by Anjali Vyas
garlic benefits

Garlic is beneficial to good health in one way or another. Get past the odor, and a world of good can be had from a daily regimen of fresh garlic or garlic supplements. Although not all of it’s health benefits have been proven in the laboratory, centuries of garlic consumption – and its pronounced use in natural medicine – point to an herb with a variety of healing properties and significant nutritive value.

It contains healthy amino acids and high levels of the constituent allicin, an amino acid derivative said to be responsible for the herb’s health benefits. It contains trace minerals copper, zinc, germanium, selenium, iron and magnesium, vitamins A and C, and several beneficial sulfuric compounds are known to bind to heavy metals and toxins in the liver and transport them for elimination.

For thousands of years, it has been used in natural medicine to treat a variety of viral, bacterial, and fungal infections, and to minister to wounds, tumors, and intestinal parasites. It may speed up metabolism and help burn fat and is hailed as a free radical fighting agent, an immune system booster and heart-healthy food. Legend has it that it was reputed as effective in fighting the plague of the Middle Ages.


When ingested, the predominant enzyme in it, allinase, reacts with alliin to form allicin, the compound responsible for it’s pronounced odor and antibacterial qualities. Garlic travels through the bloodstream and lungs making perspiration, breath, and skin smell pungent. Shortly after consumption, the odor of it may stay with the body for up to 18 hours, even when odorless pills of it are consumed.


Its supplements are said to be as beneficial to good health as eating fresh its cloves. They’re more likely to be tolerated by garlic-sensitive individuals and more convenient to use than raw garlic. Garlic pills minimize taste and odor and come in a variety of forms, all of which claim to be effective. The most common forms of its supplements include:

  • Aged extract
  • Odorless pills
  • oil capsules
  • Allicin-stabilized pills
  • Encapsulated powder
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It is a source of ongoing controversy in which the form of its supplement is most effective and best absorbed by the system. It is said that a daily regimen of garlic must be continued for at least one month in order to achieve noticeable results. Its odorless supplements are considered inferior by some nutritionists as their allicin count may be diminished.


Up until recently, it was alleged that its supplements helped to lower serum cholesterol levels. Notwithstanding the release of findings in 2007 that clinically dispute this claim, nutritionists and dieticians continue to believe that it is heart-healthy and can lower homocysteine levels in the blood. Homocysteine is a type of amino acid, too high levels of which have been linked to diminished heart health. It is also credited for reducing harmful plaque buildup on arterial walls.


New research indicates that it may boost circulation by increasing levels of hydrogen sulfide in the blood, which is essential to healthy cell signaling (the transmission of information among cells). Its other benefits to blood include:

The sulfur compounds in it may reduce fatty substances in the blood, helping to modulate blood pressure and aid in symptoms of hypertension.*

Sulfur compounds in it, particularly ajoene, may help to slow platelet aggregation (clumping of blood vessels) and aid normal blood clotting. It can be used in the same manner as low-dose aspirin to slow or stop platelet aggregation over time.

It is often used as a blood thinner to improve circulation and reduce clots.

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It stimulates white blood cell activity and may help the immune system fight infection and disease. It, when taken internally, is said to be effective in fighting colds and flu and in the treatment of yeast infections.* Studies indicate that garlic may enhance the liver’s production of free-radical-fighting enzymes and may be effective against some forms of penicillin-resistant bacteria.


Studies indicate that garlic may have the ability to increase insulin levels in the blood and stabilize blood sugar.


It is said to have powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial qualities. The antioxidants in It may protect cells against free radicals and inhibit the growth of a variety of tumors. Studies also show that garlic may block the formation of toxins formed while digesting food. Allicin, the compound responsible for its odor, is the herb’s primary antibacterial agent.

It was studied by Louis Pasteur for its antibiotic potential in the 19th Century and used by Albert Schweitzer in Africa in the 1950s to fight cholera, typhus and dysentery. During the First World War, it was used to treat battle wounds in the absence of antibiotics.


It was once thought that it played an essential role in lowering serum cholesterol levels in the blood. Findings that previously confirmed it as a cholesterol-lowering agent were reversed by clinical studies conducted in 2007. One study, published in the February 26, 2007 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, concluded that neither its supplements nor fresh garlic lowered the LDL cholesterol levels of 192 men and women aged 30 to 65 over a six-month period.


It is a natural blood thinner and inhibits clotting, so those with clotting disorders should consult a physician before beginning a regimen of its supplements or cloves. It can irritate the digestive system, cause cramping, bloating, diarrhea and gas, and should be avoided by those allergic to sulfur.

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