dessert. Don’t have the sweetened soda. Don’t add sugar to your tea. Losing weight means eat more vegetables than animal. Forever. Enjoy your meat, in much smaller proportions. Pile on the vegetables. And just plain stop eating two particular egregious vegetables: french fries and potato chips. Too many carbs soaked in fat, with too much salt.

WWW What will work for me. Controlling weight requires habits developed in five venues. Home, work, vacation, restaurants, and parties. All five have to be working to make habits become successful. I think I’ve got three of them conquered but the parties at restaurants are tough for me. If its Indian food with Indian gulab jamuns and Kheer, I’m done in.

Pop Quiz:

  1. For every millimeter of systolic blood pressure drop, what happens to stroke risk? Answer: 10% drop.
  2. Belly fat is harmless. T or F. Answer: False as false can be.
  3. Blood pressure is a risk factor for what else? Answer: Any kind of heart attack, vascular disease, stroke, congestive heart failure.
  4. Name the 5 venues for which you need to have strategies to be consistent with life style choices about food. Answer: Home, work, travel, parties, restaurants.
  5. What’s the fancy term physiologically for high blood pressure? Answer: Endothelial dysfunction. Upset lining of your blood vessels.

Treat High Blood Pressure Naturally: Lose the Salt

References: The Lancet April 2019He BMJ 2013NEJM 2010 Bibbins-DomingoNutrientsHarvard Health, David DeRose

This sounds so mundane that you yawn and want to skip the news. Don’t! The data shows SALT as the NUMBER ONE cause of premature death in the world today. Number 1. That includes cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure. The works. 
In this study released last week in The Lancet, the authors looked at which diets ended up shortening lives the most. Excess salt exceeds the risk of smoking. The use of excess salt results in 3 million excess deaths a year. The other two signature problems showed up as insufficient whole grains, and insufficient fruit. Goodness. 
We have considered salt a problem for a long time. The three foundational pillars of blood pressure control are 1) Losing weight, if overweight, 2) Eating whole foods instead of processed foods, and 3) decreasing salt. Salt has always been in the running.

Dr. He did a meta-analysiswith the Cochrane Collaboration and produced the definitive review of salt literature in 2013. Thirty-four studies were combined to conclude what a powerful blood pressure lowering effect reducing salt has. Many folks consume as much as 9 grams a day of salt. The recommended goal was to get to 3 grams. 
In America, another major study showed the effect that would have on lives saved. In the New England Journal of Medicine in 2010, Dr. Bibbins-Domingo demonstrated that in the US we would reduce cardiac disease and stroke by some 30-50% saving some $ 25 billion a year in health care costs if we cut the salt to 3 grams a day. (In perspective, 3 grams is about 1/2 a tsp.) 
What’s the reason for this power? It’s back to the principle of the balance of sodium to potassium and magnesium. Just a thousand years ago, or more, we ate much, much less sodium (700 mg a day) and more vegetables, aka, potassium (1100 mg). The net effect was that the ratio of potassium to sodium changed dramatically. What used to be 16 molecules of potassium to 1 of sodium (a potassium dominant pattern) has reversed into a 1-to-4 ratio (for a sodium-dominant pattern). There are now calls to use the urinary Na-K excretion ratio as the best method of determining whether one has enough of a sodium reduction or potassium increase.

Your kidneys struggle to keep up with that change in relationship. Every single last cell in your body uses a potassium-sodium ratio across their membranes to pump vital nutrients across the membrane. When you flood the system with much more sodium, you screw up all those membranes. It’s really that simple. 

Where does sodium sneak into our diet? Many ways. Mostly prepared foods but we inflict more sodium on ourselves in the form of salty sports drinks. If you are dripping sweat from football practice in 102-degree weather, have some salt. But if you are just a little tired, or my goodness, don’t poison yourself.

WWW: What will work for me. I’ve stopped salting my food. Just stopped. After about a week, I’m noticing that the flavor feels back to normal. It took a couple of days of feeling like the food was lower in taste that I liked, but now that feeling is gone. There is literature to show that effect to be true. I’m off most prepared food but I sure enjoy ethnic cuisine at a night out. I suspect I get a lot there without realizing it. And no sports drinks for me.

Pop Quiz

  1. What is the average consumption of salt in America, per day? Answer: about 6-7 grams a day
  2. How much salt is that in relation to a teaspoon? Answer: Two
  3. If I could cut that down to ________, I would be under the recommended limit of three grams a day. Answer: 1/2 teaspoon.
  4. I’m aiming to raise my Sodium to potassium ratio. How can I do that effectively? Answer: The more raw vegetables you eat, the better. Steam them if you cook them. But don’t boil. That green color is all the potassium and magnesium leaking out.
  5. Name one strategy you can do to reduce your salt? ________________

Treat High Blood Pressure Naturally – Stop Animal Foods

References: Amer Jr Public HealthDeRose 30 DaysFraser AJCN 2009AJCN 2009 FraserNutrition Reviews,

What are the basic, most effective methods we can follow to lower our blood pressure? Three things: whole plant foods, lose weight, less salt. That’s the foundation of natural blood pressure control. In David DeRose’s wonderful book about natural control of blood pressure, he details the seminal studies that prove the point.

The Adventist study of Seventh Day Adventists was the first and may be the best study. Adventists have emphasized healthy eating for over a hundred years with the result that a fair percentage of them are vegetarian. They make an ideal group to compare different dietary strategies in lifestyle to various other elements. Being a vegetarian is one of the most dramatic. In African Americans, meat eaters had a 44% rate of high blood pressure, while vegetarian African Americans only had 16%. In Caucasians, the rate of high blood pressure dropped from 22% down to 7%.

That study led to a much larger study of over that study to 80 others in a compilation by Berkow in the journal Nutrition Reviews of all the effects of being a vegetarian, and you find that it is never too late to start and always has a beneficial effect. 
It should be noted that these effects in all these studies is from natural, whole foods. Real potatoes, not chips. Real corn, not bagged, fried, salted, processed chips. Real……natural food. What is the elements that make it work? 
[The evidence shows that our forebears used to have 11,000 mg a day of potassium to 700 of sodium. That’s 16:1. Today we have 3,200 of sodium to 2,500 of potassium. Hmmm. We’ve flipped the ratio from dominant potassium to dominant sodium with a 32 fold shift in the ratio. A study published in the](The evidence shows that our forebears used to have 11,000 mg a day of potassium to 700 of sodium. That’s 16:1. Today we have 3,200 of sodium to 2,500 of potassium. Hmmm. We’ve flipped the ratio from dominant potassium to dominant sodium with a 32 fold shift in the ratio. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2009 on the ratio of potassium to sodium in American adults showed about a 50% reduction in mortality for folks with the highest potassium to sodium ratio. Whole foods, particularly uncooked, have the most potassium in them.

WWW: What will work for me? Whole food is not a store. It’s a life style. The Adventists have proven it positively. The rest of Americans have proven it negatively. Now it’s just climbing out of that a hole into whole. Can I do it? I’ve made it to at least one day a week with just plants. As I accumulate more recipes of tasty, delicious plant foods I find it easier. I’m on a quest for more recipes. For breakfast today I just got lazy and had a whole avocado. It didn’t feel like enough at first but then an hour later I left very nice and full. One, whole avocado.

Pop Quiz

  1. Who are the folks in America who take their place amongst the healthiest in the world? Answer: Vegetarian Seventh Day Adventists. The meat eating Adventists aren’t much better than the rest of Americans.
  2. Our great grand parents consumed how much potassium in relationship to sodium? Answer: 16:1. Much, much more potassium.
  3. We’ve flipped our ratio of potassium to sodium by how much? Answer: 32:1. Sodium is now dominant. Three grams a day is what we are eating. Goal, drop it back down to one.
  4. What happens to my blood pressure when I switch from animal based foods to plant based foods? Answer: drops by at least 50%
  5. I’m old. Does it matter if I switch? Answer: At any age, every move from more animal to more plant makes for improvement. Animal includes milk, eggs, cheese, meat.

Eat Flax Seeds and Lower Your Blood Pressure

References: Natural Medicine JournalWorld’s Healthiest Foods,

Want to lower your blood pressure by THE MOST EFFECTIVE method I’ve found yet? This is really interesting.

Take 110 folks, of whom 80% have high blood pressure and were mostly on meds. Have them be randomized and then agree to take 30 grams (1 oz) of ground flax seed a day. About 20 folks dropped out for various reasons. Wait for 6 months. And then see what happens to their blood pressure. It turns out that those folks whose blood pressure was over 140 systolic lost about 15 mm Hg/ 7 mm Hg on their blood pressure. Can you beat that? Isn’t that amazing?!! I’ve not found anything more powerful.

What is 1 oz of flax seeds? It’s actually quite a lot. When you grind it up, which you have to do, it turns into about 3 heaping tablespoons of ground product. (If you don’t grind it up, you get zero effect. Zero.) That is enough to give you about 7-8 grams of insoluble fiber all in one whack. That is enough to give you a really upset tummy if you do it all at once because it is such a change on your gut all at once. But if you start slow and build up, doing it every day over a month, you will successfully have lovely, smooth, soft, bulky bowel movements, and in six months, lovely, smooth, silky, stretchy arteries with lower blood pressure. Presto! Chango! 

How on early is flax seed so powerful? Silly, little, hard seeds. Filled with more antioxidants than blueberries or olives, they also have more lignans than any other food. There is an extensive published literature on the medical benefits of flax seeds that is out there. Most of it points to the fact that flax seeds soften metabolic syndrome (of which high blood pressure is a part). The essential omega three fats are very abundant in ground flax seed and may be part of that role. But it’s likely the fiber in flax seeds that are the secret sauce. Your gut bacteria love that stuff. Their processing of that fiber is very likely making chemicals we have yet to fully understand or measure that makes flax seeds into the powerhouse they are. Can we measure that yet? Nope. Just conjecture. But there is such power in the effect, it must be more than what we currently know.

How to fix flax seeds? You can add them to your cereal or yogurt. You can incorporate them into muffins or any baked goods. In fact, cooking and baking the omega fats within flaxseed has been shown not to degrade their qualities, and thereby reduce the glycemic index of the muffin they are being baked into.

Can you eat flax seeds whole, plain? Nope! They come out the other end whole and undigested. The only benefit they then provide you is what we call, “transit time”. No lower blood pressure, no glycemic improvement, no good, nadda.

WWW: What will work for me. I’ve eaten flax seed for years in my breakfast cereal based on quinoa and blueberries. My blood sugar is lousy but my blood pressure has been ok, so far. 70% of Americans have high blood pressure by the time we get to 70, so I’m only a few years away and want to keep myself low. I’m going to think about how I can sneak some flax seed into my daily plan. There has to be a way of adding it to other foods. Got any ideas?

Pop Quiz

  1. Flax seeds are good for you whole or ground up. T or F. Answer: Decidedly false. No benefit, almost whatsoever, with whole flax seeds. Your chewing just isn’t powerful enough to break them open to get their innards, their benefits.
  2. Ground flaxseed will lower your blood pressure how many points if you eat 30 grams (1oz) a day for 6 months? Answer: 15 / 7. The most of any known home-remedy.
  3. Baking flax seeds in muffins destroys the fragile omega 3 fats. T or F. Answer: Another false. You only lose 5-6 %.
  4. Flax seeds have other beneficial qualities besides blood pressure? T or F. Answer: Oh my goodness, yes. Your bowel movements will be softer and your colon cancer risk will likely drop dramatically, along with your blood pressure, your risk of gall bladder disease, diverticulitis, appendicitis…….
  5. You can buy flax seeds in most grocery stores. T or F. Answer: True. Buy the whole seeds and grind them yourself. The omega three fats degrade pretty quickly after being exposed to oxygen. Takes about 5 seconds to grind 30 grams.