Why Blood Pressure Drugs Can Make the Problem Worse… and How to “Beet” this Common Condition with a Delicious Food

In All Health Watch, Blood Pressure, Featured Article, Heart and Cardiovascular

Most of us have heard one shocking story or another about the dangerous side effects of pharmaceutical drugs. But many people are not aware that some of these drugs can actually worsen or even cause the same disease they are designed to treat.

Tamoxifen is one example. This drug is generally prescribed to high-risk women to prevent breast cancer. But according to a study published in the International Journal of Gynecological Cancer,1 tamoxifen can actually cause uterine cancer and increase the mortality rate from the disease.

Or consider diabetes drugs, like Avandia. Results from the ACCORD trial (Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes) showed that aggressive blood sugar management with these drugs resulted in a 22% increased risk of death in diabetic patients.2

And now, new research shows that the most commonly used drugs for lowering blood pressure actually raise it. That’s right: the drugs that most hypertension patients count on are putting them in harm’s way.

But not to worry, because another recent study confirms that one safe, natural remedy can drastically lower your blood pressure in just three hours.

Blood Pressure Meds Elevate Blood Pressure

The study, which was published in the American Journal of Hypertension, followed the progress of 945 patients over 17 years.

These patients took one of two anti-hypertensive drugs. One was a calcium channel blocker which lowers blood volume. The other was a beta blocker, or ACE inhibitor. These are often called “R” drugs, because they lower the levels of an enzyme called renin. This enzyme is secreted by the kidneys and plays a key role in maintaining blood pressure.

The study showed that the drugs actually spiked blood pressure. And the highest spikes were found in patients with low renin levels.

Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University say doctors are too quick to use a one-drug-treats-all option.

“Every clinician knows that there’s a variation in response to antihypertensive treatment,” says study author Michael Alderman, MD. Dr. Alderman is the former president of the American Society of Hypertension. “Some patients will have an elevation in blood pressure.”

Until now, this has been blamed on patients not taking their drugs. Other times doctors put it down to random events.

“But this data shows that it’s not a random event,” he says. “It’s due to a mismatch between the patients’ renin status and the drug.”

Root Remedy Offers Hope

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one in three Americans over the age of 20 have hypertension. And it lands over 40 million people in the hospital each year.

According to the American Heart Association, elevated blood pressure increases the risk for:

  • Heart attack
  • Angina
  • Stroke
  • Kidney failure
  • Peripheral artery disease

And while doctors are prescribing drugs that make the problem worse, one simple root can make it better.

A recent UK study – published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension – says that beetroot juice can significantly lower high blood pressure.

The study was conducted by the famous Queen Mary’s William Harvey Research Institute and headed up by Professor Amrita Ahluwalia.

Researchers gave beetroot juice to healthy volunteers. They compared their blood pressure responses and the biochemical changes in their circulation.

They found that not only does beetroot juice lower blood pressure… it does so quickly.

Professor Ahluwalia found that patients lowered their blood pressure within three hours of drinking their daily dose… and the effects lasted for 24 hours!

And the best thing is that consuming beets works best for those who need it most. The researchers found that “the higher the blood pressure, the greater the decrease.”

Researchers also tested a second group of patients with daily nitrate tablets. They too were able to lower their blood pressure. The high nitrate content in beetroot may be one of the reasons it’s so effective in lowering blood pressure. And why the research group has called it an essential “superfood.”

“Beeting” Out the Competition

Beetroot is rich in iron, boron, and folic acid. It also contains betanene, which is why it has such a deep purple color. Betanene is a powerful antioxidant. In fact, it’s even more potent than polyphenols which are believed to be the reason that diets rich in leafy vegetables also lower blood pressure.

Research member Professor Ben Benjamin says that beetroot absorbs and stores super high levels of nitrate. These are found in soil and our bodies use them to control blood pressure.

“When nitrate is present in saliva, bacteria on the tongue converts it into nitrite,” he says. “When the nitrite is swallowed, it’s converted into nitric oxide.”

Nitric oxide is a chemical produced by our blood vessels to help them relax and lower blood pressure.

“Increasing the levels of nitrate with beetroot juice increases this effect,” Professor Benjamin says.

True Stories of Success

“Currently, treatment for high blood pressure involves a cocktail of aspirin, statins, beta blockers, and angiotensin converting enzyme [ACE] inhibitors,” says Professor Benjamin. “People don’t like taking all the tablets. They don’t feel well and the treatment is lifelong.”

But he says beetroot is a healthy and safe alternative. The study also found that, like aspirin, beetroot juice prevents blood clots and protects the lining of blood vessels.

People are already putting this superfood to the test.

Sixty-year-old David Kelsall, from Stoke-on-Trent, England, was amazed by the results.

“I discovered my blood pressure was high when my doctor was testing for something else,” he says. “It was not life-threatening but I was anxious to do something about it.”

He was considering drugs when he read the reports about beetroot juice.

“I drank three bottles of it a week,” he says. “Less than four weeks later, my blood pressure had already leveled out. Now, a few months later, it is under control and normal. I am still drinking the juice, and I’m going to continue doing so. It may not help everyone, but it’s helped me.”

Getting Beetroot into Your Diet

Beetroot has a medium glycemic index score of 64… but this doesn’t need to be a problem. That’s because you only need a small amount of beetroot juice to lower your blood pressure.

“We found that only a small amount of juice is needed – just 250ml – to have this effect,” says Professor Ahluwalia. That’s about one cup.

We recommend Biotta Organic Beetroot Juice. Not only does it taste delicious, but it’s also inexpensive, especially when you consider the positive benefits.

You can also blend raw beets into a morning smoothie or roast them in the oven and slice and serve over salads.

1 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1525-1438.2007.01025.x/abstract;jsessionid
2 http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0802743#t=articleDiscussion