Garlic has been used as both food and medicine for thousands of years. The first recorded medicinal use of garlic appeared 3,500 years ago and was stated in the medical papyri of ancient Egypt. It was also known that French gravediggers in early 18th century drank a mixture of crushed garlic in wine to protect them from the plague that killed many people in Europe. Transcripts from surviving soldiers of World Wars I and II also revealed they were given garlic to prevent gangrene (decay of body tissues) and they applied garlic in their wounds to prevent infections.
Western investigations on garlic and its medicinal properties began 200 years ago. Results of these studies suggest that garlic can help in:
- reducing cholesterol levels
- lowering blood pressure
- preventing cancer
- protecting the liver
- reducing blood sugar levels
- reducing menstrual pain, muscle pain, nerve pain and arthritis
Garlic has also been used to treat ailments like corns, warts, calluses, ear infections and other skin diseases.
Various clinical studies are continuously being conducted to fully document the health benefits of garlic. Most of these studies are focusing on the potential effects of garlic in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
According to medical studies, an average daily intake of 2 – 4 grams of minced garlic (each clove is approximately 1 gram) may help decrease total cholesterol levels and can actually prevent the development of cardiovascular disease.
<u>Conflicting research about garlic.</u>
Fans of organic medicine broke their hearts when Archives of Internal Medicine released the results of the study (February 2007) led by Dr. Christopher D. Gardner of Stanford University which declared that there is no evidence that fresh garlic or garlic supplements can reduce cholesterol levels.
The study which lasted for six months, randomized 192 individuals with moderately elevated cholesterol levels and grouped them into treatment groups. There was a group who took raw garlic; others took powdered garlic supplement, and aged garlic extract supplement, or placebo.
By the end of the study, there were no significant changes in the cholesterol levels of the participants. Even Garner was disappointed with the result adding that for the past five or 10 years; garlic has been in the top-five list of herbal product sales—possibly because of consumer’s notion that garlic can actually help lower their cholesterol. However, Gardner made mentioned that it is still possible that garlic has an anti-inflammatory effect, or a blood-pressure-lowering effect, or an anti-cancer effect— which will be studied rigorously and will be made part of their future research.