Australian researchers have found that garlic benefits might be useful, along with medications, as a treatment for hypertension. The team enrolled 50 patients in a trial to see if garlic supplements could help those who had high blood pressure readings, despite being on medications.
Blood pressure is the term doctors use for the force of blood pushing against your artery walls as the heart pumps. If the pressure is high, and stays high over time, it can hurt the body in all kinds of ways. High blood pressure is known as the “silent killer” because it can exist, without symptoms, for many years. About a third of all adults in the US has high blood pressure.
Poorly controlled blood pressure is a problem in both the UK and the US and brings an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. If you’ve been told your numbers are high, over 140/90 mm Hg, you need to take steps to bringing those numbers down. Doing nothing can hurt or even kill you.
Research into garlic supplements has found that they can lower cholesterol and cut high blood pressure in those with untreated hypertension, and garlic has long been thought to be good for the heart. This is the first study to look at the effect, tolerability and acceptability of aged garlic extract given in addition to existing drug therapies for blood pressure that isn’t responding to medication.
In the most recent 12-week trial, those subjects who got four capsules of garlic extract a day had lower blood pressure than those given a placebo. Systolic blood pressure was around 10mmHg lower.
The British Heart Foundation believes more work on garlic and hypertension is needed before other experts will agree that it is a useful treatment for hypertension. The study wasn’t long enough or large enough, and garlic’s effect on blood pressure rather small, hardly enough to have us all running for the garlic right now.
Yet garlic has long been used for medicinal purposes. Garlic is rich in antioxidants, and these are known to neutralize naturally occurring free radicals that cause damage to cell membranes and possibly contribute to both aging and the development of a number of diseases. While more work on garlic is being done, research is showing promise in the area of cardiovascular disease, the common cold as well as strengthening the immune system and helping it function better in times of need.
If you’re worried about blood pressure, your own or someone else’s, here are some simple things you can do to help.
– Eat a healthy, balanced diet, including cutting down on salt
– Get active on a regular basis
– Keep your weight at a healthy level
– Manage your stress
– Don’t smoke
– Use a hot tub wisely and safely
– Take your medication exactly as prescribed
– Limit how much alcohol you drink on a regular basis
Garlic supplements as a treatment for hypertension should only be used after talking with your own doctor as garlic benefits aren’t the only side effect – some can be quite unpleasant. It can thin the blood and interact with other medications you may be taking.