What Is Garlic?
Garlic (Allium sativum) is a plant closely related to onions, leeks, and chives. Extracts of the bulb and clove are sometimes used medicinally.
Uses for Garlic
In herbal medicine, garlic is typically used to treat or prevent these conditions:
Benefits of Garlic
Research suggests that garlic may help fight the following health problems:
A number of studies have shown that regular intake of garlic may lead to moderate changes in cholesterol levels. In a 2009 review that analyzed the results of 29 clinical trials, for instance, researchers found that garlic appears to reduce total cholesterol to a modest extent. A study published in 2000, however, indicates that although garlic is superior to a placebo in lowering total cholesterol levels, the use of garlic in treatment of high cholesterol is of "questionable value."
Garlic preparations are more effective than a placebo when it comes to reducing blood pressure in people with hypertension, according to a 2008 review and analysis of 25 studies. However, another review (published in 2009) concluded that garlic should not be recommended as a blood pressure-lowering remedy for hypertensive patients.
3) The Common Cold
Garlic may help fend off colds, suggests a 2001 study. For 12 weeks during cold season, 146 volunteers took either a daily garlic supplement or a placebo. By the end of the study period, 24 colds were reported in the garlic group, compared to 65 in the placebo group.
4) Colorectal and Stomach Cancer
In a 2001 review of 19 studies on garlic consumption and cancer incidence, researchers found that regular intake of garlic (in raw, cooked, or supplement form) may help prevent stomach and colorectal cancers.
Is Garlic Safe?
While garlic is generally considered safe, possible adverse effects include:
Since garlic thins the blood, it's important to discontinue use at least seven days before undergoing surgery. Garlic may also interact with a number of medications, including insulin, anticoagulants, immunosuppressive agents, and protease inhibitors.
How to Use Garlic
Garlic supplements (as well as topically applied garlic oils, often used in treatment of ear infections) are sold in many health food stores and drugstores. Eating chopped or crushed raw garlic may also offer medicinal benefits.
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