Benefits of Garlic & Garlic Supplements
Garlic: An Introduction
Garlic is the common name for the flavorful, strongly scented bulbs of plants that belong to the lily family. Its widespread use in Mediterranean cooking contributes to the well-touted health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
Garlic has a range of medicinal properties that have been known for thousands of years, and therefore offers many benefits — whether used raw or in supplement form.
The ancient Greeks and Egyptians used it to treat everything from toothaches to leprosy. In the 1800’s, scientists recognized that garlic contains anti-bacterial properties, and it was used to treat tuberculosis and to disinfect wounds.
Allicin: Garlic’s Healing Compound
The power of garlic is mainly attributed to a compound called allicin, a sulphur-bearing compound that gives the herb its strong taste and aroma.
Allicin is released from garlic when the cloves are crushed, chewed or cut.
Garlic also contains the trace minerals selenium and germanium.
These substances are thought to contribute to garlic’s therapeutic effects as well.
Lots of Benefits
Research confirms that extracts from garlic can fight a variety of bacteria, including staphylococcus and streptococcus, two of the more common disease-causing organisms in humans. Garlic is also useful in fighting Helicobacter pylori, the infection that is known to cause gastric ulcers.
Fungal infections of the skin and ear may respond to the therapeutic effects of garlic as well.
In addition to its ability to fight infection, garlic may help to lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, and it is also a powerful antioxidant.
Antioxidants counter the effects of free radicals, oxygen molecules with unpaired electrons that can cause damage throughout the body if they are not stabilized.
Garlic is also known to be very effective in protecting the heart by reducing cholesterol levels and slowing the formation of blood clots. It can also help to break up clots that have already formed in the blood through a mechanism known as fibroinolytic action.
By protecting the heart and clearing the arteries, garlic may also have the ability to lower blood pressure.
Studies conducted in China suggest that regular consumption of garlic may help to prevent the development of cancer.
However, these studies were conducted using a therapeutic dose of 20 grams (equal to about 7 cloves) of garlic per day. Since most people do not eat that much garlic in their diet, supplements may be needed in order get cancer-fighting benefits from garlic.
Studies on animals confirm that garlic may be able to improve the body’s ability to resist tumors, and it appears to interfere with certain chemicals that cause cancer as well.
Supplements and Dosage
Garlic supplements should be standardized for allicin content.
In Europe, garlic supplements must have at least 0.45% of this important compound.
If your garlic supplement is not standardized for allicin – or in other words, if you can’t tell how much allicin you’re getting in a daily dose – then you need to switch to a supplement that displays this information on the label.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re taking 1,000 mg of garlic or 5,000 mg of garlic… without this critical information, there’s no way to know what an effective dose is! (Don’t worry I’ll recommend a product at the end of this review!)
The recommended dose for people who want to use garlic to protect the heart or improve cardiovascular health is 3 to 5 mg of allicin per day.
Garlic Capsules Vs Raw Garlic
Raw garlic is considered to be the most effective way to use garlic therapeutically, but for people concerned with garlic’s odor, many “odor free” supplements are available.
What about Garlic Side Effects?
Though garlic is a food and as such is relatively safe, there are some precautions that certain groups of people should take when using garlic or garlic supplements. High doses can irritate the intestinal tract, so people with digestive problems should be cautious about their intake of the herb.
Pregnant women should also avoid high doses, which have been shown to stimulate uterine contractions in animals.
Also, people with low thyroid function should be careful with concentrated garlic products.
They can interfere with the thyroid gland’s ability to utilize iodine, which is needed for the gland to function properly. Some people experience stomach upset and digestive problems when taking garlic, and exposure to skin may be irritating as well. To neutralize the odor of raw garlic, chewing on fresh parsley is very effective.
Since garlic has the ability to act as a blood thinner and to lower blood sugar levels, it is possible the high levels of garlic consumption may interfere with anticoagulants or medications that lower blood sugar.
People taking these medications should consult a physician before using garlic supplements.
Where to Buy Garlic Pills, Tablets or Supplements?
Aside from eating garlic in your food, supplements are an affordable way to obtain the benefits of garlic without having to spend the entire day sucking on breath mints.
What’s the Best Garlic Supplement?
In my opinion, it’s anything that’s affordable, convenient and contains an effective dosage.
Now Foods’ Garlic 5,000 (pictured on the right) is standardized for allicin, and contains the required 5 mg (labeled as “5,000 mcg”) per cap.
90 caps is a 3 month supply and will set you back about $12.00, or $4/month.
Your Comments, Reviews and Feedback?
Have you used a garlic supplement, or experimented with eating a lot of garlic cloves daily?
It would be great if you could share your experiences with your reader.
Just scroll down and leave your comments below!