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 Post subject: The magical goodness of garlic
 Post Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005 4:04 am 
The magical goodness of garlic

By Dr Harold Gunatillake

Everyday it seems doctors and researchers are discovering more health benefits for garlic in treating and preventing a wide variety of illnesses, helping mankind for a healthier life.

Many of the world’s oldest civilizations considered, in addition to health benefits, the importance of garlic, as a spice for good health. Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks and Romans all used it in food, in drinks and as medicine. In our own country, auyrvedic physicians used it in their decoctions from time immemorial. In India it is on record that garlic was used for medicinal purpose 5000 years ago. Pasteur who discovered penicillin in 1850 recognised the anti bacterial value of garlic.

In ancient Greece, garlic was crushed, boiled, and drunk in wine, supposed to clear infections from the body, and facilitate healing process in wounds. In Rome, garlic with bread was given to soldiers to enhance their strength. In Egypt the Hebrew slaves were given daily garlic to add strength to work on the pyramids. The children of Israel, according to the Bible, used garlic for good health. Garlic was found in the tombs in pyramids beside the Pharaohs, given as funerary gifts.

In one of the Five Books of Moses (Number 11.5), the Children of Israel with Moses in the wilderness complained, “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic, but now our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all, besides this manna, before our eyes.”

Dr John Heinerman, a medical anthropologist who is one of the world’s leading authorities on folk medicine, has interviewed researchers, medical authorities and ordinary men and women in more than 30 countries. He has made a particular study of garlic, he says,”because it is just about the most remarkable herb known to mankind”.

Garlic has been used to prevent many health problems, such as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, flu, colds, coughs, bronchitis, gastrointestinal problems, menstrual disorders, boosts immune system and prevents cancer, especially stomach and colon cancerScientific studies in China have reported that garlic may neutralise the causative effects of stomach cancer. 16,000 Chinese people were given garlic and the findings were that those, whose intake was highest, were the ones least likely to suffer from cancer of the stomach.

Allicin, also present in fresh onions, is the most powerful medicinal compound derived from garlic and provides the greatest health benefits.

Allicin is not active in ordinary garlic, but produced when garlic is finely chopped, crushed or sliced. Garlic should be eaten as soon as you crush, do not keep in the fridge, loses its potency. It also loses its potency when cooked, and the medicinal effects are lost. Microwaving loses its potency totally. Garlic should be crushed or sliced and used combined with cooked food immediately before serving. Do not eat too much of garlic raw, as it is a gastric irritant. Well mixed with your rice it is stomach friendly. Crushing garlic is an easy way of removing the skin, too.

When garlic is crushed or cut it
liberates an enzyme allinase which converts the natural alliin to allicin. Alliin is odourless that is similar to the chemical structure containing the amino acid, cysteine. The odour and the taste of garlic come from allicin. Allicin further breaks down and produces ajoene, allyl disulphide, and vinyldithiins. All these chemicals give garlic its medicinal benefits.

Allicin in garlic and onions have antibiotic properties. It is an excellent anti-fungal and has been used to treat skin infections such as athlete’s foot. Crushed garlic should not be rubbed on the skin vigorously as the allicin can cause blistering and sometimes allergy.

Diallyl Sulphides
Diallyl Sulphides contained in garlic are less powerful than allicin, but can still provide health benefits. Unlike allicin, Diallyl Sulphides do not degrade rapidly, and are not destroyed on cooking. It still has to be chopped or sliced to get the health benefit. If the whole segment of the garlic bulb (without cutting or crushing) is cooked after removing the outer skin, as our ladies do, the health effects are nil, but only the taste and flavour remains. Cooking as a whole without chopping, crushing or slicing is a total waste from a health point of view.

Diallyl sulphide does not share the antifungal properties of allicin. However they are reportedly good to purify blood and circulation. It is found that Diallyl sulphide help to lower the levels of “bad” cholesterol, and as such may help to prevent heart disease and stroke. It also has a reputation for boosting the immune system. It lowers the blood pressure, reduces the risk of blood clots. Ajoene prevents blood clotting. Hence garlic should be avoided prior to surgical procedures.

Garlic and Diabetes
A German physician, Dr Madaus, reported in the journal Lehrbuch der Biologischen Heilmittel, that garlic can reduce the blood sugar in some cases of diabetes mellitus. He wrote about a patient taking 100cc of insulin daily with sugar in the urine of 8 percent, and a blood sugar count of 242mg.

After the patient started taking garlic tablets for one week, he only registered 2 percent urinary sugar and 215 mg of blood sugar. When taken in larger amounts one could go into hypoglycaemia, meaning low blood sugar.

The Food of Love?
Garlic is referred to as a “hot” herb as it has long had a reputation as an aphrodisiac. Hence the priests in certain temples forbade the eating of garlic before entering these sacred places. On the other hand, Greeks and Egyptians, embraced garlic’s alleged aphrodisiac properties. Tibetan monks were forbidden from entering the monasteries if they had eaten garlic, because it is alleged that garlic inflames the passions. It is a known fact that garlic improves the sexual performance of men. This can be explained because garlic improves the circulation and prevents narrowing of the arteries, and a good blood flow is required for a man to perform sex. As normal quantities of garlic are insufficient to produce this performance, men must depend on garlic supplements which are available in the pharmacies.

Garlic and Arthritis
A Japanese study that used Japanese garlic extracts on patients suffering from arthritis and backache reported an 86 per cent improvement with no side effects, as quoted by Dr. John Heinerman PhD in his book “The healing power of Garlic”.

In his book, writes an American physician, William H.Khoe, M.D., recommending 10 capsules of garlic daily to all his arthritis patients for relief of their pain and reduction of their joint swellings with good results. Garlic does this by curbing the activity of free radicals, which cause considerable tissue damage.

Garlic and Migraine
People suffering from migraine headaches should avoid garlic, as the chemicals in garlic seem to trigger attacks.

Clears Asthma
Just as garlic clears flu and colds, it clears asthma, too. The chemicals in garlic seem to work as bronchodilators, and control any secondary infection.

Daily Requirement
You need to eat at least two cloves a day to notice the health effects of garlic. To combat bad breath after eating garlic, eating parsley or a peppermint lozenge will help.

Allergy to Garlic
Some people could be allergic to garlic. The symptoms are skin rashes, temperature and headaches’

Garlic and infections
Garlic is generally effective against bacteria, virus and fungal infections, and the body does not develop any resistance to bacteria unlike antibiotics. There is an interesting story from France about four thieves who robbed the graves of plague victims. They did not contract the diasease, and it was discovered that they ate garlic everyday that had been soaked in vinegar. This concoction became famous as “Four Thieves Vinegar.”

Though garlic is considered to be a wonder herb, you should visit your doctor if you suffer from any of the diseases mentioned in this article.

Remember also that garlic is an excellent mosquito repellent. Grow garlic plants in between roses to keep the snails away. Also known to keep the friends away!

 Post subject: Health benefits and uses of garlic
 Post Posted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 1:43 am 
Health benefits and uses of garlic

by Dr. D. P. Atukorale
@ The Island / 08MAR2006

Garlic (Allium Satinum) has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes (American Family Physician), Sanskrit records show its medicinal use about 5000 years ago and it has been used for at least 3000 years in Chinese medicine. The Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks and Romans used garlic for healing purposes. In 1858 Pasteur noted garlic’s antibacterial activity and it was used as an antiseptic and to prevent gangrene during world Wax 1.

Garlic has long been considered a herbal wonder chug with reputation for preventing everything from the common cold to flu to plague! Garlic has been used extensively in phytotherapy (herbal medicine). Raw garlic is used by some to treat acne and it is believed to be effective as a natural mosquito repellant.

Historically garlic has been used around the world to treat many conditions including hypertension, infections and snake-bite and some, cultures have used it to ward off eveil spirits. Currently garlic is used for reducing blood cholesterol and cardiovascular risk as,, well as and antimicrobial properties,


The root bulb of garlic plat-it is used medicinally. It can be used fresh, dehydrated or as a steam distilled oil. Garlic has a high concentration of sulphurcontaining compounds. The thiosulfinates at including allicin appear to be the active substances in garlic. The an antimicrobial, hyperlipidaemic, antioxidant and antithrombotic effects that have been attributed to garlic are thought to be related to allicin and other breakdown Products. The antineoplastic effects may be related to the sulphur compounds or to other unknown components.

Uses And Efficacy

(a) Lipid-Lowering Effects

Many randomized clinical trials have studied the effects of garlic on lipid levels- Results from 2 meta-analysis conducted in 1993 and 1994 on effects of garlic on total cholesterol show a significant reduction in total cholesterol levels (9 to 12 percent) compared with placebo. A meta analysis published in 2000 that included these trials concluded that garlic is superior to placebo in reducing total cholesterol. A more recent meta-analysis of placebo -controlled trials using standardized dried garlic powder showed significant reduction in total cholesterol levels (19.2mg per dL) low density lipo-protein hpoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. (6.7mg per dL) and triglycerde levels (2 1. lmg per dL) at 8 to 12 weeks; these reductions were not sustained at 6 months treatment.

A Europeem trial comparing with a lipid lowering drug benzofibrate found them to be equally effective in decreasing lipids to statistically significant cant extent. One trial of garlic extracts treated in children with hypercholesterolaemia found no adverse effects but also no significant beneficial effect on lipids.

Antihypertensive Effects

The antihypertensive effects of garlic have been studied but remain controversial. In 1994 meta-analysis assessment of the effects of garlic on hypertension using 3 trials showed significant ant reduction in systolic blood pressure and 4 trials showed reduction in diastolic B.P. with garlic treatment compared with placebo. In a more recent meta-analysis, 23 placebo controlled trials were analysed. Only 3 trials showed a statistically significant reduction in diastolic B.P and one showed a statistically significant ant reduction in systolic B P in patients treated with garlic compared with placebo.

Other Cardiovascular Related Effects

A recent review of 10 trials assessing the effects of garlic on thrombotic risk showed modest but significant decreases in platelet aggregation with garlic compared to placebo. The same review analysed 12 trials of garlic supplements in diabetics and non-diabetic adults and only one trial showed significant decrease in glucose levels in non diabetic patients.

One observational study showed that regular garlic powder intake weakened age and pressure related increases in aortic stiffness.

Epidemoological studies from cohort studies have shown a decreased risk of stomach and colon cancer with high concentrations of garlic and other allium vegetables e.g. onion, leeks and chives.

Anti-microbial effects

Small studies have shown that garlic exerts antimicrobial activity against gram-positive and gram- negative bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Dietary garlic has been used in the treatment of infections particularly digestive, respiratory or dermatological infections from vaginitis to colds and warts

Contra-indications, verse effects and interactions

Ingestion of one to two cloves of raw garlic per day is considered safe in adults. The most common side-effects of ingested garlic are unpleasant breath and body odour : Consumption of excessive amounts of garlic especially on an empty stomach can cause gastro-intestinal upset, flatulence and changes in intestinal flora. There has been reports of allergy, dermatitis burns and blusters from topical applications of raw garlic.

Garlic appears to show no effects on drug metabolism. It has been suggested that patients taking anticoagulants use caution when taking garlic and it is prudent to stop taking high dosage of garlic 7 to 10 days before surgery because garlic can prolong bleeding bleeding time.


Dosages generally recommended in the literature for adults are 4g (I-2 cloves) of raw garlic per day or one 300 mg dried garlic powder 2 to 3 per day or 7.2g of aged garlic extracts per day.

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