Beating the odds with good garlic
How taking an aged garlic supplement can lower your blood pressure – and risk of contracting heart disease.
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