How I Cured My Blood Pressure in Under 4 Weeks Without Drugs or Exercise

Record of Blood Pressure, 5/13/06 to 6/1/06In the past three and a half weeks, I’ve manage to drop my blood pressure from a high of 160/100 to an average of 116/74, without taking blood pressure medicine, exercising, or visiting a doctor. (I don’t have health insurance or, at the moment, money, so for me, a doctor wasn’t even a consideration.) By doing so, I’ve eliminated the daily headaches I’ve been having for for the last several months and the constant–waking and sleeping–headache I had though the last two weeks of April and the first two weeks of May. I’ve also gotten my energy back, and the lack of ability to focus on anything that has been plaguing me since the end of 2005 is gone, along with its dreadful effect on my writing progress. I’ve appended a couple of charts so you could take a look at how this has been going.

Chart averaging to plot the blood pressure trendThe first numbers you see on the chart are the first pressures I took, barring the one at Wal-Mart that was 160/100 that made me buy the blood pressure cuff/ stethescope combo. The second chart shows the results of trending–averaging highs and lows to see if overall the pressures are going up or down.

The day I discovered my blood pressure was dangerously high was the day I decided to fix it. Here’s what I did.

I eliminated all milk products (milk, cheese, ice cream, whey, and processed foods that are made with milk in them–I had to start reading labels if this was going to work, because the dairy industry insinuates their crap everywhere). I eliminated most meat. DISCLOSURE: In the nearly four weeks I’ve been doing this, my exceptions to the no-meat rule have been one 10-oz ribeye steak at Applebee’s, and three small servings of chicken of various sorts from the local Chinese buffet. I also added an over-the-counter herbal diuretic that contained potassium–that will go as soon as 100% of my readings for at least one week are below the chalk. I could have gotten the same results by eating a lot of celery… but I hate celery.

Will I still have blood pressures above the chalk lines? Some, certainly, for at least the next couple of weeks. Trending down means I still have a ways to go. I’d like to see my normal readings at 90/60, with my highs at 120/80. There is this common misconception that if your blood pressure is 120/80, that’s good. No. It isn’t. 120/80 means you’re standing on a superhighway exactly one millimeter from the cars racing by you. If 120/80 is your normal blood pressure, you’re at the last hairbreadth of illusory safety before you get run over.

How to read a blood pressure chartTo me, the chart tells the whole story. But if looking at the chart isn’t telling you anything, here’s how to read it.

In the red circle at the top, you see the line of the measured systolic pressure. This pressure is the pressure in the system when the heart contracts and pushes blood through. It’s highly susceptible to mood, stress, exertion, and other variables.

In the green circle at the bottom, you see the diastolic pressure. This is the pressure of the system when the heart rests between beats, not pushing blood through the system, and it is less susceptible to outside forces. Elevations of the diastolic are also overall more dangerous than elevations of the systolic (though there are some exceptions, generally related to secondary hypertension [hypertension that is caused by another physical problem, as opposed to primary, or ideopathic, hypertension, which is the kind that hits you out of nowhere]). If your overall systemic pressure at rest is okay, spikes in your systolic pressure are usually pretty well tolerated, at least over short periods of time. If your diastolic pressure is always high, though, you’re most likely taking damage to kidneys and circulatory system.

The dark red line points to the line on the chart that marks off 120 mmHg, which is the highest number you should ever see on your blood pressure.

The light blue line points to the line on the chart that marks off 80 mmHg, which is the highest number you should ever see on your diastolic blood pressure.

Anything you see above those two lines is bad. Marks on them are only so-so. Anything below them is good.

And the numbers in the purple oblong are millegrams of mercury, marked off in tens (the graph is done in fives, though). Those of us who have been doing this for enough years used to actually check blood pressures with tall roll-around metal stands that had a blood pressure cuff attached to a tall tube of mercury marked off in millimeters. You pumped the pressure up and watched the mercury climb in the tube, then listened for pulses while you slowly let the air out and watched the mercury fall. You recorded the millimeter markings where you first heard a pulse, and where you last heard a pulse. Nobody uses mercury anymore. But the standard remains.

Someone is going to be worried about the word “cure” in the title of this post. Common medical wisdom tells us that once we have high blood pressure, it is a chronic problem and the best we can hope for in our lives is to treat it with drugs and more drugs, none of which are very effective, most of which are hellishly expensive, and almost all of which have dangerous side effects.

If I can eliminate all milk products and most meat products from my diet, though, and the blood pressure goes down to normal and stays there, that’s not treatment. That’s a cure. I’ll keep checking my blood pressure, just to make sure. I’ll keep you posted. But having just had a friend drop her blood pressure to normal doing the exact same thing, I’m betting that after another week or two of system clearing, blood pressure is not going to be a problem for me again.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

44 comments… add one
  • Shikha Feb 21, 2019 @ 7:42

    Hello! Thank you so much for this article! Can you please share which diuretic you took?

    • Holly Lisle Feb 21, 2019 @ 14:13

      I can’t. It was an over-the-counter diuretic, but because I used to be a nurse, I have to be very careful about mentioning specific medications, even over-the-counter (OTC) ones. Diagnosing and prescribing are outside the realm of nursing, and since I can’t know your health or specifics, I can only say that this is something you’ll need to either research on your own or discuss with your physician.

  • Semhal Alemayehu Mar 31, 2018 @ 10:05

    how can i reduce my blood pressure from 160/100

    • Holly Apr 2, 2018 @ 8:10

      I can’t give medical advice. I’m not a doctor. I can only explain what I did. I can add a new resource, though: The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss, by Jason Fung, which explains WHY low-carb eating reverses high blood pressure, diabetes, and other diseases caused by high-carb, low-calorie, and other unhealthy diets.

      • Sarah Dec 14, 2018 @ 6:19

        Hi Holly,

        Thanks a lot for this inspiring article which I always go back and read it again and again. Since I saw you are recommending paleo, may I ask if you only stopped diary and most meat or carbs as well? Do you limit sodium and sugar intake? How about fruits? Do you have strict restrictions on processed food?

        My reading was a bit higher than yours and I had some success so far on dash diet. It’s amazing now it’s been more than a decade since the article and your blood pressure is still excellent, that’s truly cured!

        • Holly Lisle Dec 14, 2018 @ 11:11

          We’ve gone to intermittent fasting and eating primarily keto (though around the holidays we throw in some fruit). Nothing processed, no sugar, BUT NO limitation on salt — it’s one of the core body electrolytes, and if you aren’t eating processed foods, you’re probably getting too little rather than too much.

          Also, back when I was seriously overweight, I had Type 2 diabetes, with fasting blood sugars in the 160s and two-hour post-prandial in the 200s.

          My fasting blood sugars now are in the 60s, and the two-hour post-prandial stay in the seventies.

          I strongly recommend Dr. Jason Fung’s books The Obesity Code and/or The Diabetic Code for the science behind WHY this works. It’s a helluva lot easier to stay on meat and butter and green stuff, and skip the crap, if you truly understand the science behind it — and he does a brilliant job of both showing the history of how people got such horrible ideas about what constitutes a healthy diet, and by then showing the science using excellent layman’s terms.

  • arijit dutta bakshi Oct 2, 2017 @ 5:29

    Madam my BP 160/100 my ave 27 and my BP no control plz suggestion .. Plz plz

    • Holly Oct 2, 2017 @ 11:28

      Without offering medical advice, and with the understanding that I don’t know your situation, so cannot even guess if this will help, I started eating strict Paleo.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleolithic_diet

      All these years later, my weight remains normal, and my blood pressure and blood sugar have remained at healthy levels.

  • rahul Dec 5, 2016 @ 23:05

    Rahul. Madam my BP 145/00 my ave 26 and my BP no control plz suggestion .. Plz plz

  • phil Dec 5, 2016 @ 14:38

    can you give me a sample meal plan?

    meat, cheese and milk is eliinating a lot of food..

    what did you eat?

    • Holly Dec 6, 2016 @ 8:34

      I eat a paleo diet. I’ve cut back on meat and eat it plain — no sauces, no gravies. I’ve eliminated starches — potatoes, grains, and things made with them. I eat fresh fruit, green vegetables, small portions of beef, chicken, occasionally fish, oils, nuts, berries.

      It’s a limited diet, and it gets boring. Being alive and healthier is my payoff.

      • peter manoukian Nov 23, 2018 @ 11:45

        My email is thewizard_it@hotmail.com, can you send me your tips, It was my understanding that low fat milk helps, is that not so, I drink some milk names biokefir, i have disbiosis so it provides biofidis bacteria which is low in my gut, this milk has 1% fat, i also eat some cheese which is 0.5% fat and 18% protein and maybe 2% carbohydrate
        I read that potato is good due to potassium, and sweet potatoes,
        I am also eating very boring, but that is ok, oats, leafy greens, almost 0% salt
        can you send me tips please

        • Holly Nov 28, 2018 @ 13:57

          There’s a lot of stuff out that. What worked for me and continues to work for me is Paleo/Keto. The last six months, Keto exclusively.

          Meat, green stuff, a lot of butter. Water, tea, coffee.

  • Chandan Sep 4, 2016 @ 19:53

    Hello Holly,

    I am a 27-year old male. Last week, I received the fright of my life when I saw my blood pressure reading to be 160/100. For a couple of days, the blood pressure hovered around 140/90 to 150/100.I was in immense stress as my dad has blood pressure and takes pills. I had my heart and kidneys checked after that. The reports were normal. I thought, so did the doctor , it is all due to stress and it’s just a passing wind. After a week, I thought of doing the check once again. And it was still 160/90. I am very depressed. As I am only 27, I don’t want to be on pills for the rest of my life. As far as my diet is concerned, I do drink milk daily and take curd for lunch every alternate day. One ounce of chicken goes every Sunday. Your post has given me a ray of hope. I will wait for your reply on how I could modify my diet, so that I can give a try to bring my bp back to normal. Waiting for your reply.

    Wish you good health.

    • Holly Dec 6, 2016 @ 8:24

      Hi, Chandan,

      I can only tell you what I did. I cannot tell you what to do. In the US, that constitutes giving medical advice.

      If you’re not a doctor (and I’m not), giving medical advice is illegal.

      So I can only point you to the post above, and say, “This is what I did, and it worked for me. If you want to try what I did, you do so at your own risk.”

    • Strong Jun 24, 2018 @ 6:43

      Sir how are u doing now?

      • Holly Lisle Jun 25, 2018 @ 14:33

        Details are here: Blood pressures are healthy low-normal range, fasting blood glucose in the 60s mm/dl, two-hour post-prandials are in the 70s mm/dl. Current details are here.

  • MS Jul 3, 2016 @ 19:57

    Holly I am a 47 year old fitness addict. I teach indoor cycling classes, run half marathons, do 100 and 200 mile nil races without a problem. My resting HR is 47 approximately. My BP has been 160/100 and I am floored by this. I never get headaches or flushed or nose bleeds none of it. I feel perfect. What the heck is going on? How is this possible?

    • Holly Jul 11, 2016 @ 9:31

      What do you eat? I had to switch from the Standard American Diet to paleo to get mine to go down.

      • MS Jul 11, 2016 @ 12:23

        I eat healthy, I never put salt on anything, I actually just started a modified paleo with the occasional legume. I am now taking COQ-10, fish oil and hawthorn supplements along with my vitamins as I heard that helps. Your thoughts?

        • Holly Lisle Jul 13, 2016 @ 5:50

          What you’re doing is what worked for me. Genetics plays an unfortunate role in high blood pressure, though. There can also be physiological causes for hypertension.

          Elevated blood pressure in the absence of obesity, poor diet, and lack of exercise can point to other problems, like kidney diseases.

          This is definitely a “See a doctor who won’t make the stupid assumption that your high blood pressure is your fault” moment.

          Example of that? I had elevated calcium levels for years, and a crazy number of symptoms, but the doctors who saw me ignored the elevated calcium AND the symptoms, because none of them were life-threatening.

          I switched doctors for a semi-related problem, and my new doctor looked at my calcium, had it tested, and diagnosed primary hyperparathyroidism.

          Turns out that for about fifteen years, I had a parathyroid tumor that was sucking the life out of me while causing me everything from migraines to bone pain to exhaustion to lack of sleep to slowed thinking to memory loss, and on and on.

          It came out some months ago now, and ALL of those symptoms have gone away.

          Don’t let some doctor assume you’re sneaking bad foods on the side, or doing something you’re not admitting that is causing this.

          If your doctor doesn’t question hypertension in a lean, physically active human being who eats right, it’s time to find a different doctor.

  • dimple Feb 26, 2016 @ 9:52

    I have a very high blood pressure. It’s 193/108. I went to the doctor and he had his reading 175/111 and he has given me some blood work to do at the lab.

    I am so scared to go on meds. Is there anything I can do to lower my blood pressure at this high.

    Thanks.

    • Holly Feb 29, 2016 @ 8:34

      I described what I did for myself. I cannot make recommendations for you. You’ll need to talk with your doctor.

    • Rez Jul 15, 2016 @ 15:50

      Get a full thyroid workup. Low thyroid causes high blood pressure by two different direct mechanisms, and probably via indirect mechanisms as well. (It causes tensing of the arteries, and causes calcium to be deposited in arterial walls which reduces their flexibility.) It is probably also the leading cause of inability to lose weight, possibly because it also adversely affects insulin levels.

      For myself (I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), when my thyroid is replaced to an adequate level, my BP goes down about 40 points.

      Emergency home BP reduction method, from a cardiologist:

      http://www.highbloodpressuremed.com/home-emergency-treatment-for-high-blood-pressure.html?PageSpeed=noscript

  • Angela Apr 22, 2014 @ 14:41

    Greetings, I have been a vegetarian (that eat fish and dairy for over 20 years.In he past year my BP has been creeping up and up. The doctor was wanting to put me on some pills, so I got serious and I am trying different dietary things. I have finally brought my BP down from where it is an average of about 140/85 in the last 2 months by changing my diet. (drinking Hawthrone tea, eating cantaloupe (high potassium) and more salmon, stuff like that) I have learned about a year ago that some cheeses give me leg cramps and headaches, so I have cut way down. But not on milk or products with milk. I will give this a try. I wonder if butter should be included in this and eggs? Also, I have been wondering if what you say is true about the milk for most of us, why? Are ‘they’ putting something in the milk products that is causing High Blood Pressure or feeding the cows something weird? And if so what? I wonder how we could find out? Thanks in advance, and prays to all for success!

  • Rodney Regis Jun 9, 2013 @ 9:13

    ;:’.

    Remember to explore our blog
    <http://healthwellnessbook.comIf, while monitoring your blood pressure, you get a systolic reading of 180 mm Hg or higher OR a diastolic reading of 110 mm HG or higher, wait a couple of minutes and take it again. If the reading is still at or above that level, you should seek immediate emergency medical treatment for a hypertensive crisis. If you can’t access the emergency medical services (EMS), have someone drive you to the hospital right away.

  • Dave Apr 19, 2012 @ 15:39

    On what biophysical basis do you claim 160/100 is dangerous?
    On a statistical basis every other male human is at risk if imminent death.
    I think, if blood pressure was a scientific measurement, its use would be considered Alchemy.
    On the other hand, most anti-Hypertensives are dangerous chemicals that poison and injure bodies. They are derived from naturally occurring poisons and toxins, often used to kill or paralyse.

    Please feel free to reply, if you think the question can be answer.
    Regards,
    Dave Roche.

    • eden Nov 30, 2012 @ 20:11

      We are taught in the medical field first what a dangerouse pulse is second what a dangerouse blood pressure is. Imagine if you where to try and push to much fluid thrue a straw to fast. It would rupture. Same thing happens with your viens and arteries.
      Sounds simple to me

  • Helvi Sep 22, 2011 @ 0:25

    I have tried to stop using salt , too much sugar, beef , juice that contain sugar,processed food, tea with an exception of :(pork,chicken, vegies, fruits, fishes,caocao,garlic and other recommended food). With the changes I have made in my diet, I still do not see any changes in my BP it keeps on going up and down (e.g 140/100,118/78). What advice do you give with regards to food. Advice will be much appreciated

    • Holly Sep 26, 2011 @ 8:45

      I don’t give advice, Helvi. I outlined what I did, and what I did worked (and STILL works) for me. But I’m not a doctor, I don’t give medical advice, and all I can do is what I’ve done here…tell you what I’ve done. If you want to try it, you have to bear full responsibility for your own health and outcome, just as I did.

  • priya Jul 22, 2011 @ 14:31

    my doc gave me 3 months to “self-cure” newly diagnosed high BP using relaxation techniques, when he found nothing else was wrong with me, other than being in a stressful home environment. He cautioned that if I could not manage the stress, then he needs to put me on medication. Which,ones started, will require me to keep BP in “control” for life via pills, and never have a chance to “cure”.

    I got away from my family for 2 months , practiced yoga breathing techniques, conscientiously stopped brooding over unpleasant quarrels.. and in 2 months got back to 110/80. This was almost 6 years ago. I now live with my family (the same unchanged personalities) , but never lose my calm and composure (so far by God’s grace..) , am not practicing any breathing techniques now, but am still able to retain a BP of around 100 to 110/70 to 80. I constantly remind myself benefits of being clam and composed regardless of having to deal with difficult situations/persons everyday.

    • Chandan Sep 4, 2016 @ 20:21

      Hi Priya,

      Greetings!!

      May I know what were your blood pressure readings when you went for that “self cure” thing. And also, what was your age, then.

      I am facing similar problems and I am only 27.

      Your information will be highly helpful.

  • Vishwajeet Sukhija Nov 27, 2010 @ 11:40

    Hi

    I have just been diagnosed with high BP. I have insomia which I feel has been responsible for my BP now. My doctor says that BP cannot be cured but only control. This article says the opposite.

    Anyways I will try this.

  • cindy Sep 22, 2010 @ 1:05

    I take meds for RH arthritis. My blood pressure started to go up. I’ve been on this medicine for 11 years. My blood preasure was 150 over 85 or 90. The doctor put me on 50mg of metoprolol. After 7 months he notices my blood levels were really low. I had iron injections but through all this my blood preasure is just as high know as it was before I went on the meds and I’m still on the meds. I weight 110lbs and when I was at 120 and started to loose weight because I changed my diet too my colesterol was 225. So now my doctor wants me to take 10mg more of lisinopril. I haven’t started that yet. I don’t know why my preasure is so out of hand all of a sudden and I don’t know how to fix it. I’ve changed my diet. I slip sometimes but I have even been juicing veggies. I’m 53 but I still feel something is wrong here. Please help

  • varisha Feb 14, 2009 @ 8:42

    High blood pressure is also known as a silent killer as the disease mostly goes undetected. Undiagnosed, uncontrolled high BP can cause vital organs to malfunction.Heart attacks, Strokes, Kidney failure are some of the bad effects of High BP chess board so my sis always played this chess board game so when i tried to said that please leave this game so her blood pressure is so high so i always said to her to do more exercise and meditation to remove this bp so she is also addicted of the drugs now she has left these habit and so now her bp is under controlled so i like d this article.its very interesting .so i would like to say thanks to u to give this informative article.

  • arohen Jun 2, 2006 @ 1:01

    Thank you for sharing this. As someone who’s trying to get their blood pressure under control and avoid the doctors prescription medicine, I appreciate the advice and the information.

  • Jim Jun 1, 2006 @ 20:28

    Holly,
    As the Poster Child (TM) for doing the exact opposite of everything you’ve suggested, I know where you’re coming from. I’m toying with the idea of getting my stomach banded, but I’m working on diet first and having some success, though I’m still far from the vegetarian extreme you’ve promoted.

    Joelysue, everything I’ve read suggests that weight and dietary controls are sufficient to control Type II diabetes without medication. That is where I need to be myself (and a series of highs is what is forcing me to work hard on getting it down). The unfortuante down side of that is that I have to control my carbs as well as my fats.

    As I told a friend recently, I need to develop a passion for lettuce.

    Jim

  • hollylisle Jun 1, 2006 @ 16:21

    Firelight — I get my calcium the same place cows get theirs. Leafy greens. 😀

  • firelight Jun 1, 2006 @ 16:01

    Hi Holly, good to hear the diet’s working. But do keep an eye on your calcium intake, since you’re eliminating dairy. I agree with you on the ‘cure’ issue…the first step in the management of hypertension should be lifestyle changes like the ones you’ve made. But I can’t agree with you on the celery…I love celery 🙂

  • TinaK Jun 1, 2006 @ 14:34

    I’m so glad that you are feeling better Holly!

  • Monica Jun 1, 2006 @ 13:27

    Dang, Holly, How do figure this stuff out?

    No meat, no dairy and lots of celery, huh. I don’t have any strong feelings toward celery. It keeps my mouth busy and it’s cheap so I can do it.

    Will let you know when I’m cured.

    Now, can you cure fat and make me sane too? I’d buy the book.

    Thanks in advance.

  • joelysue Jun 1, 2006 @ 13:08

    I really find this interesting because I just started the Rice Diet because I was very impressed with the clinic’s ability to ease or even reverse heart disease, hypertension and diabetes by limiting sodium and fat. I don’t know my BP or glucose levels prior to starting (I’m doing it primarly to lose weight before I have an issue) but I’m feeling really, really good. The diet is nearly vegetarian, with one dairy allowed per day and one protein each week. I’ve never eaten so many whole grains, fruits and veggies in my life! 🙂 Now to get the hubby doing it with me — he already had diabetes, and I’m interested to see if such a diet change would help.

  • PolarBear Jun 1, 2006 @ 8:41

    Not exactly the same thing — but close. I eliminated all meat products and most milk products. I do exercise, but that was a constant factor both before and after. The only change was diet. For me, blood pressure has dropped from something like 140+/90+ to 116/75.

    And I’m with you on the cure, even though it flies in the face of common medical wisdom. Continued monitoring is key, which is what you should do anyway. A good automatic digital blood pressure measuring device ran me about $70 — well worth it for the peace of mind (I calibrated it with my medical professional, so he’s confident it’s accurate, so he trusts my measurements).

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