Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a significant and growing global health concern. Accounting for 7.5 million deaths annually (17), hypertension is the leading risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and premature death. (6) The number of individuals with hypertension is expected to increase in the coming years and is predicted to reach 1.56 billion adults worldwide by 2025. (17)

doctor taking the blood pressure of a patient

Hypertension is the leading risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and premature death globally.

What is hypertension?

Hypertension is a common condition in which blood flows through blood vessels and arteries with greater than normal pressure. (12) While normal blood pressure is defined as systolic blood pressure less than 120 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure less than 80 mm Hg (2) (17), hypertension is characterized by systolic blood pressure greater than 130 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure greater than 80 mmHg. The American Heart Association outlines the following blood pressure ranges:

  • Normal blood pressure: systolic blood pressure less than 120 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure less than 80 mmHg
  • Elevated blood pressure: systolic blood pressure greater than 120 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure less than 80 mmHg
  • Stage 1 Hypertension: systolic blood pressure greater than 130 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure greater than 80 mmHg
  • Stage 2 Hypertension: systolic blood pressure greater than 140 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure greater than 90 mmHg
  • Hypertensive Crisis: systolic blood pressure greater than 180 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure greater than 120 mmHg (19)

Causes and risk factors

Several causes and risk factors have been identified in the development of hypertension, including:

  • Age: the risk of developing hypertension increases with age
  • Certain medical conditions such as chronic kidney disease, obesity, sleep apnea, thyroid conditions, and certain tumors
  • Certain medications such as contraceptive pills and cold-relief medications
  • Excess alcohol intake
  • Excess dietary intake of sodium
  • Family history/genetic predisposition
  • Gender: men are more likely to develop high blood pressure before age 55, while women are at an increased risk after 55
  • Race: hypertension is more common in African American individuals compared to white, Hispanic, and Asian individuals
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Urban living (compared to rural) (17)(12)

Signs, symptoms, and complications

Hypertension is known as the “silent killer” because the condition is most often asymptomatic until the occurrence of a severe medical event such as a heart attack or stroke. (17) In some cases, signs of high blood pressure include lightheadedness, fainting episodes, vertigo, or altered vision, (17)

Complications associated with high blood pressure include:

  • Aneurysms
  • Heart failure
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Renal impairment
  • Stroke
  • Vascular dementia
  • Visual impairment and retinal hemorrhage (12) (17)

Ingredients for blood pressure support

Hypertension and its complications are largely preventable with lifestyle and dietary modifications. (6) Studies have shown that reductions as little as 10mmHg systolic or 5 mm Hg diastolic blood pressure decreased the risk of cardiovascular-related death and stroke by approximately 25% and 40%, respectively. (7)

Magnesium

Among the most abundant minerals in the body, magnesium plays an integral role in many body functions, including insulin metabolism, energy production, nerve transmission, cardiac excitability, and blood pressure regulation. (5) A number of underlying mechanisms are believed to be involved in the hypotensive effects of magnesium. These mechanisms include:

  • Enhanced effect of antihypertensive medication
  • Increased nitric oxide levels
  • Increased secretion of endothelial prostaglandin I2
  • Interaction with calcium in the body
  • Reduced peripheral vascular resistance (3)

Supplemental magnesium has been shown to decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. (3)(22) Further research has identified an inverse correlation between circulating magnesium and the incidence of hypertension. (5)(20)

garlic gloves in a basket

Garlic, a bulbous plant belonging to the Lillaceae family, has a long history of culinary and therapeutic uses dating back to ancient civilizations.

Garlic (Allium sativum)

Garlic, a bulbous plant belonging to the Lillaceae family, has a long history of culinary and therapeutic uses dating back to ancient civilizations. Allicin is the primary active constituent of garlic and commonly extracted for use in supplements. Allicin is produced by the alliinase enzyme, which is activated when raw garlic is crushed or chopped. Another common form of garlic extract, aged garlic extract, is produced by storing the plant in 15-20% ethanol for longer than one and a half years. (1) Among the most popular complementary therapies for hypertension (21), garlic demonstrates immunomodulatory and cardiovascular protective effects. (15)

Garlic is regarded as a safe and effective supplement for improving hypertension. Several studies have indicated that garlic supplementation for a period of eight to 12 weeks may reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. (11)(15)(16)(18)(21)

L-arginine

L-arginine is an amino acid involved in protein synthesis, tissue repair, immune function, and the urea cycle. (13) It is characterized as a “semi-essential” or “conditionally essential” amino (9), as it can be synthesized by the body, but its production may be limited by a number of factors, such as the individual’s health and the availability of precursors. (14) L-arginine is also a precursor for the production of nitric oxide, a signaling molecule involved in cellular function (8) and essential for the regulation of blood pressure. (9)

L-arginine has been shown to lower blood pressure in individuals with mild to moderate hypertension. (10) In one study, L-arginine lowered diastolic blood pressure in individuals with gestational hypertension compared to a placebo. (4)

The bottom line

While hypertension is a widespread and serious condition, it is also largely preventable. A protocol using natural supplements can be used therapeutically on its own or as an adjunct to existing high blood pressure treatment plan. If you’re a patient, we recommend speaking with your healthcare provider to learn whether these supplements are right for your wellness plan.

If you’re a practitioner, view our blood pressure support protocol.

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  1. Bayan, L., Koulivand, P.H., & Gorji, A. (2014). Garlic: A review of potential therapeutic effects. Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, 4(1), 1–14.
  2. Delacroix, S., Chokka, R.G., & Worthley, S.G. (2014). Hypertension: Pathophysiology and treatment. Journal of Neurology & Neurophysiology, 5, 250.
  3. Dibaba, D.T., Xun, P., Song, Y., Rosanoff, A., Shechter, M., He, K. (2017). The effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure in individuals with insulin resistance, prediabetes, or noncommunicable chronic diseases: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 106(3), 921–929.
  4. Gui, S., Jia, J., Niu, X., Bai, Y., Zou, H., Deng, J., & Zhou, R. (2014). Arginine supplementation for improving maternal and neonatal outcomes in hypertensive disorder of pregnancy: a systematic review. Journal of the Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System, 15(1), 88-96.
  5. Han, H., Fang, X, Wei, X., Liu, Y., Jin, Z., Chen, Q., … Cao, Y. (2017). Dose-response relationship between dietary magnesium intake, serum magnesium concentration and risk of hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Nutrition Journal, 16, 26.
  6. Joffres, M., Falaschetti, E., Gillespie, C., Robitaille, C., Loustalot, F., Poulter, N., … Campbell, N. (2013). Hypertension prevalence, awareness, treatment and control in national surveys from England, the USA and Canada, and correlation with stroke and ischaemic heart disease mortality: a cross-sectional study. BMJ Open, 3(8).
  7. Law, M.R., Morris, J.K., & Wald, N.J. (2009). Use of blood pressure lowering drugs in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: meta-analysis of 147 randomised trials in the context of expectations from prospective epidemiological studies. BMJ, 338, b1665.
  8. Luiking, Y. C., Engelen, M. P., & Deutz, N. E. (2010). Regulation of nitric oxide production in health and disease. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 13(1), 97–104.
  9. McRae M. P. (2016). Therapeutic benefits of l-arginine: An umbrella review of meta-analyses. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 15(3), 184–189.
  10. Menzel, D., Haller, H., Wilhelm, M., & Robenek, H. (2018). L-arginine and B vitamins improve endothelial function in subjects with mild to moderate blood pressure elevation. European Journal of Nutrition, 57(2), 557-568.
  11. Nakasone, Y., Nakamura, Y., Yamamoto, T., & Yamaguchi, H. (2013). Effect of a traditional Japanese garlic preparation on blood pressure in prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults. Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, 5(2), 399-405.
  12. National Health, Blood, and Lung Institute (n.d.). High blood pressure. Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/high-blood-pressure
  13. Pahlavani, N., Jafari, M., Sadeghi, O., Rezaei, M., Rasad, H., Rahdar, H. A., & Entezari, M. H. (2017). L-arginine supplementation and risk factors of cardiovascular diseases in healthy men: a double-blind randomized clinical trial. F1000Research, 3, 306.
  14. Reeds P.J. (2000). Dispensable and indispensable amino acids for humans. The Journal of Nutrition, 130(7), 1835S-40S.
  15. Ried, K. (2016). Garlic lowers blood pressure in hypertensive individuals, regulates serum cholesterol, and stimulates immunity: An updated meta-analysis and review. The Journal of Nutrition, 146(2), 389S-396S.
  16. Ried, K., Frank, O.R., & Stocks, N.P. (2010). Aged garlic extract lowers blood pressure in patients with treated but uncontrolled hypertension: a randomised controlled trial. Maturitas, 67(2), 144-50.
  17. Singh, S., Shankar, R., & Singh, G.P. (2017). Prevalence and associated risk factors of hypertension: A cross-sectional study in urban Varanasi. International Journal of Hypertension, 2017, 5491838.
  18. Sobenin, I.A., Andrianova, I.V., Fomchenkov, I.V., Gorchakova, T.V., & Orekhov, A.N. (2009). Time-released garlic powder tablets lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure in men with mild and moderate arterial hypertension. Hypertension Research, 32(6), 433-7.
  19. The American Heart Association. (2017). Understanding blood pressure readings. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings
  20. Wu, J., Xun, P., Tang, Q., Cai, W., & He, K. (2017). Circulating magnesium levels and incidence of coronary heart diseases, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Nutrition Journal, 16(1), 60.
  21. Xiong, X.J., Wang, P.Q., Li, S.J., Li, X.K., Zhang, Y.Q., & Wang, J. (2015). Garlic for hypertension: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Phytomedicine, 22(3), 352-61
  22. Zhang, X., Li, Y., Del Gobbo, L.C., Rosanoff, A., Wang, J., Zhang, W., & Song, Y. (2016). Effects of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: A meta-analysis of randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trials. Hypertension, 68(2), 324-33.