Garlic is frequently touted as a natural treatment for high cholesterol, and many garlic extracts are sold with the suggestion that they improve cholesterol levels.  The current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine has an article reporting the most definitive study yet looking at the effects of garlic on cholesterol.  Volunteers were randomized into four groups:  raw garlic, powdered garlic supplement, aged garlic extract supplement, or placebo.  None of the groups had a significant change in their cholesterol, though the raw garlic group reported much more bad breath and body odor.

The results are also reported in this Los Angeles Times article.  This statement from the study’s principal author summarized it well.

“It just doesn’t work,” said Christopher Gardner, a Stanford professor of medicine who led the study. “If garlic was going to work, in one form or another, then it would have worked in our study. The lack of effect was compelling and clear.”

Nevertheless, I still think it’s yummy.

Tangential Miscellany:

I wrote last summer about my involvement with the Society for Innovative Medical Practice Design (SIMPD), a national organization of physicians who work for their patients, not for insurance companies.  Because of my long-standing interest in medical ethics, I had the honor to serve with Dr. Robert Briskin and Dr. Garrison Bliss on the SIMPD ethics committee.  We were charged with the task of crafting a statement of ethical principles that would guide us and future physicians in our new practice models.  I’m very happy with the product of our work.  Our statement of ethical principles demonstrate that concierge physicians take ethics seriously, and that practices that align physician interest with patient interest can avoid many of the ethical pitfalls of traditional practices.  If you have an interest in medical or business ethics, I’d love to hear your feedback.