Turmeric has become a household name. Not just for its role as the primary spice in well-known dishes such as curry, but as a powerful medicinal herb with healing properties and very few side effects.
Within turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory agent called curcumin. These curcuminoids are the subject of numerous clinical studies in recent decades. But, can turmeric help lower blood pressure and reduce hypertension?
Turmeric and Blood Pressure
We’ve seen research emerge suggesting that turmeric can help treat a broad spectrum of medical conditions. From aiding weight loss in people with metabolic disorders to treating arthritis and joint pain, it appears that curcumin can benefit almost any ailment. Turmeric can even be used as a blood thinner or as a natural supplement for liver detox.
Recently, turmeric has shown an ability to modulate blood pressure and assist the cardiovascular system under certain conditions. If you’re dealing with high blood pressure (HBP), curcumin may be a natural means to manage it. (1, 2)
Before we get into the studies, let’s explore hypertension in a bit more detail.
What is High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)?
High blood pressure is common and very dangerous. Just like the name suggests, high blood pressure is a condition where the long-term force of the blood flowing through your artery walls is higher than it should be.
Most people with high blood pressure may not experience any symptoms, even if BP readings are at dangerously high levels. Thus, you’ll continue to incur damage to your heart and blood vessels without ever suspecting an issue. Hypertension is universally known as “the silent killer” for this reason.
There are certain risk factors to keep in mind that may increase your odds of developing HBP.
- Age: As we grow older, the risk of developing hypertension increases.
- Race: Hypertension is more common among African lineage than other ethnic groups.
- Family History: High blood pressure frequently runs in the family.
- Obesity: The heavier the individual, the more blood is required to provide oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the volume of blood circulation raises, so does the pressure on artery walls.
- Lack of Physical Activity: Inactive individuals often have higher heart rates at rest. The harder your heart has to work with each contraction, the stronger the pressure within your arteries.
- Alcohol Consumption: Over time, heavy drinking can damage your heart, and may lead to increased blood pressure.
- Tobacco Use: Temporarily raises blood pressure and damages artery walls with long-term use.
- Excess Sodium (Salt): Too much sodium may cause fluid retention, leading to increased blood pressure.
- Not Enough Potassium: Potassium balances the amount of sodium in your cells. Without it, sodium accumulates in your blood.
- Stress and Anxiety: Unmanaged stress can not only lead to anxiety and depression, but it can lead to temporary spikes in blood pressure.
- Certain Chronic Conditions: Sleep apnea, kidney disease, thyroid problems, and diabetes are all known to increase the risk of developing hypertension.
It’s essential to seek medical help immediately if you have several risk factors. If left untreated, you have a greater risk of a stroke or developing heart disease. Prolonged hypertension may even lead to dementia, metabolic syndrome, or aneurysm. (3)
Why Turmeric Curcumin?
We’ve seen curcumin regulate cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, and improve heart health with great success. For this reason, researchers believe turmeric may also be able to lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients.
In this post, we’ll review the research on curcumin’s ability to help reduce high blood pressure and combat hypertension.
Turmeric for Lower Blood Pressure: Can Curcumin Help Hypertension?
Vascular endothelial function declines with aging but plays a central role in the regulation of circulation. The endothelium is a thin interior membrane lining the blood vessels and heart. Its cells release substances to control vascular contraction and relaxation.
In other words, endothelial cells control the volume of blood flow through the arterial system. Therefore, the vascular endothelial function has a close tie to the pathogenesis of hypertension.
Researchers note that this delicate balance can be easily disturbed during bouts of high blood pressure, ultimately exacerbating the problem. It’s thought that antioxidants may be able to restore endothelial balance. (4, 5)
The first study we’ll look at was an 8-week trial assessing the effects of curcumin on endothelial function and oxidative stress in 72 patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. The subjects took either 150 mg of curcumin twice daily, 10 mg of atorvastatin once daily, or a placebo.
Only 67 patients completed the study. However, the results indicated that the curcuminoid preparation reduced the presence of inflammatory cytokines and lowered oxidative stress. This benefit yielded a favorable effect on endothelial dysfunction derived from the patient’s hyperglycemia. (6)
Another study assessed the effects of curcumin as a means to improve vascular endothelial function. The trial contained 32 postmenopausal women assigned to three groups: the control, exercise, and curcumin groups.
The exercise group participated in mild aerobic exercise for eight weeks. The turmeric group used a curcumin supplement for eight weeks. As researchers expected, the results showed a significant increase in flow-mediated dilation (FMD) in both the exercise and curcumin groups.
FMD refers to the widening of the arteries to accommodate blood flow in a less restrictive manner. This conclusion suggests turmeric may improve the age-related decline in endothelial operation and stabilize blood pressure in middle-aged women. (7)
Further research involving young and healthy individuals also measured turmeric’s effects on endothelial function. In this trial, 59 healthy adults consumed either 200 mg of curcumin, 50 mg of curcumin, or a placebo for an 8-week treatment cycle.
Similar to our previous study, the high dose curcumin group who consumed 200 mg daily saw notable improvements in endothelial function as measured by FMD. It’s important to note, there was only a 3% increase in flow-mediated dilation, but this is still a clinically meaningful improvement. (8)
A third human trial used 39 older adults between the ages of 45 and 74 years old to test curcumin’s effects on arterial operation. Again, we see a trend indicating that turmeric may be able to lower blood pressure derived from the age-related decline in endothelial function.
In this 12-week study, subjects consumed either 2,000 mg of curcumin per day or a placebo. The results showed a 36% increase in FMD among the curcumin group, with no changes in the placebo group. (9)
The next study analyzed oral turmeric supplementation in a group of 24 patients with refractory lupus nephritis. Lupus nephritis is an autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation of the kidneys. Refractory lupus nephritis means the condition is persistent and is worsening despite therapy.
One common symptom of this illness is high blood pressure. In the trial, the medicated group consumed 500 mg of turmeric and 22.1 mg of curcumin three times per day for a 3-month treatment period. The study was randomized and also contained a placebo group.
The results indicated that systolic blood pressure decreased significantly in the curcumin group. Not surprisingly, the placebo group did not show any statistically significant effect. (10)
Animal research has also pointed to the possibility of using turmeric to lower blood pressure. One study used curcumin on a group of hypertensive rats. The study found that curcumin not only improved vascular endothelial function, but it also significantly deferred the onset of stroke. (11)
In rat models, turmeric has shown an ability to reduce blood pressure, improve circulation, and decrease vascular resistance. But what are the mechanisms of action?
The antihypertensive effects derive from curcumin’s ability to reduce oxidative stress, improve vascular remodeling, and enhance nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability. Collectively, these benefits help increase endothelial function and reduce the likelihood of developing hypertension. (12)
Most turmeric supplements on the market will also contain piperine, the compound in black pepper designed to enhance curcumin’s absorption into the bloodstream. Research suggests that piperine on its own may be able to prevent hypertension induced by nitric oxide synthesis inhibition. (13)
Turmeric Blood Pressure Dosage
What is the recommended turmeric dosage for high blood pressure? The studies above used a wide range of dosages from as low as 66 mg of curcumin per day to as high as 2,000 mg per day. In each of these human trials, turmeric yielded impressive results.
Most turmeric pills will contain between 1,000-1,500 mg of turmeric powder and 150-250 mg of curcumin per serving. Any supplement within this dosing range should get you on the right track for lowering blood pressure and preventing age-related hypertension.
Final Thoughts on Turmeric for High Blood Pressure (HBP)
Does turmeric lower blood pressure? The answer seems to be, yes, under certain conditions. Turmeric helps high blood pressure linked to natural aging by improving vascular endothelial function. However, there is scant research indicating that curcumin can lower blood pressure derived from poor lifestyle choices—smoking, drinking, lack of exercise, excess sodium, etc.
- Difference between turmeric vs. curcumin.
As always, if you’re considering turmeric for blood pressure, please consult with a certified medical professional to see if curcumin supplements can better your situation.