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Garlic and the risk of cardiovascular disease

 Researchers from Hospital Universitario del Río Hortega, in Valladolid, Spain sum up the benefits.

Now, the hard work must begin.

First, the details.

  • The authors reviewed the evidence for the effect of garlic on cardiovascular risk factors, including the influence on cholesterol levels, vascular endothelium (cells that line blood vessels), and platelet aggregation (as a prelude to clotting).

And, the results.

  • Taking 5 grams of raw garlic twice per day for 42 days decreases cholesterol and triglyceride blood levels.
  • However, almost all studies on cholesterol have been conducted in animals.
  • Also in animal models (dogs and rats), there’s a dose dependent blood pressure lowering effect.
  • Garlic consumption is associated with fibrinolysis (dissolving blood clots) and a decreased tendency for blood to clot.
  • Garlic alcoholic extract is a potent inhibitor of platelet aggregation — again, a reduced tendency for making blood clots.

The bottom line?
The effects of garlic on cardiovascular risk are important.

“However,” concluded the authors, “it is necessary to demonstrate a decrease on cardiovascular events and to elucidate the amount of garlic [needed] to obtain beneficial effects.”

In other words, we need studies that document health benefits in people, and the doses needed to realize those benefits — not just changes in laboratory numbers.

Actually, the evidence that taking garlic will change laboratory numbers is controversial, as discussed here.

7/8/09 17:03 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.