High Blood Pressure: Complementary Treatments

Exercise and a healthy diet are well-known strategies for lowering blood pressure. However, if you’re considering complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to enhance these efforts, there’s growing evidence that some CAM treatments can indeed help lower blood pressure. These treatments are most effective when used alongside conventional medicine.

It’s important to note that CAM treatments haven’t been studied as extensively as traditional treatments. Always consult with your doctor before starting any new therapy to ensure it’s safe for you.

Manage Your Stress

Stress triggers a bodily response that increases your heart rate and raises blood pressure. While occasional stress is normal, chronic stress can be harmful. Research indicates that the following calming techniques can help lower blood pressure:

Qi Gong: This traditional Chinese medicine practice combines slow movements, breathing, and meditation. While not as effective as medications or other physical activities, it can still be beneficial.

Slow Breathing Exercises: Controlled, slow breathing sends calming signals to your nervous system, which can help reduce high blood pressure.

Meditation: Transcendental Meditation (TM), which involves sitting quietly and repeating a phrase, has shown modest effects in lowering blood pressure. Other types of meditation might also help, but most research has focused on TM.

Tai Chi: This slow, gentle exercise from traditional Chinese medicine can be as effective as some blood pressure medications or more intense exercise.

Yoga: Yoga can aid in managing high blood pressure, but it’s important to consult your doctor before starting. Certain poses might need to be avoided or modified if you have high blood pressure, are pregnant, or have conditions like glaucoma or sciatica.

Hypnosis: Also known as hypnotherapy, this technique helps people manage stress and anxiety by inducing a calm and relaxed state. Some studies suggest it may help lower blood pressure, but more research is needed.


Biofeedback treatment involves sensors connected to your body that provide information to help you make small changes, such as relaxing your muscles. This can be beneficial for a variety of issues, including high blood pressure.


The evidence for acupuncture in treating high blood pressure is mixed. Some studies support its effectiveness, while others do not.

Supplements and Herbs

More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of supplements for managing high blood pressure. It’s generally better to make dietary changes rather than relying on supplements in pill form. For example, you can incorporate fatty fish like salmon or tuna, which are high in omega-3s, into your diet.

Consider adding fiber-rich plant foods like oatmeal, vegetables, or whole grains, and green leafy vegetables for folic acid.

Other potentially helpful supplements or foods include:

  • Magnesium
  • Dark cocoa, coenzyme Q10, and garlic: These boost nitric oxide, which helps lower blood pressure.

Some people use herbs such as garlic, hawthorn, cardamom, and celery seed to manage blood pressure, but the evidence supporting these is unclear.

Always talk to your doctor before trying any supplements or herbs, as they can have side effects and may interact with medications you are taking.