Garlic

Botanicals

18/Description

About

Garlic is an herb that is grown around the world. It is related to onion, leeks, and chives. It is thought that garlic is native to Siberia, but spread to other parts of the world over 5000 years ago.

Garlic is used for many conditions related to the heart and blood system. These conditions include high blood pressure, low blood pressure, high cholesterol, inherited high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, heart attack, reduced blood flow due to narrowed arteries, and "hardening of the arteries" (atherosclerosis).

Some people use garlic to prevent colon cancer, rectal cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, multiple myeloma, and lung cancer. It is also used to treat prostate cancer and bladder cancer.

Garlic has been tried for treating an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia; BPH), cystic fibrosis, diabetes, osteoarthritis, hayfever (allergic rhinitis), traveler's diarrhea, high blood pressure late in pregnancy (pre-eclampsia), yeast infection, flu, and swine flu. It is also used to prevent tick bites, as a mosquito repellant, and for preventing the common cold, and treating and preventing bacterial and fungal infections.

Garlic is also used for earaches, chronic fatigue syndrome, menstrual disorders, abnormal cholesterol levels caused by HIV drugs, hepatitis, shortness of breath related to liver disease, stomach ulcers caused by H. pylori infection, exercise performance, exercise-induced muscle soreness, a condition that causes lumps in the breast tissue called fibrocystic breast disease, a skin condition called scleroderma, and lead toxicity.

Other uses include treatment of fever, coughs, headache, stomach ache, sinus congestion, gout, joint pain, hemorrhoids, asthma, bronchitis, shortness of breath, low blood sugar, snakebites, diarrhea and bloody diarrhea, tuberculosis, bloody urine, a serious nose and throat infection called diphtheria, whooping cough, tooth sensitivity, stomach inflammation (gastritis), scalp ringworm, and a sexually transmitted disease called vaginal trichomoniasis. It is also used for fighting stress and fatigue.

Some people apply garlic oil to their skin or nails to treat fungal infections, warts, and corns. It is also applied to the skin for hair loss and thrush.

Garlic is used in the vagina for yeast infections.

Garlic is injected into the body for chest pain.

In foods and beverages, fresh garlic, garlic powder, and garlic oil are used to add flavor.

How it works

Garlic produces a chemical called allicin. This is what seems to make garlic work for certain conditions. Allicin also makes garlic smell. Some products are made "odorless" by aging the garlic, but this process can also make the garlic less effective. It's a good idea to look for supplements that are coated (enteric coating) so they will dissolve in the intestine and not in the stomach.

Effectiveness

Possibly Effective
Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)

As people age, their arteries tend to lose their ability to stretch and flex. Garlic seems to reduce this effect. Taking a specific garlic powder supplement (Allicor, INAT-Farma, Moscow, Russia) twice daily for 24 months seems to reduce how much hardening of the arteries progresses. Higher doses of this product seem to provide more benefits in women than men when taken over a four year period. Research with other products containing garlic along with other ingredients (Kyolic, Total Heart Health, Formula 108, Wakunga) have also shown benefits.

Colon cancer, rectal cancer

Research suggests that eating garlic can reduce the risk of developing colon or rectal cancer. Also, in people diagnosed with a certain type of colon and rectal tumors, taking high doses of aged garlic extract daily for 12 months seems to reduce the risk of developing new tumors. However, other garlic supplements do not seem to offer the same benefit.

High cholesterol

While some conflicting research exists, the most reliable evidence to-date suggests that taking garlic can reduce total cholesterol by around 15 mg/dL and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, "bad" cholesterol) by around 6 mg/dL in people with high cholesterol levels. Garlic appears to work best if taken daily for more than 8 weeks. However, taking garlic doesn't help increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL, "good" cholesterol) or lower levels of other blood fats called triglycerides.

High blood pressure

Some research shows that garlic by mouth can reduce blood pressure by as much as 7% or 8% in people with high blood pressure. Most studies have used a specific garlic powder product (Kwai, from Lichtwer Pharma).

Prostate cancer

Men in China who eat about one clove of garlic daily seem to have a 50% lower risk of developing prostate cancer. Also, population research shows that eating garlic may be associated with a reduced risk of developing prostate cancer. But other research suggests that eating garlic does not affect prostate cancer risk in men from Iran. Early clinical research suggests that taking garlic extract supplements might reduce the risk of prostate cancer or reduce symptoms associated with prostate cancer.

Tick bites

People who consume high amounts of garlic over about an 8-week period seem to have a reduced number of tick bites. But it's not clear how garlic compares to commercially available tick repellants.

Ringworm

Applying a gel containing 0.6% ajoene, a chemical in garlic, twice daily for one week seems to be as effective as antifungal medication for treating ringworm.

Jock itch

Applying a gel containing 0.6% ajoene, a chemical in garlic, twice daily for one week seems to be as effective as antifungal medication for treating jock itch.

Athlete's foot

Applying a gel containing 1% ajoene, a chemical in garlic, seems to be effective for treating athlete's foot. Also, applying a garlic gel with 1% ajoene seems to be about as effective as the medicine Lamisil for treating athlete's foot.

Concerns

Likely safe

Garlic is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth appropriately. Garlic has been used safely in research for up to 7 years. When taken by mouth, garlic can cause bad breath, a burning sensation in the mouth or stomach, heartburn, gas, nausea, vomiting, body odor, and diarrhea. These side effects are often worse with raw garlic. Garlic may also increase the risk of bleeding. There have been reports of bleeding after surgery in people who have taken garlic. Asthma has been reported in people working with garlic, and other allergic reactions are possible

Possibly safe

Garlic products are POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin. Gels, pastes, and mouthwashes containing garlic have been used for up to 3 months. However, when applied to the skin, garlic might cause skin damage that is similar to a burn

Possibly unsafe

RAW garlic is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when applied to the skin. Raw garlic might cause severe skin irritation when it is applied to the skin.

18/Warnings

Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Garlic isLIKELY SAFEto use during pregnancy when taken in the amounts normally found infood. Garlic isPOSSIBLY UNSAFEwhen used in medicinal amounts during pregnancy and when breast-feeding. There is not enough reliable information about the safety of applying garlic to the skin if you are pregnant orbreast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Garlic is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth and appropriately for a short-term in children. However, garlic is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in large doses. Some sources suggest that high doses of garlic could be dangerous or even fatal to children. The reason for this warning is not known. There are no case reports available of significant adverse events or mortality in children associated with taking garlic by mouth. When applied to the skin, garlic might cause damage to the skin that is similar to a burn.

Bleeding disorder: Garlic, especially fresh garlic, might increase the risk of bleeding.

Stomach or digestion problems: Garlic can irritate the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Use with caution if you have stomach or digestion problems.

Low blood pressure: Garlic can lower blood pressure. In theory, taking garlic might make blood pressure become too low in people with low blood pressure.

Surgery: Garlic might prolong bleeding and interfere with blood pressure. Stop taking garlic at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Interactions

Always consult with your doctor.
Major
Isoniazid (INH, Nydrazid)

Garlic might reduce how much isoniazid (INH, Nydrazid) the body absorbs. This might decrease how well isoniazid (INH, Nydrazid) works. Don't take garlic if you take isoniazid (INH, Nydrazid).

Moderate
Atazanavir (Reyataz)

Garlic might reduce how much atazanavir (Reyataz) the body absorbs. This might decrease how well atazanavir (Reyataz) works. Talk to your doctor before taking garlic if you are taking atazanavir (Reyataz).

Saquinavir (Fortovase, Invirase)

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Garlic oil might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking garlic oil along with some medications that are changed by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of your medication. Before taking garlic oil, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.Some medications that are changed by the liver include acetaminophen, chlorzoxazone (Parafon Forte), ethanol, theophylline, and drugs used for anesthesia during surgery such as enflurane (Ethrane), halothane (Fluothane), isoflurane (Forane), and methoxyflurane (Penthrane).Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Garlic might increase how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking garlic along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can decrease the effectiveness of some medications. Before taking garlic, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.Medications that might be affected include certain heart medications called calcium channel blockers (diltiazem, nicardipine, verapamil), cancer drugs (etoposide, paclitaxel, vinblastine, vincristine, vindesine), fungus-fighting drugs (ketoconazole, itraconazole), glucocorticoids, alfentanil (Alfenta), cisapride (Propulsid), fentanyl (Sublimaze), lidocaine (Xylocaine), losartan (Cozaar), midazolam (Versed), and others.Garlic might lower blood pressure in some people. Taking garlic along with medications used for lowering high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low. Do not take too much garlic if you are taking medications for high blood pressure.Some medications for high blood pressure include nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, Verelan), diltiazem (Cardizem), isradipine (DynaCirc), felodipine (Plendil), amlodipine (Norvasc), and others.Taking garlic might decrease the amount of HIV/AIDS medication that can enter into the bloodstream. This could decrease the effectiveness of some medications used for HIV/AIDS.Some of these medications used for HIV/AIDS include amprenavir (Agenerase), nelfinavir (Viracept), ritonavir (Norvir), and saquinavir (Fortovase, Invirase).Garlic might slow blood clotting. Taking garlic along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.Saquinavir (Fortovase, Invirase) is a medication taken for HIV. Garlic might decrease how much saquinavir goes into the blood. This might decrease the effectiveness of saquinavir (Fortovase, Invirase).

The information provided on this page is for reference purposes and is not meant to be used as a medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with a medical professional.