May 2, 2008 -- A pill containing aged garlic extract, vitamins, and other nutrients may slow the progression of atherosclerosis, a preliminary study shows.
The study included 65 people (average age: 60) who were at intermediate risk for heart disease. They took a placebo pill or a pill containing aged garlic extract, vitamin B-12, folic acid, vitamin B-6, and L-arginine for one year; 58 patients completed the study.
Atherosclerosis worsened to a lesser extent in patients taking the garlic-and-vitamins pill compared to those taking the placebo.
The patients' age, gender, degree of atherosclerosis at the study's start, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes medications didn't affect the results, note the researchers, who included Matthew Budoff, MD, associate professor of medicine, and Naser Ahmadi, MD, of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
It's not clear which ingredient in the pill mattered most, but Budoff tells WebMD via email that the aged garlic extract delivered the "primary benefit," though other ingredients may have lowered the patients' blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid associated with higher risk of heart disease.
The researchers call for larger studies of the potential ability of garlic plus vitamins to slow coronary artery calcification. Ahmadi presented the findings in May 1 in Baltimore at the American Heart Association's 2008 Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke Conference.
The study was funded by Wakunaga of America, which makes the garlic pill used in the study. Budoff had full control over the study.