Hypertension Research

Chinese herbs and stroke patients with hypertension

Researchers at Kyung-Hee University in Korea studied the effectiveness of a standard Chinese herbal formula (qing xue dan) in reducing blood pressure in hospitalized stroke patients with stage I hypertension. After two weeks the group receiving the herbs saw a reduction from an average 141/83 to 132/83, while the control group saw no significant reduction. (American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 33(3): 357-364, 2005)

Chinese Herbs for Cardiovascular Disease

Many Chinese Herbs are useful to treat cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension and coronary artery disease. The herbs may be used alone or in conjunction with pharmaceutical medication. For mild to moderate conditions, the herbs can often be used alone. For severe conditions they may be used to minimize the necessary dosage of pharmaceutical medication.

Herbal medicine is viewed by the pharmaceutical industry as a direct threat to their business. As most people are aware, the pharmaceutical industry spends as much as any other industry on government lobbying. As a result, there is little research money available in this country for research in herbal medicine. Fortunately this is not the case in the rest of the world, and so there are international studies on the utility of herbs, and specifically Chinese herbs, for many conditions. Here is some research information on some Chinese herbs and their use in treating cardiovascular conditions.

As always, you are strongly cautioned against self-prescribing herbs for any but the most mild conditions. Herbs can have side effects, and inappropriate use can worsen your condition and/or create other problems. You are strongly advised to consult a professional Doctor of Oriental Medicine, herbalist or acupuncturist before using the herbs described below.

Research on some Chinese Herbs

Dan Shen - Salvia miltiorrhiza root

Traditional use: Invigorates blood circulation, cools and nourishes the blood, reduces swelling, calms the spiritLaboratory studies have shown dan shen to dilate and increase blood perfusion to the coronary arteries, reduce damage of cardiac ischemia, and decrease blood pressure. It has been shown to reduce platelets in healthy rabbits, rats and mice, and have an anticoagulant and thromolytic effect. Two studies of 323 and 108 patients with angina and coronary artery disease treated with dan shen showed symptomatic improvement in 81-86% of patients and improved ECG in 55-57% of the patients. Many of the patients also showed a reduction in total cholesterol levels.

Di Gu Pi - Lycium root bark

Traditional use: Cools blood, clears deficiency heat, stops bleedingDi gu pi injections in anesthetized dogs, cats and rats lowered blood pressure by 53%, 67% and 27% respectively. Lyciumins A and B, two of the chemical components, are ACE inhibitors. In one study, 50 patients with primary hypertension were treated for 20-30 days with di gu pi with marked improvement in 50% and some improvement in 94%. Di gu pi is also useful in treating diabetes.

Du Zhong - Eucommia bark

Traditional use: Tonifies Liver and Kidney, strengthens bones and tendons, prevents miscarriage, tonifies yangLaboratory studies have shown du zhong to dilate blood vessels and significantly reduce blood pressure in anesthetized rabbits and dogs. In one study, 251 hypertensive patients were treated with eucommia for 30 days. 50% showed significant improvement, 32% showed moderate improvement, and 18% showed no response.

Huai Hua - Sophora flower

Traditional use: Cools blood, stops bleeding, clears Liver heat and fireIn laboratory studies, two of the compo-nents of huai hua, rutin and quercetin, increased cardiac output, decreased heart rate, dilated the coronary artery and increased blood perfusion to the cardiac muscle. Huai hua has shown marked antihypertensive effects in anesthetized dogs. Quercetin has been shown to reduce liver and plasma cholesterol levels.

Jue Ming Zi - Cassia seed

Traditional use: Clears liver heat, calms the liver, anchors liver yangLaboratory studies have shown jue ming zi to have diuretic and antihypertensive effects and to lower blood cholesterol levels while increasing HDL levels. In one clinical study of 100 patients with high cholesterol, a six week course of treatment with jue ming zi resulted in a mean decrease of 93 mg/dL in cholesterol levels.

Shan Zha - Hawthorn fruit

Traditional use: promotes digestion, invigorates blood circulationLaboratory studies have shown shan zha increases contractile force of the heart by 20-30% while dilating the coronary artery and reversing cardiac ischemia. It has shown to decrease blood pressure by 20 to 25% in rabbits and cats, and to reduce plasma cholesterol levels by enhancing LDL-receptor activity, increasing hepatic breakdown and decreasing cholesterol synthesis. One clinical study of 127 patients treated with shan zha and mai ya resulted in 92% of participants showing a reduction in cholesterol levels after 2 weeks. Another study of 130 patients treated with an herbal formula containing shan zha showed a reduction in cholesterol and triglyceride levels in 87% and 81% of patients, respectively.

Ze Xie - Alisma rhizome

Traditional use: regulates water circulation, resolves dampness, clears deficiency fireLaboratory studies show ze xie to have significant diuretic and mild antihypertensive effects and to be effective in treating hyperlipidemia, arteriosclerosis and fatty liver. A clinical study of 110 patients with high cholesterol and triglycerides showed an average reduction from 258 mg/dL to 235 mg/dL in cholesterol and 337 mg/dL to 258 mg/dL in triglyceride levels. 50% of patients showed a reduction of cholesterol levels of greater than 10%.