My blood pressure is slightly elevated. I take a water pill to control it, and my doctor suggested that I restrict salt. My adult-ed science teacher claims that only half the adult population is sensitive to salt, which makes their blood pressure rise. I went on an extremely salt-restricted diet for a month and had no change in my blood pressure. My doctor now says I can eat normally. Please tell people that they should run this experiment themselves before spending the rest of their lives hunting for low-salt foods. Life is complicated on a restricted diet, and it would be a shame to do this if it isn’t needed.
The link between salt (sodium chloride) and high blood pressure has been controversial for decades. Studies suggest that cutting back on salt can lower blood pressure modestly. A carefully run, long-term trial indicated that substantial sodium reduction lowers blood pressure only two or three points.9 Some people are especially salt sensitive and benefit from a sodium-restricted diet. Others, like you, don’t see any improvement. In a comprehensive study, sodium restriction led to a 25 percent decline in heart attacks and strokes.10 Though cutting back on salt may not make a big difference for everyone, it clearly can help some people control cardiovascular disease.
In your book Best Choices from the People’s Pharmacy, you said that the no-calorie sweetener Stevia rebaudiana was not approved for use in the United States. I have some great news for you! I found it in a nonsugar sweetener in the supermarket under the brand name of OnlySweet. It is made by Sunwin, and their website is www.onlysweet.com. I am a type 2 diabetic with high blood pressure. This sweetener not only lowers my blood sugar, but also helps reduce my blood pressure. I am enthusiastic!
Thanks for the alert. The FDA has approved a stevia extract, but the product that the FDA approved, rebaudioside A, does not seem to lower blood sugar or blood pressure in healthy adults.11 A different stevia extract, stevioside, brought both blood pressure and blood sugar under control in rats. We were unable to determine the extract found in the OnlySweet product you are using.
I learned that turmeric could help reduce my high blood pressure. It went from 160/80 to 140/60 after an Indian meal. Then my nutritionist daughter advised me to use one-half teaspoon turmeric daily. I add it to a clove of garlic and blend with fruits in a soy shake. I have lost weight, and my blood pressure runs about 109 to 120/65.
What an interesting discovery. We don’t think doctors will prescribe curry, but research on rodents suggests that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, can lower blood pressure.12 Turmeric is the yellow spice used in curry and yellow mustard. Although yours is the first report on using this spice for hypertension, readers have found a number of other uses for it. We have heard stories about benefits for arthritis, bursitis, diabetes, gout, leg cramps, and psoriasis. Some may be allergic to turmeric. Further, this herb may interact with the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin) and cause dangerous bleeding.
Joe Graedon & Terry Graedon, The People’s Pharmacy: Quick & Handy Home Remedies, published by National Geographic