A joint study recently published out of several departments at Ambrose Alli University in Nigeria, including the departments of Botany, Pharmacology and the Medical Laboratory, looked at more than a dozen indigenous herbs and plants that have been used for centuries to reduce high blood pressure, to see if there was any scientific merit to their touted effectiveness.
What makes the study really useful is that there are so many communities all across Nigeria and really all the countries from the Ivory Coast to Angola that have high numbers of people with hypertension, but also the perfect climate (near the coastlines) to grow these common plants.
Some of them are limited to Africa, but many of them can be found in practically any market, anywhere in the world.
Studies looking at the medicinal qualities of herbs and other plants tend to all point to the general consensus that two key chemical types are usually present when a plant or compound is found to be effective on hypertension: alkaloids and cardiac glycosides.
Alkaloids are chemicals that naturally occur in plants that have medicinal properties in some way. The most common example that textbooks cite is the alkaloid caffeine that exists in coffee beans and tea leaves.
The alkaloids in the plants named below, though, aren’t like caffeine (which stimulates). The bitter taste is characteristic of the alkalines reserpine, which has long been used as a treatment for hypertension, and vincamine, which has vaso-dilating properties.
Cardiac glycosides are present in many, many plant species but can be very harmful depending upon the plant and how it is consumed. For example, cardiac glycosides are present in all of the safe plants listed in this article…but they are also present in highly toxic plants such as mistletoe, swizzle stick, and Nigerian Senna.
So which plants have both of these highly effective compounds? They are listed below:
Lets start with some better known plants…- Garlic – We have heard for years about the healing powers of garlic. However, most people would not be able to tell you why it works to lower high blood pressure or ease arthritis pain. Garlic is one of those wonder-foods that contains innumerable chemicals that do very good things in the body to lower high blood pressure, reduce stress, and eliminate inflammation. While raw garlic is the best source of the most concentrated amounts of these powerful chemicals, cooked or roasted garlic is still a pretty effective ally in the quest for good health.
- Avocado – This little fruit doesn’t get the press it deserves. It’s a high-fiber wonder-food that gets a bad rap because of its high fat content. However, the fats are unique in that they contain highly effective chemicals that beat inflammation back with a stick. In addition to the healthy alkaloids and cardiac glycosides, avocados are also very high in vitamin K, folate, and vitamin C.
- Onion – This pungent little polyphenol powerhouse packs a health punch that makes the bitter taste seem a little easier to swallow. Its extremely high flavonoid content also makes it a healthful food. Combining these first three ingredients might make your breath smell a little bad but you’re on your way to an incredibly healthy garnish for potatoes, tacos, or salads.
- Guava leaf - This food is ground and steeped and taken more as a tonic than as a food While the guava fruit is itself a tasty, healthy treat, the tea made from the leaves is very high in flavonoids and has been long used as a remedy for irregular heartbeat in South America and West Africa.
- Ashanti Pepper – This pepper, a relative of black pepper, is only found along the coastal regions of West Africa. It’s not only used to treat high blood pressure, but also indigestion, fever, constipation, muscle pain, and even flatulence.
- Bitter Leaf – This plant is used a lot in traditional Nigerian cuisine, and for good reason. Even though its name implies bitterness (as you would expect, as it is high in alkaloid content), it is reportedly very mild. It has been proven in a number of studies to reduce cholesterol, specifically the bad LDL type, although outside of the cardiac glycoside and alkaloid properties the exact reason is unknown.
- Cow Foot, or Pansit Pansitan – This entire plant is reportedly edible, cooked or raw. It had been used for generations to treat everything from sore throat, eye inflammation, and pimples to gout, arthritis and high blood pressure.
While garlic, onion, avocado and guava are a little easier to come by, Ashanti Pepper, Bitter Leaf and Cow Foot might be a little trickier to get hold of if you’re not already living along the West African coast.
However, with the proliferation of health food sites popping up all over the web, it has become easier and easier to find those unique and strange plants only available on other continents.
The key to making use of the benefits these types of plants and their healing chemicals offer is to not go overboard and also to do a little research on which herbs and plants are actually consumable and non-toxic.
The study out of Nigeria included a number of plants like mistletoe and swizzle stick that are actually highly toxic. Inexperienced dabblers in herbal therapies are frequently the ones who wind up with a toxicity that is very dangerous, so make sure that you always consult a professional before you go grinding up your Christmas plants.
In the meantime, work on perfecting your guacamole recipe and load up on the fresh garlic, onion, and avocado. Serve it with a nice, healthful tea using some of the other plants listed and you’re off to a natural way to drop high blood pressure.
Prefer easy exercises to exotic plants? Try these 3 unbelievably simple exercises to end your high blood pressure as early as today…
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