I would like to stop taking High Blood Pressure drugs and Allegra for allergies. Could you suggest something that is more of a natural product for these two things? I don’t like the side effects of the drugs. Mostly tiredness. Thanks, Jackie

There are several different natural strategies for lowering blood pressure.  One strategy is to use herbs and nutrients that promote vasodilation (the process by which the artery relaxes and widens).  A relaxed arterial wall has more give and is wider, therefore decreasing overall pressure throughout the system.

Coleus Forskohlii is an herb that has been shown to promote relaxation of smooth muscles, particularly those of the arteries and of the lungs making it useful for blood pressure related issues as well as asthma related issues.  It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.

Arginine is an amino acid that can increase nitric oxide levels.  Nitric oxide is the key component for signaling vasodilation of blood vessels.  For this reason it has been used as a tool to help naturally lower blood pressure by reducing resistance to blood flow like the for mentioned coleus.

Taurine is an important amino acid that has some very positive implications for lowering blood pressure.  It acts to help keep the key nutrients magnesium and potassium inside of cells and keep sodium out.  In this way it can influence fluid retention and acts as a mild diuretic.  However due to its gentle action it does not have the unwanted affects often experienced with prescription diuretics.  Additionally, taurine is an important amino acid for the production of a neurotransmitter called GABA.  GABA works in the brain to reduce sympathetic activity which results in the relaxation of arterial walls.  GABA is also an important brain chemical for stress reduction which also can contribute to a reduction of blood pressure.

Some studies have demonstrated positive effects of taurine for heart failure through its ability to improve the muscle contractions of the heart making it more efficient.  So, as we can see, taurine has many positive influences on the cardiovascular system.

Magnesium is another important nutrient for proper relaxation of muscular tissue.  Research does support the use of magnesium for lowering blood pressure particularly for those individuals that are deficient.  The difficulty is that when magnesium levels become low the body has a tough time absorbing it.  It can be a downward spiral.  Your doctor can do a simple blood test to measure your magnesium levels.

Another herbs commonly used for high blood pressure is Hawthorne Berry Extract.  No other herb is more specific for cardiovascular issues than Hawthorne.  It’s actions seem to be multi-factorial.  One mechanism is through its ability to improve the efficiency of the heart’s contractions.  Other cardiovascular benefits are related to its rich antioxidants which can help to reduce the oxidation of cholesterol in the artery and act to diminish plaque formation.

One simple tip that is often overlooked is proper hydration.  I have had several patients with high blood pressure issues have significant improvement simply by drinking adequate amounts of water.  My general guideline for people is to drink about one half their body weight in fluid ounces.  For example, if a person weighs 150 pounds they should try to consume 75 ounces of water per day.  Chronic dehydration can result from alcohol consumption, caffeine intake and not drinking enough water.  Dehydration can signal to the body that blood volume is too low and the response is to raise the blood pressure.

Allergy medicines often make people feel fatigued.  Newer drugs less so, but it is still a possible side effect.

From a natural therapy standpoint one of the main goals is to use compounds that stabilize mast cells (the cells that release histamine and trigger allergies).  Vitamin C and bioflavonoids such as quercetin, grape seed extract, and pycnogenol (extract of pine bark) help to decrease the allergic response.  One notable herb for allergies is called Stinging Nettle Leaf which many people use successfully to manage allergy symptoms.

There are also some very good herbal combination products that contain a blend of herbs known to reduce the allergic response (see cited research on Aller-7 http://www.vitabase.com/supplements/allergy-immune/aller-7.aspx).

Another very important consideration is to avoid foods and behaviors that increase inflammation in your body as this will make allergies much worse.  Foods high in refined sugars and simple carbohydrates will promote inflammation.  Alcohol is highly inflammatory and will exacerbate most allergy symptoms as will smoking.  Stick to a diet rich in whole foods like vegetables, lean meats such as fish, chicken and turkey, fruits and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa.  The omega 3 fatty acids found in fish and in fish oil supplements help to reduce the inflammatory response associated with allergies.

In health,

Dr. Passero

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