Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician who is often referred to as the father of Western medicine, prescribed garlic for a variety of medical conditions. His famous quote, “Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” is still sage advice today.
Garlic has been long touted as an excellent healing herb with antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties. Scientists attribute its medicinal power to the sulfur compounds found in garlic, according to Healthline. Studies have shown that garlic not only improves cardiovascular health, it may also prevent Alzheimer’s disease, boost your athletic performance, and help you live longer.
The Egyptians fed their slaves garlic to make them stronger when building the pyramids, says a leading report on the history and efficacy of the herb. Garlic has been dubbed the “Russian penicillin” because Russian doctors treated wounded soldiers with the herb during World War II. Today, many health experts advise eating garlic or taking aged garlic extract supplements to ward off colds, flu, and other diseases.
Here’s a list of the benefits of garlic:
- Protects against the common cold. Studies found that men and women followed for 12 weeks during the cold season between November and February were less prone to catching colds if they consumed garlic, compared to peers who took a placebo. According to Healthline, people who took a daily garlic supplement had 63% fewer colds and the length of the cold was reduced by 70%. The colds lasted 5 days in the placebo group and only 1.5 days in the garlic group.
- Reduces blood pressure. High blood pressure is a critical risk factor for the world’s number one killer, heart disease. Several studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of aged garlic extract in lowering blood pressure. In one study, 600 to 1,500 milligrams of aged garlic extract consumed daily for 24 weeks proved to be just as effective at reducing blood pressure as taking the prescription medication atenolol.
- Improves cholesterol levels. Garlic supplements are effective in reducing the LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol levels in people with elevated cholesterol, says Healthline.
- Helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Australian researchers found that the antioxidant property of aged garlic extract helps preserve the integrity of the blood-brain barrier, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. “The major strength of garlic is in its unique cocktail mixture of a number of strong antioxidant compounds that are both water soluble and insoluble, compared to other pharmacological drugs or nutraceutical agents that contain just a single beneficial compound,” said Professor Ryu Takechi, of Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, who researches the effect of aged garlic extract on cognitive function.
- Boosts athletic performance. In ancient Greece, garlic was given to Olympic athletes to improve their stamina. One new study revealed that people who took garlic oil for 6 weeks had a 12% reduction in optimum heart rate and better stamina during exercise.
- Reduces gingivitis. One of the surprising benefits of aged garlic extract is treating gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, which affects a whopping 70% of adults over the age of 65. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that gingivitis is associated with an increased risk of several diseases, including cardiovascular disease. While flossing and brushing are important to maintain dental health, researchers at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University Hadassah School of Dental Medicine found that gingivitis can be successfully treated with daily consumption of Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract. They published their findings in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry. “I even have a friend who goes to garlic before dental care,” lead researcher Jonathan Mann said. “Nevertheless, I couldn’t imagine that even this first study would be such a great success.” Over four months, those given aged garlic extract showed considerable reduction of gingival inflammation and bleeding gums while the placebo group remained unchanged.
- Removes arterial plaque. Dr. Matthew Budoff, a leading cardiologist and professor of medicine at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, says that taking aged garlic extract supplements can reverse arterial plaque buildup, thus reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Protects against developing cancer. According to an article published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, “there is increasing evidence of anticancer activity of aged garlic extract against several cancer types in human studies.” Researchers also noted that in animal and laboratory studies aged garlic extract helped reduce tumors.
- Lowers blood sugar levels. Dr. David Friedman, the award-winning author of Food Sanity — How to Eat in a World of Fads and Fiction, says that eating garlic may keep blood sugar levels under control, reducing the risk of diabetes. Researchers in the U.K. recommended people should use garlic for reducing blood sugar levels only under the guidance of a doctor, along with their usual treatments of insulin and diet.
- Increases longevity. Garlic reduces the risk for infections and many chronic diseases. Scientists say it makes sense that eating garlic can help you live a longer, more healthful life.
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