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By Alan Tillotson, Ph.D., AHG

Recent TV ads from major cholesterol-lowering drugs like Lipitor flash language stating that the medicines do not prevent heart attacks or heart disease. In comparison, the below scientific reports deal with the much more important purpose of lowering cholesterol - to prevent vessel clogging, how garlic effects can be made stronger with fish oils, and finally estimates on the core issue of garlic's effectiveness in preventing real heart attacks.
The antiatherosclerotic effect of Allium sativum.Koscielny J, Klussendorf D, Latza R, Schmitt R, Radtke H, Siegel G,
Kiesewetter H. Atherosclerosis 1999 May;144(1):237-49

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, the plaque volumes in both carotid and femoral arteries of 152 probationers were determined by B-mode ultrasound. Continuous intake of high-dose garlic powder dragees reduced significantly the increase in arteriosclerotic plaque volume by 5-18% or even effected a slight regression within the observational period of 48 months. Also the age-dependent representation of the plaque volume shows an increase between 50 and 80 years that is diminished under garlic treatment by 6-13% related to 4 years. It seems even more important that with garlic application the plaque volume in the whole collective remained practically constant within the age-span of 50-80 years. These results substantiated that not only a preventive but possibly also a curative role in arteriosclerosis therapy (plaque regression) may be ascribed to garlic remedies.

Publication Types:
* Clinical Trial
* Randomized Controlled Trial
J Natl Med Assoc 1997 Oct;89(10):673-8
Modulation of lipid profile by fish oil and garlic combination. Morcos NC. Division of Cardiology, University of California, Irvine 92717, USA. Fish consumption has been shown to influence epidemiology of heart disease, and garlic has been shown to influence triglyceride levels. This study was undertaken to evaluate the effect of fish oil and garlic combinations as a dietary supplement on the lipid subfractions. Forty consecutive subjects with lipid profile abnormalities were enrolled in a single-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study. Each subject received placebo for 1 month and fish oil (1800 mg of eicosapentanoic acid [EPA] + 1200 mg of docosahexanoic acid) with garlic powder (1200 mg) capsules daily for 1 month.

Lipid fractionation was performed prior to study initiation, after the placebo period, and after the intervention period. Subjects all had cholesterol levels > 200. Subjects were instructed to maintain their usual diets. Supplementation for 1 month resulted in an 11% decrease in cholesterol, a 34% decrease in triglyceride, and a 10% decrease in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels, as well as a 19% decrease in cholesterol/high-density lipoprotein (HDL) risk. Although not significant, there was a trend toward increase in HDL. There was no significant placebo effect. These results suggest that in addition to the known anticoagulant and antioxidant properties of both fish oil and garlic, the combination causes favorable shifts in the lipid subfractions within 1 month. Triglycerides are affected to the largest extent. The cholesterol lowering and improvement in lipid/HDL risk ratios suggests that these combinations may have antiatherosclerotic properties and may protect against the development of coronary artery disease.

Publication Types:
* Clinical Trial
* Randomized Controlled Trial
Wien Med Wochenschr 1999;149(8-10):217-24 [Pleiotropic effects of garlic] [Article in German] Siegel G, Walter A, Engel S, Walper A, Michel F. Institut fur Physiologie, Universitatsklinikums Benjamin Franklin, Freien Universitat Berlin, Deutschland. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Garlic as a herbal remedy reduces a multitude of risk factors which play a decisive role in the genesis and progression of arteriosclerosis: decrease in total and LDL-cholesterol, increase in HDL-cholesterol, reduction of serum
triglyceride and fibrinogen concentration, lowering of arterial blood pressure and promotion of organ perfusion, and, finally, enhancement in fibrinolysis, inhibition of platelet aggregation, and diminution of plasma viscosity. In a prospective, 4-year clinical trial with primary endpoint 'arteriosclerotic plaque volume' it was proven not only a 9 to 18% reduction and 3% regression in plaque volume of the total collective under the influence of standardized garlic powder dragees (900 mg/die LI 111), but also of some facets of the phytopharmacologic pleiotropy of this herb: decrease in LDL level by 4%, increase in HDL concentration by 8%, and lowering in blood pressure by 7%. The reduction of arterial blood pressure is due to an additional opening of K(Ca) ion channels in the membrane of vascular smooth muscle cells that effects its hyperpolarization. This membrane hyperpolarization closes about 20% of the L-type Ca2+ channels, consequence of which is vasodilatation. In human coronary arteries, the increase in vascular diameter by 4% is closely associated with an improvement of coronary perfusion by 18%. These pleiotropic effects of garlic result in a reduction of relative cardiovascular risk for infarction and stroke by more than 50%.

Publication Types: * Review
* Review, Tutorial
Comments:
Alan Keith Tillotson, PhD, AHG
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