Recent studies have shown that garlic may be an effective high blood pressure treatment, and could even lower it by up to 10%, but only when it is taken in tablet form rather than as part of a traditional high blood pressure diet. The good news is that these tablets are widely available in health and drug stores, but some have some side effects that may be difficult for people to handle.
Why Garlic Can Lower Blood Pressure
Garlic is a plant with a bulbous root that is related to onions and shallots. However, it contains a compound in relatively high concentrations, known as allicin, which is not found in its cousins. Recent studies have shown that consuming this compound is an effective high blood pressure treatment that not only slashes the systolic and diastolic readings, but also significantly reduces the risks of heart attack and stroke. Allicin makes the blood less ‘sticky’, dilates the blood vessels, and acts as an antioxidant all at the same time. In fact, it is believed that the mechanisms by which it reduces blood pressure may be the same as those found in ACE inhibitors. However, a traditional high blood pressure diet won’t do.
How to Use Garlic to Lower Blood Pressure
These studies showed that the same effects cannot be achieved by simply sprinkling dried garlic into spaghetti or even chopping up fresh garlic into a salad as part of a high blood pressure diet. Rather, the patients who were studied received tablets containing an amount of allicin from the Kwai variety of the plant, which is known for having higher levels than others. In order to take in the therapeutic level of allicin that is found in a single tablet, individuals would need to consume 30 cloves at once sitting – and that’s enough to cause nausea, heartburn and other unpleasant side effects. This is why garlic tablets are the preferred form of high blood pressure treatment.
Can It Replace Medication to Lower Blood Pressure?
It should be noted that you should never stop taking an ACE inhibitor or other prescription medication without first discussing it with your physician. Garlic is a widely-accepted high blood pressure treatment these days, and even if you can’t completely wean yourself off of your prescription medications right away, you might be able to reduce the dose. Over time, with the right high blood pressure diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes, you might find that you are able to completely control blood pressure without the need for all of those expensive medications. Standardized garlic powder containing 1.3% allicin in a tablet form is the best and most widely available product.
People who are currently taking medications including isoniazid, NNRTIs used to treat HIV/AIDS, or saquinavir should not use this high blood pressure treatment, as these medications will not work properly when combined with garlic tablets. The most commonly-reported side effect is nausea and mild gastrointestinal issues that disappear over time, particularly with a healthy high blood pressure diet that is easy on the stomach and contains a large amount of fiber.