Fondly known to herbalists as “the stinking rose”, Garlic (Allium sativum) has been used for centuries for a variety of health concerns ranging from treatment of skin conditions to fighting infection. Today, research shows that garlic contains more than 200 phytochemicals that have protective health benefits, such as regulating blood pressure, lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels, enhancing immunity and working against bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.
Garlic contains several vitamins and minerals that support health, including vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, and selenium. It’s also rich in sulfur-containing compounds – allicin, alliin, ajoene – that help reduce inflammation and have antioxidant properties. These unique compounds (along with enzymes, minerals and amino acids) make garlic a powerful medicinal that helps reduce the risk for chronic diseases where inflammation is an underlying factor, such as heart disease and cancer.
Though generally safe for most adults, taking a garlic supplement can cause heartburn, upset stomach, an allergic reaction, and breath and body odor (common with raw garlic). Because it can impair the body’s ability to form blood clots, garlic should not be taken if you’re preparing for surgery or have bleeding disorders.
Be aware that garlic supplements (powder, capsule, extract or oil) can vary significantly because allicin (the active ingredient) is sensitive to how the supplement is prepared. For example, aging garlic to reduce its odor also reduces the allicin present and compromises the effectiveness of the product. Check with your holistic physician about the benefits garlic may have for you and which formula will work best for your needs.
- Ayaz, E. & Alpsoy, H.C. “Garlic (Allium sativum) and traditional medicine.” Turkiye Parazitol Derg. 2007;31(2):145-9.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17594659
- World’s Healthiest Foods: Garlic. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=60
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Garlic. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/garlic/ataglance.htm
- Medline Plus. Herbs and Supplements: Garlic. (Includes information on garlic interactions with other drugs) https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/300.html
- Xiong, XJ., Wang, PQ, et al.,”Garlic for hypertension: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Phytomedicine. (2015 Mar 15) 22(3):352-61. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2014.12.013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25837272