My blood pressure has always been normal, but lately it's getting higher. The only recent change I’ve made is starting to take some herbal supplements. Can supplements cause high blood pressure?
Yes, your herbal supplements could be affecting your blood pressure! Seasoning your food with herbs and spices generally doesn’t have much effect on blood pressure. But the concentrated forms of herbs used in supplements can raise blood pressure…or lower it. It depends on what supplements you’re using. Among the herbal supplements that can raise blood pressure are…
- Licorice, found in formulas to relieve indigestion, heartburn, menstrual disorders, canker sores, cold symptoms and sore throat, among others. This refers to whole licorice. There’s another form, called deglycyrrhizinated licorice, that is less likely to raise blood pressure for most people (some people may be sensitive even to the DGL form of licorice).
- Bitter orange, used in weight-loss formulas and, ironically, also to improve appetite…and used for upset stomach, constipation, diarrhea, intestinal gas, nasal congestion and chronic fatigue syndrome. While generally safe in foods and beverages, bitter orange can cause potentially severe adverse cardiovascular effects in some people.
- Ginkgo biloba, found in supplements to improve memory, cognition, anxiety, cardiovascular function and eye health.
- Senna, used as a natural laxative and in supplements for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), hemorrhoids and weight loss and used as a bowel prep before colonoscopy.
- Guarana, used in supplements for weight loss and to enhance athletic performance, reduce mental and physical fatigue and boost sexual desire.
- St. John’s wort, well-known as a natural treatment for mild-to-moderate depression, also used to treat anxiety, stomach upset, insomnia and fluid retention.