Indian Herbs for Hypertension
Indian cuisine uses herbs known traditionally and scientifically to help high-blood pressure.
Indian food is not only about curry powder and everything that is hot, spicy, oily, rich, or fatty. There are many traditional Indian recipes that are high in nutrients and low in fat and many common herbs and spices known for their medicinal value, such as turmeric, ginger, garlic and green chilies. Anusuya Suresh, an alternative therapy specialist, recommends the following ‘Indian’ herbs for lowering high blood pressure.
Karpuravalli from the Coleus forskohlii plant can be found growing in many gardens in South India. In research studies, it has been found to relax the smooth muscles of the arteries which helps lower blood pressure. It is also said to strengthen the heartbeat and slow the pulse. Some studies have found that Karpuravalli tablets and chewable pills help reduce hypertension in the elderly.
Drumsticks (sahjan in Hindi) from the Moringa oleifera plant, are known for being high in proteins, valuable vitamins and minerals. Studies have found that extracts from the plant leaves help lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Traditionally, the amla plant is a favorite remedy for lowering blood pressure. Several studies have found that aqueous extracts of the amla plant leaves help reduce diastolic and systolic blood pressure. Amla extracts also seem to reduce blood and liver cholesterol levels, which may contribute to its antihypertensive action. It is believed that amla vitamin C content may widen blood vessels and thereby reduce blood pressure. The plant is an important component of the commercially available Triphala mixture.
Radish (mooli in Hindi), is a commonly used vegetable in Indian cuisine that has been linked to having blood pressure lowering prowess. This may be due to its high potassium content, which helps counter the blood pressure-increasing effects of a high-sodium diet.
Sesame seeds have also been shown to reduce blood pressure levels. Their oil contains sesamin and sesaminol, which are believed to play a major role in reducing the body’s oxidative stress. By acting as an anti-inflammatory on the arterial walls, blood pressure comes down. According to Suresh “recent studies have found that combining sesame oil with rice bran oil helps to reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients more effectively than taking antihypertensive medication alone.”
The alkaloid reserpine extracted from the Rauwolfia (or Sarpagandha) plant was one of the first potent treatments for hypertension by traditional doctors. It helps widen blood vessels and lowers the heart rate, thereby keeping blood pressure down. Although both the root powder and tablets are available, Rauwolfia must be taken under a doctor’s supervision due to its potency.
Flaxseed (Alsi) or linseed is rich in a compound called alpha linolenic acid ― one of the essential omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have found that people with hypertension who include flaxseed in their diet have lower cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure.
Finding the antihypertensive secrets behind different cuisines and then trying them out in the kitchen can be a fun and stimulating way to help fight high blood pressure.
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