Also known as hypotension, low blood pressure (LBP) is a medical disorder that causes blood pressure to drop below the normal levels. While the condition typically isn’t as dangerous as hypertension, it can lead to life-threatening situations if not dealt with appropriately or in a timely manner. To understand how to treat low blood pressure effectively, you need to identify and understand the underlying cause. Ayurvedic physicians generally believe that hypotension is linked to faulty nutrition. Most cases can be resolved through wise dietary choices, a healthy lifestyle, and the use of therapeutic herbs, spices, and other natural methods.
Low Blood Pressure Causes
There are plenty of possible causes of hypotension, usually falling under categories of various body and health conditions. Some of the most common ones include:
- Endocrine disorders
- Heart disease
- Blood loss
- Severe allergic reactions
- Severe infections
- Lack of folates and Vitamin B12
- Certain medications and diseases
Pregnant woman suffering from headache due to low blood pressure
Low blood pressure can affect individuals of any age, including children, young adults, and those above the age of 65.
Common Symptoms & Risks of Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure may start to set in without any distinctive warning signs, which is why it often goes undetected until it significantly worsens or is picked up during routine tests. The most common symptoms of the condition include:
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Lack of concentration
- Blurred vision
Hypotension can be particularly dangerous when the drop in pressure is sudden rather than gradual. If you experience a shock accompanied by symptoms such as confusion, coldness, and rapid, shallow breathing, seek medical attention immediately. Significant or prolonged hypotension can result in reduced blood flow to the brain and heart, causing organ damage and death.
Understanding Low Blood Pressure Readings
Normal blood pressure is often defined as 120 over 80 (120/80).
The first number represents systolic pressure – the pressure in your arteries when your heart muscle contracts. The latter represents diastolic pressure – the pressure in your arteries between the heart beats.
While a value of 90 (or less)/60 (or less) is typically considered as low blood pressure, people respond differently to specific blood pressure levels. That’s why, for example, someone with a blood pressure of 100/70 could already be experiencing symptoms of hypotension.
Home Remedies for Low Blood Pressure
To reduce reliance on medications and to lower the risk of any significant drop in blood pressure you can use a variety of herbs, spices, and foods that raise blood pressure levels naturally. In addition to therapeutic herbs and dietary changes, you can also make small changes to your lifestyle and activities to improve blood pressure regulation.
Rich in adaptogenic and anti-inflammatory properties, licorice is known to offer many benefits such as digestive support. In Ayurveda, this pitta and vata pacifying ‘sweet root’ has been traditionally used for natural sore throat relief. It is also recommended for raising low blood pressure, for which it has been shown to be quite effective.
According to research, licorice is best avoided by hypertension or high blood pressure patients because of its ability to increase blood pressure while causing potassium depletion. In this scenario, this blood pressure raising effect, which makes it risky for hypertensives actually makes it an excellent solution for those dealing with low blood pressure.
You can brew licorice root in tea or consume licorice capsules if preferred. The ideal dosage would be around 4 grams a day or 300 mg glycerrhizic acid, which is the main bioactive component.
2. Rosemary Oil
Rosemary has long been used as a flavoring herb, especially in traditional Mediterranean cuisine. The herb has also popular in traditional medical systems for purported therapeutic benefits and its essential oil is commonly used in aromatherapy today. Although more research is needed to verify the various health benefits ascribed to rosemary oil, some studies suggest that it may help in the treatment of hypotension.
Researchers have identified the presence of several phytochemicals like rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid, carnosic acid, and camphor in rosemary oil. One study that appeared in the The Journal of Ethnopharmacology suggests that oral administration of rosemary oil can help to raise blood pressure in hypotensive patients, while other studies show that both aromatherapy massage and inhalation can also help to improve blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate.
3. Lifestyle Changes
In most cases, knowing the causes of low blood pressure can help you prevent or counter its symptoms.
Furthermore, as research points out, simple lifestyle adjustments and actions may help you cope with condition, reducing the risk of complications. Some common tips for dealing with hypotension include:
-Standing up slowly after sitting or lying down to prevent dizziness.
-Elevating the head of your bed.
-Staying physically active to encourage healthy blood flow, but avoiding intense, dynamic exercising.
-Avoiding heat, as hot weather and taking hot baths can cause expansion of blood vessels, leading to a reduction in blood pressure.
-Wearing compression stockings to keep the blood from gathering in your legs and to encourage its distribution throughout the body.
4. Dietary Changes
In addition to fundamental lifestyle changes, diet adjustments can also help you manage hypotension. While the suggestions below can help those whose blood pressure is consistently low, they may have adverse effects on people who also suffer from episodes of high blood pressure.
-Drink plenty of water.
-Increase salt intake moderately and without consuming processed foods. In addition to salt added while cooking, you can also consume more salty foods like smoked fish, cottage cheese, olives, and salted nuts.
-Increase caffeine intake. Drinking more coffee or green tea can help you get enough caffeine to temporarily boost your blood pressure, but this is simply helpful for quick relief.
-Enjoy frequent small meals rather than eating fewer meals of larger sizes.
-Eat Vitamin B-12-rich foods, such as beef, eggs, cottage cheese, sardines, and fortified cereals.
-Eat folate-rich foods like legumes, spinach, liver meat, asparagus, and broccoli.
-Avoid carbohydrate-rich foods such as candies, cookies, sweetened cereals, soda, potatoes, and bread products.
Natural sources of folic acid as liver, asparagus, broccoli, eggs, salad, avocado, paprika, nuts, orange , beetroots and beans
Vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the most common causes of hypotension. As one study has shown, even a mild deficiency of this vitamin can cause low blood pressure. This problem, however, is “correctable by vitamin B12 replacement.” In addition to B12, Vitamins C and D also play a role in balancing blood pressure. Deficiency of either can result in imbalances that put you at risk of severe hypotension.
Hypotension or low blood pressure may seem to be relatively harmless as compared to high blood pressure. While it may not be as pervasive and threatening as high blood pressure, if not dealt with appropriately and monitored carefully, blood pressure can drop dangerously low, causing complications that are life threatening. In most cases, the remedies and lifestyle or dietary changes should improve your blood pressure significantly enough to protect against any adverse outcome. However, if you continue to experience warning signs of symptoms of low blood pressure even after making changes to your lifestyle, it would be best to seek medical attention at the earliest.
- Allcock, E., & Cowdery, J. (2015). Hypertension induced by liquorice tea. BMJ Case Reports, 2015, bcr2015209926. http://doi.org/10.1136/bcr-2015-209926
- Fernández, L.f., et al. “Effectiveness of Rosmarinus Officinalis Essential Oil as Antihypotensive Agent in Primary Hypotensive Patients and Its Influence on Health-Related Quality of Life.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 151, no. 1, 2014, pp. 509–516., doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.11.006.
- Satyal, Prabodh et al. “Chemotypic Characterization and Biological Activity of Rosmarinus Officinalis.” Ed. Esther Sendra. Foods 6.3 (2017): 20. PMC. Web. 30 July 2018.
- Ganjehei L., Massumi A., Razavi M., Wilson J.M. (2012). Orthostatic hypotension as a manifestation of vitamin B12 deficiency. Texas Heart Institute journal. 39(5):722-3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0063034/