A patient of mine, while picking up his high blood pressure medication asked me what I knew about using natural remedies for treating high blood pressure.
I've heard of this question many times before so I quickly mentioned a list of natural remedies such as coenzyme Q10, fish oil, garlic and turmeric. These remedies have been shown to be helpful in those suffering from high blood pressure.
So I waited for a response from him. It appeared to me, I thought, that he might have heard what I said. Many be I was speaking too fast? Perhaps he was not familiar with some of the remedies I mentioned?
He said, "Actually, do you think drinking pomegranate juice for high blood pressure would work?" He continued on and said that he loves juicing it and drinks a cup a day for some time now.
I realized that he's wasn't really interested in knowing what remedies he could use for his condition but wanted confirmation from me if drinking his favourite juice would benefit him.
After all, the last time I bought it, I recall paying around $2.00 for just one of them. At that price, it would certainly make me feel a lot better if I knew that it had additional health benefits.
It is known that pomegranate is a potent antioxidant. But taking it for high blood pressure? I'm all for natural solutions, if they worked.
Hmm... I was intrigued at the thought of just drinking juice to lower high blood pressure. How easy can it get? It got me wondering if it really worked. Here's what I found...
One of the best way to find out is to see if there are any studies that summarizes all the quality published studies on using pomegranate for treating high blood pressure.
Such studies that combine multiple scientific studies into one are called meta-analysis. In one meta-analysis, the researchers looked at eight high-quality randomized control clinical trials. It showed that drinking 240 mL (about 1 cup) of pomegranate juice lowered systolic blood pressure by 5 mm Hg and the diastolic blood pressure by 2 mm Hg.
Another key insight from this study is that the observed reduction in blood pressure was consistent and persisted regardless of how long a person has been drinking it.
The conclusion seems clear. Drinking a cup of pomegranate juice daily reduces blood pressure significantly.
There you have it. Pomegranate juice does have the benefit in lowering high blood pressure. And this is backed by science. Indeed my patient would be delighted to hear this fact.
Here's the reference to this meta-analysis.
Although it is common for people to just focus on a single factor that contribute to health, the reality is that many others factors are intricately involved.
Take for example the concern about heart health. It involves more than just blood pressure. Other key factors that we must also take into account should include cholesterol levels, oxidative stress levels (as measured in the blood), liver function and even what we eat.
So if pomegranate juice can lower blood pressure, do we know if there are any other health benefits that we can count on?
Indeed there are. And this give us more reason to consider drinking pomegranate juice (if that is your "thing") as another option towards healthy living.
A one-year long clinical research study led by Shema-Didi looked at 101 patients suffering from kidney failure.
The research team wanted to know what if there are any health benefits from drinking 100 mL (about half a cup) of pomegranate juice three times a week. Does it really affect their blood pressure and perhaps their cholesterol levels as well?
What the research group discovered (most likely to their delight) was that pomegranate juice lowered blood pressure, lowered triglycerides and increased HDL (high-density lipoprotein, often referred to as the "good" cholesterol). It seems reasonably clear.
And remember, this was just half a cup of pomegranate juice three times a week, not every day. Yet, this significant result was observed.
You might ask why choose patients on hemodialysis as opposed to those suffering from "just" heart disease? There are several very good reasons for how they selected the volunteers.
One, they have to show up for hemodialysis treatment several times a week for years so it was easy to follow up with them (like collecting blood samples regularly). Second, these group of individuals have the highest risk of heart disease compared to the general population. That means that any health benefits from drinking pomegranate juice, however small, should be more pronounced and easier to detect.
Moreover, the design study was randomized and placebo controlled (so that the person receiving the juice can't tell if he or she is drinking the pomegranate juice or a matching juice) to reduce the risk of psychological influence. (Often, believing that pomegranate juice lowers blood pressure might cause this effect to actually occur; the power of thought.) This add to the validity of the results as it removed the placebo effect.
There you have it, for those who might be skeptical.
Drinking pomegranate juice provides significant heart health benefits beyond just lowering high blood pressure. And this study only lasted one year. Imagine the potential health benefits if you drank it for decades.
Here's the reference to this published study:
Needless to say, not all study will yield positive results. This is always to be expected in any scientific endevour. The nature of science is that continued observations and experimentations move us closer to the truth.
As an example, one published study conducted over six months showed that its blood pressure lower effect amounted to very little change once you adjusts for the starting baseline blood pressure readings.
Moreover, drinking 1,000 mg of purified pomegranate extract daily did not improved measurements in inflammation, oxidative stress, muscle strength or other markers used to identify heart health.
Even though the study only involved about 33 individuals undergoing hemodialysis (a rather small sample size in the research world) one would expect to see significant benefits in at least one of these health markers. Clearly, this was not the case.
A larger study involving more subjects would be needed to confirm this initial negative finding.
Here's the published paper:
Should I consider drinking pomegranate juice to treat my high blood pressure?
Go for it. It seems like a good idea. That's what most of the research studies seem to suggest.
That is, if you enjoy drinking the juice. There's no point in suffering through drinking pomegranate juice daily if you don't like it. Sure, it is possible that you can force yourself to drink it and then you might get "used to it".
But there's no need to suffer like that! Moreover, although you might be initially intrigued by the thought of such a "simple" method of lowering your blood pressure, over time (perhaps even just after a week or two), you will start to find excuses to skip a day or two. Eventually, you'll pass on drinking pomegranate juice altogether, and relegate that idea to the distant past.
There are many other natural remedies you can consider taking for lowering your blood pressure. Indeed, if you took several other natural remedies that could lower your blood pressure, their combined benefits might just be enough to bring your blood pressure down to an acceptable level.
If, on the other hand, you like drinking pomegranate juice, all the power to you. You'll get to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.
You owe it to yourself to check them out. You might even discover that one of the natural remedy that you are taking right now is actually helping to lower your high blood pressure. What a nice surprise to discover this...
Revised: October 19, 2017