The Health Benefits of Garlic

By Jenny Pham; Second Year Project Manager

Garlic is an herb most commonly found as a flavoring in food, but many people don’t know that garlic has also been used as medicine for thousands of years. In our bodies, there are harmful particles called free radicals that may increase as we age. Interestingly, garlic produces a chemical called allicin, which has antioxidant activity that can help fight off these harmful free radicals. Garlic has shown possible efficacy for the following conditions:

  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • High blood pressure
  • Colon cancer, rectal cancer, stomach cancer
  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate)
  • Tick bites
  • Ringworm, jock itch, athlete’s foot

Available forms of garlic include fresh whole garlic, dried garlic, garlic oil, and aged garlic extracts. It is important to note that not all garlic contains the same amount of allicin. Before consuming or using any form of garlic for therapeutic purposes, it is imperative to read the labels for more information on precautions and drug interactions.

Although garlic may, in some cases, reduce the progression of these conditions, it is important to note that side effects include upset stomach, bloating, bad breath, body odor, and a stinging sensation on the skin from handling too much fresh or dried garlic. Garlic is also a blood thinner and may interact with blood-thinning medications. As with all herbal supplements, it is important to consult your pharmacist or primary care provider before taking garlic for therapeutic purposes.

If you would like to learn more about garlic and its therapeutic benefits or the sources of this information, please visit any of the sites below.

References:

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/garlic

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-300-garlic.aspx?activeingredientid=300&activeingredientname=garlic

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