Health Benefits of Garlic

Garlic is an herb that is grown around the world. It is related to onion, leeks, and chives. It is thought that garlic is native to Siberia, but spread to other parts of the world over 5000 years ago.

Garlic is used for many conditions related to the heart and blood system. These conditions include high blood pressurelow blood pressurehigh cholesterolinherited high cholesterol, coronary heart diseaseheart attack, reduced blood flow due to narrowed arteries, and “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis).

Some people use garlic to prevent colon cancerrectal cancerstomach cancerbreast cancerprostate cancermultiple myeloma, and lung cancer. It is also used to treat prostate cancer and bladder cancer.

Garlic has been tried for treating an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasiaBPH), cystic fibrosisdiabetesosteoarthritis, hayfever (allergic rhinitis), traveler’s diarrheahigh blood pressure late in pregnancy (pre-eclampsia), yeast infectionflu, and swine flu. It is also used to prevent tick bites, as a mosquito repellant, and for preventing the common cold, and treating and preventing bacterial and fungal infections.

Garlic is also used for earaches, chronic fatigue syndrome, menstrual disorders, abnormal cholesterol levels caused by HIV drugshepatitisshortness of breath related to liver disease, stomach ulcers caused by H. pylori infection, exercise performance, exercise-induced muscle soreness, a condition that causes lumps in the breast tissue called fibrocystic breast disease, a skin condition called scleroderma, and lead toxicity.

Other uses include treatment of fevercoughsheadachestomach ache, sinus congestiongoutjoint painhemorrhoidsasthmabronchitis, shortness of breath, low blood sugarsnakebitesdiarrhea and bloody diarrheatuberculosisbloody urine, a serious nose and throat infection called diphtheriawhooping cough, tooth sensitivity, stomach inflammation (gastritis), scalp ringworm, and a sexually transmitted disease called vaginal trichomoniasis. It is also used for fighting stress and fatigue.

Some people apply garlic oil to their skin or nails to treat fungal infections, warts, and corns. It is also applied to the skin for hair loss and thrush.

Garlic is used in the vagina for yeast infections.

Garlic is injected into the body for chest pain.

In foods and beverages, fresh garlic, garlic powder, and garlic oil are used to add flavor.

Is Garlic effective?

There is some scientific evidence that garlic can lower high cholesterol after a few months of treatment, but perhaps not enough to reduce heart disease. Garlic is not nearly as effective as regular prescription medicines used to lower cholesterol.

Garlic seems to also lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure and possibly slow “hardening of the arteries.”

There is also some evidence that eating garlic might reduce the chance of developing some cancers such as cancer of the colon, and possibly stomach cancer and prostate cancer. But there is no reliable evidence that garlic is helpful for people who already have cancer.

Some people with diabetes try garlic to help lower blood sugar. But garlic does not seem to be effective for this use.

There isn’t enough information to know if garlic is effective for the other conditions people use it for, including: treating a special condition involving high cholesterol in people with HIV/AIDS, earaches, arthritisallergies, colds, flu, traveler’s diarrhea, and others.

Possibly Effective for…

  • Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). As people age, their arteries tend to lose their ability to stretch and flex. Garlic seems to reduce this effect. Taking a specific garlic powder supplement (Allicor, INAT-Farma, Moscow, Russia) twice daily for 24 months seems to reduce how much hardening of the arteries progresses. Higher doses of this product seem to provide more benefits in women than men when taken over a four year period. Research with other products containing garlic along with other ingredients (Kyolic, Total Heart Health, Formula 108, Wakunga) have also shown benefits.
  • Colon cancer, rectal cancer. Research suggests that eating garlic can reduce the risk of developing colon or rectal cancer. Also, in people diagnosed with a certain type of colon and rectal tumors, taking high doses of aged garlic extract daily for 12 months seems to reduce the risk of developing new tumors. However, other garlic supplements do not seem to offer the same benefit. Read More

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