People have used herbs as medicine for thousands of years. Today, with medical researchers continually hunting for better alternative treatments, some are revisiting these remedies. A recent study looks at herbs that people believe can treat hypertension.
Antihypertensive medications work well for some people but not for others, and the side effects can be unpleasant.
For these reasons, researchers are keen to find innovative ways to tackle the growing issue of hypertension.
The fact that people have used these treatments for millennia is certainly not evidenced that they are effective, but they are surely worth a second look.
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine recently zeroed in on a group of plants that have, historically, been a treatment for hypertension. They published their findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Under the leadership of Prof. Geoff Abbott, Ph.D., they identified a bioactive trait that all of the extracts shared. This trait, the scientists believe, might help explain why some herbs appear to have mild antihypertensive properties.
Not all herbs are equal
When they compared plant species, the researchers found differing levels of KCNQ5 activity. “Lavandula angustifolia, commonly called lavender, was among those we studied,” Prof. Abbot explains. “We discovered it to be among the most efficacious KCNQ5 potassium channel activators, along with fennel seed extract and chamomile.”
Interestingly, current medications do not target the KCNQ5 channel. Spotting this gap in the drug market, Prof. Abbott hopes that the “discovery of these botanical KCNQ5-selective potassium channel openers may enable the development of future targeted therapies for diseases including hypertension.”
For now, though, people should not switch their current hypertension treatments for herbal remedies.