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Different Health Benefits of Garlic as a Medicine
In the previous article we looked at the history of Garlic and its origin story in how it developed over time as both a herb used in cooking and how it was used as a medicine.
In this article we are going to look at it more in-depth as a medicine and the different health benefits that are now coming to light as more research is done into this ancient medicinal herb.
According to the National Library of Medicine, USA, garlic is widely used for several conditions linked to the blood system and heart, including atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high cholesterol, heart attack, coronary heart disease and hypertension. Garlic is also used today by some people around the world for the prevention of lung cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, rectal cancer and colon cancer.
According to the National Library of Medicine, USA, garlic is widely used for several medical conditions linked to the blood system and heart, including atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high cholesterol, heart attack, coronary heart disease and hypertension. Garlic is also used today by some people around the world for the prevention of lung cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, rectal cancer and colon cancer.
The NIH (National Institutes of Health, USA) adds "Some of these uses are supported by science." A study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology warned that short-term heating reduces the anti-inflammatory effects of fresh raw garlic extracts. This may be a problem for some people who do not like or cannot tolerate the taste and/or odour of fresh garlic.
Ask your pharmacist for garlic supplements or oil which have not been exposed to too much heat. As we looked at in the previous article heating them up will actually remove the Allicin from the garlic. Freeze dried Garlic powder is the best type of Garlic to use in supplements.
Below are examples of some scientific studies published in peer-reviewed academic journals about the therapeutic benefits of garlic.
Lung cancer risk
According to a study, people who eat raw garlic at least twice a week have a 44% lower risk of developing lung cancer.
People who ate raw garlic at least twice a week had a 44% lower risk of developing lung cancer, according to a study carried out at the Jiangsu Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in China.
The researchers, who published their study in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, had carried out face-to-face interviews with 1,424 lung cancer patients as well as 4,543 healthy individuals. They were asked about their diet and lifestyle habits, which included questions on their smoking habits and how often they ate garlic.
The study authors wrote "Protective association between intake of raw garlic and lung cancer has been observed with a dose-response pattern, suggesting that garlic may potentially serve as a chemo-preventive agent for lung cancer."
Organosulfur compounds found in garlic have been identified as effective in destroying the cells in glioblastomas, a type of deadly brain tumour.
Scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina reported in the journal Cancer that three pure organosulfur compounds from garlic - DAS, DADS and DATS - "demonstrated efficacy in eradicating brain cancer cells, but DATS proved to be the most effective".
Co-author, Ray Swapan, Ph.D., said "This research highlights the great promise of plant-originated compounds as natural medicine for controlling the malignant growth of human brain tumour cells," Ray said. "More studies are needed in animal models of brain tumours before application of this therapeutic strategy to brain tumour patients."
Women whose diets were rich in allium vegetables had lower levels of osteoarthritis, a team at King's College London and the University of East Anglia, both in England, reported in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. Examples of allium vegetables include garlic, leeks, shallots, and onions.
The study authors said their findings not only highlighted the possible impact of diet on osteoarthritis outcomes, but also demonstrated the potential for using compounds that exist in garlic to develop treatments for the condition.
The long-term study, involving more than 1,000 healthy female twins, found that those whose dietary habits included plenty of fruit and vegetables, "particularly alliums such as garlic", had fewer signs of early osteoarthritis in the hip joint.
Diallyl sulphide, a compound in garlic, was 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics in fighting the Campylobacter bacterium, according to a study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.
The Campylobacter bacterium is one of the most common causes of intestinal infections.
Senior author, Dr. Xiaonan Lu, from Washington State University, said "This work is very exciting to me because it shows that this compound has the potential to reduce disease-causing bacteria in the environment and in our food supply."
High cholesterol and high blood pressure
Researchers at Ankara University set out to determine what the effects of garlic extract supplementation might be on the blood lipid (fat) profile of patients with high blood cholesterol. Their study was published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
The study involved 23 volunteers, all with high cholesterol; 13 of them also had high blood pressure. They were divided into two groups:
- The high-cholesterol normotensive group (normal blood pressure)
- The high-cholesterol hypertensive group (high blood pressure)
They took garlic extract supplements for four months and were regularly checked for blood lipid parameters, as well as kidney and liver function.
t the end of the four months the researchers concluded "...garlic extract supplementation improves blood lipid profile, strengthens blood antioxidant potential, and causes significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressures. It also leads to a decrease in the level of oxidation product (MDA) in the blood samples, which demonstrates reduced oxidation reactions in the body."
In other words, the garlic extract supplements reduced high cholesterol levels, and also blood pressure in the patients with hypertension. The scientists added that theirs was a small study - a larger one needs to be carried out.
Doctors at the Department of Urology, China-Japan Friendship Hospital, Beijing, China, carried out a study evaluating the relationship between Allium vegetable consumption and prostate cancer risk.
They gathered and analysed published studies up to May 2013 and reported their findings in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention.
The study authors wrote "Allium vegetables, especially garlic intake, are related to a decreased risk of prostate cancer".
The team also commented that as there were not that many studies, they recommend further well-designed prospective studies be carried out to confirm their findings.
Garlic and other powerful medical herbs
Garlic mixed with other potent cancer killers like Wasabia japonica, taken as a supplement, is now regarded as a useful addition to the usual pharmaceutical and chemotherapy attacks on cancer cells.