News article

Probiotics Might Help Lower Blood Pressure

Posted:  Thursday, July 31, 2014

Want to lower your blood pressure, than you will find potential help right in your refrigerator!! New study shows that regular intake of probiotics, or the “good” bacteria found in yogurt, milk and cheese, may help control blood pressure. Researchers found that consuming the proper amount of probiotics over at least two months appeared to modestly lower blood pressure.

“I do not think the general public understands how probiotics might be beneficial to health at this stage,” said Jing Sun, who worked on the study at the Griffith University School of Medicine and Griffith Health Institute in Queensland, Australia.

The American Heart Association considers normal blood pressure to be a systolic reading of less than 120 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg) and a diastolic reading of less than 80 mm Hg. High blood pressure starts at 140/90 mm Hg and increases a person's risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disorders and other health problems.

For some people with high blood pressure the only effective treatment has been medication, but that means costs and possible side effects.

The new review, published in the journal Hypertension, combined the results of nine studies that randomly assigned participants to take probiotics or not. Seven of the trials were double-blind, meaning neither the participants nor the experimenters knew who received probiotics and who received a probiotic-free placebo until the end of the study. The different strains of probiotics were delivered in products like yogurt and milk.

The researchers found that on average, probiotic consumption lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 3.56 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by 2.38 mm Hg, compared to a placebo or no treatment.

Lori Hoolihan, a researcher at the Dairy Council of California in Irvine who was not involved in the analysis, called probiotics a “functional food.”

“Americans do not like to think about bacteria so it’s hard for people to embrace it but there are good and bad bacteria and there is no avoiding them. Our gut is home to many bacteria and if bumping up the amount of good bacteria can optimize health and prevent chronic diseases then that’s a good thing,” Hoolihan said.

Dr. Shira Doron, who has studied probiotics at Tufts Medical Centre in Boston, said that because probiotics only seemed to have an effect under certain conditions in specific groups of patients, it’s hard to know how to make recommendations to patients at this time.

“We know no two probiotics act alike,” Doron explained. “One simply cannot generalise from a study of one probiotic that another strain or even another dose or another source - dairy product, capsule, sachet, etc. - will work.”

“I don't think this is ‘ready for prime time’ yet, as they say. That being said, probiotics might help, and generally do not hurt, except perhaps your wallet, so if someone with high blood pressure wants to try probiotics as an adjunct to their regular blood pressure medication, I say go for it,” she said.