Learn about the silent threat of high blood pressure

Nina Ross
Certified Naturopathic Doctor
November 14, 2023

Today we're talking about a serious issue in the black community - hypertension, or high blood pressure. Now, I know some of y'all might be thinking, "what's the big deal with high blood pressure?" But trust me, this is something we need to pay attention to.

So let's take it back, way back, to the days of big mama's home cooking. Y'all remember those meals, right? Fresh ingredients, hearty portions, and all made with love.

Now sure, those foods were packed with salt and fat but they were also packed with vitamins and minerals. Y'all know how important it is to eat fruits and vegetables, right? Well, these types of foods are full of potassium and magnesium, which help your blood pressure stay in healthy range.

Fast forward to today, and we're faced with a reality that's far from that. Processed foods have taken over, and they're not just convenient, they're everywhere. And let's be real, who has time to cook a full meal every night?

And that's the problem. Our diets have changed, and not for the better. Processed foods are loaded with salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats. They have barely any vitamins, minerals or fiber —and they're too easy to grab. In fact, the average person eats three times more processed food than fresh produce!

This is taking a major toll on our health. And for the black community, high blood pressure is one of the biggest health issues we face. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, hypertension affects almost half (!) of all African Americans, and it's a leading cause of heart disease and stroke.

So why is high blood pressure so prevalent these days? Well, there's no one answer to that, but some of the factors include our diets, lifestyle choices, lack of physical activity and stress.

High blood pressure is also a sign of something else: inflammation. Inflammation is the body's natural response to stress, injury, or disease. It helps the body heal itself by removing dead tissue and repairing damaged cells. However, if your body has too much inflammation for too long, it can cause damage to your organs and lead to heart disease and stroke.

And the sad part is, high blood pressure often has no symptoms, so many people don't even know they have it. But trust me, it's something we need to be paying attention to, because it can lead to serious health issues down the line.

What causes high blood pressure?

Alright y'all, now that we've talked about the big picture, let's dive into the nitty-gritty of high blood pressure. So what exactly causes it? Well, there are a few common causes that you might already know about, like:

  • being overweight
  • eating a diet high in salt
  • lack of physical activity
  • stress
  • smoking
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • abusing medications
  • exposure to toxins

But there are also some less commonly known causes that you might want to pay attention to.

Hormonal Imbalance

Hormonal imbalances are a common cause of high blood pressure. When your body isn't producing enough of the hormones it needs, or when the hormones you do produce aren't working properly, your health can suffer in many ways.

Hormones like progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, and DHEA are responsible for many different functions in the body. When these hormones are out of balance it can cause your blood pressure to rise as they fight for control of your body. Hormonal imbalances can be caused by a variety of factors such as aging, stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, and even certain medications.

Lack of Sleep

For example, did you know that lack of sleep can contribute to high blood pressure? Yup, it's true. Studies have shown that people who don't get enough sleep are more likely to develop high blood pressure.

As a matter of fact, sleep apnea is one of the most common causes of high blood pressure. What's more, other studies have shown that people who work night shifts are also at a higher risk for developing high blood pressure.

And if you think that's weird, it gets even weirder: people who spend a lot of time on the computer or watching TV are also at a higher risk for developing high blood pressure. The blue light from the screen can disrupt your body's natural circadian rhythm, which can cause you to feel sleepy. So if you're sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods of time, or death scrolling Tiktok trying to fall asleep - try shutting it all down and getting some sleep. It's a lot easier to say than do, but it can be done!

Mineral Deficiency

If you're deficient in certain minerals, your blood pressure may be high.

  • Calcium & Magnesium: If you're not getting enough calcium and magnesium from your diet, it can affect the amount of sodium in your body. Sodium attracts water, which causes swelling and increases blood volume.
  • Potassium: if you aren't getting enough of this mineral, it could cause an irregular heartbeat that leads to an increase in heart rate and blood flow through the body.
  • Selenium: if you're not getting enough selenium, it can cause inflammation of the arteries and blood vessels. This in turn leads to high blood pressure.


And here's one that might surprise you - certain medications can cause high blood pressure, too. Some common culprits include:

  • birth control pills
  • over the counter decongestants (ie. Nyquil®)
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

So if you're taking any of these, be mindful of the effect they may have on your blood pressure.

"We don't play by the rules of traditional medicine at N.E.W. - we use nature's remedies to give you the upper hand. Let's get your blood pressure in check, naturally."

by Dr. Nina
Naturopathic Physician at Natural Edge Wellness (N.E.W.)

Don't wait for symptoms that may never appear. Regular blood pressure checks are an important step in keeping your heart healthy and preventing the harmful effects of hypertension!

Symptoms of high blood pressure

Alright y'all, now that we've talked about the causes of high blood pressure, let's talk about the symptoms.

The crazy part is that it often has no symptoms. I mean, high blood pressure is called the "silent killer" for a reason, right? Many people don't even know they have it. But there are a few signs that you can look out for, just in case.

  1. Frequent headaches: the increased pressure in your blood vessels can cause headaches, especially in the front of your head.
  2. Chest pain: high blood pressure can put a strain on your heart and blood vessels, and that can cause chest pain or discomfort.
  3. Feeling dizzy or lightheaded: that could also be a sign of high blood pressure. When your blood pressure is too high, it can reduce the flow of blood to your brain, causing dizziness or fainting.

So there you have it, a few symptoms to look out for if you're concerned about high blood pressure. But again, it's important to remember that many people with high blood pressure don't experience any symptoms at all. That's why it's so important to get your blood pressure checked regularly, especially if you're at risk.

So if you're feeling any of these symptoms, or if you're just concerned about your blood pressure, be sure to talk to your doctor. They'll be able to help you figure out what's going on and what you can do to keep your blood pressure under control.

Natural methods to lower blood pressure

Okay. We've been talking about high blood pressure a lot.

It's definitely time to go over what we can do about it. And let me tell you, there are plenty of solutions out there, from lifestyle changes to herbal remedies to supplements.

Lifestyle Changes

First up, let's talk about lifestyle changes. Now, I know this might sound boring, but hear me out. Making changes to the way you eat, exercise, and manage stress can have a huge impact on your blood pressure. So let's break it down:

  • Eat a healthy diet: That means ditching the processed junk and loading up on fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein. And try to cut back on salt, too. I know, I know, everything's better with a little salt. But too much of it can make your blood pressure soar.
  • Get active: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking, every day. Trust me, it'll do wonders for your heart and your blood pressure.
  • Manage your stress: Stress can be a real blood pressure killer, so find ways to chill out. Whether it's yoga, meditation, or just taking a long walk, find what works for you and make it a habit.


Next up, let's talk about herbal remedies. You know I love me some herbs, and they can be real lifesavers when it comes to blood pressure. Here are a few to keep in mind:

  • Garlic: This pungent little bulb has been shown to improve blood flow and reduce inflammation. So go ahead and sprinkle it on everything, or try taking a garlic supplement.
  • Hawthorn: This herb can help improve blood flow and strengthen the heart. It's also been used for centuries to treat heart problems, so it's definitely worth a try.
  • Hibiscus: This pretty little flower can help relax your blood vessels and lower your blood pressure. Try drinking hibiscus tea, or taking a hibiscus supplement.


And finally, let's talk about supplements. If you're looking for an extra boost for your blood pressure, there are plenty of supplements that can help. Some of the most effective include:

  • Magnesium: This mineral helps regulate heart rhythm and relax blood vessels. Try taking a magnesium supplement, or eating magnesium-rich foods like almonds and spinach.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: These healthy fats help improve blood flow and reduce inflammation. Try taking an omega-3 supplement, or eating fatty fish like salmon and mackerel.
  • Potassium: This mineral helps regulate blood pressure. Try eating potassium-rich foods like bananas, sweet potatoes, and avocados.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): This antioxidant helps improve heart function and reduce oxidative stress. Try taking a CoQ10 supplement.

CoQ10, the superhero of antioxidants. This powerful supplement helps improve heart function and reduce oxidative stress, making it a valuable ally in the fight against high blood pressure.

So there you have it, a range of solutions for reversing high blood pressure. And let me tell you, these solutions are the real deal. Whether you choose lifestyle changes, herbal remedies, or supplements, there are plenty of options for lowering your blood pressure and reducing your risk of serious health problems.

Need help with High Blood Pressure?

And that's a wrap, folks! We've covered a lot of ground today, from the history of hypertension in the black community to the different ways you can lower your blood pressure. And if you're looking for help, look no further than Natural Edge Wellness (N.E.W.).

At N.E.W., we use a combination of functional medicine, wellness coaching, naturopathy, holistic nutrition, and fitness to help people overcome health issues like hypertension. We understand the unique challenges that black Americans face when it comes to their health, and we're here to help.

So if you're struggling with high blood pressure, or if you're just looking for a way to improve your overall health, come see us at N.E.W. We'll work with you to create a personalized plan that's tailored to your needs and goals.

And remember, taking control of your health is the first step to living your best life. So don't wait - come see us at N.E.W. and let's get started!

Nina Ross
Certified Naturopathic Doctor

What can Nina Ross Functional Medicine do for you?

Nina Ross Functional Medicine is here to give you holistic solutions that will lead to a new healthy you!

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