Allium sativum is one of nature's most versatile medicinal plant.
Botanical Name: Allium sativum
Plant Family: Lilliceae
Common Names: Clove Garlic, Poor Man's Treacle
History:Garlic is a member of the onion family and is one of nature's most versatile medicinal plant.
Garlic has been used as both food and medicine in many cultures for thousands of years, dating back to when the Egyptian pyramids were built. In early 18th -century France, gravediggers drank a concoction of crushed garlic in wine they believed would protect them from the plague that killed many people in Europe. More recently, during both World Wars I and II, soldiers were given garlic to prevent gangrene. Today garlic is used to help prevent heart disease, including atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries that can block the flow of blood and possibly lead to heart attack or stroke), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and to improve the immune system. Garlic may also protect against cancer.
While the science is not conclusive, research shows promise for garlic in the areas of cancer protection and heart-related risk factors for patients.
Garlic is rich in antioxidants, which help destroy free radicals -- particles that can damage cell membranes, interact with genetic material, and possibly contribute to the aging process as well as the development of a number of conditions, including heart disease and cancer. Free radicals occur naturally in the body, but environmental toxins (including ultraviolet light, radiation, cigarette smoke, and air pollution) can also increase the number of these damaging particles. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause over time.
Garlic is a perennial that originally came from central Asia, and is now cultivated throughout the world. It can grow 2 feet high or more. The most important part of this plant for medicinal purposes is the compound bulb. Each bulb is made up of 4 - 20 cloves, and each clove weighs about 1 gram. Garlic supplements can either be made from fresh, dried, aged, or garlic oil, and each may have different effects on the body.
Garlic supplements are made from whole fresh garlic, dried, or freeze-dried garlic, garlic oil, and aged garlic extracts.
Not all garlic contains the same amount of active ingredients. There is a wide variation in the amount of important components in both fresh garlic and commercial supplements. The amount of healthy compounds present depends on where the garlic is grown as well as how the product is prepared. Some experts believe that the wide variation in the quantity of active ingredients in garlic preparations explains why there is some variability in how well the substances lower cholesterol, improve blood pressure, and fight infection in different people.
Aged garlic products are made by fermenting garlic. Several clinical studies support the use of aged garlic for cardiovascular disease prevention. Aged garlic is high in sulfur compounds that are easily absorbed and have beneficial effects on heart disease and health.
It is important to read the label on all garlic products carefully. To get the most beneift, use standardized garlic products. Also, follow the directions of a qualified health care provider with knowledge and experience in herbal medicine.
How to Take It:
An appropriate medicinal dose for children has not been established. For this reason, use of garlic for health-related reasons in children should be directed by a qualified health care provider who has experience treating children with herbal remedies.
Whole garlic clove (as a food supplement): 2 - 4 grams per day of fresh, minced garlic clove (each clove is approximately 1 gram)
Aged garlic extract: 600 - 1,200 mg, daily in divided doses
Tablets of freeze-dried garlic: 200 mg, 2 tablets 3 times daily, standardized to 1.3% alliin or 0.6% allicin. Products may also be found standardized to contain 10 - 12 mg/Gm alliin and 4,000 mcg of total allicin potential (TAP).
Fluid extract (1:1 w/v): 4 mL, daily
Tincture (1:5 w/v): 20 mL, daily
Oil: 0.03 - 0.12 mL, 3 times daily
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, contain components that can trigger side effects and that can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken with care, under the supervision of a health care provider qualified in the field of botanical medicine.
Garlic is considered to have very low toxicity and is listed as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Side effects from garlic include upset stomach, bloating, bad breath, body odor, and a stinging sensation on the skin from handling too much fresh or dried garlic. Handling garlic may also cause skin lesions. Other, more rare side effects that have been reported by those taking garlic supplements include headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle aches, dizziness described as vertigo (dizziness), and allergies such as an asthmatic reaction or contact dermatitis (skin rash).
Garlic has blood-thinning properties. This is also important to know if you are going to have surgery or deliver a baby. Too much garlic can increase your risk for bleeding during or after those procedures.
By Malini Kalimuthu
Student of University Padjadjaran
Faculty of Pharmacy