Do Probiotics Work for High Blood Pressure?
Probiotics are frequently associated with digestive problems, but now scientists are talking about probiotics for high blood pressure. How could these good or beneficial bacteria affect blood pressure?
When I first read the headline about probiotics reducing blood pressure, I was skeptical. I am familiar with many of the studies about how various species in the Lactobacilli, Bifidobacterium, and other genera are helpful for individuals and their pets who suffer with gastrointestinal conditions since these microorganisms help restore the critical bacterial balance in the gut.
Probiotics and high blood pressure
But blood pressure seems to be outside of this realm. Not so, according to researchers at Griffith University (GU) in Australia. A team of experts, under direction of Jing Sun, PhD, of the Griffith Health Institute and School of Medicine at GU, evaluated nine studies that looked at the use of probiotics in 543 adults with normal or high blood pressure. Here’s what they found:
- On average, adults who had taken probiotics every day for 8 weeks or longer had a lower systolic (3.5 mmHg lower) and diastolic (2.38 mmHg lower) blood pressure than individuals who did not take probiotics.
- Individuals who took less than 1 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of probiotics daily did not show an improvement in blood pressure
- Similarly, blood pressure did not improve among individuals who did not take probiotics for at least 8 weeks
Why do probiotics have this effect on blood pressure? Sun suggested that the beneficial bacteria may indirectly reduce systolic and diastolic levels by lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels as well as have a positive impact on insulin resistance. These factors in turn help to regulate and influence the body’s fluid balance and blood pressure.
If you have hypertension, should you start taking probiotics? Sun noted that it’s too early for physicians to recommend taking beneficial bacteria for control of hypertension. Future testing may support and advance our understanding of this potential use for probiotics.
In the meantime, you may want to consider using probiotics to help with other health issues. For example:
- Probiotics could be helpful in fighting obesity associated with diabetes, as some studies have shown that probiotics may reduce body fat and abdominal fat accumulation
- For children with autism, probiotics may help those who also have gastrointestinal symptoms. Improvements in digestion and similar factors can result in an improvement in behavior
- Probiotics are often recommended for cases of diarrhea
- People who have celiac disease may benefit from using probiotics because they can reduce inflammation
Read about how to use probiotics
Sun J et al. Effect of probiotics on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. Hypertension 2014 Jul 21