Easy Ways to Lower Blood Pressure

by Dave Pratt

     If you have high blood pressure, you’re going to want to read this article. These are some easy, natural and even enjoyable ways you can bring your BP numbers down.    

     Research tells us that 1/3 of all men have high blood pressure, and women are not far behind. Much of the time this disease has no physical symptoms, but it dramatically increases your chance of dying of a heart attack and your risk of heart failure. It is the number one cause of stroke, and only second as a cause for kidney failure. Studies show that the following are simple ways that could help control your blood pressure:

           Squeeze a Tennis Ball

     Yes, you read that correctly. About 40 years ago, Dr. Ronald Wiley developed a device to stop pilots falling asleep by increasing their blood pressure and circulation to their brains. It was discovered that after prolonged use, blood pressure actually reduced.

     You can get a similar result by squeezing a tennis ball. Just hold the ball loosely, then squeeze as hard as you comfortably can, holding for a minimum of five seconds. Relax for a count of two, then repeat the process ten times. Rest for a five count, then do ten more repetitions with that hand. Repeat with your other hand.

           Enjoy Some Dark Chocolate

     Dr. Karin Ried, working with researchers from the University of Adeleaide, Australia said that eating dark chocolate can “significantly, albeit modestly, reduce blood pressure for people with high blood pressure but not for people with normal blood pressure.”

     Another study published in the JAMA found that eating approximately 30 calories per day of dark chocolate was associated with lowered blood pressure. This occurred without weight gain or other adverse effects.

           Savor a Cup of Tea

     Almost a countless number of studies have shown that tea has positive effects on blood pressure. Most of these have been done with green and oolong tea (a bit more robust than green, but also low in caffeine).

     One study that spanned a decade and conducted by scientists at Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University, determined that drinking 4 oz. of oolong or green teas a day can reduce the risk of high blood pressure by by a 46%. When that was increased  to 20 oz., researchers saw a 65% drop.

     More recently, Hibiscus tea has been touted as a BP-reducer too. With no caffeine, this is a preferred choice for some. It’s said that at least two cups of this mild tea per day can show results in as little as 4 weeks.

           Know You Are Breathing

     Notice that I didn’t say, “Just breathe.” We are breathing all the time, so if that was all that was needed, there would be no high blood pressure. However, knowing that this is so, that is - bringing your attention to the activity of your breath - can help bring blood pressure down.

     All you need to do is regularly spend 5-10 minutes sitting comfortably and allowing thoughts to drop away as you simply observe your breath. If you notice that your mind has wandered, no big deal, just come back to experiencing the inhalation and exhalation.

     Rollin McCraty, Ph.D., and director of research at the HeartMath Institute in Boulder Creek, Ca, says that having a routine breathwork practice can achieve results. One three month study of computer-company workers showed that drop could be as pronounced as ten points systolic and six points dyastolic.

           Get a Massage

     Recent research from Dillard University in Louisiana showed that a combination of massage therapy and diaphragmatic breathing reduced blood pressure and also anxiety in as little as one week. Another study done by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, showed that regular massage reduced high blood pressure and depression too. As with chocolate, tea and tennis ball-squeezing, the best results were gained by regularity. Clients I have seen who report BP improvement are receiving at least 1-2 treatments per month.

     Of course, don’t take all of this as a new regimen to solve your high blood pressure woes, but continue to follow your health care provider’s guidance. This isn’t meant to be a substitute, but a possible compliment to your current plan.

Dave Pratt is a Licensed Massage Therapist and Breema bodywork instructor who has been serving Holmes County Clients and its visitors since 1997. He practices at True Nature Holistic Retreats, in Millersburg, where he offers treatments, classes and retreats with his wife, Alana Pratt, an experienced yoga and meditation instructor. Dave and Alana are the founders and co-owners of True Nature and can be reached at An edited version of this article originally appeared in Daily Record Publishing.