Of all garlic’s reputed medicinal benefits, perhaps the best well known is its use as a natural antibiotic and antibacterial agent with reports going back through history. There are even stories of it being used to ward off the
plague. It’s not known how effective this was, however, there is some evidence that anthrax is sensitive to garlic. Some people have even suggested that it might help in the fight against acne although that might be too much to hope for.
Benefits of Garlic
Garlic’s antibiotic properties have been more extensively studied than some of its other reputed health benefits. Louis Pasteur examined garlic’s use as an antibacterial back in the nineteenth century and showed how it killed bacteria under laboratory conditions.
Numerous modern studies confirm that garlic has definite antibiotic properties and is effective against many bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
According to Wright State University , garlic is approximately one percent as potent an antibiotic as penicillin.
Some people have reported that even blood from a garlic eater can itself kill bacteria!
Broad Spectrum Properties of Garlic
Researchers have compared the effectiveness of garlic with that of commercial prescription antibiotics. The result is often that garlic can be more effective as a broad spectrum antibiotic.
However, if a particular bacterium or virus is being treated a more specifically targeted antibiotic if available could be a more effective treatment than the more generic effect of garlic.
One significant advantage of garlic is that the bacteria do not seem to evolve to build up a resistance to it as they do to many modern antibiotics; “garlic does not seem to produce such resistant strains”.
This also makes it potentially effective against hospital superbugs – or at least less likely to contribute to their evolution.
Note: Garlic can interfere with the operation of some medical drugs, in particular, anti-coagulants. I do not advocate taking garlic as a precaution before entering the hospital unless you discuss it with your doctor first.
The antibiotic qualities of garlic appear to be a direct result of the allicin produced from raw, crushed garlic. This is destroyed by age and cooking – cooked garlic has virtually no antibiotic value although it still retains other benefits.
I do not recommend using garlic as a replacement for conventional medical antibiotics unless agreed with your doctor – personally I treat any antibiotic properties as a bonus of eating it, not a reason to do so.
However as more and more antibiotics are becoming almost useless due to over-prescription and side effects, garlic and products derived from it could one day have a part to play in modern medicine
Garlic For High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a potentially dangerous problem suffered by many people, often without them being aware of it.
It has been estimated that in the USA alone more than 50 million people suffer from high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is in essence hypertension – the blood is being pumped through the system unusually fast and powerfully.
This constant exertion of greater than normal force can damage the arteries, possibly leading in turn to kidney failure, heart attack and/or stroke.
If you suspect you may have high blood pressure then it is essential that you discuss any symptoms with your doctor.
Types of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is usually divided by doctors into “essential hypertension” and “secondary hypertension”.
“Secondary hypertension” refers to the case where the high blood pressure is the result of some known factor such as kidney disease.
“Essential hypertension” refers to the case where there is no obvious single cause of high blood pressure.
There are many factors that can contribute to essential high blood pressure, the most common of which are lifestyle related.
Smoking and high levels of saturated fat intake can both contribute significantly to an elevated level of blood pressure.
If your doctor doesn’t identify a particular cause then he or she could well recommend diet and exercise as the best start.
Losing some weight, lowering bad cholesterol levels and reducing salt intake can assist many people to lower their blood pressure levels.
For others the preferred treatment will be medication.
Garlic is Not a Substitute for Medications or Lifestyle Changes
Garlic is not a substitute for prescription medicine or lifestyle changes, however it has long had a reputation for assisting with blood pressure management. The research data is not conclusive, however it does appear that there is some evidence to support the role of garlic in reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure (1).
It appears that the reputed beneficial effects of garlic on blood pressure come more from the garlic sulphides than from allicin. Unlike allicin, garlic sulphides are not destroyed by cooking.
Garlic might also assist blood pressure indirectly by helping to manage cholesterol levels.
Finally, extra garlic can be used as a seasoning, thus reducing the need for salt.
If you think you have high blood pressure then you should consult your doctor first before considering any home diagnosis or treatment.
Garlic has been used as a medicine for hundreds of years. Garlic is safe to use. However, if you are on a blood thinner, you need to be careful because garlic has blood-thinning properties.
Phyllis Robinson MSN, RN is a Registered Nurse of 27 years. Phyllis is passionate about the prevention and healing of heart disease using traditional and alternative methods. She has experience in emergency room, telemetry, infusion, and critical care. Phyllis currently practices in an intensive care unit.