The Health Benefits of Garlic

Used in different ways over centuries to ward off diseases and even vampires, Garlic is renowned for its health benefits but is this a fair reputation? Considering the garlic breath side effect, does garlic have any health benefits?

For many years, centuries in fact, Garlic has been used as a health remedy and prevention for a number of illnesses, conditions, complaints and diseases - even to ward off vampires. Whilst some of the benefits attributed to garlic have been scientifically studied and shown to be of value, others still remain untested and rely on word of mouth and subjective experience.

As with any health related or medical matter, one must always consult with a qualified, professional healthcare practitioner for advice before trying any remedy.

Another warning regarding any health benefit claims for garlic, if you should decide to use it, is to be careful not to overdo it. Garlic is very strong and can irritate the lining of the stomach and the whole gastro-intestinal tract. The same applies if used topically (i.e. directly on the external parts of the body). Too much can irritate skin and mucous membrane and prevent rather than assist healing. Some people may also not be able to tolerate it and might even be allergic to it.

 One of the most important aspects when considering the health benefits of garlic is that it appears to be most effective when raw and needs to be crushed or finely chopped. Cooking a whole garlic clove has very little effect on health. It seems that the clove needs to be broken down for the body to gain benefit.

 That being said some of the scientifically proven benefits are:

1. It acts as a natural antibiotic – although it is seen as a ‘broad spectrum’ antibiotic which means it acts against a range of bacteria and so is not as effective as the pharmacological antibiotics (about 1% as strong) which are ’targeted’ at certain bacteria – although it is thought that garlic may assist these antibiotics.

2. It is anti-viral – although it is not recommended for people taken HIV drugs.

3. It is anti-fungal – so may be crushed raw and applied to areas of fungal growth – again be careful not to apply too much and cause irritation. Try a little on a small test area first to try it out. If in doubt, consult with your healthcare practitioner.

4. It is a proven anti-oxidant (i.e. it scavenges substances know as free radicals which cause much damage in the body).

5. It repels a variety of insects either just by eating it, as it seeps out of the pores of the skin and repels insects, especially mosquitoes, or by applying it topically. Again be careful not to use too strong a mix. It can also be mixed up and sprayed over a garden area.

6. It is anti-cancer – population studies have shown that a regular intake of garlic reduces the risk of stomach, intestine and colon cancer

7. It is anti-protozoan – helps protect against worms and parasitic infections

8. It helps with acne problems

9. It also helps with blood clots – so do not take with blood thinners (check with your Doctor first)

Garlic is also thought to assist with High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol, although these benefits have not been proven beyond doubt. Again contact your healthcare practitioner first should you suspect you suffer from any of these conditions.

Side Affects and Dangers of Garlic:

1. Breath is maybe the primary one – although this can be eased by using parsley, especially garlic and parsley capsules

2. Garlic can react with blood thinners (anticoagulants) and other drugs

3. Too much or too strong a mix can cause irritation and even bleeding

So, for centuries garlic has been used to treat and help prevent many ailments. Now science has proved some of these do work and yet many of the health benefits of garlic remain untested and in the realm of folklore. Also, there are some dangers and side effects when using garlic so be sure to check with your healthcare practitioners first.

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