Garlic (Allium sativum) is one of the first herbs that people turn turn to reduce high blood pressure. It has a long history of research on its effect on reducing LDL cholesterol while maintaining healthy levels of HDL cholesterol. Regular doses of garlic lowers both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
What is High Blood Pressure?
In 2017, the definition of hypertension was modified to include new guidelines which reduced the acceptable range for high blood pressure. Any one with blood pressure higher than 120/80 have always been at double the risk for a heart attack than those with blood pressure reading 120/80 and below. The change is that there is now, elevated blood pressure is considered a red flag for medical practitioners. See the list below from the American Heart Association for the updated definitions. (Reminder: mmHg means manometer of mercury which is the standard notation for measuring blood pressure with a blood pressure gauge.)
- Normal: Less than 120/80 mmHg
- Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 mmHg and diastolic less than 80 mmHg
- Stage 1: Systolic between 130-139 mmHg or diastolic between 80-89 mmHg
- Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 mmHg or diastolic at least 90 mmHg
- Hypertensive crisis: Systolic over 180 mmHg and/or diastolic over 120 mmHg
Garlic is used help people with elevated blood pressure or blood pressure within stage 1 or 2. People suffering from a hypertensive crisis needs to seek emergency medical care immediately.
How Does Garlic Help?
Garlic reduces the viscosity (stickiness) of the blood itself. There are a number of chemicals compounds in garlic that effects inflammation and there for makes it easier for blood to pump more freely through the veins and arteries. Although garlic has been the subject of many studies, it is still under debate as to how garlic does what it does. It has many chemical compounds. Some, like allicin, are water soluble and dissipate with processing. It used to be thought that only fresh/raw garlic reduced hypertension. Studies show that garlic in many forms seem to do the trick.
In Western Clinical medicine, garlic is a standard ingredient in herbal formulas for hypertension. The most common blends will add chili pepper/cayenne, guggal, hawthorn, and/or dandelion. Herbalists will usually pair a garlic blend with other supplements such as motherwort, olive leaf, linden or mistletoe depending on the severity of the condition and other medication that the patient is taking. Nutritional supplements include: omega 3s, red yeast rice, magnesium and coenzyme Q10.
Garlic is an herb that can and should be taken regularly for hypertension. Capsules are available in daily or twice daily doses. When taking a tincture, it is best to take it in small doses (.4ml or .5ml) two or three times daily. Taking even small amounts of garlic lowers blood pressure but for best results, studies show that 600mg-900mg taken daily have the most demonstrative effects. Take garlic with meals as it can cause stomach upset.
Some people are allergic to garlic. Do not use it if you are allergic. Be sure to notify your herbalist if you have any allergies. Do not take garlic if you are on anti-platelet or anticoagulant medication as it will increase the effect of the medication.