Never has the term “the way to the heart is through the stomach” been more applicable, thanks to findings from a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition. Researchers, led by Associate Professor Dr. Karin Ried of the National Institute of Integrative Medicine in Melbourne, Australia, have discovered that a daily dose of Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) not only reduces blood pressure, it also improves the bacterial balance in the gut.
High blood pressure has been linked to gut dysbiosis, with less microbial variety and lower levels of key bacteria that contribute to good health. Specifically, the abundance of the gut microbes, Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes, are associated with increased blood pressure in several models of hypertension. What’s more, gut dysbiosis has been found to increase chronic inflammation and the risk of cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke.
In this groundbreaking new double-blind trial, 49 participants with uncontrolled hypertension were randomized to receive either 1.2g of AGE or a placebo for 12 weeks. Mean blood pressure was significantly reduced over the course of the trial, with a 10 mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure and a 5.4 mmHg decrease in diastolic blood pressure compared to the placebo. The researchers also noted that AGE lowered pulse pressure and arterial stiffness.
“The reduction in blood pressure was significant across the uncontrolled hypertensive patients,” said Ried. “This was seen in both the patients on standard hypertension medication and those taking no medication.” But she also notes that simply increasing the amount of garlic in your diet does not provide the same results gleaned from AGE since cooking destroys S-allyl cysteine, the bioavailable and active component responsible for these benefits.
But the most surprising finding during the trial was that AGE improved gut microbiota. This was evidenced by higher microbiota richness and diversity among those taking the supplement. A marked increase in two specific “good” bacteria species—Lactobacillus and Clostridia—was seen by the end of the study.
“While it wasn’t part of the study,” said Ried, “we also found the gut health of patients was maintained after the study.” This suggests that Kyolic AGE acts as a prebiotic, providing a sustained improvement in gut health.
Overall, these findings build upon earlier work by Ried and her team which found that taking just two capsules—or 480 mg—of AGE each day can effectively lower systolic blood pressure by up to 12 mgHg. Other studies have found that AGE, both alone and when combined with other nutrients such as Co-Q10, l-arginine, folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, can improve a number of cardiovascular risk factors. Benefits include a reduction in coronary artery calcification, less arterial inflammation, improvement in blood vessel function, and a decrease in the amount of metabolically-active epicardial adipose tissue surrounding the heart. This important new investigation not only confirms that AGE effectively reduces blood pressure on its own, it also adds the improvement in gut dysbiosis to this list of cardiovascular benefits.
“This study is especially exciting as it offers evidence of new and unique ways that Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract benefits cardiovascular health,” says Jay Levy, Director of Sales for Wakunaga of America. “Because AGE is both safe and effective with few, if any, side effects compared to pharmaceuticals, it’s an easy addition to a healthy lifestyle for those concerned about supporting a healthy cardiovascular system.”
About the National Institute of Integrative Medicine: Located in Victoria, Australia, the NIIM is a not-for-profit organization that brings together education and research in Integrative Medicine, as well as facilitating its practice at the NIIM Wellness Clinic. With the support of local and international partners, the Institute conducts research into Complementary and Integrative Therapies, exploring innovative ideas and assessing the efficacy, toxicity and quality of Complementary and Alternative Medicines to expand the evidence base associated with Integrative Medicine.