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Essential Oils for High Blood Pressure

by Jodi Cohen

Blood pressure refers to the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as your heart pumps blood. High blood pressure, or Hypertension, occurs when blood flows through blood vessels and arteries at higher than normal pressures. High blood pressure can hinder blood flow, slowing the flow and volume of blood to your vital organs, including your brain.

Your blood pressure is measured by assessing

  • Systolic pressure: This is the first, or top, number. It indicates the blood pressure in your arteries when the heart beats while pumping blood. This measurement takes into account how much blood is passing through your blood vessels and the amount of resistance the blood meets while your heart is pumping.
  • Diastolic pressure: This is the second, or bottom, number. It indicates the blood pressure when your heart is at rest between beats.

Normal blood pressure is considered less than 120/80. Your blood pressure is considered high when systolic pressure (the top number) is 140 or higher or the diastolic pressure (bottom number) is 90 or higher.

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

A number of factors can contribute to high blood pressure or hypertension, including:

Poor Parasympathetic Tone:  Your heart rate is controlled by the two branches of the autonomic nervous system (ANS).  The  “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system raises your heart rate so we can bump more blood to our muscles and flee from danger, while the “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system slows down our heart rate so you can rest repair and recover. In the parasympathetic state, your vagus nerve releases the neurotransmitter acetylcholine to the sinoatrial node of the heart signaling it to prolong the time to the next heartbeat, thus slowing the pulse.   Increased sympathetic tone is often correlated with high blood pressure and hypertension.

High CortisolResearch has found significant evidence that high cortisol levels increases blood pressure and hypertension.  More specifically, your adrenal glands, which release cortisol, also release the hormone aldosterone which works with your kidneys to balance fluids and electrolytes.  When stress levels are high (as evidenced by high levels of cortisol), aldosterone signals your kidneys to retain salt, which triggers the retention of fluid as well, increasing the volume of fluid in the blood vessels which contributes to high blood pressure. (Study)  Learn more about essential oils for cortisol here.

Poor Circulation: Constriction of blood vessels can make it harder for blood to flow freely which elevates blood pressure.  Discover 10 signs of poor circulation here.

Compromised Kidney Function:  Poor kidney function may upset your body’s natural balance of salts, causing you to retain more fluid, which increases blood pressure. Learn more about the kidneys here.

 

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

Symptoms of high blood pressure are often subtle or non-existent, but can parallel signs of poor circulation, including:

Visionary Problems: High blood pressure can cause thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes, which can result in vision problems, like blurred vision or vision loss.

No Brain Endurance: Your brain needs a healthy supply of blood in order to function properly. When blood circulation to the brain becomes sluggish, it can impact your mental abilities, including your ability to focus and concentrate.  This has to do with both the poor delivery of oxygen to the brain and the poor drainage of toxins from the brain.

Fatigue: When your circulatory system slows down, it damages it’s capacity to deliver oxygen, vitamins, and minerals throughout the body. It can also slow down your metabolism. Without the proper supply of nutrient-filled blood, your body tries to conserve as much energy as possible, making you feel fatigued.

Digestive Problems: Adequate blood supply is necessary for nutrients to be properly digested, absorbed and assimilated.  Poor blood flow to the digestive track, can lead to acid reflux, bloating, gas, nausea, loose stools or impaired digestion.

Memory Issues: Uncontrolled high blood pressure can affect your ability to think, remember and learn. Trouble with memory or understanding concepts is more common in people with high blood pressure.

 

Essential Oils for High Blood Pressure

Essential oils can help support healthy circulation and balance blood pressure.  Research deemed the inhalation of essential oils and “effective intervention that reduces psychological stress responses and serum cortisol levels, as well as the blood pressure of clients with essential hypertension.”  Key statistical measures, including blood pressure, pulse rate, subjective stress, state anxiety, and serum cortisol levels were all significantly reduced with essential oil exposure.

Additional research measured  the effects of essential oil inhalation on blood pressure and salivary cortisol levels on 83 people with prehypertension or hypertension. Inhalation of essential oils was found to significantly decrease daytime blood pressure and salivary cortisol levels.

 

Are Essential Oils Contra-Indicated for High Blood Pressure?

Essential oils do not raise blood pressure.

In the 1964 book Aromathérapie, Dr, Jean Valnet warned that rosemary, hyssop, sage and thyme should not be used for people with high blood pressure.  It turns out this often-repeated warning lacks any research to support it and was based on easily disputed animal research conducted in the 1940s.  Essential Oil Safety author Robert Tisserand dispelled this myth, noting that “the quantity and quality of essential oil research available in the early 1960s was extremely poor” and “these four oils would NOT be contraindicated in high blood pressure.”

In his research paper Essential Oils and Hypertension – is There a Problem?, Robert Tisserand explains that there is no case for contraindicating any essential oil in someone with high blood pressure.  He notes “a close examination of the original 1940s research reveals that, if anything, these essential oils reduce blood pressure… Ultimately, there is currently no compelling evidence that any essential oil is dangerous to use in hypertension.”

In summary, there are also no proven cases of anyone suffering ill effects from escalation of blood pressure caused by essential oils.  What research is available correlates inhalation or topical application with a decrease in blood pressure.

 

What are the Best Essential Oils for High Blood Pressure?

The following blends best support and balance the underlying factors that contribute to high blood pressure or hypertension.

Parasympathetic™

The parasympathetic nervous system slows down our heart rate so you can rest repair and recover. In the parasympathetic state, your vagus nerve releases the neurotransmitter acetylcholine to the sinoatrial node of the heart signaling it to prolong the time to the next heartbeat, thus slowing the pulse.

To stimulate the vagus nerve and trigger the parasympathetic response, topically apply Parasympathetic™ blend on the vagal nerve behind the earlobe on the neck .  This triggers the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which helps slow your heart beat which reduces the amount of blood ,pumped through your arteries with each beat, naturally helping to lower blood pressure. This also helps to keep your heart healthy.  High blood pressure, or increased pressure in your blood vessels, forces your heart’s muscles to pump more frequently and with more force than a healthy heart should have to.

The parasympathetic nervous system also calms inflammation which also supports blood pressure as inflammation in the arteries over time is a major contributing factor to high blood pressure.  Calming inflammation and relaxing smooth muscles helps to lower blood pressure.

The Parasympathetic™ blend of clove and lime is well suited to supporting high blood pressure.  Clove has a high concentration of the chemical constituent eugenol, found in clove oil in levels upward of 88.58 percent, which has been shown to lower the amount of blood flow through the vessels. Eugenol specifically may act as a calcium channel blocker, preventing the mineral from entering the cells of blood vessel walls. In a similar vein, Lime essential oil is said to have stress-reducing properties.

Adrenal™

High stress levels trigger the release of cortisol which  increases blood pressure and hypertension.  Cortisol is released by your adrenal glands and levels are regulated by your hypothalamus in your brain.  When either of these glands are out of balance, the hormones they release, like cortisol and aldosterone can surge and increase blood pressure.

Calming the adrenals helps calm the release of aldosterone which helps your kidneys remove excess sodium from your body. As the sodium leaves, extra fluid in your bloodstream moves into your urine, which helps lower your blood pressure.  Essential oils can help return your adrenal glands and your hypothalamus to balance which can help lower blood pressure.

Your adrenal glands secrete cortisol in response to stress.  To help keep your adrenals balanced and not over releasing cortisol, apply 1- 2 drops of the Adrenal™ on the adrenal glands (lower mid-back, one fist above the 12th rib on each side) upon waking, before bed and throughout the day as needed.

Adrenal™ blend contains several oils that have been recognized to lower blood pressure. For example, research on cinnamon found a significant decrease in blood pressure in both prediabetes and type 2 diabetes patients.

Adrenal™ blend contains “stimulatory” oils like Rosemary and Thyme.  Misinformation has been shared that stimulatory oils should be avoided to avoid triggering high blood pressure.  I have found the opposite to be true.  Specifically, a 2007 study found that Rosemary oil decreased cortisol levels in saliva when inhaled and   has been shown to balance hormones that help support adrenal glands.

Essential oil expert Robert Tisserand cautions “we need to be careful how we apply general terms such as “stimulating”. The evidence shows that peppermint oil both increases alertness, and reduces blood pressure. This is not adaptogenesis, nor is it a contradiction, it’s simply that alertness and blood pressure are controlled by different parts of our nervous system, and the same essential oil can be both “stimulating” and “depressing” at the same time, but to different receptor sites or neurochemical pathways.”

Hypothalamus™

Your hypothalamus, the pearl size region of your brain located just above your brain stem, is responsible for maintaining your body’s internal balance, by helping to stimulate or inhibit heart rate and regulate blood pressure.  Research found that “The possible dysfunction of such a center, particularly in an abnormal sensitiveness to psychic or emotional stimuli, could obviously be an important pathogenic factor in the production of clinical “essential” hypertension.

The Hypothalamus serves as control center for neural and hormonal messages received from/sent to body, including signals to trigger the release of cortisol or raise blood pressure.  The ability of the hypothalamus to receive clear messages from the body is critical as all outgoing endocrine and neural signals are based on the clarity of these incoming signals, including the ability to put the brakes on cortisol release.  To optimize the ability of the hypothalamus to send and receive signals, apply 1 drop of Hypothalamus™ on forehead slightly above the third eye up to 6 times daily.

Circulation™

Constriction of blood vessels can make it harder for blood to flow freely which elevates blood pressure.  Essential oils, like Black Pepper, are known to help relax and expand your blood vessels, veins and arteries.

Hypertension can make your arteries tougher, tighter, and less elastic. This damage makes it easier for dietary fats to deposit in your arteries and further restrict blood flow.   Narrow arteries make it harder for blood to flow easily, increasing resistance and raising your blood pressure.  Essential oils can help restore strength and flexibility to your blood vessels and arteries so that your blood can flow freely and unobstructed through your body.

Circulation™ blend is formulated with powerful oils known to help blood vessels relax and dilate which reduces blood pressure and supports healthy circulation to deliver oxygen and nutrient rich blood to the body and the brain.

For example, Cypress oil helps improve circulation, helping the veins contract, making it easier to stimulate blood flow. It may also help alleviate some of the triglycerides that can form and restrict blood flow.  Similarly, Ginger Root helps warm the skin and vessels, promoting circulation and helping to regulate blood flow throughout the body.

Apply 2- 3 drops of Circulation™ on the sides or back of the neck, over the left clavicle, on the wrists or ankles to help increase blood flow.

Kidney Support™

Poor kidney function may upset your body’s natural balance of salts, causing you to retain more fluid, which increases blood pressure

Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located near the middle part of your back that help regulate the flow and balance of fluids in your body.  For example, they balance your blood pressure by maintaining the salt and water balance and controlling the volume, composition and pressure of fluids in all of your cells.  Blood flows through your kidneys at its highest pressure  – over 200 quarts per day.  Fluid is symbolic of the unconscious or that which we do not understand or fear.

In Chinese medicine, the kidneys are considered the seat of courage and willpower.  Feelings of fear and paranoia can be held in the kidneys impairing function.  Vibrant Blue Oils Emotion Balance Kidney Support™ blend helps dispel fear, assist in feeling safe and bring about a balance of emotions.

Kidney Support™ blend also contains several essential oils known for lowering blood pressure, including Cedarwood which is known for calming nerves.  Research found inhalation of ylang ylang essential oil significantly decreased blood pressure and heart rate.  Frankincense is also known as a mood enhancer which is effective at lowering blood pressure.  Apply 2- 3 drops of Kidney Support™ over the kidneys (one inch up and out from belly button), back of neck, or around the outside of earlobes.

 

Epsom Salt Baths

Epsom salt baths have been found to lower blood pressure.

Epsom salt is a naturally occurring mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate first distilled from seawater in the town of Epsom, England.  Magnesium helps relax your blood vessels and can have an immediate impact on naturally lowering blood pressure.  Magnesium plays a number of roles in the body including regulating enzyme activity, reducing inflammation, helping to improve muscle and nerve function along with blood flow throughout the body.

Studies have shown that both magnesium and sulfate are easily absorbed through the skin and into the body’s blood stream. The skin is a highly porous membrane that both takes in minerals and eliminates toxins every day.  You can learn more about Epsom salt baths here or download our FREE Healing Bath guide here.

To reduce blood pressure, consider adding either Rose or Lavender essential oil to the bath.  One study found that  topical application of rose oil can reduce blood pressure and heart rate. The calming effect and anti-inflammatory characteristics of rose essential oil helps relax the entire body to increase blood circulation and lower high blood pressure.

Lavender essential oil has also been found to reduce blood pressure. The study revealed that lavender oil caused significant decreases of blood pressure and heart rate.

 

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About The Author

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.

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Subscribe to Vibrant Blue Oils and receive weekly information on oils and how to use them. As a bonus, we’ll send out Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils to your inbox immediately!