Garlic, or Allium sativum, belongs to the onion genus and has been used medicinally since ancient times.
Garlic is one of the oldest cultivated herbs dating back to more than 5,000 years ago, but its place in society has wavered. Some cultures saw garlic as an herb fit for the gods, while others found it repulsive and fit for only animal feed. Its use in society stretched the gamut of these beliefs.
Garlic, of course, is a pungent herb. It also turns out to be an effective treatment for high blood pressure when taken as a concentrated supplement.
A 2008 meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials (in which similar groups of participants were given either a garlic supplement or placebo, and the results were compared) found that, on the whole, taking garlic daily reduced blood pressure, with the most significant results coming in adults who had high blood pressure at the start of the trials.
Garlic — known to some as the stinking rose — is used by many cuisines around the world to add flavour to food, but it's also been used as a natural medicinal ingredient for centuries, both in its fresh plant form and as a supplement.
Our meta-analysis suggests that garlic supplementation is superior to placebo in reducing BP in hypertensive patients, especially in those with high SBP. More trials should be performed to explore the association between dosage and duration of garlic and change in BP. The safety of long-term use should also be investigated before garlic is used as conventional therapy for hypertension.
Some evidence also shows garlic to have antimicrobial and immune boosting effects. But before you start crushing, chopping, and adding the herb to your diet, be aware that garlic has the potential to interact negatively with medications, including certain antiretrovirals.
Garlic is a decidedly delicious pain.
Yes, you can use a knife and smash your cloves into oblivion, scattering little peel pieces over the floor. You can put the cloves in hot water, but you have to wait half an hour for the skins to soften. If you have to peel a dozen heads, you can shake them into submission between two bowls, but that takes more coordination than many chefs have.
So what's the home chef to do?
There is no clear evidence that garlic supplements are beneficial. Even if they do lower blood cholesterol or blood pressure or thin the blood, which is uncertain, the effect is small, so the supplements can’t replace medication. In any case, no one knows what form or dose would be best. Still, there’s no harm in eating more garlic in your food, if you like it.
Garlic is well known as a natural health remedy that has long been used to treat various ailments. It is extremely easy to source in most countries and can be consumed cooked or fresh. It is most easily included in your food or can be eaten on its own. You don’t need to limit yourself to fresh garlic either. Garlic powder or dried garlic flakes are just as effective and super easy to keep in the cupboard for everyday use.
“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” Those are famous words from the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, often called the father of Western medicine.
He actually used to prescribe garlic to treat a variety of medical conditions.
Well… modern science has recently confirmed many of these beneficial health effects.
Here are 11 health benefits of garlic that are supported by human research studies.
40% of garlic supplements FAILED our tests. Which of the brands below passed and which failed, and which offers the BEST VALUE?
Garlic has been used orally as an antioxidant; to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides; to reduce hardening of the arteries and blood clotting; to reduce blood pressure; to prevent cancer; to protect the liver; as an antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal; to increase the effects of the immune system; to reduce blood sugar levels; and to reduce menstrual pain. Garlic has also been used topically (on the skin) to treat corns, warts, calluses, ear infections, muscle pain, nerve pain, arthritis, and sciatica.
Garlic has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or purity.
Crushing or chopping garlic releases an enzyme called alliinase that catalyzes the formation of allicin. Allicin rapidly breaks down to form a variety of organosulfur compounds.
Since cooking can inactivate alliinase, some scientists recommend letting garlic stand for 10 minutes after chopping or crushing before cooking it.
Several different types of garlic supplements are available commercially, and each type provides a different profile of organosulfur compounds depending on how it was processed.