Let food be thy medicine. That wisdom has stood the test of time for many centuries. Health and wellness starts by what we put in our mouth — and what we don’t.
Unfortunately, that ideal is not always within reach and there are various reasons for that. But the truth is, modern medicine does have its place and it deserves our respect — pain meds anyone?
Even so, natural alternatives are always worthy of exploration. Though it is not always possible, many would love to trade in their prescribed blood pressure medication for nature’s medicine.
Beta blocker medication has its place too, but there are natural beta blockers that are worthy of consideration.
What Are Beta Blockers?
Beta blockers, as a medication, refers to a class of drugs known as beta-adrenergic blocking agents. These agents act on three beta receptors (B1, B2, B3) and essentially block certain cardiac activities.
Without wading in too deeply, beta blockers bind to these receptors, disrupting and inhibiting their function.
In short, beta blockers are medications prescribed to treat cardiovascular diseases. In most cases, they are used to treat high blood pressure, but they are also used to treat tachycardia (fast heart rate) and other more serious cardiac conditions.
In many cases, beta blocker medication causes the heart to beat more slowly and with less force; lowering blood pressure. Furthermore, beta blockers also blunt some physiological responses to stress, which also contributes to reducing blood pressure.
Beta Blocker Side Effects
Like most medications, beta blockers can have side effects. Medication type, dosing amounts, and medical history vary, but some common side of effects of beta blockers may include:
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Sleep disturbances
- Depression and anxiety
- Gastrointestinal problems
Natural Beta Blockers
As a prescribed medication, beta blockers certainly have their place and in most cases can be an effective way to manage cardiovascular conditions.
But what about natural beta blockers? Has nature given us any way to treat some of these conditions — high blood pressure — naturally? The short answer is a resounding yes.
Essentially, natural beta blockers are natural ingredients that can have similar effects on heart health as their synthetic counterparts.
There are many natural foods, minerals, vitamins, and other natural supplements that can also contribute to overall cardiovascular health. Many have been found to be a natural way to help manage blood pressure and reduce inflammation.
Let’s look at some of these natural beta blockers — some may surprise you.
Antioxidants as Natural Beta Blockers
We can’t talk about heart health without talking about antioxidants. Many of the foods and drinks we consume contain antioxidants.
In short, antioxidants are helpful molecules that roam our bodies in search of harmful free radicals — these are the bad guys. Free radicals are the bad guys because they cause oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress and free radicals
Free radicals are basically lonely, unstable molecules. They are produced when oxygen molecules split into single atoms; leaving behind unpaired electrons as a waste product. These waste products are free radicals. They roam freely around the body looking for an electron bond.
Unfortunately, this process can contribute to cell damage, inflammation, and other diseases. The process is referred to as oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress and high blood pressure
Oxidative stress can contribute to cardiovascular disease and conditions. Oxidative stress has been linked to high blood pressure and cardiac inflammation.
Antioxidants are molecules that help slow down and even neutralize the process of oxidative stress. Antioxidants are found naturally in many foods, vitamins, and minerals.
A win for cardiac health.
Foods, Herbs, and Spices as Natural Beta Blockers
There are many foods, herbs, and spices that can have beta blocking effects as well; specifically, foods that lower blood pressure. Let’s take a look at just a few.
Garlic boasts numerous health benefits that go beyond warding off vampires. It has a role to play as an anti-inflammatory agent but has also been shown to improve heart health.
Scientists believe that the sulfur found in garlic gets converted to hydrogen sulfide gas by the red blood cells. This helps maintain balanced blood vessel constriction and contributes to blood pressure regulation.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Yes, you read that right, olive oil. Olive oil is considered a heart healthy food. In fact, one study compared the use of sunflower oil (polyunsaturated fatty acids) and extra-virgin olive oil (monounsaturated fatty acids) and their effects on blood pressure.
The study found olive oil to be more effective at reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure, as compared to sunflower oil.
It is no secret that some cold-water fish contribute to heart health due to omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help stimulate the production of nitric oxide, which helps keep the body’s arteries dilated.
High blood pressure puts demand on blood vessels through constant constricting; omega-3s found in fish help counteract this process. Omega-3s are also available in supplement form.
Hawthorn berry is another natural way to support blood pressure — it acts as a natural ACE inhibitor. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), which constricts blood vessels, can be overactive in people with cardiac disease; raising blood pressure.
As a natural ACE inhibitor, Hawthorn berry supports blood vessel relaxation. Hawthorn berry is often found in combination as an extract.
Green tea is packed with antioxidant properties. Compounds called polyphenols in green tea have been linked to overall heart health by reducing certain risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Turmeric and Curcumin
Turmeric, best known as a golden culinary spice, is also full of antioxidants; thanks to its main compound, curcumin. The antioxidant properties of curcumin help fight oxidative stress within the circulatory system.
Inflammation within the lining of the heart’s blood vessels promotes the production of dangerous plaque. This plaque buildup can cause blockage of the arteries — leading to heart attack and stroke.
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin has a protective role in cardiovascular disease. It helps support normal endothelial function by reducing inflammation within the blood vessel lining.
Minerals, Vitamins, and Amino Acids as Natural Beta Blockers
A host of essential minerals, vitamins, and amino acids have also shown to be natural beta blockers; many are naturally occurring in the foods we eat and as dietary supplements.
Magnesium is an essential trace mineral and its health benefits for our body are vast. In fact, it has a role to play in muscle health, metabolic health, and even sleep health.
Magnesium deficiency is a real problem for many due to low dietary intake and metabolic disorders, which can lead to high cholesterol, heart arrhythmias, and high blood pressure.
As a natural beta blocker, magnesium supplementation has been shown to healthy blood pressure in otherwise healthy adults.
Not just for cold and flu season, vitamin C also has benefits in regard to cardiovascular health; e.g. improving blood vessel dilation by increasing the availability of nitric oxide.
But is also inversely linked to hypertension — a risk factor for heart disease. Some studies have shown that higher intake levels of vitamin C may contribute to lower incidences of high blood pressure.
In fact, according to one vitamin C research analysis, a higher concentration of vitamin C and elevated intake of vitamin C supplementation (500 mg) are associated with lower blood pressure; reducing both systolic and diastolic pressures.
L-Carnitine and Coenzyme Q10
L-carnitine can be found in nearly every cell within the body. It is derived from amino acids. It is found in a variety of food sources, especially in lamb and beef.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an essential nutrient that makes its home sweet home in the energy-making mitochondria of the cells. It proliferates the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP); a must for energy.
Both of these nutrients often work synergistically with one another and have been shown to have surprising effects on heart health; especially as vasodilators. This is important for those with hypertension (high blood pressure).
The Bottom Line on Natural Beta Blockers
We all know that a healthy heart is critical to overall health. But issues do arise. Prescribed medications are a wonder for many, especially those with chronic ailments that need immediate interventions. But nature does provide preventative alternatives, many are found in naturally occurring food, minerals, and vitamins.
Many of the natural beta blockers discussed can also be found in many multivitamin regimens. But a point of caution is necessary. It is important to note that you should never stop prescribed beta blockers on your own or abruptly.
Sudden stoppage of prescribed beta blockers could precipitate serious medical issues. That is why It is always wise to consult your physician before making any sort of changes to your medication regimens.
But at the end of the day it is nice to know that in many cases, nature can be our medicine.