Know Your Numbers! Herbs for Hypertension

The NIMH supports Know Your Numbers! Week 2016

ISSUED 7th September 2016

Members of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists will be supporting the nations biggest blood pressure testing event run by Blood Pressure UK, during the week 12-18th September.  This event raises awareness in UK adults about the need to know their blood pressure numbers.

Having high blood pressure is one of the biggest risk factors for premature death as it can contribute to diseases such as heart disease, stroke, vascular dementia and chronic kidney disease. So keeping your blood pressure under control is one of the most important things you can do to extend your lifespan.  Yet over 5 million adults in the UK are unaware that their blood pressure is too high.¹

While some people with high blood pressure may require pharmaceutical intervention, herbal medicine can also help to prevent or control high blood pressure.²,³   

When putting together an individual formula for their patient a medical herbalist may include some of the following herbs commonly used to treat high blood pressure:

Garlic (Allium sativum) is probably the most widely studied herb and has wide ranging health benefits.  Studies show that garlic supplements can modestly but significantly reduce blood pressure in people with existing high blood pressure.,

Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha) has been used in the treatment of heart disease for hundreds of years.  Current research methods show that hawthorn can be used effectively in the treatment of heart disease and high blood pressure.

Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is commonly found in herb tea blends, where its anthocyanins impart a deep blue-red colour.  However, the benefits of hibiscus go far beyond the aesthetic.  A recent meta-analysis showed that hibiscus tea has a significant effect on lowering both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

 Olive (Olea europaea) leaf extract is high in phenolic compounds that reduce LDL cholesterol oxidation and protect against atherosclerosis.  Olive leaf extract was as effective as a pharmaceutical medication in reducing blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.⁸,⁹

 The findings of the recent study into the Mediterranean diet highlight the dramatic impact that dietary changes can make. Medical herbalists are also trained in nutrition and are able to provide dietary advice alongside herbal medicine.

When taking herbs, the NIMH always recommends seeking the advice of a qualified medical herbalist.  Your nearest NIMH herbalist can be found here.


¹. Public Health England Press Release. (2014)  New figures show high blood pressure costs NHS billions each year

². Al Disi SS, Anwar MA and Eid AH (2016) Anti-hypertensive Herbs and their Mechanisms of Action: Part I. Front. Pharmacol. 6:323. 

³. Anwar MA, Al Disi SS and Eid AH (2016) Anti-Hypertensive Herbs and Their Mechanisms of Action: Part II. Front. Pharmacol. 7:50. 

. Ried, Karin et al.  Effect of Garlic on Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 8 (2008): 13.

. Ried K, Travica N, Sali A. The effect of aged garlic extract on blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors in uncontrolled hypertensives: the AGE at Heart trial. Integrated Blood Pressure Control. 2016;9:9-21. 

. Rastogi S, Pandey MM, Rabat AK.  Traditional herbs: a remedy for cardiovascular disorders

. Phytomedicine 2016 Oct 15;23(11):1082-9. 

. Serban C, Sahebkar A, Ursoniu S, Andrica F, Banach M.  Effect of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa L.) on arterial hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.  J. Hypertens. 2015 Jun;33(6):1119-27.

. Susalit E, Agnus N, Tjandrawinata RR, Nofiamy D, Perrinjaquet-Mocetti T, Verbruggen M.  Olive (Olea europaea) leaf extract effective in patients with stage-1 hypertension: comparison with Captopril.  Phytomedicine 2011 Feb 15;18(4):251-8.


More about the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH) 

The National Institute of Medical Herbalists is the UK's leading professional body representing herbal medicine practitioners.

First established as the National Association of Medical Herbalists in 1864, today the National Institute of Medical Herbalists has more than 700 members across the UK and beyond.

The Institute promotes the benefits of herbal medicine and oversees the provision of the best patient care through the work of its members.

NIMH members undergo a lengthy training programme before they can register as qualified medical herbalists. Practitioners train for at least three years and adhere to a strict code of conduct before they can gain MNIMH or FNIMH after their name. Recently qualified practitioners will have taken a BSc in Phytotherapy (herbal medicine). All NIMH-registered herbalists are fully insured, and follow a strict code of conduct.

NIMH-registered medical herbalists are trained in the same diagnostic skills as mainstream doctors but take a more holistic approach to treating illness. Herbalists treat a wide range of acute and chronic conditions and frequently work in collaboration with GPs and consultants to achieve the best combination of treatments for individual patients.