Garlic and garlic oil respectively have been a part of mankind for a long time. Since ancient history, people have used garlic as a kitchen accessory and as a natural medicine. Spicy in flavor and smelling of onion (its close cousin), garlic continues to be consumed for its culinary and health benefits by people around the world.
Allium sativum (Garlic) is most commonly considered a culinary supplement. In fact, it is ubiquitous, cheap, and delicious.
Today, we will examine the who, what, when, where, why and how of garlic. Our focus will be on the medicinal benefits of garlic, more specifically, the concentrated form of garlic, which is garlic oil. Like its source, garlic oil is also relatively inexpensive. And it has the added benefit of being, in addition to being widely available and inexpensive, less spicy.
Before we get into the 12 proven health benefits of garlic, let's take a quick look at the fascinating medicinal history of the plant.
GARLIC AND GARLIC OIL IN HISTORY
"Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food." ~ Hippocrates (c. 460 BC - c. 375 BC)
Garlic has an incredibly rich history, from ancient Greece to the present day.
The "father of Western medicine," Hippocrates, allegedly "prescribed" garlic for a host of ailments, including digestion problems, fatigue, parasitic infections, and respiratory problems. Hippocrates probably advocated bringing garlic to the original Greek Olympians.
Shortly after being introduced to the Greeks, the promotion of garlic spread to ancient Egypt, the "Indus Valley" (present-day Pakistan and western India). The people of ancient India made garlic an essential compound in Ayurvedic medicine.
Those ancient Indian healers introduced the garlic plant to Chinese healers. Today, China is responsible for 80 percent of the world's garlic.
Marginal note: The Chinese government has recently been criticized by international health officials for "blanching" its garlic to make it more attractive. According to the India Times, it is also "loaded with pesticides."
The garlic plant eventually made its way west to the New World after being introduced by adventurers and traders from France, Portugal, and Spain.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF GARLIC AND GARLIC OIL
GARLIC IS NUTRITIVE AND LOW IN CALORIES
Pound for pound (tooth for tooth?), It is among the healthiest and most nutritious foods. Just one clove of garlic contains 2 percent of the daily value (DV) for manganese and vitamin B6. The same amount also contains 1 percent selenium and vitamin C. Other minerals in respectable amounts include calcium, copper, iron, phosphorus, and potassium.
MAY REDUCE THE RISK OF LUNG CANCER
Lung cancer accounts for 18 percent of all cancer deaths globally, or 1.6 million people. Some scientists believe that the organosulfur compounds (OSC) in garlic, excreted through the lungs, provide protective effects for lung cancer.
In a 7-year study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, scientists in China found that people who ate raw garlic at least twice a week had a 44 to 72 percent lower chance of developing lung cancer. Almost 6,000 people participated in the landmark study.
MAY PROTECT OSTEOARTHRITIS
A research team from King’s College and the University of East Anglia postulates that allium vegetables can reduce the symptoms of arthritis, specifically osteoarthritis (OA). OA is a condition characterized by degeneration of the cartilage and underlying bone.
According to the study, published in the journal BMC Musculokeletal Disorders, 1,000 women who regularly ate fruits and vegetables, including alliums, showed fewer signs of early-onset OA.
IT IS A POWERFUL ANTIBIOTIC
Garlic oil has powerful antibiotic properties. Antibiotics are pharmacological substances that inhibit or destroy the growth of bacteria and microorganisms.
According to a study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, a compound in garlic called diallyl sulfide is up to 100 times more effective at resisting Campylobacter bacteria. Campylobacter is one of the main causes of intestinal disease.
PROTECT THE HEART
Another component of garlic oil, diallyl trisulfide, is a viable cardiac protector during surgery and after cardiac arrest. A research team from Emory University also finds that diallyl trisulfide may be an effective treatment for heart failure. Another component of garlic oil, hydrogen sulfide, also demonstrates heart-protective properties.
In the study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, mice that suffered a heart attack that were given diallyl sulfide had 61 percent less heart damage compared to the control group.
The same scientists also point out that "garlic oil has significant potential to protect [the heart]" from cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle) triggered by diabetes.
REDUCE BLOOD PRESSURE
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the key driver of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes. Globally, more people die of heart disease than any other reason. In 2016, an estimated 15.2 million people died from CVD worldwide.
Some studies show that the substances in garlic extract lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. In a study, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, a research team concludes that "... garlic extract ... causes significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure." It also leads to a decrease in oxidation reactions in the body ”.
MAY IMPROVE CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
While garlic's proposed benefits for lowering cholesterol are not as definitive compared to its effects on blood pressure, anecdotal evidence, and even some scientific literature, suggests a possible connection.
Regarding the latter, some studies in the 1990s cite a reduction of 9-12 percent; in 2000, 4-6 percent. In a 2012 study published in the journal Nutrition Reviews, researchers found that 800 mg of aged garlic extract can lower cholesterol by 8 percent in people suffering from high cholesterol. Dr. Karin Ried of the University of Adelaide (AUS) states that garlic supplements lower the risk of "coronary events" by 38 percent in people over 50 years of age.
CAN BE A POWERFUL NEUROPROTECTOR
As mentioned above, it is a powerful antioxidant. Scientists attribute the antioxidant properties of garlic to multiple active compounds, including S-acetylcysteine, S-allyl-mercapto cysteine, and N (alpha) -fructosyl arginine.
A 2006 study published in the Journal of Nutrition cites the antioxidant properties of aged garlic extract (AGE) in the claim that it reduces the risk of dementia. Thus, reports state that it "can help prevent cognitive decline by protecting neurons from neurotoxicity and apoptosis [programmed cell death]."
MAY IMPROVE ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE
Long ago, athletes used garlic as a kind of performance enhancer. Ancient cultures would supposedly use garlic to improve work capacity and reduce worker fatigue.
In a 2005 study published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, garlic oil was found to reduce "heart rate at maximal exercise and ... [reduces] significantly the workload on the heart, resulting in a better exercise tolerance ”.
In the study, participants took just four garlic oil capsules twice a day (8 total). Also significant is the fact that these results occurred in just six weeks.
IT CAN STRENGTHEN BONES
In animal studies, subjects who took garlic analyzed increased estrogen levels related to decreased bone loss. In a study that seems particularly relevant, menopausal women who received just two grams of dry aged garlic extract lowered their markers of estrogen deficiency.
The scientific literature shows a positive association between the intake of garlic and the prevention of osteoarthritis. As such, further research on the exact effects of garlic on bone health seems warranted. In any case, supplementation with AGE (800 milligrams / day?) May be advisable for those concerned about bone health.
DETOXIFIES THE BODY
There is research that postulates that it reduces lead concentrations in blood and tissues. To test the hypothesis, the researchers investigated the effects of garlic intake in a population at risk for lead poisoning.
In a study published in the journal Basic & Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, researchers recruited 117 workers at a car battery factory. The researchers gave the workers 1,200 micrograms of allicin three times a day for four weeks. As a result, lead concentrations in the blood "dropped significantly," the researchers report.
CAN PROMOTE A LONGER LIFE
Given the vast scientific literature claiming the positive effects of garlic on factors that contribute to premature death (eg, blood pressure, cholesterol, decreased risk of CVD and lung cancer, etc.), it is fair to say that garlic it can help you live longer.