Garlic and Health
Garlic has an impressive array of health benefits. More research is being done in this area every day. Check out our updated pages on how garlic improves cardiovascular health, decreases high blood pressure, reduces inflammation, prevents wrinkles, changes epigenetics, decreases high blood glucose and more.
Picture: Three Chesnok Red garlic bulbs sit on a dangerous board.
Garlic and Health By Edna Hastain
Imagine a clove of Siberian, pure white with a blush of purple stripe, lying on a marble slab cutting board.
SLASH IT and an enzymatic reaction begins immediately when the cell is broken: the alliin comes into contact with the enzyme alliinase resulting in allicin. Allicin has a sharp bite, an audacious odor and used topically has been shown to have antibiotic, antifungal and antiseptic properties.
HACK IT into tiny pieces and you will create a mound of allicin soaked garlic.
INGEST IT now and it is quickly metabolized, thinning blood and benefiting the heart and lungs. The organosulfur compounds formed when allicin is metabolized or dried or heated, such as ajoene or S-allyl-L-cysteine, also have been shown to have impressive health benefits. They even kill food poisoning bacteria. Eventually excess sulfur compounds are released from the blood stream through the skin and the lungs, potentially creating body odor.
Exactly why garlic is closely associated with vampires is a subject of debate. Is it because garlic has been found to repel bloodsucking insects like mosquitoes and fleas? Did the pungent smell of the frequent garlic eater cause social isolation and hence protection from communicable diseases? Is it the blood-thinning property garlic exhibits? All we can know is that we have sighted no vampires in the recesses of our garlic barn, although a nice toad lives there.
If you leave the Siberian above to rest on the slab, the allicin quickly breaks down and the taste and smell of the garlic mellows. Cooking speeds this up – in fact, cooked, Siberian is the mildest garlic we sell. There are a myriad of health benefits attributed to this mellow garlic. Garlic is used to treat hypertension, hyperlipidemia, coronary heart disease, age-related vascular changes, colorectal cancer and to repel pests.
What are the Health Benefits of Garlic?
Garlic has been very popular with scientist lately, and not just in the lunch room. There is a slew of new research exploring why eating garlic is healthy. See our articles on how garlic can reduce skin aging and wrinkles, how eating garlic and onions prevents hip osteoarthritis, how garlic can change your genes, and why garlic inhibits inflammation and helps with arthritic symptoms. Garlic can prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes; see our sections on how garlic helps heart health, how garlic lowers blood pressure, and why garlic lowers blood sugar and reduces cholesterol.
We have garlic references and facts in garlic's historical use in medicine.
Garlic antibiotic, antifungal, antiseptic, and antiviral properties:
- Ankri S, Mirelman D. Antimicrobial properties of allicin from garlic. Microbes Infect 1999;1:125-9.
- Dehghani F, Merat A, Panjehshahin MR, Handjani F. Healing effect of garlic on warts and corns. Int J dermatol 2005;44:612-15. Pubmed.
- Ledezma E, Marcano K, Jorquera A, De Sousa L, Padilla M, Pulgar M, Apitz-Castro R. Efficacy of ajoene in the treatment on tinea pedis: A double blind and comparative study with terbinafine. J Am Acad Dermatol 2000:43;829-32. Pubmed.
- Sasaki J, Kita T, Ishita K, Uchisawa H, Matsue H. Antibacterial activity of garlic powder against Escherichia coli O-157. J Nutr Sci Vitamin (Tokyo) 1999; 45:785-9. Pubmed.
- Weber ND, Andersen DO, North JA, Murray BK, Lawson LD, Hughes BG. In vitro virucidal effects of Allium sativum (garlic) extract and compounds. Planta Med 1992;58:417-23. Pubmed.
Raw vs. cooked garlic:
- Ali M, Bordia T, Mustafa T. Effect of raw versus boiled aqueous extract of garlic and onion on platelet aggregation. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 1999;60;43-7. Pubmed.
- Chutani SK, Bordia A. The effect of fried versus raw garlic on fibrinoloytic activity in man. Atherosclerosis 1981;38:417-21. Pubmed.
- Mukherjee S, Lekli I, Das D. Freshly crushed garlic is a superior cardioprotective agent than processed garlic. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2009;57:7137-7144. Pubmed. doi: 10.1021/jf901301w
Sulfur compound formation when garlic is eaten, heated, or dried:
- Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, eds. Herbal Medicine Expanded commission E Monographs. Newton, Ma. Integrative Medicine Communications. 2000.
- Linus Pauley Institute at Oregon State University: micronutrient research
A great deal of information about garlic sulfur compounds. website.
Ingested garlic and sulfur compounds in the bloodstream, atherosclerosis, colorectal cancer, gastric cancer, bladder cancer, immune stimulation, and hypertension:
- Ackermann RT, Monroe CD, Ramirez G, Gardner CD, Morbidoni L, Lawrence VA. Garlic shows promise for improving some cardiovascular risk factors. Arch Intern Med 2001;161:813-24. Pubmed.
- Auer W, Elber A, Hertkorn E, Hoehfeld E, Koehrle U, Lorenz A, Mader F, Merx W, Otto G, Schmid-Otto B, et al. Hypertension and hyperlipidaemia: garlic helps in mild cases. Br J Clin Pract Sump Suppl 1990;69:3-6. Pubmed.
- Ide N, Lau BH. Aged garlic extract attenuates intracellular oxidative stress. Phytomedicine 1999;6:125-31. Pubmed.
- Pedraza-Chaverri J, Tapia E, Medina-Campos ON, de los Angeles Granados M, Franco M. Garlic prevents hypertension induced by chronic inhibition of nitric oxide synthesis. Life Sci 1998;62:71-7. Pubmed.
- Rahman K, Billington D. Dietary supplementation with aged garlic extract inhibits APD-induced platelet aggregation in humans. J Nutr 2000;130:2662-5. Pubmed. Full text.
- Reid K, Frank OR, Stocks, NP, Fakler P, Sullivan T. Effect of Garlic on Blood Pressure: a systemic review and meta-analysis. BMC Cardiovascular Disord. 2008;16:8:13. Full text.
- Steiner M, Lin RS. Changes in platelet function and susceptibility of lipoproteins to oxidation associated with administration of aged garlic extract. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol 1998;31:904-8. Pubmed.
- Steiner M, Li W. Aged garlic extract, a modulator of cardiovascular risk factors: a dose-finding study on the effect of AGE on Platelet functions. J Nutr 2001;131:980S-4. Pubmed. Full text.
- Williams, FMK, Spector TD, Cassidy A, Davidson RM, McGregor AJ. Dietary garlic and hip osteoarthritis: evidence of protective effect and putative mechanism of action. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2010;11:280. Pubmed. Full text.
- American Institute of Cancer Research: Search for garlic or garlic research
- Fluegel J, Hastain E, Toad Sighting in garlic barn. September 2010.
Other garlic information:
- Brownlee C. Decoding garlic’s pizzazz: extract stimulates taste, temperature receptors. Science News, June 4, 2005.
- Josling P. Preventing the common cold with a garlic supplement: a double blind, placebo-controlled survey. Advances in Therapy,18:4 July/Aug 2001. Pubmed.
- Tattelman E. Health Effects of Garlic. American Family Physician. July 1 2005. Pubmed. Full text.
- Fareed G, Scolaro M, Jordan W, Sanders M, Chesson C, Slattery M, Long D, Castro C; The use of a high-dose garlic preparation for the treatment of Cryptosporidium parvum diarrhea. Int Conf AIDS 1996;11:288.