Garlic, which is well known as a flavorful herb, is also one of the most popular herbal medicines. Americans spend more than $5 billion each year on garlic supplements, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. While the most common use of garlic supplements is for treating heart disease, garlic may also be taken to lower blood-sugar levels, although additional research is needed to confirm these benefits. As with all health supplements, ask a qualified healthcare provider before taking garlic supplements.
Tantalizing preliminary evidence suggests that garlic supplements may be effective in lowering blood-sugar levels, according to a study published in the March 2008 issue of the journal "Acta Diabetologica." In this small trial of 60 patients with Type 2 diabetes, study subjects received a garlic supplement called Allicor, which contains 150 mg of dehydrated garlic in a time-release capsule. Compared to the control group taking a placebo, patients taking Allicor had significantly lower levels of glucose and fructosamine, another indicator of blood sugar.
Despite the promising results of the 2008 study documented in "Acta Diabetologica," more research into the effectiveness of garlic for lowering blood sugar is still needed. Many other studies have found that garlic is not effective in lowering blood sugar, reports a large-scale review of garlic research published in May 2001 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Additional research is needed, particularly regarding the main active ingredients in garlic and the exact mechanism of action on the human body.
Other Benefits for Diabetics
Garlic may provide other benefits for patients with diabetes. In addition to lowering blood-sugar levels, garlic may also help control other factors that contribute to diabetes, including levels of cholesterol and fat in the blood, known as triglycerides, the 2008 "Acta Diabetologica" study reports. Many other studies have found that garlic is effective in lowering cholesterol, suggesting that the effect is real and verifiable, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality report.
Additional Cardiovascular Benefits
Diabetic patients also frequently develop other aspects of cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. Garlic supplements may be effective in lowering blood pressure as well as slowing the progression of atherosclerosis, which may improve the overall health of people with diabetes.
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; Garlic Supplements Show Promise for Lowering Some Cardiovascular Risk Factors, but More Studies are Needed; May 2001
- "Acta Diabetologica"; Metabolic Effects of Time-Released Garlic Powder Tablets in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: The Results of Double-Blinded Placebo-Controlled Study; I.A. Sobenin, et al.; March 2008
- MedlinePlus; Garlic; December 2010
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Garlic; July 2010