Photograph © 2000, Lucy Canter Kihlstrom, PhD.
Medicinal Parts: The whole fresh bulb, the dried bulb, and the oil.
Demonstrated Uses: For persons with elevated levels of lipids in the blood, use as a dietary supplement. Garlic may also be used to prevent age-related vascular changes.
How it Works: When garlic is cut, alliin, the sulfur-containing compound in it, is converted to allicin which is an antibacterial agent. Bulbs that have been dried and remoistened ferment into various types of oils. Oils that are ajoenes act as clot-preventing agents. The ability of garlic to offer some protection against arteriosclerosis, coronary thrombosis, and stroke can be attributed to ajoene which tends to inhibit aggregation of the blood platelets.
Precautions: The Commission E reported no particular reasons to avoid garlic. However, the use of garlic with anticoagulants such as coumadin and antiplatelets such as aspirin could increase the risk of bleeding. Therefore, the use of garlic prior to surgery should always be reported to your physician. And, mothers who are nursing should not use garlic (Chadha, 1988; McGuffin et al., 1997). In certain cases, side effects may include gastrointestinal symptoms and allergic reactions. Also, the odor of garlic may be noticeable on the skin and breath.
Daily Dosage: The latest clinical studies suggest that a lipid lowering effect can be expected with 600 to 900 mg of garlic powder containing 1.3 percent alliin or 0.6 percent allicin (Koch & Lawson, 1996).
Storage: Hang braided garlic in a dry place.
Chadha, Y.R., et al., (eds.). (1988), The Wealth of India (Raw Materials). Vol. 11. New Delhi: Publications and Information Directorate, CSIR.
Koch, H.P. and Lawson, L.D. (eds.) (1996). Garlic: The Science and Therapeutic Application of Allium sativum L. and Related Species, 2nd edition. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins Publishing Co.
McGuffin, M., Hobbs, C., Upton, R. and Goldberg, A. (1997). Botanical Safety Handbook (Product of the American Herbal Product Association). Boca Raton: CRC Press.