Chinese Medicine for Hypertension

You won't find a single word for high blood pressure in the lexicon of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  Obviously, measuring such a thing as blood pressure was planely inconceivable to ancient physicians.

However, the symptom pattern we know as Liver Excess, corresponds closely to what we see in people diagnosed with hypertension.

Liver Excess patterns include the subsets of Liver YANG Rising, Liver Heat Rising, Liver Fire Blazing Upward, and Interior Liver Wind.

Headaches, hypertension, eye pain, neck and shoulder tension, TMJ, strokes, spasms, and tics indicate Liver Excess patterns.

Complicating this is the fact that some of these excess conditions are actually caused by deficiencies. Deficient YIN of the Liver or Kidney can overheat the Liver and cause the Liver Qi to rise up.

Emotional constraint in the chest, indicated by depression and anxiety, can smoulder in the chest, heat the Liver and result in excess Liver patterns. 

For those who do not have access to professional help, the following herbs and herbal medicines are considered helpful.

* Single Herbs for Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Gastrodia – Tian Ma – Gastrodia Orchard rhizome
Uncaria – Gou Teng – Gambir Vine
Concha Ostrea – MU LI- Oyster Shell
Cortex Eucommia – temperate rubber tree bark

* Note that single herbs are rarely used in traditional Chinese medicine, because herbs used in combination usually work much better, and also because combining herbs can help eliminate the unwanted side effects of a particular herb.

Herbal Medicines For Liver YANG Rising

  • Compound Cortex Eucommia Pills
  • JIANG YA PIAN (Hypertension Pills)
  • Gastrodia Relieve Wind
  • Tian Ma Gouteng YIN

Related Formulas For Tremors And Spasms




Herbs That Might Increase Hypertension

Only a few herbs are known to increase blood pressure. The most documented of these are Ma Huang (Ephedra sinensis), GAN CAO (Licorice), and Ren Shen (Ginseng). Ephedra has a chemical constituent, ephedrine, that can raise blood pressure. Ephedrine has been removed from most consumer products and is strictly controlled by government authorities. This is largely due to its dangerous over-use as a stimulant and weight-loss product.

Licorice can cause hypertension when used in very large doses. Licorice contains glycyrrhizic acid, that can increase the sodium content of blood and thus gradually increase blood pressure. It is rare to have such a reaction from normal doses of licorice in Chinese herb formulas,

Ginseng actually has been shown to lower blood pressure at normal dosages ( 3-4 grams per day). Very large doses, however (30 grams or more per day), can raise blood pressure dramatically. It is used in China to treat sudden drops of blood pressure. This should not deter anyone from using ginseng at normal doses.

In addition to Ephedra, Licorice, and Ginseng, the following herbs are suspected of containing alkaloids that might raise blood pressure: Aniseed, St. Johns Wort, Capsicum, Parsley, Blue Cohosh, Vervain, Chaste Berry, Bayberry, Ginger, Pau d’Arco, Coltsfoot, Gentian, Cola, Scotch Broom, Calamus, Guarana.

This does not mean that these herbs cause hypertension. It means only that they contain chemical constituents that might cause blood pressure to rise. As these constituents (usually alkaloids) are only a part of an herb’s chemical makeup, it is unlikely that taking these herbs in traditional dosages will affect blood pressure.


Information on this site is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your own physician. We make no claim as to efficacy or safety of herbs or herbal medicine appearing on this site. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.