Garlic is one of the most extensively studied herbal medications available. It has been thought to possess antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiprotozoal, antioxidant, antineoplastic, and antithrombotic properties that make its use as a general tonic attractive.
Recent research has primarily focused on the use of garlic for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases and risk factors. Although allicin has been proposed to be the active ingredient within garlic, its poor bioavailability limits its direct effects. The overall effectiveness of garlic probably revolves around the synergistic effect of various organosulfur compounds produced from the metabolism of gglutamylcysteines found within intact garlic bulbs. These compounds may act to inhibit cholesterol synthesis, alter platelet function , and cause smooth-muscle relaxation. In test tube studies garlic has been found to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activity. However, these actions are less clear in humans. Garlic is also claimed to help prevent heart disease (including atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure) and cancer.
A number of clinical trials have been performed using a variety of garlic compounds. These trials have generated conflicting results. A recent metaanalysis has suggested that garlic supplementation may decrease total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL levels modestly, but only in the short term. Analysis of studies longer than 24 weeks failed to reveal significant effects. High-density lipoprotein levels do not seem to be affected by garlic administration. When used in the short term, garlic seems to improve cholesterol levels by 4–6%. When compared to the 17–32% sustained decrease in cholesterol levels seen with statin drugs, the use of garlic cannot be endorsed as a viable alternative for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. Additionally, its use for the treatment of hypertension, diabetes, or peripheral vascular disease is not supported.
Benefits of Garlic
Garlic is also alleged to help regulate blood sugar levels. Regular and prolonged use of therapeutic amounts of aged garlic extracts lower blood homocysteine levels and has shown to prevent some complications of diabetes mellitus. People taking insulin should not consume medicinal amounts of garlic without consulting a physician.
More than 250 publications have shown that garlic supports the cardiovascular system. It may lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, inhibit platelet stickiness (aggregation), and increase fibrinolysis-which results in a slowing of blood coagulation. It is mildly antihypertensive and has antioxidant activity.
High Blood Pressure:
Garlic is regarded as one of the most effective remedies to lower blood pressure. The pressure and tension are reduced because it has the power to ease the spasm of the small arteries. It also slows the pulse and modifies the heart rhythm, besides relieving the symptoms of dizziness, shortness of breath and the formation of gas within the digestive track As these days garlic capsules are available with the chemist shops, the average dosage of two to three capsules a day to be given to make a dent in the blood pressure.
Garlic has also been used successfully for a variety of skin disorders Pimples disappear without scar when rubbed with raw garlic several times a day. Even very persistent form of acne, suffered by some adults, has also been healed with garlic. The external use of garlic helps to clear the skin of spots and pimple, and boils. The process is further helped by taking the garlic orally also, to purify the blood-steam so as to secure a long term clearance of the skin. A regular course of three garlic capsules per day should help to clear minor skin infections quickly.
Garlic is an excellent remedy for whooping cough. Syrup of garlic Should be given in doses of five drops to a teaspoonful two or three times a day in this condition. It should be given more often if the coughing spells are frequent and violent.
Digestive System Disorders:
Garlic is one of the most beneficial foods for the digestive system. It exercises a beneficial effect on the lymph, aids in elimination of noxious waste matter in the body. It stimulates peristaltic action and the secretion of the digestive juices. Crushed cloves of garlic may be infused in water or milk and taken for all types of disorders of the digestion. It has an antiseptic effect and is an excellent remedy for infectious diseases and inflammations of the stomach and intestine. The oil of garlic is absorbed into the alimentary tract and is eliminated partly through the urine.
Garlic and Your Heart.
The positive effect of garlic on your circulatory system is extremely well documented and it has been proved to: lower blood pressure decrease platelet aggregation lower serum triglycerides and LDL-cholesterol ( the bad type) levels increase serum HDL-cholesterol (the good type) and fibrinolysis (the process through which the body breaks up blood clots.)
Plus it stimulates the production of nitric oxide in the lining of blood vessel walls, a substance that helps them to relax.
As a result of these beneficial actions garlic helps to prevent arteriosclerosis and thereby reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Two or three cloves a day have cut the risk of subsequent heart attacks in half in heart patients.
One reason for these beneficial effects may be garlic's ability to reduce the amount of free radicals in the bloodstream. According to a study published in Life Sciences, a daily dose of 1 ml/kg body weight of garlic extract for a period of 6 months resulted in a significant reduction in oxidant (free radical) stress in the blood of arteriosclerosis patients. It's positive effect on the circulatory system improves blood flow throughout the body so has even been hailed as a cure for impotence!
Garlic produces a very marked effects on the intestine. It is an excellent agent as a worm expeller. It has also a soothing effect on the various forms of diarrhoea. Problems such as colitis, dysentery and many other intestinal upsets can be successfully treated with fresh garlic or garlic capsules One garlic capsule taken three times a day is usually sufficient to correct mild cases of diarrhoea or dysentery. For more persistent cases, upto six capsules a day can be taken. Garlic has the ability to destroy harmful bacteria in the intestines without affecting the beneficial organisms which aid digestion.
Another study showed that supplementation with garlic extract inhibited vascular calcification in human patients with high blood cholesterol. The known vasodilative effect of garlic is possibly caused by catabolism of garlic-derived polysulfides to hydrogen sulfide in red blood cells, a reaction that is dependent on reduced thiols in or on the RBC membrane. Hydrogen sulfide is an endogenous cardioprotective vascular cell-signaling molecule. Garlic has been used reasonably successfully in AIDS patients to treat cryptosporidium in an uncontrolled study in China. It has also been used by at least one AIDS patient to treat toxoplasmosis, another protozoal disease. Garlic supplementation in rats, along with a high protein diet, has been shown to boost testosterone levels.
Allium sativum may have other beneficial properties, such as preventing and fighting the common cold. This assertion has the backing of long tradition in herbal medicine, which has used garlic for hoarseness and coughs. The Cherokee also used it as an expectorant for coughs and croup.
Although these studies showed protective vascular changes in garlic-fed subjects, a randomized clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2007 found that the consumption of garlic in any form did not reduce blood cholesterol levels in patients with moderately high baseline cholesterol levels. Garlic cloves are used as a remedy for infections (especially chest problems), digestive disorders, and fungal infections such as thrush.
Garlic toxicity is usually mild and consists of gastrointestinal upset and breath and body odor. Given its potential effects on platelet function, an increased risk of bleeding may be present. One case of a spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma has been reported with excessive garlic consumption. Caution should be taken with concomitant use of garlic with anticoagulants. An increase in the International Normalized Ratio of a patient taking garlic and warfarin has been reported. Recent concern over an interaction between garlic and protease inhibitors used for the treatment of HIV has emerged. Certain prepartations of garlic have been shown to decrease the peak levels of saquinavir by 54%.
Some people suffer from allergies to garlic and other plants in the allium family. Symptoms can include irritable bowel, diarrhea, mouth and throat ulcerations, nausea, breathing difficulties, and in rare cases anaphylaxis. Garlic-sensitive patients show positive tests to diallyl disulfide, allylpropyldisulfide, allylmercaptan and allicin, all of which are present in garlic. People who suffer from garlic allergies will often be sensitive to many plants in the lily family (liliaceae), including onions, garlic, chives, leeks, shallots, garden lilies, ginger, and bananas.
Garlic can also cause indigestion, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It thins the blood (as does aspirin); this had caused very high quantities of garlic and garlic supplements to be linked with an increased risk of bleeding, particularly during pregnancy and after surgery and childbirth, although culinary quantities are safe for consumption. There have been several reports of serious burns resulting from garlic being applied topically for various purposes, including naturopathic uses and acne treatment, so care must be taken to test a small area of skin using a very low concentration of garlic. On the basis of numerous reports of such burns, including burns to children, topical use of raw garlic, as well as insertion of raw garlic into body cavities, is discouraged. In particular, topical application of raw garlic to young children is not advisable. The side effects of long-term garlic supplementation, if any exist, are largely unknown, and no FDA-approved study has been performed. However, garlic has been consumed for several thousand years without any adverse long-term effects, suggesting that modest quantities of garlic pose, at worst, minimal risks to normal individuals. Possible side effects include gastrointestinal discomfort, sweating, dizziness, allergic reactions, bleeding, and menstrual irregularities. The safety of garlic supplements had not been determined for children.; some breastfeeding mothers have found their babies slow to feed and have noted a garlic odour coming from their baby when they have consumed garlic.
Garlic may interact with warfarin, antiplatelets, saquinavir, antihypertensives, calcium channel blockers, and hypoglycemic drugs, as well as other medications. Members of the alium family might be toxic to cats or dogs. Some degree of liver toxicity has been demonstrated in rats, particularly in extremely large quantities exceeding those that a rat would consume under normal situations.
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