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  • Writer's pictureDr. Kathleen Jones

Garlic in Medicine: What Science Tells Us

Garlic hails from the same family as onions, shallots, and chives. Although best known as a modern cooking ingredient, garlic has been used extensively throughout history for its medicinal benefits and is still being studied today. Here are just a few of the discoveries scientists have made about garlic:

1. Skin

Garlic contains several antibacterial antioxidants that work wonders on skin problems like acne and psoriasis. Garlic is also effective at fighting fungal infections and can help reduce keloid scarring and signs of aging. Depending on your preference, you can apply garlic oil directly to the affected area or simply slice a clove of garlic and gently rub it onto your skin.

2. Immune System

Another antibacterial perk of garlic is its ability to kill “campylobacter”, a bacterium that frequently causes intestinal problems. A Washington State University study found that garlic was roughly 100 times (or 1000%!) more effective at eradicating the bacterium than two of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics at the time. Thanks to its antiviral properties, garlic has also been proven to help prevent the common cold and fight cold sores.

3. Heart

Garlic is often used as a natural treatment for heart conditions. It is thought to help lower cholesterol, improve blood pressure, prevent heart disease and heart attacks, and also helps control atherosclerosis, a condition in which plaque buildup causes arteries to harden.

4. Cancer

Perhaps the most exciting study of garlic comes from the Medical University of South Carolina, where researchers introduced a garlic compound named “DATS” to a glioblastoma, a type of inoperable brain tumor. DATS eradicated the cancer cells so well that Dr. Ray Swapan, one of the study authors, wrote “This research highlights the great promise of plant-originated compounds as natural medicine for controlling the malignant growth of human brain tumor cells”.

5. Bone Health

A study by British researchers observing 1,000 female twins discovered that those who ate a variety of allium vegetables like garlic and onions had a reduced risk of early-onset hip osteoarthritis. Researchers believe that garlic is not only effective at preventing, but will be an important ingredient in future osteoarthritis treatments as well.

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Das, Arabinda and Banik, Naren. 2007. American Cancer Society.

Newman, Tim. 2017. What are the benefits of garlic? Medical News Today.

Pazyar, Nader and Feily, Amir. 2011. National Institute of Health.

Williams, Frances. 2010. Dietary garlic and hip osteoarthritis: evidence of a protective effect and putative mechanism of action. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders.


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