This bright yellow spice is a wonder herb that is full of many health benefits! But does turmeric lower blood pressure?
High blood pressure is a chronic condition affecting millions of people worldwide for numerous reasons, including sedentary lifestyles and poor diets.
The good news is that there’re many strategies that can help you reverse this condition. From consuming a healthy diet to engaging in regular physical activities, tons of strategies can help you avert this health condition.
Additionally, taking natural supplements like turmeric has also been shown to be effective, but how does turmeric lower blood pressure?
Keep reading to learn more about how this medicinal herb can help lower blood pressure and promote cardiovascular health.
What is Turmeric?
To start with, turmeric is a spice that comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, a perennial plant in the ginger family that mainly grows in Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
Turmeric is obtained from the rhizomes (roots) of the plant and has a deep, golden-orange color. It’s the spice that gives curry powder its golden yellow color.
Earlier, this plant was mainly used to make traditional Asian and Indian medicine. A good example is traditional Chinese medicine. In India, turmeric was mainly used to treat upper respiratory tract conditions, skin disorders, and digestive issues.
It was also used for culinary purposes to add flavor and color to food.
Today, turmeric is used as a spice and as a dietary supplement to treat various health conditions such as allergies, skin problems, arthritis, and much more.
All these benefits can be attributed to curcumin, the main active ingredient of this spice. It’s also the one responsible for the yellowish color of turmeric.
Research shows that curcumin can play an important role in reducing blood pressure, which can help prevent heart-related conditions.
How Does Turmeric Lower Blood Pressure?
As stated above, curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, can play an important role in reducing blood pressure levels, but how exactly does it achieve this? Let’s find out below.
1. Turmeric can reduce inflammation
Inflammation is a key player in developing most chronic conditions, including high blood pressure.
This is because when inflammation occurs, the body naturally constricts the blood vessels as a way of protecting the body against further damage.
However, if these persist, it can make it difficult for the heart to pump blood leading to high blood pressure.
Chronic inflammation can also damage the blood vessel lining, making it difficult to dilate and relax, thus resulting in high blood pressure.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to offer anti-inflammatory benefits, and taking it with high blood pressure may help improve your condition.
One study found that it can promote vascular remodeling in hypertensive lab models by suppressing vascular constriction and hindering the production of inflammatory compounds.
2. Turmeric has anti-atherosclerotic properties
By anti-atherosclerotic, it means turmeric can help fight atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a condition that affects the arteries, and it occurs when there’s a buildup of plaque within the blood vessel wall.
Plaque refers to the accumulation of cholesterol, fats, and other substances within the arterial wall, which hardens and causes narrowing with time.
This makes it difficult for blood to flow through, leading to high blood pressure. Atherosclerosis can also lead to heart disease, stroke, and heart attack.
Several studies show that curcumin can help prevent endothelial dysfunction and counteract inflammatory responses that can also contribute to plaque formation.
That’s to say, a regular intake of turmeric can lower your risk of developing atherosclerosis, which also improves high blood pressure or lowers your risk of developing it.
3. Turmeric can offer antioxidant benefits
Antioxidants are compounds that fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals are loose, unstable molecules that are highly reactive.
They can easily react with other compounds in the body resulting in a series of chemical reactions that may lead to cell damage and disease formation.
When it comes to high blood pressure, free radicals can damage the cells on the inner lining of arteries making them less flexible and susceptible to narrowing, both of which can increase blood pressure.
The antioxidants in turmeric help neutralize these free radicals by donating them an electron. This makes them stable and unable to react.
As a result, it can prevent further damage to the blood vessels while promoting healing, all of which can improve your blood pressure.
Avoiding common causes of free radicals, such as pollution, stress, and smoking can also help lower the number of free radicals in the body, which promotes overall health and well-being.
4. Turmeric can increase nitric oxide
Nitric oxide is a molecule produced in the body for various functions but especially for the health of your blood vessels. It’s a natural vasodilator that can widen and relax your blood vessel walls, causing blood pressure to drop.
One study found that taking 200 mg of curcumin supplement daily for 12 weeks increased nitric oxide bioavailability within the blood vessels, improving vascular functions and reducing blood pressure.
5. Curcumin inhibits angiotensin II
Angiotensin II is an endocrine hormone that causes the muscular walls of arteries to constrict or narrow, leading to high blood pressure.
To prevent this effect, people with high blood pressure are often given angiotensin receptor blockers. This helps relax the blood vessels, lower blood pressure, and make it easy for the heart to pump blood. Curcumin does exactly the same thing.
One study found that treatment with curcumin reduced blood pressure in angiotensin-II-induced blood pressure in a lab model.
A different study also found that curcumin could inhibit angiotensin-II-induced inflammation, which can again cause blood vessels to constrict, leading to high blood pressure.
6. Turmeric can prevent platelet changes in the blood
Platelets are a type of blood cell that helps the body form clots and prevent bleeding. They are like the body’s natural bandage looking out to stop bleeding whenever there’s an injury.
However, in several studies, too many platelets in the blood have been shown to cause high blood pressure.
This can also cause blood clots to form in your blood vessels, which can block blood flow and increase your stroke risk.
In one cohort study, a high Mean Platelet Volume (MPV) was associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure regardless of other risk factors.
MPV is the average size of your platelets, and a high MPV means your platelets are larger than the average size. This usually occurs when too many platelets are produced from the bone marrow.
Younger platelets and those recently released are usually larger in size. So a high MPV is a sign of increased platelet production and aggregation.
The good thing is that curcumin can prevent both platelet activation and aggression. This can bring your number within the normal ranges and improve associated conditions such s high blood pressure.
Additional Health Benefits of Turmeric
Besides lowering blood pressure, turmeric can offer additional benefits, including:
- It can boost the immune system
- It eases joint pains and can improve arthritis
- It may treat and prevent cancer
- It may boost a healthy gut
- Turmeric can improve neurodegenerative conditions and improve cognitive functions
- Treats depression
- Prevents eye degeneration
- Promotes skin health
- Prevents age-related chronic conditions
Recommended Dosage for Lowering Blood Pressure
Now that you understand how turmeric can lower your blood pressure, how much turmeric should you take to experience this benefit?
There’re no official recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration on how much turmeric should be taken, whether for high blood pressure or anything else. This is probably because the spice is generally safe to consume.
Nonetheless, most experts recommend a daily intake of between 400mg to 600 mg of turmeric powder taken three times daily as a supplement.
One thing to note is that some supplements may contain pure curcumin extract, so their dosage should be low.
For example, most curcumin extract supplements contain 150-250 mg, while turmeric powder supplement contains about 1000-1500 mg.
So depending on the form you decide to take, always follow the instructions on the label, and discontinue use in case of any unusual effects.
Another thing is to start with the minimum recommended dose and work your way up as you monitor your blood pressure change.
Available Forms of Turmeric
Depending on how turmeric is used, it can be found in powder form, fresh, in capsules, or as an extract.
Turmeric powder is the most common form of this spice, made by grinding dried turmeric roots. It is relatively easy to find and can be used to make curry powders or spice rubs, or it can be used as a standalone spice.
One downside to powder form is that it can be difficult to measure the correct amount. This can lead to over- or under-using the spice.
ii. Capsules and tablets
Capsules and tablets are another popular way to take turmeric. These supplements usually contain standardized doses of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric. Many people find capsules and tablets easier to take than powdered forms of the spice.
Turmeric extract is a concentrated form of the spice that contains higher levels of the active compound curcumin.
This makes it more potent than other forms of turmeric and allows for smaller doses to be used. Extracts can also be more expensive than other forms and may only be readily available at some stores.
iv. Turmeric tea
Turmeric tea is made by steeping fresh or dried turmeric root in hot water. It has an earthy flavor and can be enjoyed plain or sweetened with honey or other natural sweeteners.
Turmeric tea bags can also be found at most grocery stores. Just add one tea bag to hot water and enjoy!
Possible Side Effects of Turmeric
Although turmeric is generally safe for most people and has a number of benefits to offer, it may cause some side effects when taken in high doses and with a certain group of people.
The common side effects include:
A high intake of turmeric and for prolonged periods can cause indigestion, nausea, and diarrhea.
Increased oxalate levels
According to research, high intakes of turmeric as a supplement can increase urinary oxalate levels, which can increase the risk of developing kidney stones in people at risk.
It can cause blood glucose to drop too low
Turmeric can help reduce and stabilize blood glucose levels making diabetes more manageable.
However, if taken with diabetes medications, turmeric or curcumin can boost the effects of these medications, causing blood glucose to drop too low.
So always talk to your doctor before incorporating a turmeric supplement into your conventional treatment.
It may cause liver damage
New research has linked too much turmeric with liver damage. Scientists believe this is due to how people use the spice or increased combination with black pepper, which promotes its absorption.
This clearly shows that moderation is key no matter how beneficial something is. So maintain moderate intake, and in case you have liver issues, avoiding it may be the best decision for now.
Increased risk of bleeding
People with bleeding disorders or those on blood thinning medications may want to avoid the spice. This is because curcumin has blood thinning or anticoagulant effects and can increase the risk of bleeding.
Medicinal use of turmeric in pregnancy should be avoided
While ground turmeric used as a spice in cooking is okay, turmeric supplements can be harmful during pregnancy.
This is because they contain a high concentration of curcumin, which may alter estrogen levels and cause uterine contractions or bleeding, leading to a miscarriage.
Turmeric has been proven to effectively reduce blood pressure through various mechanisms, including increasing nitric oxide, fighting inflammation, preventing atherosclerosis, inhibiting angiotensin II, and fighting free radical damage.
However, it is important to note that you should still consult your doctor before self-treating any medical conditions.
Additionally, if you are taking other medications for high blood pressure or have existing health conditions, it’s best to use caution when consuming large amounts of this spice.
Ultimately, combining other lifestyle changes like regular exercise, managing stress, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet are the most reliable ways to maintain healthy blood pressure levels over time.
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