Do Herbal Supplements Cause High Blood Pressure?

You probably know someone personally who swears by an herbal supplement for improving their health in some way. Or you’ve started taking one yourself because you heard it could boost your immune system or prevent cancer.

As with any supplement, it’s essential to know the potential risks and side effects of the things you’re putting into your body. Just because there may be benefits does not mean there can’t also be harms.

Could the herbal supplements you’re taking to boost your memory and make you look or feel younger be putting you at risk for high blood pressure? Find out why you should take these supplements with caution, and how they and more traditional medications may affect your blood pressure.

Do herbal supplements work?

Herbal supplements

Herbal supplements | iStock.com/monticelllo

The use of plants to treat ailments is nothing new. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that herbs sold as supplements can provide the benefits their packaging promises. At least, not to the extent you may be expecting.

It’s important to know that herbal supplements aren’t regulated as food or as drugs by the Food and Drug Administration. This means they are evaluated by different standards. Manufacturers don’t have to get FDA approval before selling a product, and they can even make health claims about their products without the government having to say it’s OK.

Herbal supplements also haven’t been studied as thoroughly as other substances you might decide to put into your body. When you take an herbal supplement, there’s a chance it might benefit you in some way. There’s an equal chance it could harm you.

Mayo Clinic recommends that those who are taking prescription and over-the-counter medications should stop taking herbal supplements, since many of them can interfere with those medications’ desired effects. This is true for more than one prescription medication used to treat high blood pressure.

It’s not that herbal supplements don’t work. You just have to choose yours wisely, and understand that as powerful as plants can be, they can’t necessarily fix everything.

Do herbal supplements cause high blood pressure?

According to Mayo Clinic, there are some herbal supplements that can raise some people’s blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure as the result of a heart problem, it’s not recommended that you use herbal supplements. Raising blood pressure isn’t necessarily the most dangerous effect they can have — especially if you have been prescribed certain drugs by a doctor.

There are some herbal supplements that can interfere with a medication you may have been prescribed to treat high blood pressure. This is why it is important to tell your doctor about all supplements and medications you are taking — even “natural” supplements. They can tell you if you need to stop taking them for medical reasons.

Other medications that raise blood pressure

Medication

Medication | Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

In some cases, high blood pressure or hypertension can result temporarily or over a long period of time from certain medications. Many of these are medications — both prescription and over-the-counter drugs — you might take for reasons completely unrelated to your blood pressure.

Some common medications that can trigger high blood pressure include:

  • Decongestants, which narrow blood vessels and interfere with some blood pressure medications
  • Stimulants (e.g., Ritalin) which can lead to rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Hormonal birth control
  • Antidepressants
  • Pain medications such as Advil.

Let your health care provider know if you have been taking any of these medications recently. It will help them determine or rule out certain possible causes of high blood pressure.