According to the CDC, a staggering 47% of Americans have high blood pressure. That’s around 116 million people. In an age where many of us are looking to improve our health and keep fit, the popularity of herbal remedies such as turmeric is on the rise.
The health benefits of turmeric and its active compound curcumin are no secret, and these curcuminoids are widely available in many forms, with claims to alleviate symptoms of various illnesses and even prevent more serious diseases like cancer.
But what about hypertension? Can turmeric play a role in lowering blood pressure, or should we stick to the more popular, manufactured medications?
What Is Hypertension?
Hypertension, also called high blood pressure, is a condition where the flow of blood against your arterial walls is high enough to be considered dangerous to your health.
Over time, high blood pressure or hypertension can lead to health problems such as heart disease. High blood pressure is classified as a systolic pressure of higher than 130 and a diastolic pressure of more than 80 in the blood vessels.
What Causes Hypertension?
Although genes are likely to play some role in elevated or high blood pressure, it’s usually caused by unhealthy lifestyle habits and environments.
Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and eating too many fatty or processed foods with bad cholesterol can all cause high blood pressure. Other risk factors can include:
- A lack of potassium
- Stress and anxiety
- Lack of physical activity
- Excess sodium intake
Turmeric And Cardiovascular Health
So, what do we know about the links between turmeric and blood pressure?
Over the years, plenty of research has emerged claiming that turmeric can treat a wide range of medical conditions. Some claim that turmeric can aid digestion, be used as a weight-loss aid, lower blood sugar levels, and even has a blood-thinning effect.
Recent research has proved even more promising. Some studies have found that turmeric may have the ability to regulate and modulate blood pressure and contribute to the healthy functioning of your cardiovascular systems.
The potential therapeutic and medicinal benefits of turmeric on our cardiovascular systems leave us with one significant question - can turmeric lower our blood pressure?
Can Turmeric Lower Our Blood Pressure?
To understand turmeric’s effects on our blood pressure, we need to explore the science behind it.
As we age, our vascular endothelial function starts to decline. This function plays a significant role in our cardiovascular health, and its cells can help release the substances our bodies require to control relaxation and vascular contraction.
Essentially, the endothelial cells can determine the amount of blood that flows through our arterial system. This also means that the endothelial function can have close links to the origination and development of hypertension.
If our endothelial balance is disturbed, high blood pressure can occur. However, research suggests that antioxidants may have an effect on endothelial function by restoring our endothelial balance, and this is where the power of turmeric comes into play.
In one eight-week study, the links between curcumin on oxidative stress and endothelial function were assessed in 72 participants with type 2 diabetes.
The subjects were instructed to either take 150mg of curcumin twice a day, 10mg of atorvastatin once a day, or a placebo.
Although only 67 participants completed the study, the results suggest that curcumin could reduce the number of inflammatory cytokines in the body, and is able to lower oxidative stress.
This, in turn, had a positive impact on helping endothelial dysfunction caused by hyperglycemia.
In the second study we’ll examine, a group of 32 postmenopausal women were split into three groups (control, exercise, and curcumin), and assessed to see whether curcumin could improvise their vascular endothelial function.
The study shows that the exercise groups and curcumin groups both experienced a large increase in flow-mediated dilation (or FMD).
Flow-mediated dilation, or FMD, is when the arteries in our bodies dilate, and blood flow increases. This process reduces the restriction of blood flow in the body, which can improve our general health.
The last study we’ll explore analyzed the effects of an oral turmeric supplement on twenty-four patients with refractory lupus nephritis. One symptom of this condition is high blood pressure.
Participants were split into groups, with the medicated group instructed to take 500mg of turmeric and 22.1mg of curcumin three times a day for three months.
The results showed that the systolic blood pressure of the medicated participants declined significantly, notably in the curcumin group. The placebo group showed no significant improvement.
To summarize, the research suggests that turmeric may help lower blood pressure through its ability to improve endothelial function and reduce oxidative stress.
Turmeric supplements, specifically in the form of curcumin, can lead to a decrease in systolic blood pressure in individuals with type 2 diabetes, postmenopausal women, and those with refractory lupus nephritis.
Therefore, it can be inferred that there is a possibility that turmeric does help lower blood pressure.
How To Take Turmeric For Hypertension
Although the science of this subject is still in its infancy, it speaks volumes. If you want to start taking turmeric to lower your blood pressure, we’d recommend taking it in the form of a capsulated supplement.
If you consume turmeric powder or turmeric tea, you’ll only receive an average of 3.14% of curcumin. If you’re adding turmeric to food, drinks, smoothies, or tea, you will consume a significantly smaller dose.
To see the effects of curcumin, you need to ingest a high dose. The average turmeric or curcumin supplement contains a much higher dose.
What’s more, most capsules feature piperine, a black pepper extract, which can increase the body's absorption of turmeric by as much as 20-fold.
Turmeric Dosage Guidelines
While there are no official dosage recommendations for turmeric, we can use the research studies above as a guide. The dosages in the studies above range from 60mg to 500mg of curcumin, with each study producing impressive results.
The average turmeric supplement will contain 150-250g of curcumin and 1,000-1,500mg of turmeric powder per serving.
So, taking turmeric supplements within this range should put you in good standing to receive an effective dose of curcumin to lower blood pressure.
It's important to note, however, that taking high doses of turmeric and curcumin supplements can bring about possible side effects such as an upset stomach, skin allergies, and nausea.
People may experience these side effects if they consume extremely high doses or more than the recommended dosage. Therefore, it's important to talk to your doctor before you take any supplement to ensure that it's safe for you.
Additionally, if pregnant, then it would be best to avoid turmeric altogether as further research is needed to determine its effects during pregnancy.
How Quickly Does Turmeric Lower Blood Pressure
A systematic review suggests turmeric may have a beneficial effect on systolic blood pressure when administered over a period of 12 weeks or more.
However, no significant effect on diastolic blood pressure was found. Therefore, it is unclear how quickly turmeric may lower blood pressure. Further studies are needed to better understand the effects of turmeric on BP.
Can You Take Turmeric with Statins and Blood Pressure Tablets?
Based on available evidence, it is safe to take turmeric alongside statins and blood pressure tablets. Curcumin, due to its anti-inflammatory traits, has been shown to interact synergistically with medications for hypertension to reduce blood pressure.
Additionally, curcumin may also have lipid-modifying properties that could complement the effects of statin therapy, resulting in lowered low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and possible statin dose reduction.
However, it is important to note that turmeric may also act as a blood thinner, so it is crucial to consult with a doctor before taking any new supplement or changing your current medication regimen.
Although turmeric is safe for most people, healthcare professionals can evaluate your individual health situation and provide guidance on whether turmeric may be appropriate for you and how to use it safely and effectively.
The Bottom Line
Although more studies are needed to assess whether turmeric is good for high blood pressure or not, the research that’s already out there shows impressive results.
While there’s no guarantee that turmeric will lower your blood pressure, science suggests that trialing a dose of curcumin may be worthwhile.