Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Living With Low Blood Pressure?

I would like to know about low blood pressure and what might cause it. Also, what foods or natural methods might increase the blood pressure?

Answer (Published 8/24/2007)

Generally speaking, low blood pressure (hypotension) is regarded as a sign of good health. It is most likely the result of genetic factors and suggests that your risk of heart disease is lower than normal. The most common symptoms are dizziness and lightheadedness, or fainting. In rare cases, low blood pressure may suggest a serious medical problem, such as a cardiac, endocrine,or neurological disorder.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Heart Health - A healthful diet and lifestyle, along with prudent supplementation, can help prevent or lessen the risk of heart disease and related illnesses such as hypertension, high blood pressure and cholesterol. Learn more, and get your free, personalized nutritional supplement and vitamin recommendation today.

Normal blood pressure is considered anything lower than 120/80 - the top (systolic) number represents the amount of pressure the heart generates when it fully contracts, while the lower (diastolic) number refers to the amount of pressure in the arteries when the heart fully relaxes between beats. Low blood pressure is often defined as consistent readings lower than 90/60 - but it can also include cases where only one of the numbers is in that range or lower.

Low blood pressure can develop during pregnancy, and while taking certain medications (beta blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, medications used to treat Parkinson's disease, and alcohol). Combining other drugs with medications prescribed for high blood pressure or blood pressure medications themselves can sometimes cause abnormally low blood pressure. In addition, thyroid problems, low blood sugar, dehydration, and, sometimes, diabetes can influence blood pressure.

As we get older, blood pressure can drop suddenly when you stand up (this is called postural or orthostatic hypotension) a common concern which can be compounded by prolonged bed rest, pregnancy, dehydration, diabetes, heart problems or the effects of certain drugs. An estimated 20 percent of adults over the age of 65 develop this problem. Blood pressure can also drop after eating among older people.

If you do notice dizziness or lightheadedness, see your physician to rule out any underlying medical problems that might be responsible for the symptoms and to check your medications. The only nutritional strategies I can suggest are adding more salt to your diet and making sure that you drink plenty of water. You might also try tonics like ginseng, known to increase energy and also having normalizing effects on blood pressure. Whole licorice (not licorice candy) can also help raise low blood pressure.

If you are in good health and have no symptoms related to your low blood pressure, don't worry about it. It's a good thing that will minimize your risk of the common forms of cardiovascular disease that affect so many people as they age.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here