Fresh Garlic Clove
The medicinal herb Garlic as an alternative herbal remedy for high cholesterol, heart disease, and high blood pressure. - Garlic is the edible bulb from a plant in the lily family. It has been used as both a medicine and a spice for thousands of years.
What Garlic Is Used For
- Garlic's most common uses as an herbal remedy and as a dietary supplement are for high cholesterol, heart disease, and high blood pressure. *Garlic is also used to prevent certain types of cancer, including stomach and colon cancers. Allium sativum (Garlic) has been used for centuries to treat infection and was popular even during the Plague of London in 1665.
- Garlic can kill almost every kind of bacteria but is especially effective against organisms that cause disease, like E. coli and S. aureus while leaving normal, protective intestinal flora unharmed.
- Clinical trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of garlic in the treatment of a wide range of bacterial, viral and fungal infections. This natural antibiotic is also an excellent tonic for immune system functioning, allowing the body to protect itself from infectious organisms.
How Garlic Is Used
Garlic cloves can be eaten raw or cooked. They may also be dried or powdered and used in tablets and capsules. Raw garlic cloves can be used to make oils and liquid extracts.
What the Science Says about Garlic
- Some evidence indicates that taking garlic can slightly lower blood cholesterol levels; studies have shown positive effects for short-term (1 to 3 months) use. However, an NCCAM-funded study on the safety and effectiveness of three garlic preparations (fresh garlic, dried powdered garlic tablets, and aged garlic extract tablets) for lowering blood cholesterol levels found no effect.
- Preliminary research suggests that taking garlic may slow the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), a condition that can lead to heart disease or stroke.
- Evidence is mixed on whether taking garlic can slightly lower blood pressure.
- Some studies suggest consuming garlic as a regular part of the diet may lower the risk of certain cancers. However, no clinical trials have examined this.
- NCCAM is supporting studies looking at how garlic interacts with certain drugs and how it can thin blood.
Side Effects and Cautions of Garlic
- Garlic appears to be safe for most adults.
- Side effects include breath and body odor, heartburn, upset stomach, and allergic reactions. These side effects are more common with raw garlic.
- Garlic can thin the blood (reduce the ability of blood to clot) in a manner similar to aspirin. This effect may be a problem during or after surgery. Use garlic with caution if you are planning to have surgery or dental work, or if you have a bleeding disorder. A cautious approach is to avoid garlic in your diet or as a supplement for at least 1 week before surgery.
- Garlic has been found to interfere with the effectiveness of saquinavir, a drug used to treat HIV infection. Its effect on other drugs has not been well studied.
- Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.