Garlic ‘Could Beat Leading Big Pharma Drugs’

Food as Medicine

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is known as “the silent killer”, as it often goes unnoticed until it is too late. It is primarily caused by atherosclerosis, which frequently culminates in a sudden event such as a heart attack or stroke. While drugs for hypertension such as beta-blockers can cause side effects, including fatigue, blurred vision, or difficulty breathing, a groundbreaking new study has fortunately revealed that garlic is as effective as the “blockbuster” beta-blocker atenolol.

For the study, researchers at the King Khalid University of Saudi Arabia gave patients either one of five doses of garlic – 300mg, 600, 900, 1200 or 1500mg – , 1 dose of atenolol, or a placebo every day for 24 weeks. Blood pressure was taken at 0, 12 and 24 weeks. The results showed decreases in blood pressure, in dose and duration dependent manners, in all treatment groups and in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

However, 1500mg per day of garlic had the strongest effect of all garlic treatment groups, with systolic blood pressure dropping from 145.2mm Hg to 137.6 at 24 weeks, while those on atenolol experienced a decrease from 147.8 to 138.6mm Hg. This is a drop in 7.6mm Hg and 9.2mm Hg respectively. As for diastolic blood pressure, patients on 1500mg of garlic each day had theirs decrease from 91.93 to 86.96mm Hg, a 2.97mm Hg drop, and patients on atenolol saw a decrease from 98.26 to 89.15mm Hg, or a 8.91mm Hg reduction.

The researchers then deemed these results to be comparable to the effects of beta-blockers, but without the nasty side effects.

Garlic has been found to improve cardiovascular health through several mechanisms of action. One mechanism behind garlic’s ability to lower blood pressure is the ability to keep blood vessels appropriately dilated. Raw garlic’s superiority over aged or boiled garlic was demonstrated again in other research where it preserved coronary blood vessel cell function, thereby inhibiting ventricular hypertrophy.

Outlining other health benefits of garlic, a small study has shown that 4mL of aged garlic extract daily reduces the rate of coronary calcification by over half, bringing it down to 7.5% as opposed to 22%. These patients were receiving statin drugs, but were still at high risk for cardiovascular events. In another study, a water-based extract of garlic was shown to significantly lower thromboxane B2, meaning it has an anticoagulant effect. However, boiled garlic had very little anticoagulant activity, so it should be eaten raw if you want to receive this benefit.

This anticoagulant activity is important because inappropriate blood clots often form over atherosclerotic plaques, commonly breaking off and traveling through the body. Eventually, these can become lodged in a blood vessel in the heart or brain, leading to a heart attack or stroke. Garlic may also be protective against CVD by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, which are now known to be drivers of atherosclerosis.

The common and overlooked herb garlic effectively supports cardiovascular health; this has been proven countless times in its thousands of years of usage and by many scientific studies.