I have hypertension (high blood pressure) and high cholesterol.
Q. Dear Terry, “I have hypertension (high blood pressure) and high cholesterol. Are there any natural ingredients that can help with these conditions?” — Kathleen Q., Roanoke, VA.
A. Dear Kathleen, Great question because blood pressure and cholesterol are very important indicators for cardiovascular health.
For high blood pressure, I recommend olive leaf and hibiscus. It is theorized that olive leaf works to lower blood pressure by its antioxidant activity (protecting the walls of the blood vessels) and it’s a vasodilator (widens the blood vessels to allow blood to flow more easily). I recommend looking for an olive leaf extract standardized to the compound oleuropein (anywhere from 16-24%), which is the compound associated with olive leaf’s ability to reduce blood pressure.
Aside from being a beautiful flower, hibiscus has many beneficial health properties. Hibiscus contains compounds called anthocyanins, which work in a similar way to some drugs used to lower blood pressure. These plant compounds are called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. To put it simply, they work by moderating the activity of an enzyme that causes blood vessels to narrow and blood pressure to increase. This natural ACE inhibitor helps keep blood vessels relaxed and open, and therefore, blood pressure goes down. Look for a hibiscus extract that is standardized to greater than 45% polyphenols.
I would take 335 mg of olive leaf and hibiscus twice per day.
After doing very extensive research on cholesterol and its effects on the human body, I don’t believe there is such a thing as high cholesterol. Cholesterol is not the enemy – it’s a vitally important building block for everything from vitamin D to our sex hormones. Having said that, I do believe in maintaining a healthy cholesterol balance.
If you are considering a statin drug to reduce cholesterol, there is a better way. I recommend amla, also known as Indian Gooseberry, for balancing cholesterol levels. In a scientific study on amla, participants using 500-1,000 mg per day had increased their HDL (good cholesterol) by 14% and significantly decreased their LDL cholesterol by 21%. This is great news because for every 1% you raise HDL, you reduce your risk of heart disease by 2-3%.
As a side benefit, the amla participants also experienced a 17% reduction in total serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels dropped by 24% - and this was only in three months! I recommend choosing an amla that is standardized to contain greater than 35% polyphenol content. I would take 500 mg of this ingredient twice per day.
You may also want to read The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease – and the Statin-Free Plan That Will by Dr. Jonny Bowden and Dr. Stephen Sinatra.
Terry . . . Naturally