Garlic For Heart Health & Heart Attack Avoidance

Author: Dr. Gary Huber, DO

Date: Oct, 2010

The effect of fermented garlic extracts on heart disease risk

Don’t you love it when something safe, simple and cheap works better than some new fangled, over priced, potentially toxic “upgraded” version? I do. With that thought in mind, I want to share a simple truth that I find amazing.  Is it possible that a simple fermented food may work better than a drug that cost millions of dollars to develop?  The answer is yes.  Of course you will most likely never hear of this simple food from your doctor and that is a real shame because if the effects of this food were summarized in a glitzy trifold, and the food packaged in a prescription bottle and priced at 1000% of it’s actual value then your doctor might prescribe it in a heart beat.

Another study looking at the dramatic effects of fermented garlic has appeared from the Division of Cardiology and Vascular Medicine program at UCLA and the University of California at San Diego.  This is a double blind placebo controlled study that looked at treating intermediate risk cardiac patients with fermented garlic extract, B vitamins and arginine.  They received these elements daily for one year and these patients showed a reduction in LDL (bad cholesterol) of 13.6%, an elevation in HDL (good cholesterol) of 15.4%, a reduction in triglycerides of 17.8%, reduced CRP (a marker of inflammation) by 41%, and reduced homocysteine by 17.8%.  No statin has ever accomplished this in any study ever done. Statins greatly reduce LDL but have little to no effect on triglycerides and HDL, which are more predictive of heart disease than LDL is. Statins also show limited impact on CRP and no impact on homocysteine.

They also looked at CT scans of the heart vessels to judge how much calcium content had occurred over the course of that year as a way of estimating how much plaque had formed.  The patients taking placebo showed a plaque growth rate of 26.5% while the consumption of garlic extract reduced the rate of growth to a mere 6.8%.  That’s 4 times slower growth rate.  And that’s not the amazing part.

Statins have many drawbacks to their use.  They all deplete a nutrient called coQ10 from your body.  CoQ10 is very valuable in reducing the oxidative stress on your mitochondria, which are little powerhouses that produce energy in the cells.  With depleted coQ10 stores you experience a greater risk for fatigue and growing risk for congestive heart disease.  In fact there are studies showing that when you give coQ10 to congestive heart failure patients they improve dramatically.  Statins are reducing your body’s stores of coQ10 which may actually put your heart at risk.  Statins also cause muscle pain in many patients and are a potentially toxic load on the liver causing a potentially harmful elevation in liver enzymes that may lead your doctor to discontinue therapy.  Studies out of the University of Iowa show that statins interfere with proper cholesterol function in the brain, which is by the way 70% fat, and leads to poor memory and cognitive issues.  Statins, when used over a long period of time, also lead to reduction in testosterone levels.  Low testosterone will increase your risk of heart disease. I am not stating that we should all avoid statins all the time.  They have a place and a purpose but we must respect their potential for harm. 

Statins also carry a clear and significant risk for the development of diabetes. The largest studies done on statins all showed an increased risk for the development of diabetes as dose and longevity of statin use increased. By the way, 80% of diabetics die from vascular disease. If you are someone who truly benefits from the use of a statin then by all means take it but all too often patients are placed on statins because it's the only answer their doctor was taught in medical school. Lifestyle, nutrition and “health” are not taught in medical school but that's a talk for another time.

Now lets look at the dangers of fermented garlic extracts.  They are damaging to vampires.  If you are a vampire, you should avoid them.  I think that’s about it.  And this is still not the amazing part.

What about cost?  Good point.  Lipitor is a very typical statin with broad usage in this area and I will use it as a simple example.  Lipitor may or may not be covered by your insurance plan, but the actual cost of a one month supple of 10mg Lipitor is around $95.  That’s $3.16 per day.  Fermented garlic extract also known as Kyolic from Wakunaga goes for $22 for 120 capsules.  A simple starting dose might be 2 capsules a day which means this would run you 37 cents per day.  That’s just $11 for a whole month, and $132 for a year.  If you had intermediate cardiac risk as these patients did and had vessel plaque growth increases of 26% per year as these folks did then the odds of a heart attack in 10 years is very high. I can’t think of a better investment than $132/year  to greatly reduce the odds of a heart attack.  We are still not at the amazing part quite yet.

In this study, the researchers only used a dose of 250mg of garlic extract, 300 mcg of folic acid, 100 mcg of vitamin B12, 12.5 mg of vitamin B6, and only 100 mg of arginine.  These are tiny, tiny doses.  What would have happened to the numbers had they used REAL effective doses of these simple and safe nutrients?  I take 1200 mg of Kyolic fermented garlic extract every day and I don’t even have heart disease or high cholesterol.  And when I treat my patients that have coronary heart disease or elevated cholesterol I use 2400 mg per day.  That’s still cheap, and can you even imagine the effect this has if a mere 250 mg lowers LDL by 13.6% and raises HDL by 15%?  Now for the amazing part.

Fermented garlic extracts don’t stop at the heart.  These amazing food products also are tremendous antioxidants, protecting cellular DNA and reducing cancer risk.  They reduce the glycation associated with diabetes thereby reducing the damaging effects of diabetes on blood vessels and nerves.  They increase liver glutathione levels helping the body to detoxify and thus further reduce cancer risk.  They improve our immune defenses helping to fight off bacteria and viral infections.  They inhibit the growth of H. Pylori, the bacteria responsible for gastric reflux and stomach ulcers.  Now that’s amazing. 

I do not work for or get paid by Wakunaga.  But this study just highlighted what a powerful product this is and when I see people struggle with the damaging effects of statins I always wonder why this simple, safe, effective, elegant therapy wasn’t tried first.  It can be taken with statins and has been shown in other studies to enhance the reduction of plaque formation beyond what the statin was able to do alone. 

So just appreciate that foods and nutritional elements hold amazing and powerful qualities that can greatly enhance your life and health.  Eat well, exercise and seek out options that promote your health.  Drugs have a place but the longer I practice medicine the more and more disappointed I become in their performance.  Doctors are taught that nutritional therapies have no value when the truth is that nutritional therapies are far more powerful than most drugs.

Now go enjoy that gluten free GARLIC bread.