Moringa can boost hypertension drug effectiveness

MEDICINES can treat many health problems, including hypertension. However, many antihypertensive drugs have important interactions with foods and other medicinal plants used for different purposes.

Fortunately, in recent years, scientists are aware that taking herbs such as Moringa (Moringa oleifera) leaf extracts can enhance the effectiveness of some hypertension medications in controlling blood pressure when these are used alongside.

Researchers found that moringa leaf extracts could improve the antioxidant and ACE inhibitory properties of lisinopril, a commonly used antihypertensive medication to relax blood vessels so blood flows more smoothly and the heart can pump blood better.

The 2018 study, in the journal, Oriental Pharmacy and Experimental Medicine involved Ganiyu Oboh; Ayokunle Olubode Ademosun; Oyewumi John Oyetomi and Taiwo Mary Adewuni, all from the Federal University of Technology, Akure.

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Typically, interactions between drugs come to mind (drug-drug interaction). However, interactions may also exist between drugs and foods (drug-food interactions), as well as drugs and herbs (drug-herb interactions). Interactions between food and drugs may inadvertently reduce or increase the drug effect.

For the study, the researchers tested the effect of various combinations of aqueous extracts of moringa (Moringa oleifera) leaves on lisinopril, an ACE inhibitor.

The moringa leaves were air-dried and blended into a powdery form. Thereafter, the aqueous extract was prepared and freeze-dried for this study which revealed that 100 per cent moringa and the various combinations showed higher ACE inhibition than 100 per cent lisinopril in the rats.

Moringa oleifera (Ewe Igbale in Yoruba, Zogelle in Hausa and Idagbo monoye in Igbo or drumstick tree) leaves have traditionally been used in traditional medicine for their antihypertensive activity. Recent scientific studies have provided solid evidence that moringa supplements can indeed reduce high blood pressure in patients and provide benefits to overall cardiovascular health as well.

A study that involved 20 males who are diagnosed with stage -1 hypertension patients within the age group of 35 and 50 years.

Moringa oleifera leaves juices were prepared and provided to the subjects two times in a day (15 leaves extract one time) for the period of 30 days.

The 2018 study in the Indian Journal of Clinical Anatomy and Physiology reported a significant decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure after administrating Moringa oleifera leaves juices.

Given that Moringa leaf juices can provide the desired effect as a natural control measure for high blood pressure, they suggested that it can be regarded as alternative medicine.

According to them, “The intake of Moringa leaf, by boiling with water can effect in the regulation of high blood pressure to a normal rate. This is due to the presence of various phytochemicals like tannins, flavonoids, saponins and steroids.”

Moringa supplements have also been shown to lower cholesterol readings for patients. While this does not directly affect blood pressure, it can help to reduce the damage caused by hypertension on blood vessels by helping to keep arteries and veins clear of the plaque produced by high levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream.

In addition, moringa helps in reduction of tiredness, fatigue, and boosts the immune system. Moringa, as a rich source of calcium, helps in the normal digestive system function.

Hypertension is estimated to affect 25 per cent of the population, yet in many cases, it produces no symptoms and may go unnoticed for years before the negative effects of this condition become evident.

Risk factors for high blood pressure include age, obesity, alcoholism, smoking and genetic predisposition. In advanced or extreme cases of hypertension, patients may experience headaches, chest pain, vision problems, fatigue, irregular heartbeat or blood in the urine.

Previously, experts warned that the administration of the hypotensive herbal medicine, Parsley (Petreselinum crispum) and Capsicum (found in chilli pepper), an appetite stimulant may interfere with conventional antihypertensives diminish its effectiveness.

Ginseng is one of the herbs to avoid when taking an antihypertensive. Preliminary evidence suggests that ginseng may lower blood sugar, decrease fatigue or boost the immune system. It also may raise or lower blood pressure. Ginseng is best avoided by patients with high or low blood pressure concerns.

In addition, some foods are better avoided because they interact badly with hypertension medications. This means taking large amounts of these foods could end up reducing their efficacy, or worse still, could become a health nightmare.

For instance, bananas (as well as oranges, leafy greens, white and sweet potatoes and dried fruits) are high in potassium. Too much potassium can cause an irregular heartbeat and heart palpitations and so is better to avoid eating large amounts of banana if taking diuretics like lisinopril, a type of antihypertensive.