Let’s start with a disclaimer and quell the huge misconception regarding blood pressure and the use of essential oils. So, before we embark on exploring the world of essential oils and their potential impact on high blood pressure, it’s crucial to set the stage with a friendly reminder. Essential oils, while renowned for their aromatic and health-based qualities, aren’t magical elixirs that can single-handedly treat hypertension.
It’s essential to approach these oils as supplementary elements, working alongside a healthy lifestyle, balanced diet, and any prescribed medications. Think of them as the supporting actors in the blockbuster movie of your well-being, rather than the leading stars. Now, let’s take the fragrance-filled journey into understanding how essential oils might play a role in promoting overall cardiovascular health.
High Blood Pressure and the Populace
Blood pressure statistics paint a complex picture. Nearly half of adults all across the world have hypertension, with its prevalence rising with age. This translates to 1.28 billion mostly residing in low- and middle-income countries. Worryingly, only about half of those diagnosed have their condition under control. The situation is similar even in the United States with 48% of adults dealing with hypertension.
Ethnicity also plays a role; non-Hispanic black adults bear a greater burden. Early detection is crucial, as hypertension, left uncontrolled, raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other serious health complications. Remember, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and regular checkups are key to keeping your blood pressure in check. If left untreated blood pressure readings may shoot up.
Natural Ways To Tackle Blood Pressure
The natural remedies people use to tackle blood pressure, and their effectiveness can vary. Here are some of the most common methods:
· Reducing sodium intake: Salt is a major culprit in high blood pressure. Aiming for less than the standard consumption per day can significantly lower pressure. This means cooking more at home, using herbs and spices and less salt, and choosing low-sodium processed foods. Reducing salt intake not only lowers blood pressure naturally, it also helps avoid kidney disease.
· Increasing potassium intake: Potassium helps counteract the effects of sodium and relax blood vessels. Aim for standard consumption per day through foods like fruits, vegetables, and dairy. Bananas, potatoes, spinach, and cantaloupe are excellent sources.
· Following a DASH diet: DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy while limiting saturated and unhealthy fats, red meat, and added sugars. It lowers cholesterol in the body. Studies have shown it to be highly effective in lowering blood pressure.
· Regular exercise: Aim for at least half an hour of moderate-intensity exercise per day, such as brisk walking, swimming, or biking. Exercise strengthens the heart and improves blood flow.
· Maintaining a healthy weight: Excess weight puts extra strain on the heart and blood vessels, contributing to high blood pressure. Losing even a small amount of weight can make a difference.
· Managing stress: Chronic stress can gradually raise blood pressure. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help manage stress levels.
· Limiting alcohol and caffeine: Excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption can be contributing factor to hypertension. Moderation is key, or consider quitting altogether if your pressure is high.
· Getting enough sleep: When you’re sleep-deprived, your body releases hormones that can increase blood pressure. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night.
· Some herbs, like garlic, and hibiscus, have shown some potential in lowering blood pressure. However, research is still ongoing, and evidence is anecdotal. Taking herbs may seem like a normal task, but it’s crucial to consult a professional before trying any herbal remedies, as they may interact with medications or have other side effects.
Essential Oil Remedy
· The aromas of the herbs used can also have a positive impact on high blood pressure. There are some essential oils that have active ingredients that help lower blood pressure. One should always consult a doctor before using essential oils as a supplementary therapy for blood pressure issues. The Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing on December 2006 published a study that showed that the use of EOs reduces psychological stress responses and serum cortisol levels.  Essential oils also reduce stress and anxiety and impacts overall health and wellness.
(Important Note: We are putting another disclaimer here. While these natural approaches can be helpful, they should not be used as a substitute for professional advice or treatment. It’s important to consult with your doctor to determine the best course of action for managing your blood pressure.)
Medical Properties Useful in Tackling High Blood Pressure
One commonly used class of medications for treating high blood pressure (hypertension) is antihypertensive drugs. These medications work to lower blood pressure and reduce the strain on the heart and blood vessels. Some common classes of antihypertensive drugs include:
· Diuretics: These drugs increase the excretion of sodium and water by the kidneys, leading to a decrease in the pressure within the blood vessels.
· Beta-blockers: These medications block the effects of adrenaline (epinephrine) on the heart, resulting in a slower heart rate and reduced force of contraction. This helps to decrease blood pressure.
· Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors: ACE inhibitors block the conversion of angiotensin I to angiotensin II, a substance that narrows blood vessels, and releases hormones that can elevate blood pressure.
· Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs): ARBs block the action of angiotensin II, similar to ACE inhibitors, and help to relax blood vessels.
· Calcium Channel Blockers: These drugs interfere with the movement of calcium into heart and blood vessel cells, causing relaxation of blood vessels, improves blood circulation and a decrease in the force of the heart’s contractions.
· Alpha-blockers: These medications block the effects of certain nerve impulses, leading to vasodilation (relaxation of blood vessels) and a reduction in blood pressure.
· Central Alpha Agonists: These drugs work in the central nervous system to decrease nerve signals that tighten blood vessels and lower your blood pressure.
This wasn’t a digression by any means. One may find several lists of essential oils that are good for lowering high blood pressure. But, here we have only included those essential oils for high blood pressure that have similar properties to the medications for high blood pressure.
Essential Oils for High Blood Pressure
Essential Oils with Antihypertensive Properties
Antihypertensive properties are those that have the ability to lower blood pressure, which can help prevent and manage hypertension or high blood pressure. Let’s find out which essential oils have this property:
1. Lavender Essential Oil for High Blood Pressure
Lavender essential oil is often associated with relaxation and anxiety reduction. Some studies suggest that inhaling lavender oil may have a calming effect, which could potentially contribute to lowering blood pressure.
Neuroscience Letters published a study on rats that showed that lavender essential oil and its active ingredient linalool was efficient in reducing blood pressure.  Diffuse a blend of lavender with rose essential oil and neroli essential oils may help lower high blood pressure.
2. Ylang Ylang Essential Oil for High Blood Pressure
Ylang ylang essential oil (ylang-ylang) is known for its calming and sedative properties. There is some evidence to suggest that inhaling ylang ylang oil may help reduce blood pressure and heart rate. It relieves anxiety
3. Bergamot Essential Oil for High Blood Pressure
Bergamot essential oil is derived from the peel of bergamot oranges. Some studies have suggested that inhaling bergamot oil may have a mild anti-anxiety effect, which could indirectly contribute to blood pressure reduction.
4. Clary Sage Essential Oil for High Blood Pressure
Clary sage essential oil has been studied for its potential to reduce blood pressure. It is believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system.
5. Cedarwood Essential Oil for High Blood Pressure
Cedarwood essential oil is known for its woody and grounding aroma. Some studies suggest that cedarwood oil may have calming properties, which could potentially contribute to stress reduction.
6. Essential Oils with Diuretic Properties
Some essential oils are believed to have mild diuretic properties, which means they may help increase urine production and promote the elimination of excess fluid from the body. Let’s check out these oils:
7. Juniper Berry Essential Oil for High Blood Pressure
Juniper berry essential oil is often mentioned for its potential diuretic effects. It is believed to stimulate kidney function and increase urine output.
8. Lemon Essential Oil for High Blood Pressure
Lemon essential oil is derived from the peel of lemons. Some people believe that it may have diuretic properties and could help with fluid balance.
9. Geranium Essential Oil for High Blood Pressure
Geranium essential oil is thought to have mild diuretic effects and may help support the elimination of excess water from the body.
10. Fennel Essential Oil for High Blood Pressure
Fennel essential oil is thought to have diuretic effects and may be used to support healthy kidney function.
Some of the other oils not mentioned here are neroli and sweet marjoram essential oils. These are massage oils help lower pressure and widen the artery. Use diluted essential oils to lower blood pressure levels.
How To Use Essential Oils for High Blood Pressure
There a few ways of using essential oils for high blood pressure. These ways are easy to use and will not raise your blood pressure (pun intended). Possible methods for using essential oils are:
Add a few drops of your chosen oil to a diffuser. Inhale the scent for short periods (15-30 minutes) throughout the day.
Topical application & massage
Dilute the oil with a carrier oil (like jojoba or almond) and massage it onto pulse points like wrists or temples. Avoid sensitive areas and mucous membranes. This is ideal usage of essential oils with diuretic properties.
Add a few drops of essential oil to a warm bath and soak for 15-20 minutes. One can make bath bombs and enjoy a relaxing bath in a tub.
Risks and Precautions Using Essential Oils for High Blood Pressure
While some essential oils have shown antihypertensive properties, it’s crucial to understand that using them for high blood pressure requires caution and professional guidance of an aromatherapist:
Before you even consider using essential oils:
· Always consult your doctor: Discuss your specific situation, medications, and potential interactions with essential oils.
· Essential oils are not a replacement for prescribed medications: Essential oils should be a complementary approach, not a replacement for professional medical care.
· Start slow and with a qualified aromatherapist: Aromatherapy experts can guide you on safe dosage, application methods, and potential risks.
· Do not ingest essential oils. They are concentrated plant extracts and can be toxic if swallowed.
· Use only high-quality, therapeutic-grade essential oils.
· Be aware of potential side effects: Skin irritation, allergic reactions, and interactions with medications are possible.
· Monitor your blood pressure regularly: This helps track any changes and assess the effectiveness of your approach.
· Essential oils are powerful and should be treated with respect.
· Consistency is key for potential benefits.
· Focus on following healthy lifestyle habits like a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management alongside essential oil use.
By prioritizing medical advice, using essential oils cautiously and responsibly, and adopting a holistic approach, you can explore their potential benefits for managing high blood pressure alongside conventional treatment.
While essential oils hold promise for supporting blood pressure management, they are not a magic elixir. Always prioritize medical advice and never stop using prescribed medications. Use oils cautiously after consultation, alongside healthy lifestyle changes, to potentially reap their benefits and maintain your blood pressure within a healthy range. Remember, consistency, combined with professional support, is key to managing high blood pressure effectively.
- Hwang, J.H., 2006. The effects of the inhalation method using essential oils on blood pressure and stress responses of clients with essential hypertension. Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing, 36(7), pp.1123-1134.
- Tanida, M., Niijima, A., Shen, J., Nakamura, T. and Nagai, K., 2006. Olfactory stimulation with scent of lavender oil affects autonomic neurotransmission and blood pressure in rats. Neuroscience letters, 398(1-2), pp.155-160.