High blood pressure causes around 7.5 million deaths globally each year and many people are prescribed medication as a way of lowering their blood pressure. While it can be caused by a family history, high salt or alcohol intake, weight and a lack of physical exercise, Australian researchers are now hopeful that a more natural method could be used to treat people living with hypertension.
According to a study published in the Frontiers of Nutrition Journal, Kyolic aged garlic extract can significantly lower blood pressure in a way very similar to standard anti-hypertensive medications. Researchers said that simply increasing garlic intake didn’t have the same benefits, but Kyolic aged garlic extract could cause positive changes in pulse wave velocity, arterial stiffness, inflammatory markers and gut microbiota.
“The mean blood pressure in patients taking two capsules a day was reduced by 10 mmHg systolic and 5.4 mmHg diastolic, which is the same as standard hypertensive medications,” Karin Ried, Research Director at the National Institute of Integrative Medicine in Melbourne, said in a statement. “We also observed individual patients whose blood pressure reduced by 40mmHg systolic from 160 to 120 mmHg, which is very significant.”
According to the research, 60 per cent of patients on standard anti-hypertensives report adverse side effects to the tablets, with doctors often finding it difficult to balance a patient’s medications. Rather than replacing standard treatments, researchers believe Kyolic aged garlic extract could be used in combination with medications as they only produce minor side effects, such as bloating, during the first week.
“Unfortunately, increasing the amount of garlic in your diet does not lower blood pressure, because when you cook garlic it loses the active component, allicin,” Ried explained.
In addition to lowering blood pressure, the study also discovered that Kyolic aged garlic extract could improve gut health, something that is correlated to cardiovascular health. Researchers found patients taking the garlic extract in the trial had increased levels of good bacteria Lactobacillus and Clostridia in the gut.
“While it wasn’t part of the study, we also found the gut health of patients was maintained after the study, indicating intake of Kyolic aged garlic, a prebiotic, has a sustained impact on gut health, compared to probiotics which need to be taken daily,” Ried added.
Another benefit of the aged garlic was improvements in arterial stiffness. Because arteries stiffen as part of the ageing process, it’s harder for blood to be oxygenated and for the heart to function. According to researchers, aged garlic made arteries more flexible and within three months of the study, made arteries younger and rejuvenated by five years on average.
It’s always important to discuss high blood pressure treatments with a GP and to inform a health professional before trying any new treatments.