Garlic can lower your blood pressure, and is one of the most popular supplements among people with hypertension. Aged or black garlic are even more powerful as their sulphur-containing components are converted into derivatives with greater antioxidant properties and can lower blood pressure even further. They also have the advantage of being less smelly and more socially acceptable.
Garlic lowers blood pressure
A recent analysis of seven trials, found that taking garlic lowered blood pressure by an average of 6.71/4.79 mmHg, compared to placebo, with no serious side effects. However, a study from Australia suggests that some people respond to garlic better than others.
This new study randomly divided 88 people with uncontrolled hypertension into two groups – one group took two capsules providing 1.2g aged garlic extract every night, for 12 weeks, while the other group took two identical-looking capsules that contained inactive placebo. Activated charcoal was added to disguise any tell-tale garlic odour so that neither the volunteers nor the doctors knew who was taking what.
After 12 weeks, average blood pressure readings reduced by 5/1.9 mmHg in those taking garlic, compared with those taking inactive placebo. However, in those taking garlic, it seems that around one in two had a minimal response, while the other half responded really well. In fact, for the half that responded, taking aged garlic extracts resulted in blood pressure reductions of, on average, 11.5/6.3 mmHg. This is better than the response to many prescribed drugs.
How do you respond to garlic?
The way you respond to any antihypertensive treatment comes down to the genes you have inherited. Unless there is something unusual about these volunteers, from Melbourne, Australia, this study suggests that aged garlic may work really well for one in two people with hypertension, and may have a lesser but still useful effect in others.
The only way to know if you are a good garlic responder or not is to take a standardised supplement for up to three months. Check your blood pressure readings before starting, then take them at least once a week for the next 12 weeks, to see if it brings down your current average readings.
If your blood pressure is raised, self-monitoring is key to maintaining good control.
Click here for advice on choosing a blood pressure monitor to use at home.
Image credit: Isle of Wight Garlic Farm; jiang_jongyan/shutterstock