Garlic for Hypertension: Is It Effective?

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Garlic for Hypertension: Does It Really Work?

written by: Dr. Kristie Leong • edited by: Lisa Lambson • updated: 12/5/2008

Many people look for natural ways to lower blood pressure. One natural supplement that's been investigated is garlic for hypertension. Does it really work for lowering blood pressure?

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    There’s a strong interest in using natural remedies to treat medical problems particularly for common medical problems such as hypertension. Although there are a variety of effective anti-hypertensives available, many people shy away from them because of their potential side effects. Although most natural remedies can only modestly reduce blood pressure, they may be effective in treating very mild or borderline cases of hypertension. One natural treatment that’s shown some potential is the use of garlic for hypertension.

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    Is garlic for hypertension effective?

    Although animal studies have shown some benefit from the use of garlic for lowering blood pressure, studies in humans have been inconclusive. A recent meta-analysis, which is a review of a large number of studies, published in BMC Cardiovascular Disorders showed that garlic may be superior to use in place of a placebo for lowering blood pressure in humans. When a number of studies looking at garlic for hypertension were analyzed as a group, it showed an average decrease in blood pressure of almost 5 mm Hg for systolic blood pressure and 7 mm Hg for diastolic blood pressure when the garlic treated group was compared to the placebo group. This meta-analysis suggests that garlic for hypertension may have some positive potential. (1)

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    How does garlic lower blood pressure?

    The component of garlic that appears to have blood pressure lowering effects is known as allicin. Allicin, the biologically active portion of the garlic plant, is thought to interfere with the function of an enzyme produced by the kidney known as angiotensin 1 that causes smooth muscle contraction and thus contributes to blood pressure elevation. (2)

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    When using garlic for blood pressure, how much is needed?

    In the meta-analysis previously mentioned, subjects took anywhere from six hundred milligrams to nine hundred milligrams of garlic powder per day. This is equivalent to the amount of allicin found in a single clove of garlic. (2)

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    Are there any risks associated with using garlic for hypertension?

    Garlic has the potential to interact with other medications. For this reason, you should always consult with your doctor before using garlic for blood pressure control. The other risk would be using garlic as a substitute for prescription blood pressure medications without consulting a doctor. Since garlic only has a modest effect on blood pressure, it would likely be inadequate for persons with significant hypertension.

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    Although garlic for hypertension appears to have some beneficial effects, it’s best to discuss this issue with your doctor before increasing your garlic intake.

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    References

    1. BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2008, 8:13

    2. Prescriber's Letter; October 2008; Vol.15

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    Disclaimer

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