“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” – Thomas Edison
The world would be a different place without Thomas Edison’s inventions. Imagine a world treating disease without drugs, but preventing disease with food and nutrition. Thousands of years ago, our ancient ancestors did not have conventional medicine as we do today. They relied on food and plants as medicine for healing. Ironically, many of their assumptions may have some credibility today.
1. Garlic was a form of currency, protection, and used for medicinal purposes.
Garlic was used as currency in ancient Egyptian and Middle Eastern cultures and the Old Testament in the Bible has mention of garlic used for culinary purposes (1) As written in Bram Stroker’s Dracula novel, Van Helsing uses garlic to protect Lucy from the Vampire Count by placing it in her room and around her neck to repel the vampire. The Balkans believed that garlic would keep them safe from both vampires and witches (1). In ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, India, China, and Japan, garlic was used mostly for medical purposes (2).
2. Garlic could prevent colorectal cancer.
Several studies suggest that increased dietary garlic consumption can decrease risk of developing colorectal cancer (3-6). With people who already have colorectal cancer, clinical research implies that taking a higher-dose aged garlic extract 2.4 mL/day for 12 months reduces the risk of developing new cancer cells by 29% compared to a lower dose (7). However, a garlic supplement does not show to have the same effect (8).
3. Garlic could reduce blood pressure.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure is usually defined as blood pressure above 140/90 this happens when the force of blood pumping through your arteries is too powerful. High blood pressure over time can lead to heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. According to the National Institutes of Health, around 76.4 million people in the United States have high blood pressure. Clinical research reveals that taking garlic orally can reduce blood pressure among people who have high blood pressure and people with normal blood pressure (9-18).
4. Garlic may reduce progression of cardiovascular disease.
Atherosclerosis, also known as cardiovascular disease, is a condition where plaque builds in inside arteries which limits the flow of blood to your heart and other organs in the body. Atherosclerosis can results in heart attack and stroke. A study found that taking a specific time released garlic powder supplement 150 mg twice daily for two years seems to reduce the rate of atherosclerosis progression (19).
5. Garlic has more than just 1 nutrient.
If you love the taste of garlic…You’re going to love this.
1 ounce of garlic can provide (roughly 9 cloves):
- Manganese (23% Daily Value)
- Vitamin B6 (17% Daily Value)
- Vitamin C (15% Daily Value)
Garlic does provide some calcium and selenium as well. 1 ounce of garlic only has 42 calories, 2 grams of protein, and 9 grams of carbohydrates (20). Granted, eating 9 cloves of garlic is a lot of garlic to eat in one sitting. One way I use a lot of garlic at once is making a homemade tomato pasta sauce. If you like pesto, you could easily use 9 cloves of garlic while making a pesto sauce. The more garlic the better!
6. Garlic contains a distinctive compound.
Allicin is a phytonutrient which gives garlic it’s distinctive smell. Allicin acts as garlic’s security guard by attacking insects and other organisms. Allicin also has antimicrobial properties. Unfortunately allicin cannot be sold commercially because it is not shelf stable and to be blunt…it just smells (21).
7. Garlic may help men with prostate health.
According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, 1 in 7 men are affected by prostate cancer. Preliminary evidence suggests taking garlic supplements might decrease the risk of developing prostate cancer (22). More evidence suggests that garlic extract might help urinary flow, decrease urinary frequency, and reduce symptoms associated with prostate cancer (23).
8. Garlic could help with exercise performance and muscle soreness.
Taking a single dose of garlic (900 mg) prior to exercise could increase endurance compared to placebo one study finds (24). Another study found taking allicin (80 mg) daily for 2 weeks could reduce exercise induced muscle soreness (25).
9. The heaviest bulb of garlic was recorded in the book of Guinness World Records.
On New Year’s Day 1985, Robert Kirkpatrick from Eureka, California grew a bulb of garlic weighing 2 lb 10 oz (26)! A typical bulb of garlic could hold up to 20 cloves at once.
10. Garlic is not a reliable mosquito repellent.
A study tested the effectiveness of taking garlic orally to determine if it could be a mosquito repellent (27). Sadly, they found garlic did not repel mosquitos. Perhaps next time they could try using garlic as a spray. I personally have a feeling a “garlic repellent” would repel more people and vampires, not mosquitos… ????
- Garlic: Effects on cardiovascular risks and disease, protective effects against cancer, and clinical adverse effects. Summary, evidence report/technol assessment: no 20. AHRQ Publ No. 01-E022, 2000;Oct. Agency for Healthcare Res and Quality. Rockville, MD.
- Rivlin, R. S. Historical perspective on the use of garlic. J Nutr. 2001;131(3s):951S-954S.
- Fleischauer AT, Poole C, Arab L. Garlic consumption and cancer prevention: meta-analyses of colorectal and stomach cancers. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;72:1047-52.
- Steinmetz KA, Kushi LH, Bostick RM, et al. Vegetables, fruit, and colon cancer in the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Am J Epidemiol 1994;139:1-15.
- Witte JS, Longnecker MP, Bird CL, et al. Relation of vegetable, fruit, and grain consumption to colorectal adenomatous polyps. Am J Epidemiol 1996;144:1015-25.
- Le Marchand L, Hankin JH, Wilkens LR, et al. Dietary fiber and colorectal cancer risk. Epidemiology 1997;8:658-65.
- Tanaka, S., Haruma, K., Kunihiro, M., Nagata, S., Kitadai, Y., Manabe, N., Sumii, M., Yoshihara, M., Kajiyama, G., and Chayama, K. Effects of aged garlic extract (AGE) on colorectal adenomas: a double-blinded study. Hiroshima J Med Sci. 2004;53(3-4):39-45.
- Dorant E, van den Brandt PA, Goldbohm RA. A prospective cohort study on the relationship between onion and leek consumption, garlic supplement use and the risk of colorectal carcinoma in The Netherlands. Carcinogenesis 1996;17:477-84.
- Silagy CA, Neil HA. A meta-analysis of the effect of garlic on blood pressure. J Hypertens 1994;12:463-8.
- McMahon FG, Vargas R. Can garlic lower blood pressure? A pilot study. Pharmacotherapy 1993;13:406-7.
- Auer W, Eiber A, Hertkorn E, et al. Hypertension and hyperlipidaemia: garlic helps in mild cases. Br J Clin Pract Suppl 1990;69:3-6.
- Steiner M, Khan AH, Holbert D, Lin RI. A double-blind crossover study in moderately hypercholesterolemic men that compared the effect of aged garlic extract and placebo administration on blood lipids. Am J Clin Nutr 1996;64:866-70.
- Ackermann RT, Mulrow CD, Ramirez G, et al. Garlic shows promise for improving some cardiovascular risk factors. Arch Intern Med 2001;161:813-24.
- Ried K, Frank OR, Stocks NP, et al. Effect of garlic on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Cardiovasc Disord 2008;8:13.
- Ried, K., Frank, O. R., and Stocks, N. P. Aged garlic extract lowers blood pressure in patients with treated but uncontrolled hypertension: a randomised controlled trial. Maturitas 2010;67(2):144-150.
- Jeyaraj S, Shivaji G, and Jeyaraj SD. Effect of a combined supplementation of fish oil (MEGA-3) with garlic pearls on the serum lipid profile, blood pressure and body mass index of hypercholesterolemic subjects. Heart 2000;83(suppl 2):A4.
- Ried K, Frank OR, Stocks NP. Aged garlic extract reduces blood pressure in hypertensives: a dose-response trial. Eur J Clin Nutr 2013;67(1):64-70.
- Ashraf R, Khan RA, Ashraf I, Qureshi AA. Effects of Allium sativum (garlic) on systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients with essential hypertension. Pak J Pharm Sci 2013;26(5):859-63.
- Orekhov AN, Sobenin IA, Korneev NV, et al. Anti-atherosclerotic therapy based on botanicals. Recent Pat Cardiovasc Drug Discov 2013;8(1):56-66.
- Garlic, raw Nutrition Facts & Calories. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2446/2. Accessed August 3, 2016.
- Phytochemicals: What is allicin? http://www.phytochemicals.info/phytochemicals/allicin.php. Accessed August 3, 2016.
- Key TJ, Silcocks PB, Davey GK, et al. A case-control study of diet and prostate cancer. Br J Cancer 1997;76:678-87.
- Durak I, Yilmaz E, Devrim E, et al. Consumption of aqueous garlic extract leads to significant improvement in patients with benign prostate hyperplasia and prostate cancer. Nutr Res 2003;23:199-204.
- Ince DI, Sonmez GT, and Ince ML. Effects garlic on aerobic performance. Turkish Journal of Medical Sciences 2000;30(6):557-561.
- Su, Q. S., Tian, Y., Zhang, J. G., and Zhang, H. Effects of allicin supplementation on plasma markers of exercise-induced muscle damage, IL-6 and antioxidant capacity. Eur.J Appl.Physiol 2008;103(3):275-283
- Guinness World Records: Heaviest Garlic. http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/heaviest-garlic. Accessed August 3, 2016.
- Rajan, T. V., Hein, M., Porte, P., and Wikel, S. A double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial of garlic as a mosquito repellant: a preliminary study. Med Vet.Entomol. 2005;19(1):84-89.