Niacin, which is basically Vitamin B3 and is also sometimes referred to as nicotinic acid, has been widely used in the past for pain management for patients suffering from arthritis.
Today, however, it has been recognized as having several other health benefits as well. Since Niacin is a type of vitamin and it cannot be patented by drug manufacturing companies, it has never been advertised to the public well and has thus not gained mass popularity.
However, one stands to benefit greatly if one is aware of its tremendous health benefits including reduction of cholesterol levels, reversal of heart diseases, fighting insomnia and even treating schizophrenia and depression. It can be used as a supplement to your diet and regular consumption of 14 to 18 mg every day is recommended for the good health. However, one of the most significant effects it has on your body is on your blood pressure, which means, you need to consult your doctor before consuming it as a supplement.
Effect on Blood Pressure
Niacin has a property of dilating the blood vessels inside your body. This results in a better flow of blood thus reducing the pressure the heart needs to apply to push the blood through them. In this way, pumping blood becomes a little easier for the heart and it lowers blood pressure. However, if you are diagnosed with low blood pressure, you must avoid niacin as it may cause an extreme drop in blood pressure causing unconsciousness or serious damage to the body.
Usage with Medication
Niacin as a supplement should be avoided when you are using other medications including felodipine, diltiazem, and amlodipine. Simultaneous use of niacin with other such blood pressure medications may severely increase their effects and cause adverse effects. You could have very low blood pressure and could make you feel light-headed or dizzy and even cause headaches and unconsciousness. You must avoid taking it as a supplement if you are using medications that are blood thinners or other drugs for heart diseases. You must first seek medical advice before you decide to use Niacin.
When using Niacin as a treatment for blood pressure, there may be certain side effects that it can cause on your body. The most commonly observed side effect is a flush, also called the niacin flush which causes your face to be flushed and turn red and you may experience certain sensations on your skin including itching, tingling and even burning. This may die down in a few minutes or may last up to an hour or so. One practice to lower or eliminate this side effect is to take niacin after consuming a full meal. This may reduce the flushes.
Apart from these, niacin is known to cause other side effects in rare cases. These may include insomnia, nausea, diarrhea, dry skin, dizziness, sweating, and chills. Also, it may cause an irregular heart rate or even shortness of breath in rare cases. You must seek medical assistance immediately in these cases. Thus although niacin is an effective supplement to counter blood pressure, it must be used with care and preferably under medical supervision.