Garlic, bulb-bearing perennial plant, Allium sativum Liliaceae, native to southern Europe, and widely cultivated in many parts of the world. Garlic plants, which are closely related to the onion, grow to a height of up 1 to 2 ft., and have very narrow, sword shaped leaves.
Ancient Traditions History
The earliest references of garlic as medicinal and culinary plant are found on Sumerian clay tablets (2600–2100 BC.). The use of garlic as medication for Egyptians, was listed in the Codex Ebers (1550 BC).
Ancient Chinese medication used garlic to help respiration, digestion, diarrhea and worm infestation. Ancient medical traditions in India (Tibbi, Unani and Auryveda), had made extensive use of garlic as a central part of the healing efficacy of plants.
Charaka-Samhita, an Indian ancient medical text, recommends garlic to treat heart disease and arthritis. While another ancient Indian medical textbook, Bower Manuscript (300), garlic was used for fatigue, parasitic disease, digestive disorder and leprosy.
Anti-Bacterial and Antiseptic
Louis Pasteur was the first who reported the antibacterial and antifungal properties of garlic. Albert Schweitzer then used this concept to treat dysentery in Africa with garlic. Pietro Mattiali, 16th century physician from Siena, prescribed garlic for digestive disorders, worms infestation, renal disorders, and also to help mother during difficult childbirth.
In England, garlic was used for toothache, constipation, dropsy and plague. Garlic was used as an antiseptic to prevent gangrene during World War I and World War II.
In an uncontrolled study in China, garlic has been used reasonably successfully in AIDS patients to treat Cryptosporidium, a protozoan that can cause gastro-intestinal illness with diarrhea in humans. Cryptosporidium is the organism most commonly isolated in HIV positive patients presenting with diarrhea. It has also been used by at least one AIDS patient to treat toxoplasmosis, another protozoal disease.
Ancient Chinese medicine used combinations of herbs to form a healing tonic. Garlic was used to treat fatigue, headache, insomnia, and improve male potency.
During the 1st Olympics in Greece, garlic was used by many athletes for increasing stamina. In 2007, the BBC reported that garlic may have other beneficial properties, such as preventing and fighting the common cold.
My friend had known this kind of information, 7 years before. In 2000, I was having an outbond (student camp) to train new college students. My friend used garlic to fight cold weather, when we were at Cuban Rondo, Batu, East Java. How? He directly ate it, just like eating an apple.
Anti Cancer Effects
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used garlic to treat cervical cancer. Various studies did show the ability of garlic in prevent and treat cancers, mainly caused by the material-hazardous chemicals, such as prostate cancer, stomach cancer, colorectal (colon and rectum) cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer, skin cancer, and lung cancer.
In China, garlic was also shown to reduce the risk of esophageal and stomach cancers by 70%. The effectiveness of garlic against cancers due to the presence of allyl sulfur components. The main property of garlic for therapeutic effects is as an effective antioxidant against oxidative damage in cardiovascular diseases.
Garlic is also commonly used as an alternative medication by most diabetic patients, because it can improve hyperglycemia in diabetic patients. The antihyperglycemic effect of garlic has been reported in several studies. Regular and prolonged use of garlic on therapeutic amounts, has been shown to prevent some complications of diabetes mellitus. Although, the information about the effects of garlic on the diabetic heart is very limited.
Pros and Cons
The effectiveness of garlic in cardiovascular diseases was prompted many scientists to conduct experimental studies, but many negative studies also have cast doubt on the efficary of garlic, especially its cholesterol lowering effect of garlic. Clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US, in 2007, had found that the consumption of garlic in any form, did not reduce blood cholesterol levels, in patients with moderately high baseline cholesterol levels.
A 2012 report in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, concludes that:
There is insufficient clinical trial evidence regarding the effects of garlic in preventing or treating the common cold. A single trial suggested that garlic may prevent occurrences of the common cold but more studies are needed to validate this finding. Claims of effectiveness appear to rely largely on poor-quality evidence.
Lipid Lowering Effect
Since 1975 there have been more than 46 (from medline search) human studies on lipid-lowering effects of garlic and garlic preparations. The studies were mostly randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled using garlic powder rather than raw garlic, in hyperlipidemic patients for 4–16 weeks. Most studies showed significant decrease in serum cholesterol and serum triglyceride.
Only about one-third of the studies measured lipoproteins, where significant favorable changes in LDL-cholesterol level (11–26% decrease) were consistently observed. A few studies using garlic powder (having low allicin yields) failed to show any lipid lowering effects.
During the last one decade (1993–2002), 18 clinical studies have been published regarding the hypolipedemic effect of garlic. Nine studies showed negative results and garlic powder was used in seven of these studies.
Different composition and quantity of sulfur components, from different garlic preparations, that used in various studies, might result to the inconsistent findings. So, in order to meet valid conclusion, it might need for standardization of different garlic preparations. It also include the subject recruitment, duration of study, dietary control, lifestyle and methods of lipid analyses.
How To Gain Maximum Benefit From Garlic
Be aware on processing garlic! It can turn off its anticancer power agents. When garlic is processed, or heated one minute in microwave, the efficacy of garlic as anticancer will be gone. So what then? Should it be swallowed raw?
It's simple. Destroy garlic (chopped, crushed, or thinly sliced) then let it stand for 15 minutes before cooking (used as seasoning). In 15 minutes, chemical reaction occurs, in which activates allinase enzyme, present in garlic. If you want, you may also consume raw garlic, but still it must be first crushed and left for 15 minutes.
Negative Side Effects
Don't think that the more you are consuming garlic, the better the results. The recommended dose for consumption garlic is 4-5 grams of garlic/ day (about 1-2 cloves). If too much, it will cause bad breath (garlic breath) and skin.
Sometimes is also causing allergies, digestive disorders (vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, excessive gas production), bronchial asthma, dermatitis, reducing levels of protein and calcium in the blood. Too much garlic will also reduce sperm production, increasing the risk of bleeding, due to its ability to prevent blood clotting.
Therefore, the person who is going to have a surgery, or has recently undergone surgery, having pregnancy, and after childbirth surgery, garlic consumption should be limited, although culinary quantities are safe for consumption. Because garlic able to improve the work of enzymes in the liver, to remove toxins from the body. This capability is very useful for you to be more healthier. But it can also get rid of chemotherapeutic drugs in the body, or drug-medication that you had swallowed.
So, if you want to increase the consumption of garlic, or you might want to use the product supplement based on garlic, you must consult your doctor first!
Bagaimana Bawang Putih Melawan Kanker? (Bahasa Indonesia)
The American Society for Nutritional Sciences
Historical Perspective on the Use of Garlic
Effect of garlic on cardiovascular disorders: a review
National Institutes of Health
- Garlic Constituent Diallyl Trisulfide Prevents Development of Poorly-Differentiated Prostate Cancer and Pulmonary Metastasis Multiplicity in TRAMP Mice
- Freshly Crushed Garlic is a Superior Cardioprotective Agent than Processed Garlic
- Garlic Oil Alleviates MAPKs- and IL-6-mediated Diabetes-related Cardiac Hypertrophy in STZ-induced DM Rats