As you grow older, it’s normal for your blood pressure to go up. For most cases, no recognizable cause can be found for this increase, but overweight or obesity, high salt intake, alcoholism, smoking, physical inactivity, long-term lack of sleep, kidney disorder, race, family history, and genes can all raise your risk.
Statistics say that for every 3 Americans, 1 suffers from high blood pressure or hypertension. It also contributes to around 1000 deaths a day.1
Since hypertensive patients often suffer from related health problems including high cholesterol and blood glucose, which together make up metabolic syndrome, they are at an increased risk of heart failure, heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. High blood pressure is largely symptomless and it’s critically important to keep it under control.2
While exercise and medication may be required to control hypertension, adding turmeric to the diet could help! This golden spice is valued by the ancient science of ayurveda for its many medicinal properties and is used for treating a variety of conditions from rheumatic pains to poor vision and skin diseases.3 As it turns out, turmeric may be beneficial for those with high blood pressure too. It lowers blood pressure via multiple mechanisms, ameliorates complications, and tackles other related health issues. Here’s a look at the many ways in which turmeric can help.
Antioxidant And Anti-Inflammatory Curcumin In Turmeric May Lower High BP
Turmeric may be able to bring your blood pressure down primarily due to the action of curcumin, an antioxidant compound present in turmeric that has anti-inflammatory benefits.4
A common cause of hypertension is age-related endothelial dysfunction. Endothelial cells line the inside of the blood vessels and release chemicals that balance the contraction and relaxation of the blood vessels, thereby modulating blood pressure. With age, the endothelial cells start malfunctioning due to oxidative stress, which causes inflammation, plaque deposition, and finally atherosclerosis. The plaque does not just inhibit blood flow, it also makes the artery stiff and unable to relax. This, in turn, plays a part in the progression of high blood pressure.5
Turmeric, however, is able to counter the inflammation and reverse age-related endothelial dysfunction.6 7 It also modulates your blood pressure by inhibiting the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) which is secreted by the endothelial cells. This enzyme is needed to produce angiotensin II, a chemical which makes your blood vessels narrower. The inhibition of ACE widens and relaxes your blood vessels, resulting in lower blood pressure. Interestingly, many medications prescribed for high blood pressure also work through this mechanism.8
Animal studies show that curcumin can protect against high blood pressure and vascular dysfunction even when these are chemically induced or brought on by a toxin.9 10 However, not enough clinical trials have been conducted to understand the extent of turmeric’s effect on patients of hypertension. Evidence is mixed. In one study on patients of diabetes, taking curcumin for 10 weeks did not seem to influence the blood pressure, while in another it lowered blood pressure in patients of kidney disease, which is elaborated in the next section. In another study on postmenopausal women, curcumin improved blood flow and dilation of the blood vessels after exercise, showing an improvement in endothelial function. The systolic blood pressure too dropped.11 12 13
Can Lower Blood Pressure In Patients Of Kidney Disorder
Poor kidney function is a contributing factor to high blood pressure since the kidneys are responsible for filtering out toxins from the body and maintaining the fluid balance. High blood pressure, on the other hand, can also damage the kidneys. The effect of turmeric has even been tested on human patients of lupus nephritis, a condition characterized by kidney inflammation, passage of protein and blood through urine, and high blood pressure. In this study, taking a dietary amount of 1.5 g turmeric daily could bring down systolic blood pressure as well as the amount of protein and blood excreted through the urine.14 Curcumin can also protect the kidney from free radical damage and can improve its functioning. It’s recommended as adjuvant therapy in patients of chronic kidney disease.15 However, this study did not show significant benefit for diastolic blood pressure.
Turmeric Prevents Arterial Damage Due To High BP
Turmeric doesn’t just lower high blood pressure, it might also mitigate the damage caused by it. You already know that high blood pressure is associated with an increased risk for heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke. These conditions develop when plaque accumulates in your arteries, making them narrow and slowing down the flow of blood to your heart, brain, and other body parts. So what part does blood pressure play here? When you have high blood pressure, the friction and force exerted by the flow of blood damage the tissues inside your arteries over time. Then LDL cholesterol starts depositing and forming plaque on tiny tears in your artery walls. As the plaque in your arteries increases, your arteries become narrower, further raising your blood pressure. This vicious cycle spells terrible news for your health.16
Animal studies have found that curcumin in turmeric can to an extent prevent the damage caused by high blood pressure in your arteries.17
Turmeric Prevents Platelet Changes Caused By High BP
High blood pressure can also cause changes to your platelets, which are small blood cells that form clots and stop bleeding. Elevated blood pressure levels can make your platelets hyperactive. This means that they’re more likely to form dangerous clots in your arteries, which can then block off blood supply to your heart or brain and cause a heart attack or stroke. But one animal study found that dietary supplementation with turmeric prevented hypertension-linked changes in platelet activity.18
Turmeric Treats Other Risk Factors Like High Blood Sugar And High Cholesterol
One of the scariest things about high blood pressure is that it is a significant risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Turmeric doesn’t just help with high blood pressure but also modulates other risk factors such as high cholesterol levels and diabetes that increase your chances of heart disease.19 Cholesterol deposits in the arteries and forms plaque, which then impedes blood flow, raising blood pressure. Many studies have found that curcumin can lower blood glucose as well as cholesterol levels and fight metabolic syndrome.2021 Even ayurveda considers turmeric a good “scraping” agent that removes cholesterol from blood vessels.
Precautions To Take While Using Turmeric
Adding turmeric to your diet may help you tackle several risk factors for heart disease at one go! It can lower blood pressure to some extent, but more importantly, regular consumption can counter inflammation that causes high pressure in the first place. It can also reverse the damages caused by hypertension. Add it to your meals as a spice Asian style or make a turmeric tea or milk. Just remember that while turmeric is often a kitchen staple in many households and considered safe, you may need to be careful in some scenarios.
- Excessive amounts of turmeric or curcumin may upset your stomach and, in severe cases, cause ulcers.
- Turmeric may not be safe for those who have gallstones or an obstruction in their bile passage. Speak to your doctor before taking turmeric if you have these conditions.
- Since turmeric can lower your blood sugar, it may cause low blood sugar when used in combination with medicines used in diabetes by supplementing their effect.
- Since turmeric can act as a blood thinner, you should stop using it a couple of weeks before you have a surgical procedure. Also, do remember to inform your doctor if you’ve been taking turmeric.22
|↑1||Blood Pressure: Make Control Your Goal Infographic. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑2||High Blood Pressure. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑3||Turmeric. University Of Michigan.|
|↑4||Turmeric. University Of Michigan.|
|↑5||Tomiyama, Hirofumi, Kazuki Shiina, Chisa Matsumoto‐Nakano, Toshiharu Ninomiya, Shunsuke Komatsu, Kazutaka Kimura, Taishiro Chikamori, and Akira Yamashina. “The Contribution of Inflammation to the Development of Hypertension Mediated by Increased Arterial Stiffness.” Journal of the American Heart Association 6, no. 7 (2017): e005729.|
|↑6||Akinyemi, Ayodele Jacob, Gustavo Roberto Thomé, Vera Maria Morsch, Nathieli B. Bottari, Jucimara Baldissarelli, Lizielle Souza de Oliveira, Jeferson Ferraz Goularte et al. “Effect of Ginger and Turmeric Rhizomes on Inflammatory Cytokines Levels and Enzyme Activities of Cholinergic and Purinergic Systems in Hypertensive Rats.” Planta medica 82, no. 07 (2016): 612-620.|
|↑7||Fleenor, Bradley S., Amy L. Sindler, Natasha K. Marvi, Kate L. Howell, Melanie L. Zigler, Mutsuko Yoshizawa, and Douglas R. Seals. “Curcumin ameliorates arterial dysfunction and oxidative stress with aging.” Experimental gerontology 48, no. 2 (2013): 269-276.|
|↑8||Lekshmi, P. C., Ranjith Arimboor, V. M. Nisha, A. Nirmala Menon, and K. G. Raghu. “In vitro antidiabetic and inhibitory potential of turmeric (Curcuma longa L) rhizome against cellular and LDL oxidation and angiotensin converting enzyme.” Journal of food science and technology 51, no. 12 (2014): 3910-3917.|
|↑9||Kukongviriyapan, Upa, Patchareewan Pannangpetch, Veerapol Kukongviriyapan, Wanida Donpunha, Kwanjit Sompamit, and Praphassorn Surawattanawan. “Curcumin protects against cadmium-induced vascular dysfunction, hypertension and tissue cadmium accumulation in mice.” Nutrients 6, no. 3 (2014): 1194-1208.|
|↑10, ↑17||Hlavačková, Livia, Andrea Janegová, Olga Uličná, Pavol Janega, Andrea Černá, and Pavel Babál. “Spice up the hypertension diet-curcumin and piperine prevent remodeling of aorta in experimental L-NAME induced hypertension.” Nutrition & metabolism 8, no. 1 (2011): 72.|
|↑11||Hodai, Homa, Mahsa Adibian, and Golbon Sohrab. “Effects of curcumin supplementation on BMI and blood pressure in patients with type 2 diabetes.” In World Congress on Clinical Trials in Diabetes, vol. 43. BioScientifica, 2016.|
|↑12, ↑14||Khajehdehi, Parviz, Batol Zanjaninejad, Elham Aflaki, MohamadAli Nazarinia, Fariborz Azad, Leila Malekmakan, and Gholam-Reza Dehghanzadeh. “Oral supplementation of turmeric decreases proteinuria, hematuria, and systolic blood pressure in patients suffering from relapsing or refractory lupus nephritis: a randomized and placebo-controlled study.” Journal of Renal Nutrition 22, no. 1 (2012): 50-57.|
|↑13||Akazawa, Nobuhiko, Youngju Choi, Asako Miyaki, Yoko Tanabe, Jun Sugawara, Ryuichi Ajisaka, and Seiji Maeda. “Curcumin ingestion and exercise training improve vascular endothelial function in postmenopausal women.” Nutrition research 32, no. 10 (2012): 795-799.|
|↑15||de Almeida Alvarenga, Livia, Viviane de Oliveira Leal, Natália Alvarenga Borges, Aline Silva de Aguiar, Gerd Faxén-Irving, Peter Stenvinkel, Bengt Lindholm, and Denise Mafra. “Curcumin-A promising nutritional strategy for chronic kidney disease patients.” Journal of Functional Foods 40 (2018): 715-721.|
|↑16||What is High Blood Pressure?. American Heart Association.|
|↑18||Akinyemi, Ayodele Jacob, Gustavo Roberto Thomé, Vera Maria Morsch, Nathieli B. Bottari, Jucimara Baldissarelli, Lizielle Souza Oliveira, Jeferson Ferraz Goularte, Adriane Belló‐Klein, Ganiyu Oboh, and Maria Rosa Chitolina Schetinger. “Dietary supplementation of ginger and turmeric rhizomes modulates platelets ectonucleotidase and adenosine deaminase activities in normotensive and hypertensive rats.” Phytotherapy Research 30, no. 7 (2016): 1156-1163.|
|↑19||How to Prevent Heart Disease. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑20||Zhang, Dong-wei, Min Fu, Si-Hua Gao, and Jun-Li Liu. “Curcumin and diabetes: a systematic review.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013 (2013).|
|↑21||Ramırez-Tortosa, M. C., M. D. Mesa, M. C. Aguilera, J. L. Quiles, L. Baro, C. L. Ramirez-Tortosa, E. Martinez-Victoria, and A. Gil. “Oral administration of a turmeric extract inhibits LDL oxidation and has hypocholesterolemic effects in rabbits with experimental atherosclerosis.” Atherosclerosis 147, no. 2 (1999): 371-378.|
|↑22||Turmeric. University of Maryland.|