Home remedies rarely receive scientific attention or respect. The lack of double-blind trials means that it can be difficult to determine whether a specific suggestion will be helpful.
Sometimes we get enough testimonials about a remedy, though, that we conclude it might be worth investigating. One of these is a slightly odd recipe purported to lower high blood pressure.
Several years ago, a reader asked the following question: "Have you ever heard of this remedy for high blood pressure? Wash but don't peel a medium eggplant. Dice it into 1-inch cubes.
"Place the cubes in a glass gallon jug and cover the eggplant with distilled water. Put the jug in the fridge for four days.
"Drink one ounce of the water per day, taking your blood pressure daily. After a week or so, the eggplant will begin to disintegrate; discard the cubes but keep drinking the ounce of water daily.
"Be sure to check your blood pressure, as it may begin to drop dramatically. Once your blood pressure is at a good level, you will need to experiment to determine how often to drink the eggplant water. It may be every other day or less often."
At first we were skeptical. How could eggplant water do anything? But a search of the medical literature revealed that there might be something to this remedy. Researchers have discovered that eggplants contain ingredients that affect ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme). This is the same enzyme blocked by popular blood pressure drugs such as captopril, lisinopril and ramipril (Bioresource Technology, May 2008).
So far as we know, there are no clinical trials testing the power of eggplant water to bring blood pressure under control. But readers have shared their own experiences.
Leni shared the following story: "This is an ancient remedy used in my country of origin (Cuba). I've known about it since childhood, as I would hear the adults talk about it. I have a friend who lowered her blood pressure by drinking eggplant water.
"I had totally forgotten about this natural way to control hypertension, cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as excess body weight and fat. I've seen it with my own eyes.
"I'm glad I remembered it because I will start drinking this water every day. My people drink it as you would regular water, throughout the day. In other words, you can drink most or all of your daily water intake in the form of eggplant water. It's also a natural diuretic. You'll see how well you will feel."
Not every reader has found this remedy helpful: "I tried this, but it didn't lower my blood pressure. I drank at least a cup a day for three weeks, and there wasn't any change at all in my pressure."
We include many other nondrug approaches to getting blood pressure down to normal in our Guide to Blood Pressure Treatment. To get a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (66 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. B-67, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 at peoplespharmacy.com.
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Teresa Graedon holds a doctorate in medical anthropology and is a nutrition expert.