Natural Ways to Raise Low Blood Pressure
For most people, low blood pressure (around 90/60 mmHg) is considered a positive indicator of good heart health. When blood pressure persistently dips below 90/60, or if you experience frequent side effects of low blood pressure (hypotension), such as fainting, consult your primary healthcare provider for an evaluation. Your doctor can diagnose any underlying medical condition that might be causing your hypotension and guide you regarding whether or not your low blood pressure requires treatment. You also can discuss the following natural remedies for low blood pressure to find out if they’re appropriate and safe for you to try.
Most of the time, doctors decline to treat mild or moderate hypotension because low blood pressure benefits your heart health. In severe cases, doctors may prescribe medications to boost low blood pressure that is causing frequent falling or other undesired effects. Doctors also may treat an underlying condition causing hypotension.
People who have been diagnosed with heart or kidney disease—including anyone who takes medication for high blood pressure or heart failure—should never take steps to raise their blood pressure on their own, as this can have serious negative health consequences. If you’re in this group and experience symptoms of hypotension, contact your prescribing physician or primary care provider for guidance regarding how to proceed.
Otherwise healthy adults who occasionally experience symptoms of hypotension (like lightheadedness after heavy physical activity or sun exposure) can try a home remedy for low blood pressure.
Without prescription medicine, there are two primary approaches to raising low blood pressure: increasing blood volume or promoting vasoconstriction. To simplify, adding fluids and electrolytes to your body can increase your blood volume, while taking certain herbs or other substances can cause your blood vessels to constrict, which raises blood pressure. It’s very unwise to use both approaches at the same time, as doing so can cause your blood pressure to spike to dangerous levels.
How to Increase Blood Volume
Dehydration can cause hypotension by literally shrinking the volume of blood circulating throughout your body. Even losing a small percentage of your blood volume to dehydration can cause blood pressure to dip temporarily. Sweating due to physical activity, excessive sun exposure, vomiting, and diarrhea all can cause dehydration that provokes a hypotensive episode.
You can address this type of low blood pressure by:
Drinking extra water. Make a conscious effort to consume more water until your hypotensive symptoms subside. Be careful not to drink large quantities of water within a short period of time, as this can induce a life-threatening medical condition called ‘water intoxication.’ The recommended amount of water for an average person aged 8 years and older is 64 ounces a day, but you should drink water as necessary, preferably before you are thirsty.
Drinking an electrolyte replacement beverage (‘sports drink’). These beverages contain vital minerals (electrolytes) that enable your cells to better take in and retain the water you need to rehydrate.
Eating a few salty meals or snacks. Salt (sodium) helps your body retain fluid, so consuming some salty snacks or adding a little salt to a few meals in succession should correct any blood volume deficiency causing you to experience hypotensive symptoms. Eat a small handful of chips after exercising or a long hike to replenish your sodium.
Herbs for Low Blood Pressure
Many herbal supplements and commercial beverages can cause vasoconstriction that elevates blood pressure substantially, which is why people who take medicine for high blood pressure must use caution when taking over-the-counter decongestants and supplements. Even if you are otherwise healthy, you should stop taking any supplement that produces symptoms of hypertension, such as a headache.
To treat symptoms of hypotension with herbs and other substances, try:
Energy drinks, which often contain caffeine, sugar, and other vasoconstrictors
Ephedra (ma huang), an herb used for its decongestant properties
Licorice—but only true licorice, not licorice-flavored products
St. John’s wort
Keep in mind these substances can have a potent effect on blood pressure, even to the point of inducing a stroke due to acute hypertension. If your low blood pressure causes symptoms, it’s better to see a doctor than to try treating it yourself.