Hibiscus Tea vs. Plant-Based Diets for Hypertension

Image Credit: Amy / Flickr. This image has been modified.

Plant-Based Diets for Hypertension

Recently, researchers from Taiwan pitted the herbal tea hibiscus against obesity. They gave hibiscus to overweight individuals and reported that subjects showed reduced body weight. However, after 12 weeks on hibiscus, subjects only lost about three pounds, only one and a half pounds over placebo. Hibiscus is clearly no magic fix for obesity.

The purported cholesterol-lowering property of hibiscus tea looked a bit more promising. Some older studies suggested as much as an 8% reduction from drinking two cups a day for a month. When all the studies are put together, though, the results are pretty much a wash. This may be because only about 50% of people respond at all to drinking the equivalent of between two to five cups a day, though those that do may get a respectable 12% drop. That’s nothing like the 30% one can get within weeks of eating a healthy, plant-based diet, though.

Hibiscus may really shine in treating high blood pressure, a disease affecting a billion people and killing millions. Up until 2010, there wasn’t sufficient high quality research to support the use of hibiscus tea to treat hypertension, but there are now randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled studies where hibiscus tea is compared to artificially colored and flavored water that looks and tastes like hibiscus tea, and the tea lowers blood pressure significantly better.

We’re still not sure how it works, but hibiscus appears to boost nitric oxide production, which could help our arteries relax and dilate better. Regardless, an updated review acknowledged that the daily consumption of hibiscus tea may indeed significantly lower blood pressures in people with hypertension.

How does hibiscus compare to other blood pressure interventions? The premier clinical trial when it comes to comprehensive lifestyle modification for blood pressure control is the PREMIER Clinical Trial. Realizing that nine out of ten Americans are going to develop hypertension, researchers from John Hopkins randomized 800 men and women with high blood pressure into one of three groups. One was the control group, the so-called “advice only group,” where patients were just told to lose weight, cut down on salt, increase exercise and eat healthier. In the two behavioral intervention groups, the researchers got serious. Eighteen face-to-face sessions, group meetings, food diaries, physical activity records, and calorie and sodium intake monitoring. One intervention group just concentrated on exercise; the other included exercise and diet. Researchers pushed the DASH diet, which is high in fruits and vegetables and low in full-fat dairy products and meat. In six months, subjects achieved a 4.3 point drop in systolic blood pressure, compared to the control, slightly better than the lifestyle intervention without the diet.

A few points might not sound like a lot—that’s like someone going from a blood pressure of 150 over 90 to a blood pressure of 146 over 90—but on a population scale, a five point drop in the total number could result in 14% fewer stroke deaths, 9% fewer fatal heart attacks, and 7% fewer deaths every year overall.

A cup of hibiscus tea with each meal didn’t just lower blood pressure by three, four, or five points, but by seven points, from an average of 129 down to 122. In fact, tested head-to-head against a leading blood-pressure drug, Captopril, two cups of strong hibiscus tea every morning (five tea bags for the two cups) was as effective in lowering blood pressure as a starting dose of 25mg of captopril taken twice a day.

So, hibiscus tea is as good as drugs, without side-effects, and better than diet and exercise? Well, the lifestyle interventions in the PREMIER study were pretty wimpy. As public health experts noted, the PREMIER study was only asking for 30 minutes of exercise a day, whereas the World Health Organization recommends a minimum of an hour a day.

Diet-wise, the lower the animal fat intake, and the more plant sources of protein the PREMIER participants were eating, the better the diet appeared to work. This may explain why vegetarian diets appear to work even better, and the more plant-based, the lower the prevalence of hypertension.

On the DASH diet, subjects cut down on meat, but were still eating it every day, so would qualify as nonvegetarians in the Adventist 2 study (highlighted in my video Hibiscus Tea vs. Plant-Based Diets for Hypertension) which looked at 89,000 Californians. It found that those who only ate meat on a weekly basis had 23% lower rates of high blood pressure. Those who cut out all meat except fish had 38% lower rates. Those eating no meat at all, vegetarians, have less than half the rate. The vegans—cutting out all animal protein and fat—appeared to have thrown three quarters of their risk for this major killer out the window.

One sees the same kind of step-wise drop in diabetes rates as one’s diet gets more and more plant-based, and a drop in excess body weight, such that only those eating completely plant-based diets in the Adventist 2 study fell into the ideal weight category. Could that be why those eating plant-based have such great blood pressure? Maybe it’s just because they’re so skinny. I’ve previously shown how those eating plant-based just have a fraction of the diabetes risk even at the same weight, but what about hypertension?

The average American has what’s called prehypertension, which means the top number of our blood pressure is between 120 and 139. We don’t have hypertension yet, which starts at 140, but we may be well on our way. Compare that to the blood pressure of those eating whole food plant-based diets. In one study, those eating plant-based didn’t have blood pressures three points lower, four points lower, or even seen points lower, but 28 points lower. However, the group eating the standard American diet was, on average, overweight with a BMI over 26, still better than most Americans, while the vegans were a trim 21—that’s 36 pounds lighter.

Maybe the only reason those eating meat, eggs, dairy, and processed junk had such higher blood pressure was because they were overweight. Maybe the diet per se had nothing to do with it?

To solve that riddle we would have to find a group still eating the standard American diet, but as slim as vegans. To find a group that trim, researchers had to use long-distance endurance athletes, who ate the same crappy American diet, but ran an average of 48 miles per week for 21 years. Anyone who runs almost two marathons a week for 20 years can be as slim as a vegan—no matter what they eat!

How did the endurance runners compare to the couch potato vegans? It appears that if we run an average of about a thousand miles every year, our blood pressures can rival some couch potato vegans. That doesn’t mean we can’t do both, but it may be easier to just eat plants.


Those who’ve been following my work for years have seen how my videos have evolved. In the past, the hibiscus results may have been the whole article or video. But thanks to everyone’s support, I’ve been able to delegate the logistics to staff and concentrate more on the content creation. This allows me to do deeper dives into the literature to put new findings into better context. The posts are a bit longer, but hopefully they’re more useful—let me know what you think!

For such a leading killer, hypertension has not gotten the coverage it deserves on NutritionFacts.org. Here’s a few videos, with more to come:

So, should we all be drinking hibiscus tea every day?  This is the first of a four part series on the latest on hibiscus. Stay tuned for the next three:

For another comparison of those running marathons and those eating plants, see: Arteries of Vegans vs. Runners

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live year-in-review presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, More Than an Apple a Day, From Table to Able, and Food as Medicine.

Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


109 responses to “Plant-Based Diets for Hypertension

Comment Etiquette

On NutritionFacts.org, you'll find a vibrant community of nutrition enthusiasts, health professionals, and many knowledgeable users seeking to discover the healthiest diet to eat for themselves and their families. As always, our goal is to foster conversations that are insightful, engaging, and most of all, helpful – from the nutrition beginners to the experts in our community.

To do this we need your help, so here are some basic guidelines to get you started.

The Short List

To help maintain and foster a welcoming atmosphere in our comments, please refrain from rude comments, name-calling, and responding to posts that break the rules (see our full Community Guidelines for more details). We will remove any posts in violation of our rules when we see it, which will, unfortunately, include any nicer comments that may have been made in response.

Be respectful and help out our staff and volunteer health supporters by actively not replying to comments that are breaking the rules. Instead, please flag or report them by submitting a ticket to our help desk. NutritionFacts.org is made up of an incredible staff and many dedicated volunteers that work hard to ensure that the comments section runs smoothly and we spend a great deal of time reading comments from our community members.

Have a correction or suggestion for video or blog? Please contact us to let us know. Submitting a correction this way will result in a quicker fix than commenting on a thread with a suggestion or correction.

View the Full Community Guidelines

  1. I really like the longer posts with more content. Learning the science behind plant-based nutrition is great reinforcement for following the lifestyle.

  2. Does anyone know of a good place to buy Hibiscus tea in bulk, i.e. not in tea bags? A store chain would be preferable rather than on-line. Thanks.

    1. Healthyvegan: I’ve never seen bulk hibiscus at a brick-and-mortar store. Mountainroseherbs.com has bulk hibiscus. I’ve never used it but have used their other products and they’re excellent.

      1. I’ve never used Mountainroseherbs before but have heard good things about it from others, so I’ll check it out. Thanks for your reply.

      2. There is a Mexican oriented store in my neighborhood. I found that if you ask for flor de jamaica te they know exactly what it is. Cheap too.
        John S

    2. Have you tried a Caribbean market? There is a Jamaican market not too far from me that sells dried hibiscus flower by the bag.

      1. I grew up in Florida and there were Hibiscus flowers all over the place. I never knew one could use the flowers for a healthy tea! A Caribbean market certainly makes sense. Thanks for your suggestion.

        1. Not the same variety.
          I get mine from Asian grocery or Mexican. Bulk Amazon from reputable seller is probably cheapest.
          They come as individual shrivelly flowers: 3 in a teapot with 10min steeping is ruby red. Can easily get second rose-colored pot full. Oh, and a splash of rosewater really complements the flavor.

    3. A health food store might have bulk hibiscus. Perhaps Whole Foods? In Northern California, we have a chain called “New Leaf” that carries the flowers in the bulk tea section. Ever since Dr. G did his post about cold brewing hibiscus, I have a pitcher in my fridge. I love it without any sweetening but when I have guests, I add a packet of Stevia and it takes the sour edge off.

      1. Thanks, SeedyCharacter. I do have a Whole Foods nearby, so I’ll check there. I checked the “New Leaf” website and it looks like they’re only in CA. I’m on the East Coast, so I’ll check some health food markets, too.

    4. Hal, I got mine from a local hispanic ethnic store in big bags for a couple bucks, until I found out how easy it is to grow! It’s great being able to harvest and use it fresh, add to recipes and smoothies and even make a healthy spread from the “fruits”, which look similar to flower buds but are actually the fleshy covering on the seeds that develops after flowering, and NOT the flowers like I thought. (though they are pretty and also usable, just not very substantial.) Google either “roselle” or Hibiscus sabdariffa and check em out. Good luck!

      1. Wow, I never knew all this about those Hibiscus flowers when I was growing up in Florida. Thanks for the info, Vege-tater. I live up north now, so doubt if they would grow up here.

      2. Hi Vege-tater,
        That’s usually my mo, but for almost all people in US or Canada, it’s not hardy enough. Lucky for you though.
        John S

  3. Just a warning for people are not familiar with hibiscus tea. There is a sizable minority, of which I am a part, who can’t drink hibiscus tea because it causes erratic heart beat. If you try it for the first time, please go slow until you determine whether or not it affects your heart rhythm.
    Mark G.

    1. I now drink hibiscus every single day, but had a weird experience with my hibiscus tea concoction (ginger, turmeric root, hibiscus flowers, dried mint), which I was sipping all day on a long road trip: my arms turned purple. At first, I panicked because I thought I was suddenly cyanotic or something, but then I realized it was actually just on the surface of the skin. It washed off with a bit of scrubbing. I am still wondering what process occurred. It couldn’t be only from sweat because it was only my arms. It couldn’t be the combination of the tea and sun exposure because my armpits were the most purple.

      1. I’m not sure. You can probably google it. The first place I learned about it was here on NF. It was a few years ago when there was a video post about hibiscus tea, which I had just started drinking, and a person commented that it affected them in that way and Dr Greger posted a response confirming that x% of the population has that reaction. As soon as I read that I noticed that my heart rhythm, which had been erratic much earlier my life, had again started being erratic and it coincided with when I started drinking the tea. I stopped and the rhythm quickly went back to normal and remained normal. Now I avoid it.

        1. Interesting, I’ve always had issues with frequent ectopic beats or PVC’s, which come and go seemingly randomly, and I found the opposite to be true. Just goes to show how different we can be I guess!

          1. When I was 21 my rhythm was so far off that my doctor wanted to put me on blood thinners and some other drug. I started to take them and a few days later how long I was to continue. He said, “well, the rest of your life!” I immediately stopped, dumped the pills in the trash and began paying attention to which foods and drinks correlated to episodes. Dumping those pills were the best thing I could have ever done for myself as the episodes haven’t warranted taking them. In fact, subsequent doctors even put one of those 24 hour ekg event recorders on me a couple times in my life and told me all my events were benign and to not worry. So I don’t. But I also don’t push it.

        2. Really interesting. Have had a couple of episodes of PVC in my life. They have been back for the last couple of months and roughly coincides with my Hibiscus tea drinking. Great info thanks!

      2. Hi Ekon,
        I couldn’t dig up anything on PubMed regarding hibiscus and arrhythmia, but anything which lowers blood pressure could certainly affect the heart *rate*. Most commonly, as blood vessels dilate in the body, the heart rate speeds up to compensate so that enough blood can still reach the brain (if not, you pass out). This increased heart rate could be interpreted as “irregular” by the person experiencing it. As far as hibiscus causing ectopic beats (added or skipped heart beats) or true arrhythmias, I don’t know of any data on this unless someone has better luck finding it than I did!

        1. I’m pretty sure it was Dr Greger himself that confirmed it. I started to look at hold hibiscus posts but I didn’t find the discussion yet. I might look a little more.

  4. Longer posts with more content are better! I like getting the details of the science, then when my friends all ask me I can explain it to them!

  5. Hi Dr. Greger,
    I like the articles to be very detailed and cover every angle(with links to all of your content). I still like the videos to be between about 2 and 5 minutes. I think that the use of ‘cliff hangers’ is very effective at highlighting uncovered evidence, new thinking, or an important point. To me it is a ‘trademark’ way of presenting information just like when you use of the stop light. Thanks, PaulaE

  6. I was on Captopril years ago and had to stop. It gave me small annoying coughs. Unfortunately so did the Hibiscus tea.

  7. I have been on a WFPB diet for about 4 months now. I currently take Hyzaar and Norvasc plus drink one very strong cup of Hybiscus tea daily. Since starting the diet, my avg systolic BP dropped about 10 points, but BP still hovers around 120/75 (MAP fluctuates between 84 and 91). I would like nothing better than to get off the meds. Should I drink even more tea? Any ideas how to further lower BP? Thanks!

    1. Hi Eddie, I’ve been on a WFPB diet for over 4 years and still struggling to lower my BP until recently. Upon analyzing what I eat I discovered I wasn’t eating enough green leafy vegetables, nor enough fruit. I’ve added both to my daily diet in larger quantities, and reduced wheat, which was playing too large of a role. I also added fermented foods every day in the form of pickles, sour kraut, and kombucha. That brought me from 150/90 on average to 125/70 in about three weeks. I have tried hibiscus tea, and I like it, but it was giving me heartburn. I’m going to try it again in a few weeks. I want off the 100 mg atenolol I take every day. It’s the only one left of the 6 pills I was taking for BP and cholesterol prior to becoming a vegan.

      1. Interesting. I didn’t know fermented food was also good for lowering BP. I’ve been eating a more or less WFPB (sometimes I cheat) since being diagnosed with HT (160/100). Told the doc I wanted to change diet first, before I go on meds. At the 3 month checkup BP dropped to 140/90 (at the doc, at home I measure between 125-130/75-85). Now I want to take it up a few notches and go fully plantbased.
        I’ve been avoiding pickles etc for some reason I actually don’t know.

        1. You just have to be careful to distinguish between pickled and fermented. The first can be done with cheap vinegar and lots of salt, but a good ferment has live probiotics and shouldn’t be too salty. My guess is the effect of the microbes on our gut microbiome are what account for the BP lowering effect and other benefits, because sure worked for me too.

      2. Terry, Thanks for your considered reply. Glad to hear that the WFPB diet has worked out well for you. Coming off of 5 out of 6 meds is an impressive achievement! I agree that ramping up the leafy greens might be a good way to go. Getting that boost in potassium and other phytos should prove helpful. Not sure about the fermented foods though as I always thought there was too much sodium and sugar in much of the products, but certainly worth giving it a try. Thanks again, and good luck losing number 6.

        1. You do need to watch the sodium. I make my own fermented foods to keep it low, and only consume a small amount each day. Watching salt in absolutely everything has been part of my success as well.
          As Vege-tater said, it’s wonderful for your gut health, which we know is where it all happens…

    2. BEETS proven to lower BP among other positive health benefits. You can eat them or drink juice made from whole beets or there are powdered organic beet capsules as a last choice if you hate the taste. I actually like them. I mix some beet juice into a Kevita probiotic drink. Dr. Gregor has done’ some videos on beets.

  8. First stuff I read every day is yours. Makes my 81 year old life a lot easier to bear and enjoy. Like the longer articles too.

      1. thanks for reply stick to NutritionFacts be Vegan and likely you’ll just motor past 81…or I should say Cycle past 81…

  9. Personal experience shows that beets beat out hibiscus tea. My husband recently discovered that he has high bp. We started drinking beet juice in the morning and eating beets occasionally with dinner. The numbers don’t lie. Yesterday he measured his bp before his beet drink, 193/129. After his drink (an hour and half later) it was 137/96. We have seen it drop to within normal ranges. He is very skinny, but not what one would consider an athlete. I, on the other hand am far more sedentary and have a low to normal bp. Attitude has a lot to do with this.

    1. Vegan just means not eating animals but doesn’t say much about actual diet. My DIL considers herself a vegetarian and I don’t ever recall seeing her eat a vegetable, unless you include ketchup. Fries, pizza, bread, pasta, donuts, chips, you get the idea. Seems besides cutting the animal products and processed junk (which includes oils, even EVOO), adding tons of greens and other good stuff is the biggest benefit for health effects of all kinds!

    2. Hi Elayne. Me too! Realised I had a bad veggie diet for 30 years followed by a not very healthy vegan diet for a year. Have been following the how not to die diet for a couple of months now (with a few lapses (still vegan) – bad habits are hard to break!). My cholesterol has come down 10 points but I still need to lower it by another 7points to 4 due to Atrial Fibrillation. My BP is managed by Candesarten and I’m on a low dose Beta Blocker. I haven’t noticed any lowering of my BP yet :( . Was going to try Hibiscus but best not if it can affect heart rhythm. I’m quite overweight and this is not shifting despite massive dietary changes. Have bad knees so can’t exercise very well. Going to continue though and hope the benefits start kicking in soon!

      1. RooT62: Congratulations on making some healthy diet changes re: “I’m quite overweight and this is not shifting despite massive dietary changes.” Below is some of the information I typically share with people who want to lose weight. There is a range of healthy diets and the key that will help you lose weight may be in some important details. I hope this helps.
        —————–

        The nice thing about your situation is that you already understand half the battle. I’m guessing from your post that you already understand about the importance of a whole plant food diet and have at least a sense of how to implement it. That’s half the learning curve. The other half is understanding the concept of calorie density and how to apply it to weight loss so that you don’t get hungry and you still get all the nutrients you need.
        .
        Dr. Greger covers calorie density, but not in enough detail in my opinion for someone who wants to apply it for the first time. I believe that Doug Lisle is one of the experts in the Forks Over Knives documentary, and he gives a great ‘calorie density 101’ talk officially called: How To Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind. I have watched the following talk from Doug Lisle several times and think very highly of it. And it’s free!!! And it’s entertaining! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAdqLB6bTuQ
        .
        As good as Doug Lisle’s talk is, it pretty much just gives you a solid understanding of the concept, but not enough practical information in my opinion. For starting to get the practical information, I recommend a talk from Jeff Novick,Calorie Density: “How to Eat More, Weigh Less, and Live Longer,” which is no longer for sale. Argh! (I mention it just in case you can get your hands on a copy. Happily, there is a very good second best source for that information: an article that Jeff wrote that you can get here:
        http://www.forksoverknives.com/the-calorie-density-approach-to-nutrition-and-lifelong-weight-management/
        Be sure to pay attention to the charts.
        .
        Chef AJ tells people who want to lose weight to eat “left of the red line”, where I believe the red line is on a diagram of hers representing is 600 calories per pound. And “left of the red line” is all the whole plant foods which are below 600 calories per pound. The above article from Jeff Novick gives you a good sense of which foods are “left of the red line” by food category. But if you want to look up the calorie density of specific foods, you can find many foods on the following site: http://nutritiondata.self.com/ Most foods on that site have the option of choose an ‘ounce’ as a size. Then you can multiply by 16 to get the calories per pound.
        .
        It would be perfectly respectable if you are one of those people who are just not interested in the theory. You just want to dive right in and want straight how-to information. If you would rather not think about any of that (or start with the theory and then move onto this step), I have one more suggestion that Dr. Greger also recommends in his book, How Not To Die. Consider going through the free program from PCRM (Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine) called 21 Day Kickstart. The program will “hold your hand” for 21 days, including meal plans, recipes, videos, inspirational messages, and a forum (moderated by a very respected RD) where you can ask questions.
        http://www.pcrm.org/kickstartHome/
        (Click the green “Register Now” button.)
        At the end of the program, you will have a very good practical knowledge about how to eat with healthy and “low” (normal for most people) calorie density.
        .
        Another recommendation that Dr. Greger and I share is to get Jeff Novick’s Fast Food videos for tasty, affordable, fast and healthy calorie density recipes. Also, on-line and free is a YouTube series of recipes/cooking shows called something like Chef AJ and The Dietician. I know that Chef AJ will not steer you wrong in terms of weight loss and providing accurate nutrition information.
        .
        How’s that for some tips? If you give these ideas a try, please report back and let us know how it went.

        1. Wow, thank you Thea. I do like to know the theory but it’s good to have a quick start option as well. I will let you know how it goes! I’m obviously eating too much of something (or everything) as the weight isn’t shifting despite giving up bread, butter, cheese, chocolate, cream cakes etc!

    3. Hi Elayne. Me too! Realised I had a bad veggie diet for 30 years followed by a not very healthy vegan diet for a year. Have been following the how not to die diet for a couple of months now (with a few lapses (still vegan) – bad habits are hard to break!). My cholesterol has come down 10 points but I still need to lower it by another 7points to 4 due to Atrial Fibrillation. My BP is managed by Candesarten and I’m on a low dose Beta Blocker. I haven’t noticed any lowering of my BP yet :( . Was going to try Hibiscus but best not if it can affect heart rhythm. I’m quite overweight and this is not shifting despite massive dietary changes. Have bad knees so can’t exercise very well. Going to continue though and hope the benefits start kicking in soon!

    4. You are not alone. I’m still having BP issues. I think some of us become very salt sensitive as we get older. I also need to stay away from caffeine to keep my BP down. I take a diuretic right now as I have too difficult a time with following all the dietary restrictions I need to abide by to keep my BP in the normal range.

  10. For me having daily access to encouraging info keeps me on track and is much appreciated, especially because most of us are in this alone. The rest of the people I know just don’t want to “get it”, which doesn’t make it easier!

  11. For me having daily access to encouraging info keeps me on track and is much appreciated, especially because most of us are in this alone. The rest of the people I know just don’t want to “get it”, which doesn’t make it easier!

    1. My BP has been up and down for years, but in December 2015 I went to the dentist and BP was 159/90. I was already familiar with Dr. Greger, but found the info on Hibiscus tea in his new book. I tried loose leaf at Whole Foods and other stores, and was using about 2 tsps. per cup, around 4 cups a day. My BP might have gone down a few points, but nothing tramatic. In March my niece gave me an 8 oz bag of 100% organic dried hibiscus flowers product of Croatia from Earth Shft products, and I noticed in a couple of weeks how my systolic was sometimes in the 140’s as well around 80’s for diastolic. Now in May I’ve made the tea stronger with about 1 TBSP per cup and limiting to 4 cups a day & drinking from a straw. My pulse is around 45 originally around 55. I’ve also tried to make sure I’m limiting salty foods and doing a bit more fitness a few times a week. Today at my physicians office for an annual physical my BP was 134/70 and a pulse of 44. I’m almost 65 and a woman not taking any medications. My physician was surprised. She said it would take maybe 3 medications to get BP to come down that much. I’ve been on a WFPBD for years. It has to be the dose related Hibiscus tea.

  12. The top vegetables that will give you a lot of nitric oxide which is the key molecule to arterial health which in turn will help to lower blood pressure are: aurugla, beets, beet greens, kale, spinach, romain lettuce. 97 % of the M.D.’s who we entrust our health to do not know this. And even if they did know it, they would not mention it to you because the insurance companies will not compensate them monetarily for their time spent teaching you about a whole plant based diet. Instead they are going to give you antihypertensive medications and statin drugs which have the potential to kill you or ruin your health. One of these days, KARMA is going set in on the medical establishment.

    1. Well, I suspect that most MDs mean well but are largely ignorant of nutrition.
      As for karma, I suspect that the medical establishment – with the exceptions of Kim Williams etc – either already are experiencing, or will experience, it in the form of the consequences that naturally arise from eating a significantly less than optimal diet.

      1. This is true. When you stroll through a major hospital such as Baptist Hospital in downtown Dallas, Texas you see a lot of young doctors who are thin and trim. But, then when you see their supervisors who are doctors in their 50’s, and 60’s, many of them look overweight. I think also that a lot of them have occupational hazards that the rest of us don’t have as much such as being in environments where contagious diseases abound, stress, lack of sleep, friction with nurses-patients-staff-administration-other doctors, and malpractice litigation. But, then you look at some of the specific jobs doctors have like being an anesthesiologists…..it seems to me that such a job would be hazardous to your health even with all of the exhaust hoses. There has to be daily exposure to all kinds of gases and chemicals. I wonder if anyone has done a longevity study on medical doctors. And some of them get hooked on narcotics.

        1. I vaguely remember reading many, many years ago in the UK that doctors had higher mortality rates than average, higher rates of substance addiction and higher suicide rates. However, I can’t find any reference now and more recent studies, at least in the US, show lower mortality
          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11020591

          Also, the notorious Joel Wallach claimed in his book “Dead Doctors Don’t Lie£ that “the life span of the average doctor in America is several years shorter than that of the average couch potato.”
          http://nomdforme.com/about/dead-doctors-dont-lie/

          1. Tom, I am really angry at the medical establishment about this issue of ignoring, ridiculing, and being hostile to a “true” vegan diet. I give them no slack. They are suppose to be dedicated to finding the truth about health. They are smart people. They study hard. And yet if you ask one to name 5 edible plants that increase the body’s ability to manufacture nitric oxide……they can’t do it. And when you try to inform them that meat, dairy, and eggs are bad for health they become angry with you. Yes, so I am angry with the medical establishment. If I had known all of these things that Dr. Greger has been teaching even a few years ago, I would not be in the health predicament I am now. The medical establishment should be bending over backwards to teach people about the dangers of meat, dairy, and eggs, and OILS !! They should be saving lives not taking 30 pieces of silver from the hands of Big Pharma. The blood of millions of people is on their hands.

            1. John, I share your anger, but mine is directed at the FDA, etc., who should have been educating/informing us of these things. Instead, meat and dairy industries infiltrate the halls of learning all the way from elementary school through college. I became angry when I “just happened” to read a book my college daughter left out on our coffee table, along with several others she was reading, and the one I picked up was “The China Study.”

              I think doctors also are or have been largely victims of the same ignorance and for many of the same reasons.

              1. I hear you. Yes, the FDA, Big Pharma, Food Industry, can also take part in the blame. But, I have direct face to face communication with my vascular surgeon who is very hostile to me going on a vegan life style to help correct my vascular problems. I am angry at him and it spills over to the majority of other doctors. But, thank God there are doctors like Greger, McDouglal, Esselstyn, Ornish, who have stepped up to the plate. And if it was not for these doctors I would probably be not here right now. But, they are such a tiny, tiny minority….but hopefully there books, YouTube lectures, will help to save more people from the incompetence of the majority of doctors who are just looking to collect their 30 pieces of silver.

            2. I think that they are the prisoners of circumstances. If I recall correctly, in all their many years of training, they receive only 4 hours of nutrition education. And it is usual practice, for physicians to refer patients to dietitians for detailed advice on nutrition.

              What is more, they probably know that strict vegetarian diets are deficient in B12 and most vegetarians are low in vitamin D, omega 3. calcium, zinc etc. Furthermore, there are many junkfood “vegans” out there who continue to ensure that strict vegetarian diets have a poor reputation.
              http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/vegetarian-diet/art-20046446?pg=2

              And even though the latest US dietary Guidelines identify a “vegetarian” eating pattern as healthful, they define a “vegetarian” dietary pattern as one that includes dairy foods and eggs. Until policymakers, government departments and leading health authorities publish reports collating the evidence showing the health benefits of a wholefood plant based diet, most physicians will continue to regard vegetarian diets as primarily and ethical choice. Given the malign influence of the dairy, meat, egg and processed food on the USDA and elected politicians, this situation is unlikely to change soon.

              As I think you also commented, we ought to encourage and thank medical practitioners like Drs G, McDougall, Klaper, Esselstyn, Barnard, Williams etc (not to the many MDs providing their services as moderators to this site free of charge) for their active encouragement of healthy wholefood plant based diets.

      2. This is true. When you stroll through a major hospital such as Baptist Hospital in downtown Dallas, Texas you see a lot of young doctors who are thin and trim. But, then when you see their supervisors who are doctors in their 50’s, and 60’s, many of them look overweight. I think also that a lot of them have occupational hazards that the rest of us don’t have as much such as being in environments where contagious diseases abound, stress, lack of sleep, friction with nurses-patients-staff-administration-other doctors, and malpractice litigation. But, then you look at some of the specific jobs doctors have like being an anesthesiologists…..it seems to me that such a job would be hazardous to your health even with all of the exhaust hoses. There has to be daily exposure to all kinds of gases and chemicals. I wonder if anyone has done a longevity study on medical doctors. And some of them get hooked on narcotics.

  13. Oh is green tea as good as hibiscus tea for lowering blood pressure. I have optimal blood pressure but I’m not getting any younger so I want to maintain it.

  14. I think that the longer videos and articles are much better because they can discuss relevant studies in more depth.

    Personally, I prefer the sources page used in the videos to the clickthrough format for references used in the articles. It is not really a problem for me but I suspect that the clickthrough methodology may be difficult for people with poor colour vision or other vision challenges.

  15. I am over the moon as I have just got back from my G.P., after having had a blood test for cholesterol and sugar. The results were so good that he agreed to put me on a two month trial without statins. Thanks to your articles / blogs and your new book that has given me the ammunition to develop a healthy eating pattern which I have followed for the past eight months and shall continue to do so. Thank you Dr. Greger!

  16. I am over the moon as I have just got back from my G.P., after having had a blood test for cholesterol and sugar. The results were so good that he agreed to put me on a two month trial without statins. Thanks to your articles / blogs and your new book that has given me the ammunition to develop a healthy eating pattern which I have followed for the past eight months and shall continue to do so. Thank you Dr. Greger!

  17. I prefer the longer posts as I couldn’t concentrate on the videos with all the info and the pages being turned and the talking. Prefer to read, thanks.

  18. I prefer the longer posts as I couldn’t concentrate on the videos with all the info and the pages being turned and the talking. Prefer to read, thanks.


  19. vegan not so good for brain apparantly .

    Our study shows that people who ate a diet that included baked or broiled (grilled), but not fried, fish have larger brain volumes in regions associated with memory and cognition,’ said Dr James Becker, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

    ‘We did not find a relationship between omega-3 levels and these brain changes, which surprised us a little.

    ‘It led us to conclude that we were tapping into a more general set of lifestyle factors that were affecting brain health of which diet is just one part.’

    Dr Cyrus Raji and the research team analysed data from 260 people who provided information on their dietary intake and had high-resolution brain MRI scans.

    They were all found to be ‘cognitively normal’ at two time points during their participation in the 10 year health study that began in 1989 to identify risk factors for heart disease in people over 65.

    Dr Raji said: ‘Participants answered questionnaires about their eating habits, such as how much fish did they eat and how was it prepared.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2716923/Fish-really-brain-food-Eating-fillet-week-aids-future-brain-health-regardless-omega-3-content.html#ixzz48Kdxp5CI

    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook


  20. vegan not so good for brain apparantly .

    Our study shows that people who ate a diet that included baked or broiled (grilled), but not fried, fish have larger brain volumes in regions associated with memory and cognition,’ said Dr James Becker, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

    ‘We did not find a relationship between omega-3 levels and these brain changes, which surprised us a little.

    ‘It led us to conclude that we were tapping into a more general set of lifestyle factors that were affecting brain health of which diet is just one part.’

    Dr Cyrus Raji and the research team analysed data from 260 people who provided information on their dietary intake and had high-resolution brain MRI scans.

    They were all found to be ‘cognitively normal’ at two time points during their participation in the 10 year health study that began in 1989 to identify risk factors for heart disease in people over 65.

    Dr Raji said: ‘Participants answered questionnaires about their eating habits, such as how much fish did they eat and how was it prepared.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2716923/Fish-really-brain-food-Eating-fillet-week-aids-future-brain-health-regardless-omega-3-content.html#ixzz48Kdxp5CI

    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  21. Dr. Greger, I find your articles and videos extremely helpful, informative, and motivating to me as I have just recently began a vegan lifestyle in mid-January 2016. I only wish that I had this information 30 years ago. Thank you so much for all that you do and please continue! Lori Buchanan, WV

  22. Dear Dr. Greger,

    As a person who is 69 and struggling to stay away from BP meds, I am very interested in this topic but find all the information in a “read” format a little daunting. Yes, I can do it, but a video is better for this information. As an ex-teacher, I know one learns better when more senses are involved (e.g., listening/seeing/reading) vs. simply reading. So in my opinion, videos are more effective. Perhaps others will weigh in.

    Regardless, with great gratitude as a regular subscriber,
    Johanna

  23. Aren’t we putting the cart before the horse when trying to find ways to lower blood pressure. Isn’t blood pressure a sign that the body is out of balance and probably toxic and needing detoxing. A toxic body causes a multitude of symptoms and isn’t high blood pressure one of them, so isn’t it funny you don’t hear many blogs or video’s on detoxing the body first and foremost. Isn’t the No.1 thing to do when having any ailment, including high blood pressure, to detox and balance the body before doing anything else, and you don’t ever hear that. When you dismiss that issue aren’t you dissecting the side effects of diseases, and not getting to the cause. Even if the cause of a disease or ailment may not be found, isn’t detoxing the main way to put the body back in balance and allow the immune system to strengthen and guess what, many of the symptoms, like high blood pressure just magically may go away, kind of like using a plant based diet to counteract and stop diseases. We have to include detoxing the body before looking for ways to eliminate symptoms with herbs like Hibiscus, which is kind of like treating the side effects of a toxic body with pharmaceuticals, without getting to the cause.

    1. Thanks for your comment Selina!

      Dr Greger has shared an article which addresses the study mentioned. It was written by the President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Dr David Katz and his explanation will certainly help you get more insight in this.

      Plus, Dr Greger has addressed this matter in a few other comments & I will use his words directly regarding this study and headline:

      “As you can see it says nothing of the sort. They compared a genetic marker in a population in India (most of which ate meat) to a U.S. population and found higher rates of a gene variant that facilitates the elongation of omega 6 fatty acids. They found higher rates in India, which they speculated may have come from natural selection of generations of a population which historically has been about 40% vegetarian. Says nothing about the health of U.S. vegetarians (or Indian vegetarians for that matter). Even if you have this gene variant, you’d just avoid omega 6 rich oils like sunflower, safflower, and cottonseed oil, which is a good idea anyway. Classic man bites dog story media nonsense sadly.”

      Hope this answer helps!

      1. Thank you so much! I knew this study smelled fishy, I thought it seemed a bit off to compare a population in India without any further details about their diet, as especially today many diets in India are high in fat like processed ghee that is high in transfats and they use a lot of unhealthy vegetable oils as well.

  24. Blood Pressure? I was borderline. Solution for me was to cut down salt. On primarily whole foods no added salt my blood test shows sodium level satisfactorily in range. Processed foods – hard to avoid bread – I search for less than 100 mg per serving. Government tests recently showed 1500 mg daily sodium better (I forget the parameters they were testing for) than 2250 mg, and they never tested below 1500 mg. Vegan researchers have reported 500 mg sodium, all inherently from unprocessed food, is fine. Oh, for iodine we do a low dose from kelp or a supplement. My wife tried vegan breakfast sausages – all the vegan meat substitutes that I’ve seen are loaded(!) with salt – and her blood pressure went up. Back to whole foods blood pressure went down fine.

  25. I’ve had hypertension for years. Typically without meds, it ran around 150/95. I used to take a diuretic and it worked dropping my pressure down, however, I hated taking them and I would often have headaches even though I drank a ton of water. Quite some time back I stopped taking the pills. Recently I read Dr. Greger’s book and followed some of his advice. I’ve been drinking 1-2 cups of hibiscus tea a day and I have a tablespoon of ground flax seed. My blood pressure has now dropped to 135/82!! I’m thrilled that it’s had such a big impact in a relatively short time period. Not sure if it will continue to drop, but I’ll be sure to continue this ritual.

    1. Trish: Wow, that’s really impressive. I really like hearing about how these ideas have helped real people. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Finding Dr. Greger has literally been a lifesaver for me…and I’ve been vegetarian for over 25 years! I was eating way too much dairy and “faux healthy” processed foods. Then, I read “What the Health” and “How Not To Die”, embraced a whole food, plant-based diet, and within 3 months (maybe sooner but I didn’t check!) my blood pressure went from the 130+/85ish range to the 111/80 range…and I’m a 42 year old black woman!! I’ve lost 20 lbs in the same amount of time. I went from being overweight at 5’9″ and 180+ lbs to normal weight at 160 lbs. We tossed all the “white” stuff in our house and replaced it with “colorful” stuff, like brown rice, quinoa, bulgur wheat, sweet potatoes, avocados, broccoli (which we always ate), carrots, sprouts, etc. And since I buy and cook all the food, that’s what the rest of the family eats, too, even the teens! Everyone has embraced the WFPB diet at their own rate and no one is shamed for occasional splurges. We don’t demand that the kids eat healthy. We’ve educated them about healthy eating since they were little and they make good decisions. With Dr. Greger and nutritionfacts.org, we’re better able to make healthy food decisions. Thank you!

  27. Is there any particular kind or hybrid of hibiscus that is preferable? Any with less aluminum? Does it matter what the origin is of the plant? Thx!

  28. Thank you for this article.
    I have had high blood pressure since I was 16 years of age, diagnosed with Chronic Hereditary Hypertension . I am now 49. I am not, nor have I ever been overweight. I’m 5’4″ and weigh 112 lbs.
    I adopted a plant based diet 7 weeks ago and my blood pressure has gone down 25 points on both ends. This to me is amazing and worthy of me writing this to you. I have tried all things logical to bring it down including I quit drinking alcohol 7 years ago, quit smoking 6 years ago, exercised, etc. and NOTHING WORKED AT ALL. I am writing this to you to re iterate the idea that plant based diets really do make a difference. I was never a big meat eater either but this result is enough to keep me on plants ask long as God sees fit to have me on this planet. Thanks again for your insight.

  29. Hello,

    I’d like to share information I learned during my workplace’s outbreak of an underdiagnosed airborne infectious disease that can cause malignancies, precancerous conditions, rheumatological diseases, connective tissue diseases, heart disease, autoimmune symptoms, inflammation in any organ/tissue, seizures, migraines, mood swings, hallucinations, etc. and is often undiagnosed/misdiagnosed in immunocompetent people. 80-90+% of people in some areas have been infected, and it can lay dormant for up to 40 years in the lungs and/or adrenals.

    My coworkers and I, all immunocompetent, got Disseminated Histoplasmosis in Dallas-Fort Worth from roosting bats, the most numerous non-human mammal in the U.S., that shed the fungus in their feces. The doctors said we couldn’t possibly have it, since we all had intact immune systems. The doctors were wrong. Healthy people can get it, too, with widely varying symptoms. And we did not develop immunity over time. We’d get better and then progressively worse, relapsing periodically and concurrently every year.

    More than 100 outbreaks have occurred in the U.S. since 1938, and those are just the ones that were figured out, since people go to different doctors. One outbreak was over 100,000 victims in Indianapolis.

    It’s known to cause hematological malignancies, and some doctors claim their leukemia patients go into remission when given antifungal. My friend in another state who died from lupus lived across the street from a bat colony. An acquaintance with alopecia universalis and whose mother had degenerative brain disorder has bat houses on their property.

    There’s too much smoke for there not to be at least a little fire.

    Researchers claim the subacute type is more common than believed. It’s known to at least “mimic” autoimmune diseases and cancer and known to give false-positives in PET scans. But no one diagnosed with an autoimmune disease or cancer is screened for it. In fact, at least one NIH paper states explicitly that all patients diagnosed with sarcoidosis be tested for it, but most, if not all, are not. Other doctors are claiming sarcoidosis IS disseminated histoplasmosis.

    What if this infection, that made me and my coworkers so ill, isn’t rare in immunocompetent people? What if just the diagnosis is rare, since most doctors apparently ignore it? Especially since online documents erroneously state it’s not zoonotic.

    Older documents state people who spend a lot of time in a building with roosting bats, in caves, working as landscapers, construction workers, pest control workers, etc. are known to get Disseminated Histoplasmosis, but the info appears to have been lost, for the most part. And now bat conservationists encourage people to leave bats in buildings/homes. What a terrible mistake they’ve made.

    This pathogen parasitizes the reticuloendothelial system/invades macrophages, can infect and affect the lymphatic system and all tissues/organs, causes inflammation, granulomas, and idiopathic (unknown cause) diseases and conditions, including hematological malignancies, autoimmune symptoms, myelitis, myositis, vasculitis, panniculitis, dysplasia, hyperplasia, etc. It causes hypervascularization, calcifications, sclerosis, fibrosis, necrosis, eosinophilia, leukopenia, anemia, neutrophilia, pancytopenia, thrombocytopenia, hypoglycemia, cysts, abscesses, polyps, stenosis, perforations, GI problems, hepatitis, focal neurologic deficits, etc.

    Many diseases it might cause are comorbid with other diseases it might cause, for example depression/anxiety/MS linked to Crohn’s.

    The fungus is an Oxygenale and therefore consumes collagen. It’s known to cause connective tissue diseases (Myxomatous degeneration?), rheumatological conditions, seizures, and mental illness. Fungal hyphae carry an electrical charge and align under a current. It causes RNA/DNA damage. It’s known to cause delusions, wild mood swings (pseudobulbar affect?), and hallucinations. It’s most potent in female lactating bats, because the fungus likes sugar (lactose) and nitrogen (amino acids, protein, neurotransmitters?). What about female lactating humans…postpartum psychosis (and don’t some of these poor women also have trouble swallowing)? The bats give birth late spring/summer, and I noticed suicide rates spike in late spring/early summer. It’s known to cause retinal detachment, and retinal detachments are known to peak around June-July/in hot weather. A map of mental distress and some diseases appear to almost perfectly overlay a map of Histoplasmosis. Johns Hopkins linked autism to an immune response in the womb. Alzheimer’s was linked to hypoglycemia, which can be caused by chronic CNS histoplasmosis. The bats eat moths, which are attracted to blue and white city lights that simulate the moon the moths use to navigate. Bats feed up to 500 feet in the air and six miles away in any direction from their roost, but not when it’s raining or when the temperature is less than approximately 56° F. The fungus can grow in bird feces, but birds don’t carry it because their body temperature is too high, killing the fungus.

    I believe the “side effects” of Haldol (leukopenia and MS symptoms) might not always be side effects but just more symptoms of Disseminated Histoplasmosis, since it causes leukopenia and MS symptoms. What about the unknown reason why beta receptor blockers cause tardive dyskinesia? The tinnitus, photophobia, psychosis “caused” by Cipro? Hypersexuality and leukemia “caused” by Abilify? Humira linked to lymphoma, leukemia and melanoma in children? Disseminated Histoplasmosis is known to cause enteropathy, so could some people thought to have nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug enteropathy have it and taking NSAIDs for the pain/inflammation it causes, and the NSAIDs aren’t the actual culprit?

    From my experience, I learned that NO doctor, at least in DFW, will suspect subacute and/or progressive disseminated histoplasmosis in immunocompetent people. Some doctors, at least the ones I went to, will actually REFUSE to test for it, even when told someone and their coworkers have all the symptoms and spend a lot of time in a building with bats in the ceiling. Victims will be accused of hypochondriasis. In fact, the first doctor to diagnose me was a pulmonologist, and the only reason he examined me was to try to prove that I didn’t have it, when I really did. No doctor I went to realized bats carry the fungus. And NO doctor I went to in DFW, even infectious disease “experts,” understand the DISSEMINATED form, just the pulmonary form, and the only test that will be done by many doctors before they diagnose people as NOT having it is an X-ray, even though at least 40-70% of victims will have NO sign of it on a lung X-ray. It OFTEN gives false-negatives in lab tests (some people are correctly diagnosed only during an autopsy after obtaining negative test results) and cultures may not show growth until after 6-12 weeks of incubation (but some labs report results after 2 weeks).

    One disease of unknown cause that could be caused by Disseminated Histoplasmosis: I suspect, based on my and my coworker’s symptoms (during our “rare” infectious disease outbreak) and my research, that interstitial cystitis and its comorbid conditions can be caused by disseminated histoplasmosis, which causes inflammation throughout the body, causes “autoimmune” symptoms, and is not as rare as believed. I read that “interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the submucosal and muscular layers of the bladder, and the cause is currently unknown. Some people with IC have been diagnosed with other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, and Sjogren’s syndrome, which raises the possibility that interstitial cystitis may be caused by mechanisms that cause these other conditions. In addition, men with IC are frequently diagnosed as having chronic nonbacterial prostatitis, and there is an extensive overlap of symptoms and treatment between the two conditions, leading researchers to posit that the conditions may share the same etiology and pathology.” Sounds like Disseminated Histoplasmosis, doesn’t it?

    My coworkers and I were always most ill around April/May/June, presumably since the Mexican Free-tail bats gave birth in Texas during May (and the fungus was most potent), and fall/Thanksgiving to December, for some unknown reason (maybe migrating bats from the north?). We had GI problems, liver problems, weird rashes (erythema nodosum, erythema multiforme, erythema annulare, etc.), plantar fasciitis, etc., and I had swollen lymph nodes, hives, lesions, abdominal aura, and started getting migraines and plantar fasciitis in the building, and I haven’t had them since I left. It gave me temporary fecal incontinence, seizures, dark blood from my intestines, tinnitus, nystagmus, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, what felt like burning skin, various aches and pains (some felt like pin pricks and pinches), tingling, tremors, “explosions” like fireworks in my head while sleeping, temporary blindness, and chronic spontaneous “orgasms”/convulsions. Suddenly I was allergic to Comice pears (latex fruit allergy or oral allergy syndrome?). I had insomnia (presumably from the fungus acidifying the blood, releasing adrenaline) and parasomnias. I suddenly had symptoms of several inflammatory/autoimmune diseases, including Fibromyalgia, Sarcoidosis, ALS, MS, Sjogren’s syndrome, etc. that have disappeared since leaving the area and taking nothing but Itraconazole antifungal.

    No one, including doctors (we all went to different ones), could figure out what was wrong with us, and I was being killed by my doctor, who mistakenly refused to believe I had it and gave me progressively higher and higher doses of Prednisone (at least 2 years after I already had Disseminated Histoplasmosis) after a positive ANA titer, until I miraculously remembered that a visiting man once told my elementary school class that bats CARRY histoplasmosis….so much of it that they evolved to deal with the photophobia and tinnitus it causes by hunting at night by echolocation. There’s a lot more. I wrote a book about my experience with Disseminated Histoplasmosis called “Batsh#t Crazy,” because bats shed the fungus in their feces and it causes delusions and hallucinations, I suspect by the sclerotia fungal mycelia can form emitting hallucinogens (like psilocybin and dimethyltryptamine) along with inflammation in the CNS. (Schizophrenics have 2X of a chemical associated with yeast, part of the fungal life cycle.)

    Thank you for your time,

    Susan McIntyre

    P.S. Doesn’t this infection share all the same symptoms with Gulf War Syndrome?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This