Garlic for Immune Health

Garlic…. it does not just ward off vampires. It also wards off undesirable bacteria, viruses and fungus. For years, garlic has been hailed as an elixir of health. Sanskrit records document the use of garlic to approximately 5,000 years ago, while the Chinese have been using it for at least 3,000 years. An Egyptian medical papyrus dating to 1,550 B.C., mentions garlic as an effective remedy for a variety of ailments from headache to tumors. It is said to help treat everything from the common cold to cholesterol. In clinical trials, it seems to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and kill parasites in the body. Even ancient writings show that garlic was used as currency in Egypt.

One clove of garlic contains more than 100 sulfuric compounds — powerful enough to wipe out bacteria and infection. Garlic was reportedly used to prevent gangrene in both world wars. Raw garlic, not cooked or dried, is most beneficial for health, since heat and water inactivate the active sulfur enzymes, which can diminish its antibiotic effects.

Many studies have shown that garlic seems to enhance the activity of natural killer cells, and to inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells. Garlic contains three powerful compounds, — ajoene, allicin, and thiosulfinates — that help the body prevent and fight infections. When applied to the skin, garlic is more effective than topical creams and other anti-fungal agents in fighting athlete’s foot. Evidence has been documented suggesting that people who consume large quantities of garlic on the onset of a cold will reduce the amount of time it takes them to recover. In a study of 50 people with colorectal, liver, or pancreatic cancer, that was inoperable, immune activity improved after they took aged garlic extract for 6 months.

Garlic can also act as an antioxidant that reduces the build-up of free radicals in the bloodstream. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause over time.

Cultures with a garlic-rich diet seem to have a lower incidence of intestinal cancer as garlic may also play a part in getting rid of potential carcinogens and other toxic substances. Researchers who reviewed 7 studies found a 30% reduction in risk of colorectal cancer among people who ate a lot of raw or cooked garlic.

Garlic is also a heart-friendly food since it keeps platelets from sticking together and clogging tiny blood vessels. It may slow down hardening of the arteries and lower blood pressure slightly, between 7% and 8%. One study that lasted 4 years found that people who took 900 mg daily of standardized garlic powder slowed the development of atherosclerosis. Garlic also seems to be an anticoagulant, meaning it acts as a blood-thinner, which may help prevent heart attacks and strokes.

If you do not want to eat raw garlic, you should know this is also available in supplement form. The Institute for Healthy Living has it available in various formulations. Be sure to visit to find which product is best for you.

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