Garlic Lowers Blood Pressure
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Last updated November 24, 2017, originally published October 24, 2009
By Allison Burgess, Contributing Columnist, A. Lee,
Associate Editor

Got high blood pressure? Well, the next time you're in the
supermarket, just keep on walking past the boxes with
pretty pink hearts promising to lower blood pressure and
turn towards your local supermarket’s produce section.
There you will find the most powerful natural remedy of
them all --- garlic.

For centuries, and across many cultures, garlic has been
used to promote health and vigor. As Dr. Rivlin of Memorial
Sloan Kettering Cancer Center's Department of Medicine
noted in a 2001 retrospective on garlic's use as medicine,
the ancient Greeks and ancient Eqyptians used garlic well
before 1500 B.C.  Excavations of ancient Greek temples,  
the palace of Knossus in  Crete and King Tutankhamen's
tomb in Eqypt have unearthed garlic. Surprisingly, the
garlic in many of these ancient sites was well-preserved.  

In the earliest Olympics in ancient Greece, garlic was fed to
athletes to promote endurance and strength, becoming, as
Dr. Rivlin notes, perhaps the first known natural
peformance-enhancing supplement.

Several recent studies on the relationship between garlic
and high blood pressure have been conducted over the last
two decades in India, Australia, and the United States. All
came to the same conclusion-- garlic actually helps to lower
blood pressure.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension,  comes
about when the blood pumping out of your heart builds up
too much pressure against the artery walls.

Every time you go to the doctor and the nurse wraps that
contraption around your arm and starts pumping, your
blood pressure is being measured. If nothing is said to you
then you are in the clear, but if you get the concerned
eyebrow lift, you might want to pick up a few cloves of
garlic on your way home.

The most recent study, led by Dr. Karin Ried at the
University of Adelaide in South Australia, found that
“Supplementation with garlic preparations may provide an
acceptable alternative or complementary treatment option
for hypertension."

Moreover, the worst cases of high blood pressure improved
the most with garlic treatment.

Those with higher blood pressure at the beginning of the
study were prone to lower their blood pressure by a larger

On average, the findings showed a drop in systolic blood
pressure (the number on top) by an average of 4 to 5
points and diastolic blood pressure (the number on
bottom) by 2 to 3 points. A healthy blood pressure should
read less than 120 on the top and less than 80 on the
. In fact the new guidelines of the American Heart
Association published in 2017 view any blood pressure
reading higher than 120/80 as  "elevated"pre-hypertensive
and any number over 130/80 as Stage 1 hypertension.
Previously, any number under 140 was normal.

The Magic Compound In Garlic

So, you might be thinking…how exactly does garlic lower
blood pressure?

For years, garlic’s health benefits were believed to derive
from a compound called allicin. In raw, natural garlic, allicin
is formed when the cloves are broken open. The chemical
formation is also what causes the pungent smell.

But allicin is not the magic ingredient in garlic that improves
your blood pressure.

More than 400 studies on the active biological agents in
garlic have determined that allicin is not responsible for any
of garlic's health benefits. Allicin, in fact is unable to exist
or to survive immersin in acidic fluids, such as those
present in your stomach.  As a result, shortly after you eat
garlic, all the allicin is gone.  

A 2006 mega-study led by Dr. Harunobu Amagase reviewed
the 400 previous university studies on garlic. That mega-
study concluded that the two biologically active garlic
compounds that survive the digestive process are S-Allyl-L-
cysteine(SAC) and N-acetyl-S-allylcysteine (NASA).  

If you want to enjoy the health benefits of garlic without
the pungent odor, you should wait several minutes after
chopping the cloves before you consume it or cook it.

Whether raw or roasted, garlic has been proven to be a
good ally against high blood pressure. If you love the taste,
use it liberally in your meals.  A word of caution about raw
garlic.  Eating raw garlic can cause stomach upset,
reflux or even ulcers in some people. For that reason, try
roasting garlic or cooking it in sauces, such as tomato
sauce. And if you just can’t stand the pungent odor that it
leaves behind, try a garlic supplement.

Not All Garlic Supplements Are Created Equal

Garlic actually has many unstable compounds. The simple
cutting or crushing garlic changes the chemical makeup of
garlic, as we have seen.

But you have to get the right kind of garlic. Several studies
have found that, among garlic supplements and
preparations, the type of preparation with the highest
concentration of biologically active compounds --the
compounds that do you some good ---are "aged garlic
extracts". These are sometimes abbreviated as AGE on

By contrast, powdered garlic preparations are virtually
useless from a biological point of view.

Don't Mix Garlic With Certain Medications

Always remember that natural remedies are not to be used
as a replacement for other prescribed medications before
consulting your doctor. And, those already using blood
pressure medications should aways consult your doctor
before eating foods such as garlic which thin your blood
out even more and can cause internal bleeding.

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