Our love affair with garlic is such that average consumption amounts to one clove, per person, per day, world-wide. If you have high blood pressure, I suggest you up that to two – and maybe add in a garlic tablet for good measure. Garlic has a powerful blood pressure lowering effect and taking a garlic supplement could be enough to avoid taking antihypertensive medication. If you are already on blood pressure treatment, then adding in a garlic tablet can improve your blood pressure control so you are less likely to need higher doses or additional treatments.
Garlic reduces hypertension
A study published in the journal, Phytomedicine, assessed the effectiveness of garlic in treating hypertension and found some highly encouraging results. Unlike previous analyses, the authors only included randomised, placebo-controlled trials involving patients whose hypertension was diagnosed according to established guidelines. Trials which included people without hypertension were excluded. This is an important point, as previous studies have found that garlic does not lower a BP that is within the normal range – just as well or fainting would be endemic in the Mediterranean!
The new analysis pooled data from seven studies, involving 850 people with hypertension, who received either a garlic supplement or a matching placebo with similar aroma, colour and appearance. Preparations used in the different studies included dried garlic homogenate, aged garlic extracts, processed garlic capsules or tablets and garlic powder tablets. Doses ranged from 240 mg to 2.4g per day, and durations of treatment lasted from 8 to 12 weeks.
Compared with hypertensive patients receiving placebo, blood pressure in those taking the active extracts reduced by an average of 6.71/4.79 mmHg.
Given that a reduction of systolic BP of just 2 mmHg reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 7% to 10%, this suggests that garlic extracts can have a clinically meaningful effect. In fact, these results are not that different to those seen with prescribed antihypertensive drugs used alone.
If your blood pressure is veering towards needing a prescription medicine, garlic is worth considering in the interim as no serious side effects were reported in any of the trials. If you are already taking antihypertensive treatment and your blood pressure remains poorly controlled, you could also add in a standardised garlic tablet – assuming your doctor agrees. He or she may gain comfort from two reviews which suggest there are no harmful interactions when combining garlic with other blood pressure lowering medication (although there are some other prescribed drugs with which it might interact).
How to add garlic to food
If you choose to add more garlic to your food, don’t cook it immediately after peeling or some of the beneficial effects are lost. Crush your chosen number of cloves, then wait five minutes before adding, ideally towards the end of cooking for optimum pungency and medicinal benefits. Be warned – this practice will definitely keep vampires at bay. You may prefer the social advantages of garlic tablets – especially black garlic which has significantly reduced odour, and are the ones I take every day.
To read more about the health benefits of garlic on hypertension visit MyLowerBloodPressure.com.
Do you eat garlic regularly or take supplements?
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