Since about 3000 BC, garlic and its extracts have been used in almost every culture for its medicinal and epicurean qualities. It is believed to have originated somewhere in Central Asia and has been widely dispersed throughout the world. Many have thought that the reason for such a widespread distribution is due mostly to the scattering of the Israelites outside the Palestine area after the Babylonian captivity.
Garlic is classified as both a medicinal herb and as an herb for use to add flavor to food, and should be used for both purposes. As a dietary supplement it can be beneficial in helping to support a healthy diet. As a part of an alternative medicine program it works as follows:
- Garlic has been used to help reduce heart disease. It helps lower LDL cholesterol without hurting a persons HDL level by blocking the liver from making too much LDL cholesterol. It may slightly lower high blood pressure by expanding the blood vessels. Garlic can help prevent blood clots – thereby reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke – because it decreases the stickiness of the platelets (tiny disc-shaped bodies in our blood that are needed for blood to clot) sticky platelets cling to the walls of the arteries and add to their clogging.
- People with rheumatoid arthritis have used garlic to reduce pain and some of its other symptoms. Garlic has been shown to reduce the size of some cancers – especially those found in the intestines – but the research is not as advanced as that for the use of garlic in heart disease, so consult a natural health care provider before beginning its use.
- The oldest use of garlic is as an antibiotic. It can kill a wide range of microbes, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. It has also shown useful against athlete’s foot, thrush (oral candida), viral diarrhea, and the ulcer-causing bacteria Helicobacter pylori. However, only fresh garlic or those supplements that mimic fresh will have these effects.
Preparing and Dosing Garlic
Fresh garlic and supplements that mimic it should be used for best results. Garlic that has been dried or cooked and garlic oil lose a major portion of their effectiveness and potency during the processing – though they aren’t without value. They are still beneficial when eaten. Medicinal preparations should state that they have an allicin potency of at least 6,000 mcg on the label. (Allicin is the organosulfur compound in garlic that has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.) These supplements should be used alternately with one clove of chopped, fresh garlic daily – garlic that has been peeled, either whole or chopped or minced and is sold in jars in the supermarket are not potent enough. All good quality supplements will list the ‘allicin potential’ and not an actual amount of allicin. This ‘potential’ means that when the allicin gets into the stomach it releases 6,000 mcg of allicin. It is this pungent component that gives garlic its sharp flavor and smell. Supplements do not actually contain allicin because it is a highly unstable compound and quickly breaks down. Good garlic supplements contain alliin instead. Alliin is a stable chemical that transforms into allicin and is released into the body as such during digestion; this allows the body to make the best use of this compound for the body’s healing.
Garlic and garlic supplements should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place with good air circulation. Garlic should be checked on a regular basis and any cloves that are damaged should be removed as soon as possible, being careful not to nick the remaining cloves.
Garlic is natural and safe; however it does cause one’s sweat and breath to have a rather unpleasant order. If the person using this in the necessary quantities for improving health doesn’t have this odoriferous side effect, then the treatment wasn’t useful. It is the smell of garlic that indicates the presence of its healing attributes.
If you want to reduce the malodorous side effect when using garlic, you should take a source of chlorophyll, such as fresh leafy green vegetables or parsley, with the garlic.
A rare but more serious side effect from taking garlic is spontaneous bleeding. This can be caused by either taking too much garlic and/or garlic supplements or by taking it with blood thinners – such as aspirin or Coumadin (also called warfarin). Do Not take more than the recommended dosage. Do Not take it with any type of blood thinners without consulting a natural health care professional.
Taking garlic on a short-term basis is considered safe during pregnancy.
The information in this article IS NOT MEANT TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is only meant for informational purposes. Neither the author nor its publishers take any responsibility for possible consequences from any treatment procedure, dietary modification, exercise, action, or application of medication which may result from reading or following the information herein contained. The publication of this article and the information contained herein doesn’t constitute the practice of medicine nor does this information replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, readers must seek the advice of their doctor or other health care provider.