The benefits of garlic
Garlic is a plant that belongs to the ‘Allium’ (onion) family. Throughout history garlic has been well noted for its health properties and used to treat a whole range of ailments.
Garlic has been in fact present in remedies for over 5,000 years, documented in ancient texts such as Hindu sanskrit, which presented garlic based products as having the ability to prevent certain diseases and illnesses.
By the early 20th century, garlic became frequently referred to as “Russian Penicillin” due to its antibacterial properties, particularly in relation to its usage by Russian soldiers in World War One to help prevent gangrene and other infections that frequently arose during trench warfare.
There have been a wealth of scientific studies that state garlic contains numerous medicinal properties. This article highlights 10 of the most important reasons why adding some extra garlic to your diet could really be a life changing decision.
Garlic may be used to treat brain cancers, according to a team of scientists from the Medical University of South Carolina. They found that certain organic compounds in garlic can effectively kill cells that cause glioblastoma, a type of brain tumour which is usually fatal (within a year).
From a historical perspective, the Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, known as the ‘the father of Western Medicine’ prescribed garlic for a wide range of problems, including respiratory issues - including lung disease, parasites (scabies, gut worm, hair or body lice), IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or fatigue.
Following on from Hippocrates’s theories, a recent study conducted at the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention of China and published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, revealed that people who ate raw garlic at least twice a week had a 44% lower risk of developing lung cancer.
A study published in the Journal of Cancer Prevention and conducted by a team of scientists from the Department of Urology of China-JapanFriendship Hospital in Beijing (China), concluded that Allium vegetables, especially garlic, are associated with a lower risk of developing prostate cancer.
If you excessively drink alcohol over an extended period of time, this vastly increases the chances of liver damage. However, a study by a team of scientists from the Institute of Toxicology from Shandong University School of Public Health (China), revealed that an organic compound found in garlic ‘diallyl disulfide’ could have protective effects against the aggressive effects of alcohol on the liver.
The study, published in the journal Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, suggests that buy consuming garlic it can reduce oxidative stress caused by ethanol (alcohol).
The original olympic athletes in Ancient Greece were given garlic to help protect their bones and joints, and could be considered as one of the first ‘performance enhancing’ substances in sport.
A recent study involving 1,000 women conducted by a team of scientists from King’s College London and the University of East Anglia and published in the BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders magazine, revealed that women who followed a diet rich in ‘allium’ type vegetables such as garlic and onion, had fewer signs of early osteoarthritis their hip joints.
Historically garlic has been used throughout the Middle East, East Asia and Nepal in a similar way to antibiotics, to treat a range of infections and health problems including bronchitis, tuberculosis, liver disorders, dysentery, colic, rheumatism, diabetes and even fever.
A recent study from a team of scientists from the Washington State University (USA) stated a compound of garlic ‘diallyl sulfide’ is in fact 100 times more effective in fighting bacterial infections than two of the most commonly used antibiotics to fight against the bacteria campylobacter - (one of the most common causes of food poisoning).
An investigation from University of Emory (USA) claims that a component in garlic oil ‘diallyl sulfide’ can protect and repair the heart during heart surgery and after a heart attack.
In experiments with laboratory mice, scientists discovered that after a heart attack, the mice who were given diallyl sulfide had 61% less heart damage compared to mice not treated with this compound.
A team of researchers from the University of Ankara (Turkey) conducted a study on the potential correlation between consuming garlic and the reduction of cholesterol levels and blood pressure in the body. Participants involved in the study were given a garlic extract supplement for 4 months.
Findings published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry showed, garlic improves the blood lipid profile and strengthen blood antioxidant potential, along with producing significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressures.
In simple terms, the garlic extract supplements reduced high cholesterol levels, and also blood pressure in patients with hypertension. The scientists did however add that is was a small study, and as a result more work would need to be carried out to strengthen this evidence.
Bacterial infections in pregnancy can increase the risk of premature birth. Garlic is known to include both antimicrobial and prebiotic compounds, important to help fight bacterial infections.
Various studies including one from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health claims eating dried fruits/nuts and vegetables rich in ‘allium’ can reduce the risk of giving birth prematurely. The research study, involving 18,888 women, concluded that consuming food with antimicrobial and prebiotic compounds, particularly garlic could significantly reduce the risk of premature birth of babies
A team of scientists from St. Joseph Family Medicine in Mishawaka, Indiana (USA) found that by eating garlic you can reduce the chances of catching a cold. Unfortunately, the scientists also revealed in the journal American Family Physician that despite garlic’s potential to reduce the frequency of colds, it does not have any impact on soothing symptoms once you’ve caught one.