Can Garlic Lower Blood Pressure?

Stinking rose, anyone? Garlic has been used for thousands of years as a remedy for everything from parasites and liver disorders to bronchitis and diabetes. Today, garlic's many health benefits continue to be studied. One of the most exciting discoveries about garlic is its ability to help reduce blood pressure.

In the United States, around 45% of adults suffer from high blood pressure, and many of them don't even know they have it. Millions more have prehypertension, a condition that will likely lead to high blood pressure if not treated (via MedAlertHelp). This is an epidemic of staggering proportions since high blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke, as well as other serious health issues.

This is where the research into garlic's blood pressure-lowering abilities gets interesting. One review of 21 studies on garlic suggested that the herb has the ability to significantly reduce blood pressure by as much as 10%. "This review found evidence that garlic, in particular Kwai [brand], can reduce the stickiness of the blood, results in dilatation of the arteries, and has antioxidant activity," Dr. Catherine Hood, an independent expert in nutrition and dietetics, told The Daily Mail.

But does this mean you should stock up on garlic if you have high blood pressure?

Whatever the form, garlic can help reduce blood pressure

Scientists largely credit allicin, the main active compound in garlic, for its effect on blood pressure. Allicin is thought to inhibit the production of angiotensin II, the compound that is responsible for raising blood pressure. It's also thought to stimulate an increase in the production or availability of hydrogen sulfide and nitric oxide, both of which work to regulate blood pressure levels (via Healthline).

While there is debate over which form of garlic — raw, tablets, oil, or extract — offers the most benefits, studies have shown all of them to be effective in reducing blood pressure. The effect might not be enough for someone with very high blood pressure to completely stop their medications and only use garlic to manage their blood pressure, but it can certainly help. Furthermore, it has far fewer side effects than blood pressure medications.

Not only that, but garlic has a host of other known health benefits. "Garlic is an excellent antioxidant, as well as an antibacterial and antifungal herb," Dr. Patrick Fratellone, an integrative cardiologist in New York City, told Livestrong. "There are many studies supporting the use of garlic for heart disease prevention." And, as if we needed more reason, it's delicious, too.