Garlic: Herbal Medications, What Works
Garlic (Allium sativum) is recognized in traditional medicine worldwide as a valuable medicinal herb. In the United States and Western Europe, garlic has become one of the most popular substances for reducing cardiovascular risk factors. This medicinal application is partly based on a large number of clinical studies.
Garlic is used for reduction and stabilization of blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood lipids. It also has anticlotting, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiprotozoal activity, and boosts immunity.
By 1993, at least 1,088 scientific studies dealt with garlic's medicinal effects, for both healthy people and ill people. Garlic's medicinal properties depend on its principal active constituent, allicin, which has a strong odor and is unstable under many conditions. Many people object to the bad breath caused by garlic, but deodorized garlic preparations do not have the same allicin-producing ability, and are less valuable medically. Also, cooking destroys most of garlic's medical benefits. Carefully dried garlic powder preserves the alliinase activity, but the powder should be ingested in enteric-coated tablets to protect it from inactivation by stomach acid.
Most of the clinical trials on garlic have studied its effect on lowering blood lipids, especially total cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins (LDL).
Research seems to substantiate claims for garlic's ability to reduce cardiovascular risk factors, but the precise mechanism remains unknown. Perhaps future well-designed research will confirm garlic's anticancer actions.
From THE BEST ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: WHAT WORKS? WHAT DOES NOT? by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier.
Copyright © 2000 by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier, Inc.
Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, New York.
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Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier. All Rights Reserved.