Garlic has been used as a medicine for over 3,000 years, however, only recent studies have changed the powers of garlic from folklore to scientific fact. There are over 2,000 scientific studies on the therapeutic benefits of garlic in the treatment of a variety of conditions.
In the American Journal of Medicine, June 1994; 94;632-635, Dr. Adesh Jain of Tulane University School of Medicine reported that garlic can lower the "total" blood levels of cholesterol and particularly the dangerous low-density lipoproteins (LDL). Garlic does this without the unwanted side effects of the drugs now commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol.
Dr. H. Kieswetter of the University of Saarlandes, Hamburg, Germany reported that garlic helped patients suffering from peripheral arterial occlusive disease characterized by blood clots in the legs. This was backed up by a study done at a Medical Research Council Laboratory in Oxford, England that showed garlic to reduce blood platelet aggregation (reducing blood's stickiness) and therefore thinning the blood. This results in more blood flow in the extremities and helps prevent any further buildup of the plaque in the arteries and veins.
There is much talk about garlic lowering blood pressure, fact or fiction? Garlic can help lower blood pressure in some individuals due to it's thinning the blood and also the fact that garlic contains gamma-glutamylcysteine, a natural ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitor as reported in Planta Medica (Sendl, A. Feb. 1992; 58:1-7). Some prescription drugs used for lowering blood pressure work in the same way, by preventing or blocking the formation of the chemical angiotensin converting enzyme.
We have heard for some time now about the bad effects and even the possibility of cancer from a group of chemicals called nitrosamines in bacon, bologna and other processed meat. Dr. John Milner of Pennsylvania State University has published two separate papers in 'Carcinogenesis' demonstrating the protective effects of garlic on the nitrosamine induced cancer in lab rats, one Oct. 1992; 13:1847-51 and again in Feb. 1994 15:349-52. Dr. Milner stated "The total tumor number was reduced by 56% in rats fed the garlic diet."
Garlic has long been known in folk lore as a natural antibiotic. In the scientific community, as far back as 1983 in Medical Hypotheses ;12:227-37, Dr. Lau noted that "garlic extract has broad spectrum antimicrobial activity against many genera of bacteria and fungi...many of which are medically significant", and he went on to say "garlic holds a promising position as a broad spectrum therapeutic agent". One specific fungal infection that Dr. Lau pointed out as responding to garlic treatment was the Candida infections. Later in a German study published in Zietschrift fur Onkologie, April 1989; 21:52-53, described garlic as enhancing the body's "killer cell" activity against the AIDS virus.
The research shows that garlic is indeed a powerful agent in the quest for natural health, and there is no doubt that if developed in the laboratory today, it would become a 'wonder' drug and a very expensive one!