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What Are the Benefits of Garlic

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  What are the benefits of garlic? Garlic (Allium sativum) , an herb used widely as a flavoring in cooking, has also been used as a medicine throughout ancient and modern history to prevent and treat a wide range of conditions and diseases.  Garlic belongs to the onion genus  Allium , and is closely related to the onion, rakkyo, chive, leek, and shallot. It has been used by humans for thousands of years and was used in Ancient Egypt for both culinary purposes and its therapeutic benefits. This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. Garlic for food and medicine - a brief history Garlic has been used all over the world for thousands of years. Records indicate that garlic was in use when the Giza pyramids were built, about five thousand years ago. Richard S. Rivlin wrote in the   Journal of Nutrition 1  that the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (circa. 460-370 BC), known today as the father of Western medicine , prescribed garlic for a wide range of conditions and illnesses. Hippocrates promoted the use of garlic for treating respiratory problems, parasites, poor digestion and fatigue.  Garlic (Allium sativum), an herb used widely as a flavoring in cooking, has also been used as a medicine throughout ancient and modern history to prevent and treat a wide range of conditions and diseases.  The srcinal Olympic athletes in Ancient Greece were given garlic - possibly the earliest example of performance enhancing agents used in sports.  From Ancient Egypt garlic spread to the advanced ancient civilizations of the Indus Valley (Pakistan and western India today). From there it made its way to China. According to experts at Kew Gardens 2 , England's royal botanical center of excellence, the people of ancient India valued the therapeutic properties of garlic and also thought it to be an aphrodisiac. The upper classes avoided garlic because they despised its strong odor, while monks, ...widows, adolescents and those who had taken up a vow or were fasting could not eat garlic because of its stimulant quality . Throughout history in the Middle East, East Asia and Nepal, garlic has been used to treat bronchitis,  hypertension (high blood pressure), TB (tuberculosis), liver disorders, dysentery, flatulence, colic,  intestinal worms, rheumatism, diabetes, and fevers.  The French, Spanish and Portuguese introduced garlic to the New World. Rivlin found it interesting that several cultures in history that were never in contact with one another had similar conclusions regarding the therapeutic benefits of garlic. Garlic is used widely today for its therapeutic properties According to the National Library of Medicine 3 , part of the NIH (National Institutes of Health), USA, garlic is widely used for several conditions linked to the blood system and heart, including atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high cholesterol, heart attack, coronary heart disease and hypertension.  Garlic is also used today by some people for the prevention of  lung cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer,stomach cancer, rectal cancer, and colon cancer.  The NIH adds Some of these uses are supported by science. A study published in the journal  Food and Chemical Toxicology  4  warned that short-term heating reduces the anti-inflammatory effects of fresh raw garlic extracts. This may be a problem for some people who do not like or cannot tolerate the taste and/or odor of fresh garlic. Ask your pharmacist for garlic supplements or oil which have not been exposed to too much heat. Scientific studies on the therapeutic benefits of garlic What is the difference between scientific and anecdotal evidence? Anecdotal evidence refers to a person's personal experience - like the evidence from a witness. This type of evidence is crucial in a court of law when somebody (a witness) saw something happen with their own eyes. In medicine, however, anecdotal evidence, when compared to scientific evidence, is not compelling enough. If I cross the road with my eyes closed and so does a friend of mine, and we do not get run over, it would be irresponsible to tell everybody around us, including our children that crossing the street with your eyes closed is safe. A scientific study using thousands of participants, comparing crossers  with their eyes closed against others with their eyes open, would soon show that crossing the street with your eyes closed is extremely dangerous. Below are examples of some scientific studies published in peer-reviewed academic journals about the therapeutic benefits (or not) of garlic.  According to a study, people who eat raw garlic at least twice a week have a 44% lower risk of developing lung cancer.   Lung cancer risk  People who ate raw garlic at least twice a week had a 44% lower risk of developing lung cancer, according to a study carried out at the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China. The researchers, who published their study in the journal Cancer Prevention Research , had carried out face-to-face interviews with 1,424 lung cancer patients as well as 4,543 healthy individuals. They were asked about their diet and lifestyle habits, which included questions on their smoking habits and how often they ate garlic. The study authors wrote Protective association between intake of raw garlic and lung cancer has been observed with a dose-response pattern, suggesting that garlic may potentially serve as a chemo-preventive agent for lung cancer. Brain cancer  Organo-sulfur compounds found in garlic have been identified as effective in destroying the cells in glioblastomas, a type of deadly brain tumor.   Scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina reported in the journal Cancer   that three pure organo-sulfur compounds from garlic - DAS, DADS and DATS - demonstrated efficacy in eradicating brain cancer cells, but DATS proved to be the most effective . Co-author, Ray Swapan, Ph.D., said This research highlights the great promise of plant-srcinated compounds as natural medicine for controlling the malignant growth of human brain tumor cells, Ray said. More studies are needed in animal models of brain tumors before application of this therapeutic strategy to brain tumor patients. Hip osteoarthritis  Women whose diets were rich in allium vegetables had lower levels of osteoarthritis, a team at King's College London and the University of East Anglia, both in England, reported in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders . Examples of allium vegetables include garlic, leeks, shallots, onions and rakkyo. The study authors said their findings not only highlighted the possible impact of diet on osteoarthritis outcomes, but also demonstrated the potential for using compounds that exist in garlic to develop treatments for the condition. The long-term study, involving more than 1,000 healthy female twins, found that those whose dietary habits included plenty of fruit and vegetables, particularly alliums such as garlic , had fewer signs of early osteoarthritis in the hip joint. Potentially a powerful antibiotic  Diallyl sulfide, a compound in garlic, was 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics in fighting the Campylobacter   bacterium, according to a study published in the  Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy  . The Campylobacter   bacterium is one of the most common causes of intestinal infections. Senior author, Dr. Xiaonan Lu, from Washington State University, said This work is very exciting to me because it shows that this compound has the potential to reduce disease-causing bacteria in the environment and in our food supply. Heart protection  Diallyl trisulfide, a component of garlic oil, helps protect the heart during cardiac surgery and after a heart attack, researchers at Emory University School of Medicine found. They also believe diallyl trisulfide could be used as a treatment for heart failure.  Hydrogen sulfide gas has been shown to protect the heart from damage. However, it is a volatile compound and difficult to deliver as therapy. Hence, the scientists decided to focus on diallyl trisulfide, a garlic oil component, as a safer way to deliver the benefits of hydrogen sulfide to the heart.

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Jul 23, 2017
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