An old doctor told my husband that Kyolic garlic capsules might lower his blood pressure. I started taking them myself, morning and night. My blood pressure is now lower than normal most of the time. My doctor has taken me off the atenolol and lisinopril I used to take.
You did this experiment properly, with a doctor’s supervision. People should not stop blood pressure medication on their own. Studies on garlic and blood pressure have had mixed results. A recent review and meta-analysis from Australia concludes that garlic works better than placebo in lowering blood pressure.4 A recent Russian study found that a timed-release garlic formulation worked better than immediate-release standardized garlic capsules.5
I’ve been hearing about grapeseed extract as an antioxidant. What do you know about it?
Grapes and their seeds are rich in antioxidant compounds such as flavonoids (chemical compounds found in many fruits, vegetables, teas, wines, nuts, seeds, and roots) and proanthocyanidins (a group of chemicals found in red wine). Researchers at the University of California, Davis, reported that grapeseed extract lowered blood pressure among people with prehypertension.6 Systolic pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) came down almost 12 points, and diastolic pressure (the bottom or second number) came down roughly 8 points.
GREEN AND OOLONG TEA
I like to drink about four cups of tea in the morning. I have hypertension, and I am taking atenolol for this. My blood sugar is also a little high. Will drinking tea with caffeine in it affect my blood pressure and blood sugar?
A cup of black tea has about 40 or 50 milligrams of caffeine, depending on how long it steeps. So in your four cups you are getting roughly 160 to 200 milligrams of caffeine, roughly as much as you’d get in two cups of coffee. Research suggests that consuming green or oolong tea (which contain less caffeine than black tea) may help prevent high blood pressure.7 In general, however, caffeine can raise blood pressure somewhat, especially for people who are also under stress. Another study showed that caffeine on an empty stomach does not have an impact on blood sugar, but if taken with a meal, caffeine can raise blood sugar and insulin levels in type 2 diabetics.8 Maybe you should make sure you drink your tea mid-morning without a snack.
I am a 63-year-old female. A few months ago, I finally yielded to my doctor’s pressure and went on a blood pressure medication, against my better judgment. The medication is metoprolol succinate. If you could tell me some of its side effects, I would be grateful. I am not feeling well, and I am guessing this new med is the culprit.
Metoprolol, like other beta-blocking blood pressure medicines, may cause fatigue, dizziness, and diarrhea. Some people develop an itchy rash, while others may find themselves short of breath. It slows heart rate, sometimes by quite a lot. Many cardiologists are reassessing beta-blockers. Current studies show that such drugs are rarely considered first line treatments for hypertension.3
Blood pressure control is very important, so don’t stop your medication on your own. (It is dangerous to stop a beta-blocker suddenly.) Discuss your symptoms with your doctor and ask about other possible treatments. Perhaps this reader’s experience will help you: “I was told I need to be on blood pressure meds. I don’t like to take pills, so I tried breathing exercises and going to the gym. I didn’t have high blood pressure at my last visit.”
Joe Graedon & Terry Graedon, The People’s Pharmacy: Quick & Handy Home Remedies, published by National Geographic