How to Use Garlic As a Medicine
Garlic (Allium sativum) has been used for both culinary and medicinal purposes in many cultures for thousands of years and to prevent and treat a wide range of conditions and diseases. There have been lots of claims about using garlic as a remedy for many conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, heart attack, atherosclerosis and various types of cancer. Most of the health benefits of garlic come from the sulphur containing compounds it contains – the most notable is allicin.
Even when researching the medicinal benefits of garlic, I encountered many medical websites whose claims regarding the medicinal properties of garlic were not exactly the same. Some of them used the words “possibly effective” or “more evidence is needed”, but still there are medical areas in which garlic shows a promise potential:
Daily intake of garlic has been found to lower risk of many types of cancer. Some people use garlic to prevent colon cancer, rectal cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, bladder cancer and lung cancer. Some findings require further studies to be carried out. And indeed garlic is one of the top 14 foods that protects against cancer development. You can also read more about the research published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research that found that garlic intake can reduce the risk for lung cancer.
Fungal skin infections
Several studies report that a garlic gel applied to the skin, may treat ringworm, jock itch, and athlete’s foot. To Make your own garlic topical application, mince a clove of garlic and mix it with aloe vera, coconut oil or olive oil and apply to the affected area. Don’t apply neat (undiluted) garlic as it can burn the skin.
Garlic is most well-known for its antibacterial and antiviral properties that help control bacterial, viral, fungal, yeast and worm infections. There is some evidence that fresh garlic is thought to play a role in preventing food poisoning by killing bacteria like E. coli, Salmonella enteritidis, etc. It is also used for building the immune system.
According to a study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, a compound in garlic called diallyl sulfide was 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics in fighting one of the most common bacteria of intestinal infections, showing that this compound has the potential to reduce disease-causing bacteria in the environment and in our food supply. In studies, garlic has been found to be almost as effective as penicillin. You can also read my previous article about these 6 common mistakes when using garlic ss an Antibiotic.
There is a mixed evidence about garlic to prevent heart disease and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), but some studies suggest that garlic may help prevent heart disease, may slow atherosclerosis and slightly lower blood pressure. Garlic also seems to be a blood thinner, and thus may help prevent heart attacks and strokes by helping in preventing the formation of blood clots in the body. As for lowering cholesterol and triglycerides, most recent high quality studies didn’t find evidence that garlic can significantly lower cholesterol or triglycerides. Read here about other foods to prevent clogged arteries.
There is some early evidence that garlic consumption may decrease the frequency of colds in adults. Those who took garlic had fewer colds than those who took placebo, and when they did get a cold, their symptoms went away faster than those who took placebo.
How to consume garlic and how much to take
Consuming more garlic is one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health. The University of Maryland Medical Center website mentions the amount of 2-4 grams per day of fresh, minced garlic clove (a clove of garlic may weigh up to 5 grams, but of course this all depends on the size). The garlic has to be cut or minced in order to release the allicin which is the active component of garlic.
It is best to consume raw garlic, as obviously cooking fresh garlic can destroy some of the healthy sulphurous compounds. But if eating raw garlic is not your cup of tea – all is not lost. During the cooking process other sulphur containing compounds are formed that still have health benefits. But don’t microwave garlic – microwaving garlic will completely kill the allicin and its therapeutic effects.
Here is a great tip when cooking garlic to preserve its maximum healing benefits: crush the garlic and then wait 10 minutes before cooking to maximize health benefits. Allowing the crushed garlic to stand for 10 minutes before cooking further enhances formation of allicin, ensures the maximum synthesis of allicin, and also makes it more stable and resistant to the heat of cooking. Then cook it on low or medium heat for a short period of time (up to 15 minutes).
If you consume garlic supplement, there is a lot of variation among garlic products sold for medicinal purposes. The amount of allicin depends on the method of preparation, and not all garlic supplements contain the same amount of active ingredients, so it is important to read the label carefully.
Garlic is a true superfood that is also featured in my e-book about superfoods which is part of the Natural Health Revolution Program. This program will help you to achieve your health, nutrition or weight loss goals.
If you are interested to learn more about garlic, as well as other herbs, and on how to use herbal medicine to effectively to heal disease and illness then you should check my e-book The Herbal Remedies Guide.
Read my other related posts:
1. 6 Common Mistakes When Using Garlic As an Antibiotic
2. Natural Garlic syrup for chest infections
3. Reduce the risk for lung cancer with garlic