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One of the world's most popular spices is also a powerful medicine with proven superiority to pharmaceutical drugs for a number of conditions.
A groundbreaking study published in Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences has revealed that garlic is at least as effective as the blockbuster blood pressure lowering drug atenolol in reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients diagnosed with essential hypertension, a condition linked to the #1 cause of death in developed countries.
Hypertension is called a 'silent killer,' as it often goes completely unnoticed, along with the decades long subclinical march of atherosclerosis that is largely the cause of elevated blood pressure, often culminating suddenly in a deadly cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke.
Researchers at the Department of Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy, King Khalid University, Abha, Saudi Arabia gave test subjects either, one of five doses of garlic (300/mg, 600/mg, 900/mg, 1200/mg, 1500/mg) in divided doses per day, a tablet of atenolol, or a placebo, for 24 weeks. Blood pressure readings were recorded at weeks 0, 12 and 24.
The study results showed significant decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in both dose and duration dependent manner in all the treatment groups. The results of the treatments on systolic blood pressure were reported as follows:
The results of the treatments on diastolic blood pressure were reported as follows:
As can be seen by the results, in each garlic treated group, a significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure were observed when compared with atenolol and placebo.
It is a rare thing to find a human clinical study comparing a natural substance with a drug. In pharma/farm comparisons like this, the stakes are often extremely high, as natural substances like garlic, which are commonly used as culinary spices, are relatively safe and affordable, whereas multi-billion dollar blockbuster drugs like atenolol are expensive, have many side effects, and are only acquired through a prescription from a physician. If the natural substance is found to be at least as effective as the synthetic compound, it undermines faith in the conventional, drug-based model of medicine which has asserted near totalitarian control of medical practice by requiring that statements of medical fact, including claims of drug or plant medicine effectiveness, be made only after running the multi-million-dollar gauntlet of repeated randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trials. As a result, the modern medical system obeys Napoleonic legal principles, namely, what it does not explicitly permit is forbidden. This means that unless a substance like garlic is confirmed through human clinical research to work for a particular health condition, its use could easily be construed as illegal by regulatory bodies like the FDA.
Overlooked in this, of course, is that natural substances like garlic have been used since time immemorial as both food and medicine, and therefore have the type of 'street' credibility – stretching back for thousands of years - that no modern drug by definition is capable of obtaining.
Given the results of this latest study, garlic has now been vindicated as an effective blood pressure lowering alternative to atenolol. This is especially good news, as an accumulating body of clinical and epidemiological research now indicates that beta-blockers, while undoubtedly effective at lowering blood pressure, actually increase cardiovascular mortality in doing so. Garlic, on the other hand, has potentially life-saving cardiovascular benefits, which we explored in depth in a recent article titled, How Garlic Can Save Your Life.
Remember, garlic is a powerful substance and should be treated with great respect when used in higher than culinary doses. Nothing written here should be misunderstood to be medical advice, as we only refer to peer-reviewed research readily available in the public domain, and our aim is only to disseminate it. We encourage you to share this information with your integrative physician and/or medical herbalist.
We are truly living in remarkable times. Not only do we have the timeless evidence of cross-culturally verified culinary and folk medicine practice to substantiate garlic's many health benefits, we have the white-coat verified clinical trials of medical scientists.
And of course, if you have been following our work at GreenMedInfo, you know we have thousands of additional peer-reviewed medical studies indexed indicating the potential preventive and/or therapeutic value of natural substances in over 3,000 ailments, including 260 studies on 151 natural substances of value in hypertension alone.
 Rizwan Ashraf, Rafeeq Alam Khan, Imran Ashraf, Absar A Qureshi. Effects of Allium sativum (Garlic) on systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients with essential hypertension. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2013 Sep ;26(5):859-63. PMID: 24035939