Last week, I wrote a guest post for The Paleo Mom website all about lowering blood pressure naturally for those with hypertension. The post received a lot of great feedback, but there were quite a few people wondering what to do about low blood pressure. Since there are plenty of people out there who suffer from hypotension, I thought it’d be great to share some tips for them today too!
When Is Blood Pressure Too Low?
Most people think of low blood pressure as a good thing, but for those suffering from symptomatic hypotension it’s anything but!
While having low blood pressure without symptoms can be fine, experiencing symptoms like dizziness or lightheadedness as a result of the low blood pressure is a sign that it’s too low for you.
Technically, though, low blood pressure is defined as anything under 90/60 – if either of those numbers is below their respective cutoff point, you have low blood pressure.
Your doctor will likely just monitor you if you don’t have any symptoms, but will try to treat you if you are symptomatic due to your blood pressure.
Determining the Root Cause of Low Blood Pressure
When I work with clients, I like to know what the root cause of their issues are, so a quick word on root causes of low blood pressure is in order.
There are two main things I think of when I think of low blood pressure, which are: hypothyroidism and hypoadrenalism. The former is something your doctor would likely test for if you are experiencing low blood pressure symptoms, but make sure they actually do! Sometimes you have to ask – remember that you are the person most interested in your own health. The latter is what you may have heard of referred to as “adrenal fatigue”.
It can absolutely cause low blood pressure symptoms, specifically something called postural hypotension which is low blood pressure that happens as a result of standing from a sitting position. You can read (a lot) more about adrenal fatigue here.
It’s important to do some digging for the underlying cause of your low blood pressure (or any condition for that matter) because it helps to determine how it should be treated.
Today we’ll talk about three tips that can help you increase your low blood pressure, regardless of the underlying cause.
Determine Your Low Blood Pressure Triggers
Did you know that it’s pretty common for people with low blood pressure to experience a worsening in symptoms after eating? It’s important to pick up on the triggers for your hypotensive episodes, so I highly suggest keeping a symptom diary. Make notes about what you’re eating throughout the day and when, as well as when you experience symptoms.
A few things to keep track of:
- Do you experience symptoms after eating? If so, try eating smaller, more frequent meals.
- Are your symptoms worse after a night of bad sleep? Try some things to help you get better sleep.
- Do you get dizzy upon standing? Get up slower by first sitting up, moving your legs and feet to get blood circulating, then stand up.
- Are your symptoms worse when you are stressed out? Incorporate some mind-body medicine techniques.
- Do you experience symptoms when you are dehydrated? Drink more water and salt (see Tip #2).
- Are your symptoms worse when you’re very hot? Try to avoid being in very hot environments.
Get the idea? Many people don’t understand what triggers their symptoms, and thus don’t take steps to avoid these situations. Keep a diary and figure out what triggers your symptoms and then do your best to avoid the situations that cause your symptoms.
Increase Your Salt and Water Intake
If you have low blood pressure, this is probably the tip you hear most often and it’s really important! Consuming more salt helps you retain more water, which in turn can bring up blood pressure.
For those eating a real food diet, it can actually be difficult to consume enough salt! Over 75% of the average American’s salt intake comes from processed foods, so if you’re avoiding those you are probably not getting a ton of salt in your diet. (1)
You may need to experiment with the amount of salt and water that works for you – remember that everyone is different and has different requirements, even within the same disease.
To increase you sodium consumption without dousing all your food in salt, I recommend making a homemade “Gatorade”. Here’s the recipe:
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp honey (or to taste)
- 1 tsp sea salt (I like Real Salt)
- 1 liter filtered water
Mix everything together and you’ve got an easy way to get lots of extra salt in your diet!
Take Licorice Root
Licorice has been shown to increase blood pressure. (2) It’s also very helpful in cases of hypoadrenalism (one of the main root causes of low blood pressure) because it actually extends the life of cortisol in the bloodstream, meaning that if you have low cortisol levels, taking licorice helps you to make use of the cortisol you do have.
You can either take a licorice supplement or drink licorice tea. Don’t think of licorice as the black licorice candy – actual licorice root tastes very different! It’s very sweet so it makes a great tea when mixed with something else for flavor. I love licorice ginger tea, personally! Here’s the recipe for that:
- approximately 1 TB licorice root
- 3-4 slices of fresh ginger
Place ingredients in a tea ball or strainer and steep for 3 minutes in hot water.
I’d love to hear from you! What tricks do you use to keep your blood pressure up?