Garlic For High Blood Pressure
- Dilates blood vessels by regulating nitric oxide signaling pathways
- Relaxes blood vessels by promoting hydrogen sulfide production
- May work as an ace inhibitor
- Garlic lowers systolic BP more than diastolic BP
Flavorsome garlic may be able to help lower high blood pressure levels. It can do this by regulating nitric oxide signaling pathways, promoting the production of hydrogen sulfide, and blocking angiotensin II production. These, in turn, dilates blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. The higher your blood pressure, the greater the reduction effected by garlic.
Pungent, flavorsome garlic is a permanent fixture in most larders. But did you know this kitchen favorite also has some impressive medicinal properties? Whether it is atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, or even athlete’s foot, garlic can take many illnesses head on. And that counts for the silent killer high blood pressure as well. With 1 in 3 Americans suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure, you need all the help you can get. Here’s a look at why garlic is good news for anyone with high blood pressure.
Dilates Blood Vessels By Regulating Nitric Oxide Signaling Pathways
Garlic helps lower blood pressure via various mechanisms. One important way involves the nitric oxide signaling pathways in our bodies. Nitric oxide is produced in the body naturally and sends signals which relax the smooth muscle around your blood vessels. This allows your blood vessels to expand and dilate smoothly, thus lowering blood pressure.
The nitric oxide signaling pathways are highly regulated by your body. But these pathways do depend on sulfur-containing molecules and organic thiols to function properly. And that’s where garlic comes in. Garlic is rich in polysulfides and may help in two ways: by providing the nutrients required for the proper functioning of these pathways and by checking sulfur deficiency that could impair them.
Relaxes Blood Vessels By Promoting Hydrogen Sulfide Production
Another mechanism that’s been proposed for garlic’s positive effect on high blood pressure involves hydrogen sulfide (H2S). This is another gas that shares the role of signaling the relaxation of blood vessels with nitric oxide. And polysulfides derived from garlic are thought to play a part in the production of H2S as well.
May Work As An ACE Inhibitor
Another potential benefit garlic has going for it? Its ability to inhibit the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE). ACE inhibitors are, in fact, commonly used as medicines to control blood pressure. They work by stopping your body from producing angiotensin II, a chemical which can make your blood vessels narrower, thereby increasing blood pressure. And here you have a natural ACE inhibitor in garlic.
Garlic Lowers Systolic BP More Than Diastolic BP
Your blood pressure or the pressure exerted by blood on the walls of the arteries is measured through two numbers which gauge systolic pressure and diastolic pressure, respectively. If your blood pressure is 140/90 mm Hg or higher, it’s said to be high. The number on top is the systolic pressure and it measures the pressure exerted when your heart beats and pushes blood into the arteries. The number at the bottom is the diastolic pressure, that is, the pressure during the brief moment of relaxation between heartbeats.
Research has found that garlic primarily reduces systolic pressure. While it has been found to lower diastolic pressure as well, its impact is not as significant here. Elevated systolic hypertension has been found to be the most common form of hypertension, especially among older people. Studies even point out that it should be the main focus of any anti-hypertensive therapy.
The Higher Your BP, The Better Garlic Works
A review of various studies on the effect of garlic on blood pressure reveals that the higher a participant’s blood pressure at the start of the study, the greater the reduction in blood pressure they experience by using garlic products. In fact, blood pressure doesn’t appear to change much for people whose systolic pressure is lower than 130 mm Hg or diastolic pressure is lower than 85 mm Hg when they use garlic.
Have Garlic In Various Forms, But Aged Garlic Extract May Be Your Best Bet
Do keep in mind that while garlic may work as an adjunct treatment for high blood pressure, you shouldn’t stop taking any prescribed medication without checking with your doctor.
Incorporate garlic in various forms into your everyday food to tackle high blood pressure – think raw garlic, cooked garlic, garlic oil, and garlic powder. Some experts also suggest aged garlic extract (AGE) might be your best option when it comes to hypertension. When garlic is aged, volatile sulfur compounds like allicin which are present in raw garlic get converted into standardizable and stable components like S-allylcysteine. Not only is it more effective than raw or cooked garlic, aged garlic extract is also safer than other garlic preparations as it doesn’t cause bleeding problems when it’s taken with blood-thinning medicines.
How much will you need? In one study, subjects who showed an improvement in blood pressure were given four capsules of aged garlic extract (960 mg containing 2.4 mg S-allylcysteine) daily for 12 weeks. You may need to fine-tune the exact quantity with your doctor’s help.