Most people would consider me healthy and fit. I am physically active, have good muscle tone, drink plenty of water, eat a plant-based diet, stay away from refined sugars, and besides an occasional waffle fry I completely avoid fast-food. But after a very serious surgery in 2013, I was diagnosed with hypertension and prescribed medication to lower my blood pressure.

Hypertension is called the silent killer for a reason. Like most people with hypertension, I had no obvious signs of this dangerous disease, other than being a fifty-something-year-old black woman living in America — which, by the way, increased my risk more than any other ethnic group or age demographic.

Back to the blood pressure meds… I HATE taking pills of any kind. My doctor prescribed me three different types of blood pressure medicines over the course of seven months. I experienced immediate negative side effects with the first two prescriptions, and no reduction in my blood pressure. I took the third prescription for several months with no negative side effects, but also with no change in my blood pressure.

At each visit to my doctor I asked her what else I could do to lower my blood pressure. Her answer was always that I reduce my sodium intake and exercise more. For most people this advice might also have come with an admonition to lose weight, but after my surgery I was already thinner than my usual 125 lbs.

Her advice did little more than frustrate me. I was pretty certain that I exercised more than my doctor and I had been eating a clean diet for a couple of years. I also avoided sodium like the plague because sodium triggers my hot flashes (I know,TMI). In exasperation my doctor resorted to telling me that my hypertension was just another sign of how old I was becoming and all that I could do was to continue to take the medicine.

I left my doctor’s office that day feeling defeated. The thought that I would be spending $140 each month for the rest of my life to take medication that, more than likely, was just as harmful as my hypertension was not encouraging. I had no idea how harmful those pills really were until the day I heard one of those lawyer commercials that began, “If you or a loved one have taken this drug, you may be entitled to compensation…” Yes, that was the same medication that I was taking, and yes, I stopped taking it that day.

I was fully aware that you should never start nor stop taking prescription medication without your doctor’s advice. As a wellness coach I always insist that people speak with their physician prior to making any change in how they take their prescription medications.That day, I took neither my doctor’s advice nor my own.

I lean heavily toward having an “A” type personality. Well, ok, I am wound really tightly. I want “it” done now, I want “it” done right, and I am usually the person that I think needs to do whatever “it” is. If “it” is not done to my satisfaction before I go to bed, I am usually thinking about “it” all night long. Sleep is optional! Any wonder why my blood pressure was through the roof!
So here is how I lowered my blood pressure without prescription drugs.

First the basics — I took what I was already doing and ramped it up to what I called my “therapeutic” approach. I began by kick-starting my system with a seven day raw juice cleanse to detox my body and reduce stress on my internal systems.

I start most mornings with the recipe below. I call it my breakfast tonic. I have a strong, healthy gut. Caution to anyone thinking about trying this recipe. You would do well to ease into it.
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, some fresh lemon juice, a dash of cayenne pepper, a teaspoon of cinnamon and fresh ginger tea.
To enhance this routine, I follow my tonic with a clove of fresh garlic. Again, not for the faint of heart or the weak in gut. I increased my intake of foods and minerals that are high in calcium, potassium, and magnesium. I eat high-quality good fat, some lean protein (fish, eggs, nuts, beans, organic whole-milk dairy) and raw leafy greens everyday. I lightened my cardio and began including more body resistance work, stretching and deep breathing to my workout routine.

My systolic number dropped a few points but not enough. What really made the difference and ultimately lowered my pressure to numbers I hadn’t seen for over a decade was using plant-based medicine.

Lavender and vetiver essential oils changed my life. They chill me out and help me to relax, which helps me to sleep, which helps lower my blood pressure. But the definitive change came when I began using olive leaf extract.

Given the great deal of research I had done on reducing hypertension, I had never read anything about the hypotensive effects of olive leaf extract. Within just a few weeks of taking two teaspoons daily of olive leaf extract, my systolic and diastolic numbers dropped significantly. I have been using olive leaf extract every day since and recommend it to all of my family and friends.

Remember that you are an active member of the partnership between you and your healthcare professional. Do your part to follow your doctor’s instructions, but always ask her good questions concerning your health. Expect good answers and never settle for, “just take another pill,” before exhausting your options to heal naturally. Be Well, my friends!

Derona King is a nutrition and wellness designer for Zilphy’s Garden, Restoring Your Nutritional Heritage. For more of her rantings visit zilphy.com where she teaches how you can use real food and plants to restore your nutritional heritage and heal your body. Like us at facebook.com/zilphysgarden