If you have high blood pressure, wouldn’t it be great to take one nutrient and completely cure the problem?
Most doctors would say this is impossible. And yet they believe one of their drugs can do it.
The truth is those drugs won’t cure your hypertension. They will just artificially lower it. But there is one nutrient that can cure many cases of high blood pressure.
Don’t think that’s possible? Well, just ask Ann (not her real name). Ann first came to see me because her daughter practically dragged her into my clinic. Her daughter said that in the past three months her mother had become completely disabled. She could hardly walk at all and could not even complete such easy tasks as brushing her hair. She was constantly complaining of severe weakness and lethargy. Prior to three months ago, she had been able to get around very easily. I asked what led up to these symptoms. The story was illuminating.
Ann had been doing well when she suddenly had an episode of dizziness. Her daughter took her to the hospital. There the doctors told her that she had suffered a “small stroke.” They responded to this diagnosis by prescribing a different set of blood pressure medications. (She was already taking one blood pressure drug and had been taking it for several years.) It was after she started taking these new medications that she began to experience her problems.
When she went back to the doctor with this observation, the doctor insisted that her symptoms were just the result of her “small stroke.” He didn’t do anything but tell her she simply had to endure the symptoms.
When I saw her, she could barely stand up, even with assistance, and was not able to walk. She spoke and moved as if she were in slow motion.
When I checked her blood pressure it was 92/56. This is way too low! I told her that I thought the new medications were poisoning her. Then I suggested that her so-called “small stroke” may simply have been just a result of too low a blood pressure caused by her former medication. In order to test this theory, I stopped all medications and instead treated her with a moderate dose of a common nutrient — magnesium.
Within one week, she was already starting to show improvement. Her blood pressure was starting to come up, and was becoming more normal for her body. The amazing thing about magnesium is not just that it can rather dramatically lower blood pressure when it is too high. It’s that, unlike medications, it will not lower blood pressure if you do not have hypertension. So it’s safe for everyone to take.
Six weeks after I first saw her, she was back to her usual self and was proud to show me how well she could now walk up the stairs. Ever since then just two pills a day of magnesium completely controlled her blood pressure.
Do You Need Magnesium?
Whether you have high blood pressure or not, you likely need to take magnesium. Up to 75% of the population is deficient. Magnesium deficiency is one of the most common dietary deficiencies in the world. It’s especially common in elderly people. They have the highest risk for developing high blood pressure.
Nearly 39% of adults in the U.S. consume less than 66% of the RDA for magnesium. In addition to hypertension, a magnesium deficiency can cause other forms of heart disease, osteoporosis, and memory problems.
Doctors have known about magnesium’s ability to prevent and treat hypertension for over two decades now. A review article that appeared in the literature over 20 years ago points this out. It showed:
• In experimental studies, magnesium is an important regulator of arterial dilatation. Inefficient arterial dilatation is one of the primary causes of hypertension.
• Hypertension routinely develops in rats when they become magnesium deficient.
• There are several epidemiological studies demonstrating a negative correlation between decreased dietary magnesium intake and the incidence of hypertension.
• The use of intravenous infusions of magnesium is the treatment of choice in reducing the high blood pressure associated with a complication of pregnancy called pre-eclampsia.
• There are an abundance of studies indicating that oral supplementation of magnesium can lower blood pressure in patients with essential hypertension.
What’s more, you can safely use magnesium in combination with medications to treat hypertension. Furthermore, there’s evidence that a deficiency of magnesium may induce a resistance to the effects of anti-hypertensive medications.
In fact, using magnesium with hypertensive drugs can make the medications even more effective than just using the drugs alone. Several studies have shown that the administration of magnesium in patients who did not respond to common medications such as diuretics, beta-blockers, and calcium channel blockers often improves their blood pressure control substantially.
In one clinical study, researchers gave magnesium to 18 patients who had taken diuretics for their hypertension. The study lasted for six months. Both systolic and diastolic pressures decreased significantly, by a mean of 12/8 mmHg. That’s a very substantial reduction in blood pressure. It’s especially important because the majority of patients who take medications for hypertension require two and even three medications in order to have an optimal effect.
However, you might be able to eliminate these additional drugs (and their side effects) simply by using magnesium instead. The authors of this study pointed out that the effect of magnesium on blood pressure may be either direct by dilating arteries, or through influences on the internal balance of potassium, sodium, and calcium.
A Simple Way to Lower Your Blood Pressure Faster
The sodium connection is extremely important. You probably already know that a low-sodium diet can help lower blood pressure. What you may not know is that you can lower your blood pressure even faster if you couple your low-sodium diet with magnesium.
Researchers discovered this in a recent double-blind, randomized, crossover study of 15 patients with uncomplicated mild to moderate essential hypertension (age range 36-65 years). In this study, the researchers gave the participants magnesium supplements three times a day for six weeks. Oral magnesium significantly reduced the systolic pressure by 7.6 mmHg. And it reduced the diastolic by 3.8 mmHg. Of these patients, 40% effectively controlled their blood pressure, meaning the magnesium dropped their blood pressure by more than 10 mmHg.
Why didn’t the other 60% see such reductions? It turns out that those with the largest reductions were also the ones with the lowest sodium in their diet.
So combining a low-sodium diet along with supplementary magnesium will magnify the results. This observation also helps to explain why so many patients fail to achieve a significant reduction of their blood pressure by reducing salt intake. In these cases, they are probably deficient in magnesium. And they will see the real benefits of sodium restriction only when they add magnesium to their program.
Lowering Stress-Induced Hypertension
Most of the newly diagnosed cases of hypertension that I see are caused by the stress response. When we respond in a stressful way to all of those difficult life events and circumstances that are all too common these days, we increase our body’s production of the hormones cortisol and adrenalin. These hormones cause an immediate and often dramatic elevation of blood pressure. And doctors usually tell their patients during these times that they have hypertension, and require medication. Because the body uses magnesium to control the hypertensive effect of these hormones, it often becomes deficient with prolonged stress, allowing blood pressure to soar. One particular study illustrates this effect.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 33 patients underwent either a four-week treatment with oral magnesium supplementation or a placebo. The systolic and diastolic blood pressure values decreased significantly in the magnesium group, but not in the placebo group. The researchers concluded that magnesium improved blood pressure in these healthy subjects by controlling the abnormally elevated levels of adrenaline that they had as a result of their daily stress load.
How to Know if You’re Deficient
For years, doctors tested magnesium levels through blood tests. They naturally thought that those with low blood levels would respond to supplementation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. In fact, it’s impossible to predict who will respond to magnesium and who won’t simply based on blood measurements.
Researchers demonstrated this quite well in a study they designed to determine how often magnesium deficiency is present in patients with essential hypertension. The authors examined the differences between a group of patients with essential hypertension and normal subjects.
There was no significant difference between the two groups in red blood cell magnesium concentration, serum magnesium concentration, or in urinary magnesium excretion. However, they discovered the only way to conclusively determine who would respond to magnesium supplementation. They found that they could successfully demonstrate magnesium deficiency in all of the hypertensive patients using a magnesium loading test.
Magnesium loading studies are not difficult to perform, nor are they excessively expensive (about $300). However, I don’t think you should spend the money. My thinking has always been: Why waste time studying whether or not a patient with hypertension is deficient in magnesium when the likelihood is pretty good that they are? Instead of spending all that money on testing, why not just give the nutrient a trial run? It’s a critical molecule that won’t harm you in any way (unless you take too much, then it will make your stools loose — reduce the dose and this problem goes away). I also suggest you lower your salt intake at the same time and see what happens to your blood pressure.
The best way to take magnesium is in the form of magnesium glycinate. Each capsule basically offers up about 330 mg of elemental magnesium. Take one of these capsules two to four times a day over a two to three month period. That should be enough time to have the desired effect, particularly when combined with salt restriction and potassium supplementation (50 mg daily).
There is a product in the grocery stores called “No Salt” which is excellent in this regard. It uses potassium instead of sodium, and you can use it in place of table salt.
Dyckner, T., et al. “Effect of magnesium on blood pressure.” British Medical Journal. 286(6381):1847-1849, 1983.
Itoh, K., et al. “The effects of high oral magnesium supplementation on blood pressure, serum lipids and related variables in apparently healthy Japanese subjects.” British Journal of Nutrition, 78(5):737-750, 1997.
Morgan, K. J., et al. “Magnesium and calcium dietary intakes of the U.S. population.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 4(2):195-206, 1985.
Ryan, M.P., et al. “The role of magnesium in the prevention and control of hypertension.” Ann Clin Res. 16(Supplement 43):81-88, 1984.
Sanjuliani, A.F., et al. “Effects of magnesium on blood pressure and intracellular ion levels of Brazilian hypertensive patients.” Int J Cardiol. 56(2):177-183, 1996.