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Garlic Partners Well with Blood Pressure Medication 

Many people include garlic in their heart-healthy diet or supplement program, and there is some evidence to suggest that it may help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, break down atherosclerotic plaques, and reduce blood pressure. Adding to this body of evidence, a study found that high blood pressure levels could be improved in people taking medications by adding an aged garlic extract.

Combining garlic with medication

The study, published in Maturitas, included 50 people with high blood pressure who were already being treated with medications such as diuretics, ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, and calcium channel blockers. Despite using their prescribed medications, many of the people in the study (40%) continued to have blood pressure readings higher than the target 140/90.

The participants were divided into two groups: one group received 960 mg of aged garlic extract per day for 12 weeks while the other group received a placebo. The substance believed to be responsible for aged garlic’s benefits (S-allyl cysteine) is formed after garlic is crushed and allowed to age, and this standardized product contains provided 2.4 mg of this compound per day.

Medication under-responders respond to garlic

Blood pressure was reduced in people who took the extract and whose blood pressure remained high while on medications. Additionally:

  • Among those not responding fully to medications, systolic blood pressure (the first number of a conventional blood pressure reading) fell approximately 10 mm Hg more in garlic users than in the placebo group.
  • In people whose medications controlled their systolic blood pressure, keeping it under 140 mm Hg, garlic had no effect.
  • Most of the people in the garlic group had no negative effects from it, but two people (8%) had gastrointestinal upset from the supplement and had to stop taking it.

“Our trial suggests that aged garlic extract is superior to placebo in lowering systolic blood pressure in patients with treated, but uncontrolled, hypertension,” the study’s authors said. They further noted the safety and low rate of negative side effects from the garlic extract combined with blood pressure lowering medications.

Lower your blood pressure

Based on these results, if your high blood pressure medication isn’t working as well as hoped, you might benefit from adding aged garlic extract. Here are some other things that researchers have found to help lower blood pressure:

  • Follow the DASH programDietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension is a set of dietary guidelines that have been shown to lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease. It emphasizes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils, and fish, while limiting meat, sweets, and saturated fats. DASH is most effective when it is combined with a low-sodium diet.
  • Exercise. Regular exercise is one of the surest ways to prevent and treat high blood pressure. Just 30 minutes of moderately vigorous physical activity five times per week can bring your systolic blood pressure down by an average of 4 to 9 mm Hg.
  • Relax. Learning and practicing stress management techniques is an effective way to lower blood pressure. Using breathing and mindfulness meditation for 20 minutes per day has even been found to help some people discontinue their blood pressure medications.

(Maturitas 2010;67:144–50)

Maureen Williams, ND, completed her doctorate in naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University in Seattle and has been in private practice since 1995. With an abiding commitment to access to care, she has worked in free clinics in the US and Canada, and in rural clinics in Guatemala and Honduras where she has studied traditional herbal medicine. She currently lives and practices in Victoria, BC, and lectures and writes extensively for both professional and community audiences on topics including family nutrition, menopause, anxiety and depression, heart disease, cancer, and easing stress. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.
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