Garlic is a species in the onion family Alliaceae. It is, of course, best known as a cooking ingredient used for its fantastic taste. Another popular use of garlic is as fantastic natural medicine in all known traditions.
The garlic plant's bulb is the most commonly used part of the plant. With the exception of the single clove types, the bulb is divided into numerous fleshy sections called cloves
Garlic is grown globally, but China is by far the largest producer of garlic, with approximately 10.5 million tonnes (23 billion pounds) annually, accounting for over 77% of world output. India (4.1%) and South Korea (2%) follow, with Russia (1.6%) in fourth place and the United States in fifth.
The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, does not recommend any dietary supplement for the prevention of cancer, but recognizes garlic as one of several vegetables with potential anticancer properties.
Historical use: Garlic has been used as both food and medicine in many cultures for thousands of years, dating at least as far back as the time that the Giza pyramids were built. Garlic is still grown in Egypt, but the Syrian variety is the kind most esteemed now.
Garlic is mentioned in the Bible and the Talmud. Hippocrates, Galen, Pliny the Elder, and Dioscorides all mention the use of garlic for many conditions, including parasites, respiratory problems, poor digestion, and low energy. Its use in China was first mentioned in A.D. 510.
Medicinal use: In test tube studies garlic has been found to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activity. Garlic is also claimed to help prevent heart disease (including atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure) and cancer.
A Czech study found that garlic supplementation reduced accumulation of cholesterol on the vascular walls of animals.
Another study had similar results, with garlic supplementation significantly reducing aortic plaque deposits of cholesterol-fed rabbits. Another study showed that supplementation with garlic extract inhibited vascular calcification in human patients with high blood cholesterol. The known vasodilative effect of garlic is possibly caused by catabolism of garlic-derived polysulfides to hydrogen sulfide in red blood cells, a reaction that is dependent on reduced thiols in or on the RBC membrane. Hydrogen sulfide is an endogenous cardioprotective vascular cell-signaling molecule.
When crushed, Allium sativum yields allicin, a powerful antibiotic and antifungal compound (phytoncide). It has been claimed that it can be used as a home remedy to help speed recovery from strep throat or other minor ailments because of its antibiotic properties. Allixin showed an anti-tumor promoting effect in vivo, inhibiting skin tumor formation by TPA in DMBA initiated mice. Analogs of this compound have exhibited anti tumor promoting effects in in vitro experimental conditions. Herein, allixin and/or its analogs may be expected useful compounds for cancer prevention or chemotherapy agents for other diseases.
Several population studies show an association between increased intake of garlic and reduced risk of certain cancers, including cancers of the stomach, colon, esophagus, pancreas, and breast. Population studies are multidisciplinary studies of population groups that investigate the cause, incidence, or spread of a disease or examine the effect of health-related interventions, dietary and nutritional intakes, or environmental exposures. An analysis of data from seven population studies showed that the higher the amount of raw and cooked garlic consumed, the lower the risk of stomach and colorectal cancer.
- Helps fight infection
- Excellent digestive aid
- Can destroy some types of cancer cells
- Alleviates cough, flu, and respiratory ailments
The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) is an ongoing multinational study involving men and women from 10 different countries. This study is investigating the effects of nutrition on cancer. In the study, higher intakes of onion and garlic were associated with a reduced risk of intestinal cancer.
- Garlic and Other Alliums: The Lore and the Science. Royal Society of Chemistry; Block, E.
- Pharmaceutical importance of Allium sativum L. 5. Hypolipemic effects in vitro and in vivo; Sovová M, Sova P.
- Effects of garlic extract consumption on blood lipid and oxidant/antioxidant parameters in humans with high blood cholesterol; Durak I.
- Effect of allixin, a phytoalexin produced by garlic, on mutagenesis, DNA-binding and metabolism of aflatoxin; Yamasaki T., Teel R. W., Lau B. H.
- Allyl sulfur compounds from garlic modulate aberrant crypt formation; Ross SA, Finley JW, Milner JA.
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