IT'S been said to ward off vampires, cure colds and improve vitality. But now researchers believe garlic could benefit thousands of Australians with high blood pressure.
A daily dose of two pills containing high-potency aged garlic extract seems to help lower blood pressure, according to a study of Adelaide patients published on Wednesday in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The study leader, Karin Ried, said many people had difficulty with high blood pressure despite taking medication.
''What's exciting is that the garlic was able to reduce blood pressure in that medication-resistant group,'' she said.
The garlic extract could work by stimulating nitric oxide in cells, which dilated blood vessels, reducing blood pressure.
''But it doesn't just have one possible mechanism of action … and that is probably what makes it superior to other medications, which only have one mechanism,'' said Dr Ried.
She undertook the research while at the University of Adelaide and is now the research director at the National Institute of Integrative Medicine in Melbourne.
Her study, of 80 patients, compared the garlic extract to placebo pills, and found an average reduction in systolic blood pressure of about 12 mmHg over a 12-week period. About a quarter of participants reported minor side-effects such as bloating, ﬂatulence or a noticeable garlic taste.
The clinical issues director at the National Heart Foundation, Robert Grenfell, said larger-scale studies were needed before the results could be confirmed, but the early findings were interesting.