Trial of natural supplement to tackle blood pressure

Aug 12 2013


A new study set to commence at HMRI will evaluate the potential benefits of a unique nutrient supplement on blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other heart health markers.

The formula includes extracts from olive leaf and other natural sources, contained in tablet form. Olive leaf extract is already marketed as a treatment for infection and inflammation.

Chief investigator Professor Peter Howe* says the ingredients have independently been shown to improve blood flow but their combined effect on blood pressure is unknown.

“With a history of safe human use they offer an interesting new alternative to current medications,” Professor Howe said.

“It could potentially benefit people whose blood pressure tends to be slightly elevated by helping to keep it in the normal range, avoiding the need for blood pressure lowering drugs.

“Accordingly, we are looking to recruit adult volunteers whose blood pressure is slightly on the high side – that is, over 85 diastolic or over 130 systolic – to test the supplement during a 12-week study.”

Participants’ blood pressure will be measured in the HMRI research clinic and also monitored for 24 hours initially and at the end of two six-week periods. Volunteers will wear a small portable monitor that will take regular readings as they go about their daily activities and while sleeping.

“This gives us the most accurate assessment of any effect of treatment on blood pressure, which is otherwise hard to determine from single readings which are highly variable,” Professor Howe said.

Study coordinator Dr Rachel Wong said the study was designed as a placebo-controlled crossover, with all participants to receive the active supplement and the placebo for six weeks each.

“The tablets will be administered ‘double-blind’ so that neither the volunteer nor the investigator will know which was which until they are identified at the end of the study,” Dr Wong said.

As part of the study, blood samples will be taken by the Hunter Area Pathology Service to check blood sugar and cholesterol.

The research team is hoping to recruit volunteers before the end of August as the trial is due to be completed before Christmas. For more information on enrolling in the study, please email Dr Wong or phone her on (02) 4042 0722.

* Professor Peter Howe is Director of the Clinical Nutrition Research Centre at the University of Newcastle and a member of the HMRI Cardiovascular Research Program. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.