High blood pressure is considered a public health concern around the world. Chronically elevated levels of blood pressure lead to a condition called hypertension, which can contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease1.
Several concerns need to be taken into consideration when looking at hypertension.
The condition causes the heart to work harder to pump blood through the body. The increased pressure causes problems with the blood circulatory system. The walls of blood vessels become damaged when a person has high blood pressure.
A common concern regarding high blood pressure is the fact that it often does not cause early symptoms.
Even though no symptoms may be present, the condition can continue causing damage to the body, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. This is why frequent screening for blood pressure is so critical.
There are several treatments available for high blood pressure. Some of the pharmaceutical drugs come with unpleasant side-effects, however. We take a look at how effective garlic is in treating high blood pressure. We also consider scientific evidence behind garlic and blood pressure.
What Is Garlic?
Garlic (garlic allium sativum) is not something new to anyone. Most people have used garlic in the kitchen before. It is actually one of the most common products used, often considered a spice.
The classification of garlic is a little complex. Its botanical classification is generally considered a vegetable. Yet, many publications would classify garlic as a herb. In some cases, it is simply called a spice. The versatility of garlic surely contributes to such confusion.
Garlic has quite a potent flavor. This is why many people tend to use the ingredient in various foods. Some popular foods where garlic is used include sauces, pasta, baked vegetables, and stir-fry.
Apart from its flavor, some people use garlic for its health benefits. Several medicinal properties have been associated with garlic. Some people would eat garlic raw. Many people decide to increase the amount of garlic used in their food. The idea behind this is to experience the benefits that have been associated with garlic.
Apart from these uses, some people decide to take a supplement that contains garlic. These supplements usually contain a concentrated garlic extract. This generally makes the chemicals in garlic more effective at producing their medicinal properties in the human body.
Why Do People Use Garlic For Blood Pressure?
There is a lot of people who have turned to eating garlic as a way of managing their blood pressure levels. Hypertension is currently considered a significant factor that contributes to the development of heart disease2.
In turn, heart disease is known as one of the most important causes of death throughout the world. Many people are considered to die prematurely due to the presence of heart disease.
Several suggestions have been made regarding the pathway at which garlic may help. Many people believe that using garlic will help stimulate nitric oxide production in their body. This is a gaseous molecule. It helps with the dilation process of blood vessels.
This helps to widen blood vessels in a person’s body. The result is an improvement in blood flow. The heart does not need to work as hard anymore to pump blood through the body. This may help to reduce blood pressure levels in the process.
Research On Garlic And Blood Pressure
When it comes to looking at the potential relation between garlic and blood pressure, it is essential to consider scientific evidence behind these claims.
Several studies have been performed on this specific topic. This helps a person understand whether or not garlic lowers blood pressure levels. It also gives the person the ability to understand additional benefits that they can gain through consuming more garlic.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health suggests garlic as a complementary approach to treating hypertension3. The NIH does explain that current evidence is still somewhat weak. Still, they report that there does seem to be evidence that garlic could be helpful in the management of hypertension.
Apart from suggestions made by the NIH, other resources have also been published. We will take a closer look at the current evidence behind garlic and blood pressure reduction below.
- A study4 in the BMC Journal of Cardiovascular Disorders found garlic to be an effective approach in the management of hypertension. The study looked at scientific papers published between 1955 and 2007. The researchers analyzed a total of 25 previous studies. The study concluded that garlic does seem to be relatively effective at reducing blood pressure. Results of garlic and blood pressure were compared to placebo groups.
- Researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia considered the effects of aged garlic extract on blood pressure5. All patients were previously diagnosed with hypertension. Patients received treatment, but hypertension was considered uncontrolled at the time. An average of 10.2 mmHg reduced systolic blood pressure. The reduction in blood pressure was superior in the aged garlic extract group. The results were compared to a group who received a placebo.
- One study6 showed improvements in cholesterol levels when garlic powder tablets were used. LDL cholesterol is a known risk factor for heart disease.
- Additionally, an increase in LDL cholesterol may also contribute to high blood pressure. Thus, the lipid-lowering properties of garlic may further help to reduce blood pressure levels effectively. Participants in the study were provided with a time-release garlic powder extract tablet. Each participant took the tablets daily. The study lasted for a total period of 12 weeks.
- There is a study7 that also shows that garlic extract might reduce the damage dealt by hypertension. The study looked at the oxidative damage that hypertension causes to the DNA of the affected patient. A garlic supplement was used in the study. Oxidative DNA damage was significantly reduced. There was also an improvement in nitric oxide production in the body of the patients.
- Another study8 considered the effects of garlic on essential hypertension. The study considered both diastolic and systolic blood pressure. A total of 210 patients were involved in the study. All patients were diagnosed with stage 1 essential hypertension. The participants were divided into a total of seven groups. Allium sativum extract was provided to some of the patients. A daily administration of garlic supplementation was advised. The study lasted for 24 weeks. Both diastolic and systolic blood pressure were reduced in the patients who took the garlic extract on a daily basis.
The clinical studies we looked at above makes it clear that there is a connection between garlic and blood pressure. In some cases, garlic’s efficiency was compared to pharmaceutical drugs.
The safety profile of garlic tends to be lower compared to these pharmaceutical drugs. With this in mind, garlic is presented as a possibly safer option.
It should be noted, however, the studies that show effective results tend to use a garlic extract. This type of product is available as a supplement. Increasing the consumption of garlic might not have the same effect on the patient diagnosed with hypertension.
Thus, a person should consider using a supplement with a concentrated garlic extract. These types of garlic products may have a more significant effect on the person’s blood pressure levels. Other health benefits associated with garlic may also be more potent when using a concentrated supplement.
Are There Side Effects Of Using Garlic?
Garlic is generally considered safe. It is used in everyday dishes among the worldwide population.
Adding the product to a dish can greatly enhance its flavor. When using a supplement with garlic extract, there is a concentrated level of the active chemicals found in the plant. In such a case, there may be a few side effects that a person could experience.
Long-term use of garlic is considered safe. Current scientific evidence shows no serious long-term complications when garlic is used as a supplement for up to seven years.
Some side-effects that people note when they take a garlic extract supplement include:
- Body odor
In some cases, a person may also experience a burning sensation in their mouth. There are also cases where the burning sensation may affect a person’s stomach.
It is important to note that the effects of garlic may cause a higher risk of bleeding. For this reason, it is not advisable to consume garlic supplements prior to surgery. This can increase the risk of complications during the surgical procedure.
High doses of garlic are not advised for pregnant women. There is insufficient evidence to help realize the safety of medicinal garlic doses in women who are pregnant.
The same goes for children. It is not advised to give a child a high dose of a garlic supplement. There may be dangers associated with the use of high doses in young children. There are suggestions that very high doses can be harmful to children.
There are also certain precautions people need to note before they take a garlic supplement. It is not advisable to take garlic supplements if a person has been diagnosed with diabetes. The supplement could lower levels of blood sugar. When taken with diabetes medication, a patient may be at risk of hypoglycemia.
The supplement should also not be taken with hypertension medication. A significant drop in blood pressure levels can be dangerous. This can happen when taking high blood pressure medication together with a garlic concentrated supplement.
Further Methods Of Lowering Blood Pressure
Garlic is only one product that may help in the management of hypertension. Apart from garlic, there are several other ways that people can reduce their blood pressure levels.
Being acknowledged about these methods can help a person be in control of hypertension. This is an effective way of reducing the risks that have been associated with high blood pressure.
We take a look at the strategies used to manage blood pressure, apart from garlic supplements. This includes medications, natural remedies, and certain lifestyle changes.
Several drugs may be useful in reducing blood pressure levels. These drugs are generally classified into different categories. A patient first needs to undergo a physical examination.
If a doctor can identify an underlying cause, then they will prescribe medication to address these concerns. Some categories of medication that may be prescribed to help manage hypertension include:
- ACE inhibitors
- Calcium channel blocker
- Angiotensin-receptor blockers
There are side-effects associated with the use of hypertension drugs. The most appropriate drug will be prescribed to a patient. A physician also needs to take the severity of hypertension into account.
Prescribing a medication that is too strong can lead to very low blood pressure levels. This can cause a patient to experience potentially serious side-effects.
Men who take blood pressure medication may experience poor performance in the bedroom too. There are several drugs for hypertension that can cause erectile dysfunction symptoms in men.
This is a concern that men need to take into consideration. When they experience problems with their erections, the man should talk to their doctor about switching to a different drug.
There are other natural treatments apart from garlic that helps with hypertension. Other than garlic, potassium is often advised to people with high blood pressure. This is an essential electrolyte. It may help with the regulation of blood pressure.
Potassium is naturally found in bananas and many other foods. There is also some potassium in broths, but it is crucial to ensure the broth does not contain a lot of sodium. The addition of sodium would rather cause an increase in blood pressure levels.
Other natural supplements that a person may want to consider if they are struggling to keep their blood pressure levels low include:
- Vitamin D
- Folic acid
Increasing the intake of fiber might also be useful. About 11 grams of fiber each day can be beneficial. The effects may not be as significant as with other treatments. Still, the effects may be helpful in the management of hypertension.
Certain lifestyle factors often cause hypertension. People who smoke, for example, are at a significantly higher risk of experiencing an elevation in blood pressure levels. Stopping smoking may be an effective way of reducing blood pressure levels in such a case.
Obesity is also a severe risk factor for high blood pressure. In such a case, a person should consider implementing methods to reduce their body weight. Diet plays a role in the regulation of blood pressure and cardiovascular health.
A diet high in sodium causes blood pressure levels to increase. Reducing the intake of salt can help to improve the control of blood pressure. A diet should also include healthy foods that contribute to the intake of the essential nutrient.
Hypertension is associated with several potential adverse effects. This is a major risk factor for heart disease, a major killer among the worldwide population. Garlic has been suggested as a possible natural treatment for high blood pressure.
There is some evidence behind the connection between garlic and blood pressure. Other treatments are also available for people with hypertension.
Some come with adverse effects that a patient should know about, however. This is why many people are opting for natural ways to assist in the management of high blood pressure.