Natural Alternatives to Clonidine

Natural alternatives to Clonidine

Many medications have emerged through the years to combat the rising threat of high blood pressure, a very common and dangerous medical condition that may end with fatal outcomes. Clonidine is a medication prescribed to remedy blood pressure, although it comes with a possible risk of experiencing side effects such as weakness, vomiting, constipation, and facial swelling.

Research has uncovered many natural sources that can help lower blood pressure, especially when coupled with proper changes in lifestyle and avoidance of certain foods, not to mention providing other health benefits. Before committing to a certain alternative, make sure to seek the advice of a medical professional first, as high blood pressure is a delicate matter:

Do not substitute this for actual advice from an expert as many cases require treatment that CAN NOT be remedied with natural options.  These natural options may only be helpful in addition to treatments, again consult with a medical professional before self treating or self diagnosing. 

1. Dark Chocolate

Chocolate lovers rejoice, well dark chocolate at least. Studies have shown that the black bittersweet bars play a huge role in lowering blood pressure, and it is the most effective among other chocolate variants. One performed in Germany had two groups of participants given dark and white chocolate respectively. After 18 weeks, those who consumed dark chocolate reported lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure. The specific way of how dark chocolate does this is yet to be determined, but so far researchers point out the content of flavonols present in these sweets may be the ones responsible, and cocoa’s ability to increase the body’s amount of nitric oxide that helps widen blood vessels. However, eating too much dark chocolate may cause your calories to skyrocket, and weight gain is another major cause of blood pressure, so moderation is key. Don’t expect to reap the best benefits by eating huge amounts of dark chocolate in a single sitting. 30 calories on a daily basis was what the German researchers gave to their participants, roughly equivalent to one piece of Hershey’s Kisses.

2. Garlic

An ancient herb that’s highly regarded for its impressive healing capabilities and making dishes a lot more flavorful. It works wonders in remedying cardiovascular problems, especially in handling levels of blood pressure and cholesterol. What made garlic so medicinally competent is its allicin content, the compound that also gives the herb its unique smell. This said compound eases blood vessels for smooth flow of blood, and prevents the development of angiotensin, a hormone that is also a precursor to spiking blood pressure. Unfortunately, much of allicin is purged whenever the garlic is subjected to cooking, hence making the consumption of raw garlic a better way to get the most of this compound, if taste is not an issue for you. On the other hand, garlic supplements are widely available nowadays in hundreds of brands on the market. Excellent for those who want to quickly get a dose without having to eat a clove (and have bad breath). Between these two ways of taking garlic, there is a tug of war going on regarding which of them is the best source of allicin. There is still no final say on that matter, as their supporting evidence are all conflicting, so just choose which of the two is the easiest way for you to get garlic. Or both, if you want to.

3. Potassium

It seems that nowadays a majority of dishes utilize heaping amounts of salt, or sodium, to make them taste a lot better. Fast food establishments sprinkle in even more of these in their products. For those who are not aware, sodium triggers many serious medical conditions when the body has one too many of it. Among those conditions is an increase in blood pressure levels, and eventually it will lead to fatal cardiovascular diseases when left untreated. Potassium, a mineral that is present in virtually every kind of food available in various amounts, counteracts the increase of sodium in the body. The two work like scales: an increase in potassium leads to a decrease in sodium, and vice versa, making excess sodium lead to a deficiency in potassium which also opens the door to more problems. This is one of the primary reasons why millions around the globe have high blood pressure levels, as they prefer to eat sodium-packed foods instead of fruits and vegetables. The mineral also aids in the body’s elimination of urine, which is one of the ways how sodium content is reduced. Some of the best sources of potassium are banana, papaya, raisin, pear, kiwi, mango, potato, and watermelon. To support potassium in maintaining blood pressure, do stay away from foods that are teeming with sodium and limit your consumption of fast food (or better yet, avoid it like the plague).

4. Tomato

Tomato Juice

The famous bright red fruit is celebrated for its many roles in promoting good health, especially in fighting off prostate cancer. Its impressive capabilities stem from lycopene, a well-known antioxidant, along with vitamin E and beta carotene. These ingredients in tomato are believed to be responsible for lowering blood pressure by reducing the amount of oxidative stress in the body, including the arterial walls. Many journals point out the fruit’s very effective benefits towards blood pressure, but only the specific method as to how it does it remains unclear. A glass of tomato juice a day is good enough to supply the body with lycopene, along with fresh tomato slices. Avoid tomato products that are processed with chemicals, as these may pose unexpected risks since sodium may be present in those ingredients. Tomato supplements are available as well, but nothing beats a serving of 100% fresh and organic tomato.

5. Antioxidants

Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage the body in many ways by harassing existing cells. They come from both external and internal factors like pollution, stress, contaminated food, and many others. The damage they do can potentially start the domino effect of triggering a slew of medical conditions. Antioxidants exist to destroy these free radicals, fix the damage they have inflicted, and protect the body from future incursions. Fruits and vegetables are rich in these protective substances, and they are present in many vitamins and minerals. Blood pressure is one of the possible conditions aggravated by free radicals, and a diet rich in antioxidants may help lower it and maintain a safe level.

6. Lifestyle changes

Blood pressure cannot be controlled by just eating the right food yet doing nothing else. Here are some things that you must do to help you with your journey towards better blood pressure levels:

a. Get your body moving and do plentiful exercise. There’s nothing wrong with exercise as long as you don’t exert yourself too much to the point of exhaustion. Even starting for a mere 10 minute walk a day is good enough, then increase your time and distance as the weeks pass. If you don’t know where to start, sign up on a gym and get a professional trainer (usually they’re for free there). Maintain your weight, the greater your pounds the greater the risk. Plus, getting enough sunlight on your skin is the best way to accumulate vitamin D. It may not have any benefits for your blood pressure, but other parts of your body will thank you for the vitamin.

b. Get away from stress. Environment, work, peers, virtually anywhere there is a source of stress, and that greatly contributes to negative health effects including your blood pressure. And if you can’t completely avoid them, learn how to manage your stress by unwinding. Meditate, pray, take walks in nature, listen to music, take a relaxing chamomile bath, do aromatherapy, etc. Anything that can help minimize stress is crucial in maintaining good health and adequate levels of blood pressure. Even proper breathing techniques have a role in this.

c. Moderation is one of the most important factors in blood pressure control, and the same holds true for alcohol. In smaller amounts, booze is actually healthy and even lowers blood pressure. But, when you go past the recommended amount wears off its health benefits. A drink a day is good enough, be it a can of beer or a glass of wine. Speaking of wine, red wine contains antioxidants that can protect your heart and work well in handling hypertension. But still that does not make it immune to the word “moderation”.

d. Stop smoking if you happen to be a chain smoker. A single stick is not ideal for your blood pressure and overall health, and do not forget the dangerous long term effects it builds up to.

e. Minimize caffeine intake. A cup or two a day is alright, but going past that may elevate your blood pressure. Same goes for energy drinks, do not drink too much as excess intake leads to heart problems.

7. Hypotensive Herbs

A study published in 2011 at Pharmacognosy Reviews listed a collection of medicinal plants that have hypotensive properties:

a. Annona muricata: Also known as custard apple tree, and its fruit is the popular soursop. The leaves of this tree possess an extract that can lower blood pressure, and soursop is also regarded for the same properties.

Blessed Thistle

b. Blessed Thistle: Used to treat digestive disorders, especially bloating and gas after a period of heavy eating. It can also purify blood by purging toxins that contribute to the start of illnesses and elevated blood pressure. Can be taken as tea, extract, and supplement.

c. Buchu: Hailing from the southern parts of Africa, it is primarily used for the treatment of inflammation by the indigenous population. Aside from lowering blood pressure, buchu also treats problems associated with the kidney, which goes quite well with enhancing urination to eliminate body sodium. Buchu is made into tea, supplements, and there are companies that sell bottled buchu water.

d. Celery: A kitchen staple that was found with phthalides, a type of phytochemical that eases artery walls
for better blood flow and to minimize blood pressure levels. Aside from included in cuisine, celeries can be eaten as chopped snacks.

e. Chaksu: Extract derived from the seeds of this Indian herb are used to purify the blood and lower blood pressure, thanks to its phytochemical content. Ground seeds added into beverage work the same way as well.

Guan Mu Tong

f. Guan Mu Tong: Part of Chinese herbal medicine that is prescribed to relieve pain associated with rheuma. Oil extracted from this herb is packed with powerful healthy acids, among which is magnoflorine. The said acid has hypotensive capabilities.

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Bridget Rogers
Bridget Rogers is an independent freelance writer based out of Madison, Wisconsin. Bridget's work can be found on a variety of sources in both online and print media.