Powerful Antibiotic and Immune Stimulant
Garlic is a natural antibiotic. Albert Schweitzer used garlic to treat dysentery in Africa. In addition to it’s broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, garlic enhances numerous aspects of immune function. Garlic lowers blood pressure, triglycerides, and platelet stickiness (which can lead to clots and strokes while increasing HDL (the good cholesterol) and fibrinolysis (the breakdown of fibrin clots). Garlic is useful in HIV/AIDS, allergy, atherosclerosis, cancer, candidiasis, cardiac arrhythmias, diabetes type II, high blood pressure and infection.
Alliin, the primary substance of garlic, and alliinase, the activating enzyme, are present in separate chambers of the garlic clove. When garlic is ruptured, alliinase interacts with alliin and converts it to allicin – one of garlic’s most beneficial compounds. However, allicin dissipates quickly during standard processing techniques – including cooking.
Allium sativum – humble garlic – came to ancient man from Central Asia and belongs to the Alliacae plant family. It is used worldwide for it’s indispensable and distinctive flavor in cooking. It also has a vital place in traditional medicine, and as a functional food to enhance physical and mental health.
The benefits of garlic consumption in treating a wide variety of human diseases and disorders have been known for centuries and garlic has found a special position in many cultures as a powerful preventative and therapeutic medicinal agent. The ancient Egyptians in their 3,500-year-old document the Codex Ebers, described it’s use in the treatment of heart disorders, tumors, worms, bites, and other ailments.
In more modern times, garlic is known to inhibit the development of cardiovascular disease and to prevent cancer and other chronic diseases associated with aging.
Over the past few decades the role of garlic in treating cardiovascular disease has received much attention – much of it likely sponsored by drug companies hoping to find a way to cash in on Mother Nature’s genius.
Let’s look at a few of garlic’s better-known effects:
Cholesterol and lipid-lowering effects.
Several studies have indicated that garlic inhibits key enzymes involved in cholesterol and fatty acid synthesis, thus lowering the dreaded “bad cholesterol” levels and promoting overall cardiovascular health. (1, 2, 3, 4)
Inhibition of platelet aggregation – known to most people as “blood thinning.”
Since the 1990s, numerous clinical trials have been done, and all showed that garlic consumption leads to the inhibition of platelet aggregation (5, 6, 7). Performed on both normal, healthy subjects and on subjects with cardiovascular illnesses, the studies showed that no matter what form the garlic was in , whether powdered, oil, or aged extract, the garlic had a positive effect in the inhibition of platelet aggregation (abnormal blood “stickiness”) in both healthy subjects and the subjects with cardiovascular disease.
Lowering blood pressure.
Beginning in the 1990s, studies have been published demonstrating the effects of garlic on blood pressure (6, 8, 9, 10). Again, no matter what form of garlic was used; powdered, oil, extracts, or just garlic in the diet, all the studies showed a reduction in blood pressure.
Reducing oxidative stress.
Garlic beats out Big Pharma on this one – hands down. In fact, Big Pharma really doesn’t have anything to offer that they claim will reduce oxidative stress, even though it is widely known that oxidative stress can lead to the development of cardiovascular disease and certainly worsens existing cardiovascular disease. In study after study normal subjects and patients with hypertension (high blood pressure), hypercholesterolemic (high cholesterol), and tobacco smoking subjects all showed improvements in plasma (blood) antioxidant capacity, lowering of blood pressure and of cholesterol, and reduction in oxidative markers. (11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
Other direct heart and circulation protective effects of garlic in humans that have been reported include:
- a decrease in unstable angina (chest pain) (16),
- increased elasticity of blood vessels (17),
- a decrease in peripheral arterial occlusive disease (blocked arteries) (18),
- an increase in peripheral blood flow in healthy subjects (19),
- an inhibiting effect on the progression of coronary calcification (hardening arteries) in patients using statin drugs (20).
Garlic is also well-known for it’s potent antimicrobial effects as well – for example, MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a potentially deadly bacteria that has Big Pharma throwing it’s hands up in defeat – it has become resistant to the “Big Guns” antibiotics. Garlic doesn’t concede defeat however – and it is one of the few effective treatments for this dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Doesn’t garlic make you smell like, well, garlic?
It depends on how you are using it. Fresh garlic cloves will certainly have you smelling like garlic – though that is not necessarily an offensive scent to many people… and other garlic preparations – oils, and extracts especially – can give a garlicky odor to your breath. Enteric garlic like Garlitrin 4000 delivers all the health benefits of fresh garlic, but does so in a special tablet that dissolves only when it reaches the small intestine where it is able to be fully-absorbed, undamaged by stomach acid. Because it dissolves and is absorbed so far along in the digestive tract it causes no garlic odor of the breath.
1. Gebhardt R. Multiple inhibitory effects of garlic extracts on cholesterol biosynthesis in hepatocytes. Lipids. 1993;28:613–9.
2. Liu L, Yeh YY. Water-soluble organosulfur compounds of garlic inhibit fatty acid and triglyceride synthesis in cultured rat hepatocytes. Lipids. 2001;36:395–400.
3. Yeh YY, Liu L. Cholesterol-lowering effects of garlic extracts and organosulfur compounds: human and animal studies. J Nutr. 2001;131:989S–93S.
4. Yeh YY, Yeh SM. Garlic reduces plasma lipids by inhibiting hepatic cholesterol and triacylglycerol synthesis. Lipids. 1994;29:189–93.
5. Rahman K. Garlic and aging: new insights into an old remedy. Ageing Res Rev. 2003;2:39–56.
6. Banerjee SK, Maulik SK. Effect of garlic on cardiovascular disorders: a review. Nutr J. 2002;1:4–14.
7. Steiner M, Li W. Aged garlic extract, a modulator of cardiovascular risk factors: a dose-finding study on the effects of AGE on platelet functions. J Nutr. 2001;131:980S–4S.
8. Turner B, Molgaard C, Marckmann P. Effect of garlic (Allium sativum) powder tablets on serum lipids, blood pressure and arterial stiffness in normo-lipidaemic volunteers: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 2004;92:701–6.
9. Dhawan V, Jain S. Effect of garlic supplementation on oxidised low density lipoproteins and lipid peroxidation in patients of essential hypertension. Mol Cell Biochem. 2004;266:109–15.
10. Durak I, Kavutcu M, Aytac B, Avci A, Devrim E, Ozbek H, Ozturk HS. Effects of garlic extract consumption on blood lipid and oxidant/antioxidant parameters in humans with high blood cholesterol. J Nutr Biochem. 2004;15:373–7.
11. Dhawan V, Jain S. Effect of garlic supplementation on oxidised low density lipoproteins and lipid peroxidation in patients of essential hypertension. Mol Cell Biochem. 2004;266:109–15.
12. Durak I, Kavutcu M, Aytac B, Avci A, Devrim E, Ozbek H, Ozturk HS. Effects of garlic extract consumption on blood lipid and oxidant/antioxidant parameters in humans with high blood cholesterol. J Nutr Biochem. 2004;15:373–7.
13. Munday JS, James KA, Fray LM, Kirkwood SW, Thompson KG. Daily supplementation with aged garlic extract, but not raw garlic protects low density lipoprotein against in vitro oxidation. Atherosclerosis. 1999;143:399–404.
14. Dillion SA, Lowe GM, Billington D, Rahman K. Dietary supplementation with aged garlic extract reduces plasma and urine concentrations of 8-iso-prostagalandin F(2 alpha) in smoking and non-smoking men and women. J Nutr. 2002;132:168–71.
15. Durak I, Aytac B, Atmaca Y, Devrim E, Avci A, Erol C, Oral D. Effects of aged garlic extract consumption on plasma and erythrocyte antioxidant parameters in atherosclerotic patients. Life Sci. 2004;75:1959–66.
16. Li G, Shi Z, Jia H, Ju J, Wang X, Xia Z, Qin L, Ge C, Xu Y, et al. A clinical investigation on garlicin injection for the treatment of unstable angina pectoris and its actions on plasma endothelin and blood sugar levels. J Tradit Chin Med. 2000;20:243–6.
17. Breithaupt-Grogler K, Ling M, Boudoulas H, Belz GG, Heiden M, Wenzel E, Gu LD. Protective effect of chronic garlic intake on elastic properties of aorta in the elderly. Circulation. 1997;96:2649–55.
18. Kiesewetter H, Jung F, Jung EM, Mroweitz C, Koscielny J, Wenzel E. Effect of garlic on platelet aggregation in patients with increased risk of juvenile ischaemic attack. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1993;45:333–6.
19. Anim-Nyame N, Sooranna SR, Johnson MR, Gamble J, Steer PJ. Garlic supplementation increases peripheral blood flow: a role for interleukin-6? J Nutr Biochem. 2004;15:30–6.
20. Budoff MJ, Takasu J, Flores FR, Niihara Y, Lu B, Lau BH, Rosen RT, Amagase H. Inhibiting progression of coronary calcification using Aged Garlic Extract in patients receiving statin therapy: a preliminary study. Prev Med. 2004;39:985–91.