Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 3rd 2014 Contents A36
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Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, October 3, 2014
A new analysis of past clinical trials using garlic
supplements against high blood pressure finds a
modest benefit, but researchers urge longer, more
rigorous studies to assess the popular alternative
"Many individuals with high blood pressure oppose
conventional antihypertensive drugs and are more
open to natural treatment," said the study s senior
author Dr Alain Nordmann, of the Basel Institute
for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatics at the Uni-
versity of Basel in Switzerland.
"There is some evidence that garlic may lower
blood pressure in individuals with hypertension in
the short-term, but the quality of the studies are
not that great and long-term data is missing," Nord-
mann told Reuters Health in an e-mail.
Nearly one of every three adults in the United
States has high blood pressure, which increases their
risk of heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and kidney
Worldwide, high blood pressure, or hypertension,
contributes to about half of deaths due to stroke or
heart disease, Nordmann and his colleagues wrote
in the American Journal of Hypertension.
A significant portion of people with high blood
pressure don t have it under control, they add, and
one reason is that patients often fail to take their
Seeking alternatives to current blood pressure med-
icines, many people have turned to garlic---usually
in the form of dried-garlic capsules---for its supposed
blood pressure lowering properties. But only a handful
of trials have shown evidence that garlic helps people
Nordmann and colleagues collected data from nine
previously published studies that included 482 people
with blood pressure readings of at least 140/90 mm
Hg, the cutoff for diagnosis of high blood pressure.
All the studies compared garlic with either a placebo
or regular care and lasted at least four weeks. When
Nordmann s team combined the data, they found
statistically significant reductions in systolic blood
pressure (the top number) by about nine mm Hg and
diastolic blood pressure by about four mm Hg when
garlic preparations were used. The authors say the
effect was comparable to blood pressure-lowering
medications, at least in the short term.
But, they note, most of the studies were small,
and their methods were not ideal. In addition, most
of the studies used garlic powder, but the dosages
ranged from 600 to 2,400 milligrams per day. And
some of the studies used fresh garlic instead.
When the review team re-analysed the results
using only the highest quality studies, the effectiveness
of garlic was not as strong.
"More than 25 years after the first garlic trial it is
about time to conduct the definite trial," Nordmann
said. "I assume funding is the problem since no drug
company has an interest in a natural product lowering
Nordmann said that people who are thinking about
using garlic should wait until larger, high quality,
long-term trials are completed before taking garlic.
"If they refuse to take conventional antihypertensive
drugs, garlic is an option, but blood pressure must
be carefully monitored," he said.
"I think that they did a very good faith effort to
thoroughly evaluate the literature about the potential
impact of garlic on blood pressure," said Dr Robert
Ostfeld, a cardiologist and director of the Cardiac
Wellness Programme at Montefiore Medical Center
in New York.
"And there are some interesting reasons to think
that garlic might be helpful for blood pressure in
that there are other studies that suggest garlic may
improve blood vessel function, and it has antioxidant
Insufficient evidence for garlic
use against high blood pressure
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and anti-inflammatory properties," said Ostfeld, who
was not involved in the new study. He noted that
there are "pluses and minuses" when doing this type
of analysis of previous research, including biases in
the individual studies, and the authors acknowledge
Ostfeld agrees with the conclusion that there s
insufficient evidence to have confidence that garlic
is an effective therapy for high blood pressure.
"I think honestly the jury is still out," he said.
There s a physiological rationale to think it might
work, but we lack conclusive evidence, he said.
There is some evidence that garlic may lower blood pressure in individuals with
hypertension in the short-term, but the quality of the studies are not that great
and long-term data is missing,
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