Herbal Health Information on High Blood Pressure

When the blood pressure is measured there are two figures which are read, the “top” figure or Systolic pressure gives us an indication of the force with which the heart is beating and the “lower” reading or Diastolic pressure is an indication of the resistance the blood encounters when being distributed around the body.

The accepted norm is 120/80 going up to 140/90 with age. Over this and the blood pressure is thought to be too high, which may result in heart disease or stroke.

Blood circulation is a clever system in the body, resulting in everything the cells need to function, being carried to them via the blood.


The heart is a pump which pushes the blood through this system. All the blood vessels have elasticity built in to their walls so that they can take the pressure of the blood being pushed through them without bursting. As we get older some of this elasticity is lost from the vessels and they may also have been furred up with fatty deposits. This results in an increased resistance to the blood being pumped out of the heart and a raise in blood pressure.

The other causes of high blood pressure may be poor kidney function resulting in fluid retention, increased stickiness of the blood (high cholesterol) and stress.

Diet is very important to adjust for people with high blood pressure.

Top of the list to throw into the dungeon is caffeine. Cut out all caffeine containing foods:-




Cola drinks

Boost drinks

Many alco pops contain caffeine.

Caffeine has a constricting effect on capillaries and increases the heart rate, having a twofold, effect to raise blood pressure.

The other dungeon foods are;-



Red wine.

These can produce Tyramine in the body which can cause constriction of the capillaries and an increased resistance to the blood being pumped out of the heart.

Actually if you look up Tyramine on Wikipedia, many food substances contain it, but these are the most frequently ingested ones.

Then there is the never ending salt debate.

Some research says it does raise blood pressure and some says it doesn’t. BUT in countries where salt intake is restricted, an increase in blood pressure with age is not seen.

The other major adjustment to the diet is to reduce the amount of animal fat in your diet and make sure you are getting a good supply of the essential fats (Omega oils), present in fatty fish such as salmon, eggs, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, margarines and pulses.

Exercise is an absolute must. I will not go into how as you can find your own exercise preference but the why is that it will help break down excess fat, as well as improve circulation generally.

There are many combinations of Herbs which are suitable for reducing raised blood pressure so I am going to give you an example of a typical formula I would make up in my clinic for someone presenting with high blood pressure.

YARROW:- is a wonder herb that has many actions in the body, but the one I  use it  here for, is its ability to open up capillaries, allowing the blood to flow out of the heart easily.

LIME FLOWER: – this also opens capillaries and cleans out fatty deposits from arteries. See Pevensey video.

DANDELION ROOT is a diuretic, improving kidney function. It is high in potassium which can be leached out of the body by diuretics. CLEVER HUH?

MILK THISTLE: – this is liver cleansing and supporting. There is evidence that some high blood pressure conditions are caused by poor Liver function.

VALERIAN: – to make sure everything is calm and relaxed, as tension and stress will zap the blood pressure up.

HAWTHORN:-the best herb for supporting and normalising all areas of circulation, including the Heart.

I would not recommend you self medicate if you have high blood pressure but go to see a qualified Medical Herbalist if you are interested in trying complementary medicine.

You can find my clinic details by clicking here or on the “CLINIC” tab at the top of the page

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal HealthInformation

Yarrow/Milfoil (Achillea Millefoil)

The flowers and leaves are used which contain, flavonoids, volatile oils, lactones and alkaloids

This is the original wonder medicine. As I said in the video it does just about everything and at college, if we could not think of an answer to a question we would write “YARROW” it was bound to be right!


It grows so profusely on all kinds of soils and waste land that if we were ever in a situation where orthodox medicines were not available our first plant hunt would be for Yarrow.

It can stem the flow of blood from a wound, it is a diuretic and urinary antiseptic, has anti-inflammatory and anti rheumatic properties is anti viral, anti bacterial, a vasodilator(relaxes capillaries)  , digestive stimulant and protector, improves both gall bladder and liver function and is a gentle relaxant like chamomile.

I’m sure you get the picture!

Because of all these actions it is frequently used in many different mixes for digestive problems, lowering blood pressure, coughs, colds, arthritis, regulating  hormones, cystitis, stress and toning varicose veins. I’ve probably left out a few actions but I think that is enough for one plant to boast about!!!!!!

I would never be without it on my shelves.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/herbal Health Information

The Elder Tree (Latin Name ……..Sambucus Nigra)

Parts used…….flower/bark/berries

I am not too proud to admit I probably use this herb more than is decent.

Elderflower on a Martello Tower

That’s because it does soo many different things and there is nothing better to reach for than elderflower tincture from my shelves, from the start of the hayfever season to the end of the coughs and colds season which is pretty much all year around!

Elder flowers are one of those things you either love or hate the smell of. They have a slightly sickly sweet smell that many people find overpowering.

But ignore the smell because you are looking at a flower that has such an astonishing range of actions it sounds like a complete herbal pharmacopeia all on its own!

It is antiviral, immune system stimulating, anti-inflammatory, anticatarrhal, diaphoretic (makes you sweat) diuretic and other actions you can look up but if I add in here it will just sound like showing off.

It is my herb of choice above Echinacea, if I am treating coughs, colds and boosting the immune system.

Although there are several anticatarrhal herbs such as ground ivy, from my experience elderflower is positively the BEST.

At this time of year it goes in every hayfever and anti-allergy mix I make up.

Because it makes you sweat and has relaxing properties, I also put it into mixes for high blood pressure.

Here come the warning bells ringing again…please do not self medicate if you have high blood pressure or any medical condition see a professional.

I pick the flower every year and dry it to store for use as a tea if anyone is feeling they have a cold coming on. It is the herbal equivalent of Beecham’s powders.

The berries, I collect to either make elderflower jelly (you need extra pectin) or a syrup for coughs throughout the winter.

The syrup is dead easy to make.

Pick however many elderberries you want and then make about one inch layers of berries with half an inch of granulated sugar in a  clean and heat sterilised jam jar. You will need to keep topping the jar up as the berries crush down.

Leave this preferably somewhere very mildly warm for about a week and then strain of the gorgeous thick dark red syrup and store it in another clean and heat sterilised jam jar. This is a wonderful soothing cough mixture which should be rich in vitamin C, iron and Bioflavonoids.

In the video you see the elderflower in a hedgerow at the Long Man at Willingdon, but if you look along any hedgerow you will see an elderflower tree dotted in amongst the other bushes. Later in the year we will go back and film the berries and I will show you how to make the elderberry syrup.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information

Hawthorn, the wonder herb!

Hawthorn/ May Blossom

Latin name:-Craetaegus oxyacanthoides

You will not be surprised to know this is one of nature’s wonder herbs when I tell you it is documented as having been used for its beneficial actions on the heart by the 1st Century Greek Herbalist Dioscorides.

Hawthorn has a long history of use, confirmed safety and clinical evidence to support its cardiovascular benefits. The reason it is a wonder herb is because it improves circulation both to the peripheries of the body (hands and feet) as well improving the circulation to the heart itself, without increasing the heart beat or raising blood pressure.

Hawthorn in flower

The flower, leaf and berries are used in Herbal Medicine, which contain Flavonoids, phenolic acids, tannins and amines

I use it as my preferred herb to improve circulation to all parts of the body, because I know I can trust it to have a gentle but effective action on all circulatory problems.

It grows absolutely everywhere in England along the hedgerows, making a wonderful display of mile after mile of beautiful white blossoms in early May. This year the weather over here was abnormally warm in April so the Hawthorn flowered about two weeks early, not living up to its name of May Blossom giving rise to the saying, “ cast not a clout ‘til May is out” meaning don’t take your winter woolies off until the May blossom has finished.

I give a lot of W.I. talks and during these many of the ladies tell me interesting facts they remember from their childhood about different herb usage.

Many of the ladies have told me that they remember going along the hedgerows with their Grandmothers, picking and eating the buds of the Hawthorn flowers which their Grandmothers called Bread and Cheese. Of course in the past April/May was a very bad time for fresh vegetables and Vitamin C levels in the diet would have been very low.

Hawthorn hedge

Picking and eating the buds of the hawthorn was a source of fresh vegetable high in vitamin c and bioflavonoids, which at the same time improved circulation and would have been a true spring tonic.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist