In the DHA study, published in the April 2007 issue of the Journal of Nutrition , researchers from King’s College, London, recruited 38 healthy men and women aged 40 to 65 with normal weight (average body mass index 24) and blood pressure (average 121/79 mmHg). For the first three months, participants took a 1,500 mg capsule that contained 700 mg of DHA or a 1,500 mg capsule containing an olive oil placebo per day.
After a four-month non-treatment (wash-out) period, participants switched treatment and placebo and continued for another three months. The study was double-blind, meaning neither doctors nor participants knew who was taking treatment or placebo.
At the end of the study, compared to placebo, the DHA group had 58% higher DHA levels in the red blood cells and an average decrease in resting-phase (diastolic) blood pressure of 3.3 mmHg to 121/76 mmHg. Heart rates averaged 2.1 fewer beats per minute after DHA than after placebo.
In the garlic-vitamin C study, researchers gave a series of treatments to six subjects with marginally high blood pressure (average 140/90 mmHg). All six participants took a placebo for the first 10 days, followed by a one-week wash-out period. Researchers then gave 2,000 mg of vitamin C per day for 10 days and found no change in blood pressure. After another one-week wash-out period, doctors gave 650 mg of garlic bulb extract powder per day for 10 days and found a significant decrease in contracting-phase (systolic) blood pressure, but not in diastolic pressure.
After a final one-week wash-out period, scientists gave 2,000 mg of vitamin C and 650 mg of garlic per day for 10 days and found that the average systolic and diastolic blood pressure range decreased to 110-120/70-80 mmHg.
In a second, test-tube phase of the study, doctors theorized that garlic and vitamin C might lower blood pressure by increasing nitric oxide (NO), a molecule that occurs in special blood vessel cells (endothelial cells) and is responsible for signaling the muscles surrounding blood vessels to relax. Using endothelial cells, scientists administered garlic and found a twofold increase in NO. After administering garlic and vitamin C together, doctors observed a threefold increase in NO.