Researchers from the University of British Columbia looked at data from more than 8900 people using four gold standard (randomized placebo-controlled) studies. The subjects all had mild hypertension—systolic blood pressure of 140-159 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure of 90-99 mm Hg. The medications investigated included beta-blockers, thiazide, and thiazide-like diuretics. The studies lasted between four to five years and some patients were taking more than one of these drugs at a time. Compared to placebo groups, there were no measurable benefits in coronary heart disease, cardiovascular events, or mortality. One study showed a trend toward reduced risk of stroke (0.3% with anti-hypertensives vs 0.7% control group).
However, there were significant side effects for those on the drug treatment. Five times more people dropped out of the studies because of adverse events than those taking the placebo and 9% of the drug-treated group experienced negative side effects.
As TCMs, we know that there are effective alternatives to the pharmaceutical approach. Traditional Chinese Medicine herbs dan shen, shan zha, and hou po are examples of herbs that have research supporting their anti-hypertensive potential. Most of us have also witnessed that acupuncture can also lower blood pressure, and the American Heart Association journal also notes the benefits of acupuncture in lowering blood pressure. One of the mechanisms for this may be a lowering of sympathetic response.
Do you know your blood pressure? Ask your doctor, ask me when I see you next, or go to a pharmacy to check it out. Then know your options. One of them may be a TCM treatment.