Herbs and alternative therapies: relevance to hypertension and cardiovascular diseases

Curr Hypertens Rep. 2005 Aug;7(4):275-80. doi: 10.1007/s11906-005-0025-0.


Herbal remedies, supplements, and alternative therapeutic items are used by many patients with hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Scientific knowledge about their efficacy and safety is lacking, and unfortunately, physicians are frequently not aware that patients are using these nontraditional forms of medical care. Patients may anticipate physicians' disapproval of their use, or not realize that it is important for the physician to know what they are taking. Therefore, it is imperative that patients are asked nonjudgmental questions about current and past use of herbals and alternative therapies. Even when physicians are aware of such use, they feel poorly trained to identify the constituents and effects. Although many such therapies are innocuous, several herbal or alternative therapeutic items can significantly elevate blood pressure or cause interactions with cardiovascular drugs. Practitioners in cardiovascular medicine should be competent and know current scientific evidence for the benefits and adverse effects of herbal supplements and provide patients reasonable advice. In this brief article, we review the epidemiology of alternative therapy use, and select several important herbal or other supplements that patients with hypertension and cardiovascular diseases may be taking. We discuss the therapies considered biological in nature as opposed to mind-body interventions or manipulative body or energy therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Dietary Supplements / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Supplements / statistics & numerical data
  • Drug Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Medical History Taking
  • Phytotherapy / adverse effects*
  • Phytotherapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Plants, Medicinal / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Safety
  • Self Medication
  • Treatment Outcome