A post shared on Facebook in Nigeria claims that garlic can be used to lower high blood pressure.
It also credits the World Health Organization (WHO) with saying garlic helps to reduce blood pressure in patients with moderate hypertension.
“Garlic works in a way to increase the size of the arteries, which makes it easier for blood to pass. In addition, due to its diuretic properties, it reduces the volume of water in the body and therefore blood pressure,” reads part of the post.
The post does include an unusual warning: “Be careful, even regular consumption of garlic does not exempt from appropriate treatment, especially in people with severe hypertension.”
But is there any scientific evidence that the bulbous flowering plant can be used to manage high blood pressure?
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“Hypertension is diagnosed if, when it is measured on two different days, the systolic blood pressure readings on both days are greater than 140 mmHg and/or the diastolic blood pressure readings on both days are greater than 90 mmHg,” says a WHO fact sheet on hypertension.
‘Not approved by health authorities’ – expert
Some studies have documented the potential of garlic in lowering high blood pressure in a similar way to standard medication. A review of trials involving garlic concludes that the vitamin B status of an individual is “an important factor for the responsiveness of high blood pressure to garlic”.
But Basden Onwubere, a professor of medicine at the University of Nigeria in southeastern Nigeria, was sceptical. He told Africa Check: “Such prescriptions cannot be made by doctors.”
“There are studies that have been published about the use of garlic in managing some health conditions but I am not aware of any traditional medicine that has been approved officially by Nafdac for use in managing high blood pressure,” he said.
Nafdac is Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, responsible for regulating and controlling drugs, among other substances.
Onwubere said: “Until that [approval] becomes available, what we are using now is the orthodox way of managing hypertension. This is medication and advice on managing the patient’s diet.”
Like this claim, we found no conclusive evidence to support these. Experts advise those with high or elevated blood pressure to ignore miracle cures promoted on social media and seek proper medical care.
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