In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) there are various usages of Chinese herbs to lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is also called hypertension, and it’s a very serious and possibly life-threatening condition.
A systolic reading of 140 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and a diastolic reading of 90 mm Hg will register as high blood pressure; a healthy blood pressure will read around 120/80 mm Hg. The condition affects about 70 million American adults; about one in three, and more than half of American seniors aged between 65 to 75 years old are thought to have high blood pressure.
TCM has long been used to treat high blood pressure and has a unique perspective on it. Basically, high blood pressure is considered a warning sign that the body out of balance. Like conventional medicine, TCM believes that stress, a poor diet, and a sedentary lifestyle lead to hypertension. It is also thought that there are constitutional deficiencies, emotional factors, and damage in the liver, heart, and kidney systems.
How to Lower Blood Pressure with Chinese Herbs and Medicine
High blood pressure also manifests when various patterns are present in the body. In the early stage of hypertension, there may be qi stagnation and blood stasis, accumulation of phlegm and dampness, and liver yang hyperactivity. In the middle stage of hypertension, the body will begin to weaken and show patterns of yin deficiency and yang hyperactivity, qi deficiency with blood stasis, or qi deficiency and phlegm obstruction.
In the late stage of hypertension, the patterns present include qi deficiency and fire depletion of vital gate, and yin deficiencies of kidney and liver. Managing hypertension through TCM will not only lower blood pressure, but will also protect other organs like the kidneys, heart, and brain.
There is also evidence to support the use of Chinese herbs for hypertension. For example, a systematic review and meta-analysis in the journal Medicine in October 2015 supported the anti-hypertensive effect Chinese herbal formula called xuefu zhuyu decoction (XZD). The review included seven database searches, 15 studies, and 1,364 patients with hypertension, and the study authors concluded that XZD is a beneficial and safe herbal formula for hypertension.
Top Chinese Herbs to Lower Blood Pressure
The herbal formula XZD contains 11 Chinese herbs, including rehmannia, Chinese angelica root, achyranthes root, and red peony root. It is used to lower blood pressure and improve blood pressure-related symptoms that are caused by blood stasis syndrome and qi stagnation, according to TCM. Other studies suggest that there are a number of herbal formulas used to treat high blood pressure. The following are six of the top Chinese herbs to lower blood pressure, often found in these formulas.
- Red sage (danshen): Danshen is the dried root of Salvia miltiorrhiza, also called red sage. The herb is known to possess anti-hypertensive, anti-atherosclerosis, antioxidative, anti-platelet aggregation, and anti-inflammatory effects. It’s been used in TCM for centuries to treat diseases of the blood vessels and heart. In a study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology in 2007, researchers found that tanshinone, the active ingredient in red sage, significantly lowered blood pressure and widened blood vessels in hamsters.
- Eucommia bark (du zhong): Eucommia bark is found in Chinese herbal remedies to treat high blood pressure, and it is used in almost all Chinese formulas for hypertension. There is some evidence suggesting the effectiveness and safety of eucommia bark in the treatment of hypertension, according to a study published in the journal Alternative Medicine Review in 2011.
- Chinese angelica root (dong quai): Chinese angelica root, or dong quai, is used in nearly every blood-building formula in TCM, and some research suggests that Chinese angelica root solution can lower blood pressure and improve blood flow in pulmonary hypertension patients.
- Rehmannia (di huang): Rehmannia is another Chinese herb to lower blood pressure, found in formulas for hypertension, including XZD. In a systematic review of randomized controlled trials published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2012, researchers found that Chinese herbal formula called liu wei di huang wan (LWDHW), which contains rehmannia, is effective when combined with anti-hypertensive drugs in improving blood pressure and related symptoms in hypertensive patients.
- Panax ginseng (ren shen): Panax ginseng is also called Asian ginseng and Korean red ginseng. It’s a popular Chinese remedy for high blood pressure and other cardiovascular functions. Several studies have suggested that Panax ginseng can help regulate blood pressure. Low doses of ginsenosides in Panax ginseng have been found to have an anti-hypertensive effect while also improving blood circulation.
- Chinese hawthorn (shan zha): Chinese hawthorn has been used for thousands of years to treat and control high blood pressure, and it is thought to dilate the artery walls. Various studies have found that hawthorn extracts possess a wide range of cardiovascular properties, including a vasodilating effect, antioxidant activity, and a lipid-lowering effect. A study published in the journal Phytomedicine in 1994 found that Chinese hawthorn extract significantly reduced systolic blood pressure. Chinese hawthorn also has other cardiovascular benefits such as increasing blood circulation and preventing clot formation.
- Other Chinese herbs: Other Chinese herbs to lower blood pressure include achyranthes root, red peony root, peach kernel, root of the balloon flower, thorowax root, orange fruit, Szechuan lovage root, ligusticum striatum, Cortex moutan, Alisma orientale, poria cocos, cornus, yam, and safflower root.
Other Ways Traditional Chinese Medicine Treats High Blood Pressure
The following are a few other TCM practices that are helpful in the treatment of hypertension:
- Acupuncture: Researchers have found that a 30-minute acupuncture treatment each week can help lower blood pressure.
- Moxibustion: Moxibustion is done by burning a herbal remedy containing mugwort to stimulate certain acupuncture points on the body. Although studies are mixed on its effectiveness against hypertension, some evidence does suggest that moibustion can treat high blood pressure.
- Cupping therapy: This is another Chinese remedy for high blood pressure and related symptoms such as anxiety and headaches.
- Qigong and tai chi: Both tai chi and qigong combine movement, posture, breathing, and meditation to promote health and a long life. They have been practiced for centuries, and research indicates that they can improve hypertension.
Try some of the above suggested Chinese herbs to lower blood pressure and see if it makes a difference. As always, speak with your doctor first before introducing something new into your diet.
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