[Pleiotropic effects of garlic]

Wien Med Wochenschr. 1999;149(8-10):217-24.
[Article in German]


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

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arteriosclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Arteriosclerosis / etiology
  • Blood Viscosity / drug effects
  • Cardiovascular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Fibrinolysis / drug effects
  • Garlic*
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • Platelet Aggregation / drug effects
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cardiovascular Agents
  • Lipids
  • Plant Extracts