Garlic is used widely as a flavouring in cooking, but it has also been used as a medicine throughout history to prevent and treat a wide range of conditions and diseases.
Garlic produces a chemical called allicin. This is what seems to make garlic work for certain conditions. Allicin also makes garlic smell.
Garlic is most commonly used for conditions related to the heart and blood system. These conditions include high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia), and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). As people age, their arteries tend to lose their ability to stretch and flex. Garlic seems to reduce this effect.
Diabetes. Garlic seems to reduce blood sugar levels in people with or without diabetes.
High levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia). Research suggests that taking garlic can reduce total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, "bad" cholesterol) in people with hyperlipidemia. Garlic appears to work best if taken daily for more than 8 weeks.
High blood pressure. Taking garlic seems to reduce systolic blood pressure (the top number) by about 7-9 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by about 4-6 mmHg in people with high blood pressure.
Prostate cancer. Taking garlic extract supplements might reduce the risk of prostate cancer or reduce symptoms associated with prostate cancer in men.
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Where can I get more information?
For starters, it’s always a good idea to speak to your local pharmacist or your GP.
For more information on garlic, try: