Medical herbalist Nicola Parker explains how beetroot affects blood pressure
We all know that it’s important to keep a healthy blood pressure, not all of us understand exactly what that is.
The term ‘blood pressure’ is thrown around a lot, and while we all know that it’s important to keep a healthy blood pressure, not all of us understand exactly what that is. Blood pressure refers to the pressure of the blood against the walls of our arteries. When I think of our arteries I think of the plumbing in a house, if there isn’t enough water pressure then our taps won’t work and if the pressure is too high, our pipes can become worn or damaged.
Low blood pressure can cause us to feel dizzy or faint as the blood is unable to reach the brain to keep us functioning. High blood pressure is much more common and often has no visible symptoms at all. If high blood pressure goes unchecked it will slowly reduce the health of your blood vessels over time, which in turn affects the blood supply to each and every organ in our body, making blood pressure management an integral part of a living a long and healthy life.
Normal blood pressure should be between 120/80 and 140/90 but if you have other health conditions that affect the health of your arteries such as high cholesterol or diabetes, it’s better to stay at the lower end of that spectrum.
If you’re interested in managing your blood pressure with herbal medicine, there are a number of options at your disposal.
The most effective results I see from the various over the counter remedies, though, are from beetroot. Beetroot is rich in nitrates which help to widen blood vessels, reducing the pressure on the arterial wall and improving circulation.
I usually sell beetroot in capsules, as this is the easiest and most inexpensive way to take it, but the original studies on the efficacy beetroot were done on beetroot juice, with participants drinking one glass per day.
If you enjoy beetroot juice, this is a great way to increase your daily nitrates along with a whole host of other nutrients. If you’re a hardcore beetroot fan, you can get this amount of juice by eating around five large unpickled beetroots a day.
Just keep in mind that if you’re consuming this much beetroot you’re going to notice some interesting colour changes when you pay a visit to the loo!
Beetroot capsules tend to be the most convenient way of reducing blood pressure though and in my own experience, I’d say they work for 70-80 per cent of people that try them. Their action should begin from swallowing the first capsule but I’d measure your blood pressure weekly or fortnightly for about four weeks while using them to get a broader picture of the health of your blood pressure.
Using beetroot is an excellent way of managing your blood pressure and keeping out of the doctors office, but it’s important to keep an eye on it. You should always visit your GP, a pharmacist or a herbalist to get your blood pressure tested every so often to make sure that it’s at a safe level. Many surgeries have machines that allow you to self-test or you could even buy your own blood pressure measuring machine for home use.
It’s important to note that beetroot will only work while you’re using it, so if you ever decide to stop using beetroot, you should find an alternative way to manage your blood pressure if it rises again.
For more permanent changes to your cardiovascular health, staying active and maintaining a healthy diet and weight can be of great benefit. Smoking, drinking caffeine or alcohol and a diet high in salt can all contribute to raising blood pressure, so quitting these unhealthy habits can have a permanent positive effect on your health.
Beetroot capsules are safe to take with almost all other medications, but if you’re concerned about taking it alongside something else, contact your pharmacist or give us a call and we can double check it for you.
Some people want to try something natural as a remedy because they’re already on blood pressure tablets that aren’t agreeing with them. If this is the case, speak to your doctor about the research on beetroot and request a two-week period to try it out and compare results.
l For more information on this issue, or to book an appointment with Nicola, contact her clinic on 01524 413733.