Some dietary supplements may cause an increase in blood pressure and the risks and benefits of using them should be discussed with health care providers, especially in patients who have hypertension.
High blood pressure affects nearly a third of people living in the United States, and has a significant impact on overall cardiovascular health. This chronic condition can be managed with medications and lifestyle changes, but many people must rely on medication to manage their blood pressure.
Research has shown that as much as 58 percent of people have uncontrolled blood pressure caused by medications or substances that either trigger high blood pressure or decrease the effectiveness of blood pressure lowering drugs.
Dietary supplements such as ephedra, bitter orange and licorice have been shown to raise systolic blood pressure by as much as 10 mmHg.
Ephedra is a stimulant that was used in some diet pills and supplements. In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned ephedra in supplements due to reports of adverse events and deaths, including increasing blood pressure. But some dietary supplement manufacturers illegally sell products containing ephedra.
Biter orange peel is used to improve appetite as well as for weight loss. Supplements containing bitter orange are also promoted for upset stomach, nasal congestion, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Bitter orange has been linked to raising blood pressure, fainting, heart attacks, strokes and other severe side effects, particularly when taken with other stimulants such as caffeine or caffeine-containing herbs.
Licorice as a dietary supplement is promoted to treat various digestive system conditions including stomach ulcers, heartburn, colic, and inflammation of the lining of the stomach. Long-term use of licorice has been linked to high blood pressure, low potassium levels, weakness, paralysis, and occasionally brain damage in otherwise healthy people.