Garlic Helps Reduce Arterial Plaque
Atherosclerosis, a journal focusing on the major disease of arteries, has just published a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study showing that garlic appears to prevent plaque buildup in arteries.1 In a 4-year study of 280 adults, German researchers found that subjects taking nearly one gram of garlic per day (900 mg) had up to an 82% reduction in the plaque volume in their arteries, compared to controls who took placebo, a "dummy" powder, instead.
Using a high-tech ultrasound device, the researchers measured plaque volume in the upper body's carotid artery, which delivers blood to the neck and head, and a femoral artery, which supplies blood to the legs and feet. Plaque is the scourge of the cardiovascular system and is responsible for a vast number of heart attacks. As we age, the incidence of plaque-related cardiovascular diseases accelerates, increasing exponentially.2
The buildup of plaque, formed initially from oxidized cholesterol, causes blood vessels to become increasingly vulnerable to damage. Certain destabilizing factors that significantly increase with aging, such as the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), may help spur ulceration, thrombosis (a clot that blocks a vessel), and calcification. As these insults continue to occur, a succession of lesions is formed on the linings of arteries. As the lesions grow, the easy flow of blood throughout the body is impeded or blocked. Stress is placed on the heart, which has to pump against increasing resistance of the vascular tree. At some point in this progression, there is an increased likelihood of congestive heart failure or heart attack. Do Garlic Men Slow the Aging of Their Cardiovascular System?
Over the 4-year course of the study, the men who took garlic had only a 1.1% increase in plaque volume; by contrast, those who took placebo had a 5.5% increase. Clearly the garlic men's plaque buildup was occurring at a much slower rate. And since atherosclerotic plaque buildup is age-related, it could be postulated that the garlic men were "aging" more slowly, in cardiovascular terms, than the placebo men.
Do Garlic Women Reverse the Age of Their Cardiovascular System?
Women benefited much more than men over the course of the study. The women who took garlic actually had a 4.6% decrease in their original plaque volume. Because the fall off of sex hormones in menopause is normally associated with an increasing incidence of cardiovascular disease (estrogen has a protective effect on arterial walls),3 it is remarkable that the garlic women actually had a reversal of their plaque buildup. Those women who took placebo, however, experienced a 53% increase. Again, since atherosclerotic plaque buildup is aged-related, it could be postulated that the garlic women had a reversal in the "aging" of their cardiovascular system.
Garlic + EDTA Chelator
Exactly how garlic retards or reverses plaque buildup is not fully understood. Investigators speculate that its benefits are derived from antiplatelet, antiaggregation properties that inhibit clotting. Garlic makes blood less "sticky," preventing the clinging of plaque to arterial walls.
While some of the beneficial effects of garlic have been known for millennia, the Atherosclerosis paper constitutes the kind of "reputable research done in a responsible way that demonstrates a clinically important result - that's news." So wrote Dr. James Dillard, a clinical instructor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, about the garlic research.4 The results substantiate that garlic may have more than a preventive effect and even possibly, in the researchers' words, "a curative role in arteriosclerosis therapy (plaque regression)."
- Koscielny J, Klussendorf D, Latza R, Schmitt R, Radtke H, Siegel G, Kiesewetter H. The antiatherosclerotic effect of Allium sativum. Atherosclerosis 1999;144:237-49.
- Spagnoli LG, Mauriello A, Orlandi A, Sangiorgi G, Bonanno E. Age-related changes affecting atherosclerotic risk. Potential for pharmacological intervention. Drugs Aging 1996 Apr;8(4):275-98.
- Celermajer DS, Sorensen KE, Spiegelhalter DJ, Georgakopoulos D, Robinson J, Deanfield JE. Aging is associated with endothelial dysfunction in healthy men years before the age-related decline in women. J Am Coll Cardiol 1994 Aug;24(2):471-6.
- Garlic may prevent plaque build-up in arteries. Reuters Health June 22, 1999. http://www.reutershealth.com/frame_archive.html
Dr. Garry Gordon founded the chelation medical society, the American College for Advancement in Medicine, as well as the complementary medical society, the International College of Advanced Longevity Medicine.