Useful Essential Oils
Which essential oils for high blood pressure are useful?
As explained in the video, the following essential oils have traditionally been used for high blood pressure:
- Lavender essential oil (but it's not as powerful in reducing high blood pressure as the next two essential oils) – Diffuse it or for a more powerful effect, dilute it up to 5% in jojoba or hazelnut oil (25 drops per tablespoon) and rub it on a small area or dilute it 2% (10 drops per tablespoon) and do a whole body massage with it.
- Sweet Marjoram essential oil – Diffuse it or dilute it up to 5% in jojoba or hazelnut oil (25 drops per tablespoon) and rub it on a small area or dilute it 2% (10 drops per tablespoon) and do a whole body massage with it.
- Ylang Ylang essential oil (but also a powerful aphrodisiac) – Diffuse it or dilute it 2% in a carrier oil (10 drops per tablespoon) and massage it in or dilute it and use it in an aromatic bath. Use in moderation as excessive use can cause headaches and nausea in some people.
This video is by the founder of Amrita Aromatherapy and master aromatherapist Christoph Streicher, Ph.D.
Note: Everyone is different. We recommend you try each of the above essential oils one at a time (rather than blending them) to determine which one you respond to best.
This video also mentions that there are essential oils which bind to receptors in the liver. There are also essential oils which bind to receptors in the kidneys and which can help to temporarily relieve the symptoms of kidney infections.
About the Condition
What is blood pressure?
The heart pumps blood throughout the body. The force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries is what is known as “blood pressure”. It is measured as systolic (pressure whilst pumping) and diastolic (pressure whilst resting between beats) pressures. It is generally written as the systolic number above or before the diastolic number (e.g. 125/79 mmHg - is millimeters of Hg which is the symbol for mercury).
What is high blood pressure (HBP)?
If your blood pressure rises and stays high over time, it can be damaging to your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of your body. This “high blood pressure” is also known as hypertension.
It affects many millions of people. For example, about one in three adults in the US suffer from it. As it often doesn’t display any signs or symptoms, many have HBP without even knowing they have it. But it doesn’t just affect adults. It also affects some children and teenagers.
Your blood pressure rises and falls during the day and it also changes if you have a short-term illness. But if your blood pressure stays above 120/80 most of the time, then you may have HBP or be likely to develop it (i.e. pre-hypertension). There are two stages of adult high blood pressure. Stage one is normally indicated by having a Systolic blood pressure in the range of 140–159 and a Diastolic blood pressure in the range of 90–99. Stage two is Systolic 160 or higher and Diastolic 100 or higher.
If either your systolic or diastolic numbers are in the higher range, you are considered to have HBP (e.g. 160/80, is considered stage 2 HBP, 120/95 is stage 1).
For people also suffering from diabetes or chronic kidney disease, HBP is 130/80 mmHg or higher. The range which is considered HBP is also different for children and teenagers.
Having HBP increases the risk of strokes, kidney failure and heart disease. Factors which could cause you to be more likely to develop HBP include obesity, over-consumption of alcohol and/or salt, smoking, being African American, being physically inactive, being pregnant, diabetes, gout, kidney disease and having other close relatives that have it. Although blood pressure generally rises beyond 35 years of age, it is possible to prevent this through the adoption of a healthy lifestyle.
What are conventional medical treatments for hypertension?
Most doctors will advise you to reduce any factors that could be leading to your development of HBP. For example, if you are overweight, your doctor will advise you to lose weight.
Anyone with HBP is encouraged to:
- Adopt a healthy diet which is low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, salt (sodium) and added sugars and plentiful in low-fat forms of protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other foods that are heart healthy.
- Drink no more than one alcoholic drink per day for women or two drinks a day for men.
- Do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity, aerobic exercise each week.
- Learn how to cope with stress and reduce stress.
- Monitor your blood pressure regularly.
Doctors also tend to prescribe one or more of the following medications:
- Diuretics to stop your body from accumulating too much water and salt. Sometimes they are combined with other medications into the one pill.
- Beta-blockers, which supposedly help your heart beat slower and with less force. Generally these are prescribed in combination with other medications.
- Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors prevent your body from making a hormone called angiotensin II which causes blood vessels to narrow.
- Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs), which protect your blood vessels from the angiotensin II hormone.
- Calcium Channel Blockers, which keep calcium from entering the muscle cells of your heart and blood vessels Note: Eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice interacts with some calcium channel blockers, and puts you at higher risk of experiencing side effects.
- Alpha blockers, which reduce the nerve impulses that tighten blood vessels.
- Alpha-beta blockers, which reduce nerve impulses the same way alpha blockers do and also slow the heartbeat-like beta blockers.
- Nervous system inhibitors, which increase nerve impulses from the brain to relax and widen blood vessels.
- Vasodilators, which relax the muscles in the blood vessels.
- Renin inhibitors, which slow down the production of renin (an enzyme produced by your kidneys that starts a process that increases blood pressure). Note: This type of medication should not be taken in conjunction with ACE inhibitors or ARBs, otherwise serious complications such as stroke can occur.
As with all medications, there can be various serious side effects. Some people find their HBP doesn’t decrease even when they take a combination of these medications. This is called “resistant hypertension.” In these cases, a finer level of diagnosis and treatment is required.
What are alternative treatments for high blood pressure?
In addition to changing your diet and exercise regimes, some people find that these supplements (taken as food or pills) can also may help lower it but extensive research has not yet been conducted on many of these:
- Folic acid
- Fiber supplements
- Minerals (e.g. magnesium, calcium and potassium)
- Things that increase nitric oxide or widen blood vessels (vasodilators), such as garlic, cocoa, coenzyme Q10, or L-arginine.
- Omega-3 fatty acids (e.g. in fatty fish, fish oil supplements or flaxseed).
Always consult your doctor before adding any of these supplements to your blood pressure treatment. Some supplements can interact with medications, causing increased and sometimes even fatal side effects.
Herbs such as licorice, ephedra (Ma Huang), and yohimbine (from the bark of a West African tree) can increase blood pressure.
In terms of reducing stress, research on the Transcendental Meditation technique(1) showed African-Americans with heart disease who practiced Transcendental Meditation regularly over more than five years were 48% less likely to have a heart attack or stroke or die than those who attended a health education class.
Some research studies have shown that acupuncture can help reduce blood pressure, but some of these studies have considerable weaknesses. More research is needed.
A 2006 Korean study(2) showed that subjects with essential hypertension (HBP with no attributable cause) inhaling a blend of Lavender, Ylang-Ylang, and Bergamot essential oils once daily for 4 weeks, significantly reduced their psychological stress responses and serum cortisol levels, as well as their blood pressure levels.
Note that although we don’t mention Bergamot as an essential oil that may be useful for reducing high blood pressure on the Useful Essential Oils tab, we do mention it on Amrita’s page Essential Oils For Anxiety and Stress as it is known for its ability to decrease anxiety and depression, and to calm the mind and reduce worries. As we mentioned earlier, stress is considered a contributing factor to hypertension.