Beat­ing the odds with good gar­lic

How tak­ing an aged gar­lic supplement can lower your blood pres­sure – and risk of con­tract­ing heart dis­ease.

Good - - HEALTH - Words Natalie Cyra

Heart dis­ease is the sin­gle big­gest killer of women in New Zealand, claim­ing more than 3000 moth­ers, sis­ters and daugh­ters an­nu­ally. But what if re­duc­ing our risk of heart dis­ease – be­sides ex­er­cise and main­tain­ing a healthy lifestyle, could be as sim­ple as ad­ding a gar­lic supplement to our ev­ery­day regime?

Well, it can be, and this is the mes­sage Dr Karin Ried, Direc­tor of Re­search at the Na­tional In­sti­tute of In­te­gra­tive Medicine in Aus­tralia, is try­ing so hard to spread, hav­ing re­cently vis­ited our shores to share her new re­search and ex­pert knowl­edge on heart dis­ease. Ried, who is also a re­search fel­low in Pri­mary Health Care at the Univer­sity of Ade­laide, with a spe­cial in­ter­est in car­dio­vas­cu­lar health, says she has al­ways been in­ter­ested in nu­tri­tional medicine and how nu­tri­ents af­fect the hu­man body. “I com­bined this in­ter­est with the op­por­tu­nity to do some ap­plied clin­i­cal re­search. I was in­ter­ested in blood pres­sure and heart health and what nu­tri­ents may af­fect these,” she says.

Tried and tested

While the first early tri­als with gar­lic sup­ple­ments and blood pres­sure were car­ried out and pub­lished in the 1980s in Ger­many, Ried first be­gan study­ing the links between blood pres­sure and gar­lic sup­ple­men­ta­tion in 2008.

High blood pres­sure over a pro­longed pe­riod of time is a key risk fac­tor for heart dis­ease, as it means your heart must work harder and, there­fore, over time it can weaken your heart mus­cles and cause dam­age in ar­ter­ies, the kid­neys and eyes.

Ried says she de­cided to ex­plore test­ing the ef­fects of aged gar­lic on heart dis­ease be­cause Ky­olic aged gar­lic ex­tract was shown to have a pro­found ef­fect on high blood pres­sure. “Our first clin­i­cal trial was done with Ky­olic aged gar­lic ex­tract and pre-hy­per­ten­sive adults and pub­lished in 2010. Since then, our group has done four tri­als,” she says. To date, there have been more than 20 clin­i­cal tri­als con­ducted and pub­lished world­wide, in­volv­ing more than 1000 par­tic­i­pants which have proved aged gar­lic ex­tract’s abil­ity to re­duce high blood pres­sure.

Ried’s tri­als in­volved 250 adults with hy­per­ten­sion (a con­di­tion in which the force of the blood against the artery walls is too high).

“In the first trial we es­tab­lished that Ky­olic aged gar­lic ex­tract can re­duce blood pres­sure in hy­per­ten­sive peo­ple, but does not re­duce blood pres­sure any fur­ther in peo­ple with nor­mal blood pres­sure. Too low blood pres­sure can cause prob­lems such as dizzi­ness, faint­ing, blurred vi­sion, and im­bal­ance. Ky­olic nor­malises blood pres­sure con­trary to stan­dard blood pres­sure med­i­ca­tion.”

The sec­ond trial es­tab­lished the op­ti­mal dose to achieve a blood pres­sure re­duc­ing ef­fect – two cap­sules daily of the high po­tency for­mula of Ky­olic aged gar­lic ex­tract. This was deemed suf­fi­cient to re­duce blood pres­sure on av­er­age by 10 mmHg sys­tolic (the amount of pres­sure in your ar­ter­ies dur­ing the con­trac­tion of your heart mus­cle) and 5 mmHg di­as­tolic (your blood pres­sure when your heart mus­cle is between beats) within two months, sim­i­larly to stan­dard blood pres­sure med­i­ca­tion. “While one cap­sule was not as ef­fec­tive for an av­er­age size/weight adult, four cap­sules did not re­duce blood pres­sure more than two cap­sules did.” The third trial in­ves­ti­gated other car­dio­vas­cu­lar mea­sures, such as ar­te­rial stiff­ness. “The stiffer the ar­ter­ies, the harder the heart has to work. We found that Ky­olic can re­duce ar­te­rial stiff­ness. Flex­i­ble ar­ter­ies can take on more oxy­gen,” ex­plains Ried.

The fourth trial also looked at gut health and in­flam­ma­tion.

“Ky­olic does not just nor­malise blood pres­sure, but also blood stick­i­ness, choles­terol lev­els, and has been im­pli­cated in re­vers­ing soft plaque, and helps with the re­mod­elling of ar­ter­ies. Fur­ther­more, aged gar­lic ex­tract has been shown to re­duce in­flam­ma­tion, ben­e­fits the im­mune sys­tem and the gut mi­cro­biota,” she says.

How is gar­lic aged?

Fresh gar­lic cloves for Ky­olic aged gar­lic ex­tract are grown and then aged for 20 months un­der con­trolled con­di­tions. This trig­gers a bio­chem­i­cal change of sul­phur-com­pounds in gar­lic, which are trans­formed into H2S (hy­dro­gen-sul­phide). This new com­pound works as a sig­nalling molecule for smooth mus­cle cell re­lax­ation, and va­sodi­la­tion (the widen­ing of blood ves­sels), which in turn re­duces blood pres­sure.

“Ky­olic does not just nor­malise blood pres­sure, but also blood stick­i­ness and choles­terol lev­els.” Dr Karin Ried, Direc­tor of Re­search at the Na­tional In­sti­tute of In­te­gra­tive Medicine in Aus­tralia

There is a dif­fer­ence between Ky­olic aged gar­lic and raw gar­lic we cook with at home, ex­plains Ried.

“Raw gar­lic con­tains the sul­phur com­pound volatile al­licin, which ‘dis­ap­pears’ in the cook­ing process, there­fore los­ing its po­ten­tial of blood pres­sure low­er­ing.” While fresh gar­lic is still ben­e­fi­cial for gut health and im­mu­nity, it won’t help with low­er­ing your blood pres­sure. Ried also warns against con­sum­ing too much fresh gar­lic, as it may de­stroy/lyse red blood cells. “One to two cloves of raw gar­lic per day in a salad is fine,” she says.

More ben­e­fits than one

Be­sides re­duc­ing high blood pres­sure, there are many other ben­e­fits from tak­ing Ky­olic aged gar­lic ex­tract. “Gar­lic is a pre­bi­otic and has ben­e­fits on the gut health and im­mu­nity,” Ried says. “Our lat­est study has found some ex­cit­ing links between gar­lic in­take and im­prove­ments in mi­cro­bial rich­ness and di­ver­sity, in par­tic­u­lar of ‘good’ bac­te­ria. Eighty per cent of the im­mune sys­tem is in the gut, there­fore a ben­e­fi­cial change in the mi­cro­biota can go a long way.”

Ried re­cently vis­ited New Zealand to talk about the ben­e­fits of Ky­olic Aged Gar­lic Ex­tract Sup­ple­ments. For her video in­ter­view with Good, visit good.net.nz

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