Garlic – proven health benefits, uses


The scientific name of the garlic is Allium sativum L. It is also known as Nectar of the Gods, Poor Man’s Treacle  and  Stinking Rose. Other names include

ARABIC: Thawm, Thoum, Thum, Toom, Toum, Saum.
ARMENIAN: Sekhdor.
BURMESE: Chyet thon phew.
CHINESE: Suan, Da suan, Da suan tou.
CROATIAN: Češnjak.
DANISH: Hvidløg.
DUTCH: Knoflook.
FINNISH: Valkosipuli.
FRENCH: Ail blanc, Ail commun, Ail cultivé, Ail de printemps, Ail sans bâton, Ail rose sans bâton.
GERMAN: Echter Knoblauch, Knoblauch, Gemeiner Knoblauch, Gewöhnlicher Knoblauch.
GREEK: Skorda, Skordo, Skordon, Skortho.
HEBREW: Shoum, Shum.
HINDI: Lahasun, Lahsan, Larsan, Lasun.
ITALIAN: Aglio, Aglio comune.
JAPANESE: Gaarikku, Ninniku.
KANNADA: Bellulli, Lashuna.
KHMER: Khtüm sââ.
KOREAN: Ma nul.
LAOTIAN: Kath’ièm.
MADURESE: Bhabang poté.
MALAY: Bawang putih, Bawang puteh.
MALAYALAM: Vallaipundu.
MARATHI: Lasuun.
PERSIAN: Seer, Sir.
POLISH: Czosnek, Czosnek pospolity.
PUNJABI: Lasun, Lasan.
RUSSIAN: Luk chesnok, Chesnok, Luk posevnoi..
SANSKRIT: Lashunaa.
SERBIAN: Beli luk.
SINHALESE: Sudulunu.
SPANISH: Ajo, Ajo comun, Ajo vulgar.
SUNDANESE: Bawang bodas.
SWAHILI: Kitunguu saumu.
SWEDISH: Vitlök, Vitloek, Hvitlök.
TAMIL: Vellaypoondoo, Vellaippuuntu, Wullaypoondoo.
TELUGU: Vellulli.
THAI: Krathiam, Hom tiam.
TURKISH: Sarımsak, Sarmesak, Sarmusak.
URDU: Leshun.

Garlic  is a low herb, 30 to 60 centimeters high. True stem is much reduced. Bulbs are broadly ovoid, 2 to 4 centimeters in diameter, consisting of several, densely crowded, angular and truncated tubers. Leaves are linear and flat. Umbels are globose, many flowered. Sepals are oblong, greenish white, slightly tinged with purple. Stamens are not exerted from the perianth. It is native of southern Europe and now widely cultivated in most parts of the world.


• Garlic contains at least 33 sulfur compounds, several enzymes, 17 amino acids, and minerals. The sulfur compounds are responsible for the pungent odor and many of its medicinal effects.

• Saponins; tannins; sulfurous compounds; prostaglandins; alkaloids; volatile oils; allicin (bulb).

• The antihelmintic property is due to allyl disulphide content.

• The most important chemical constituents are the cysteine sulfoxides (alliin) and the nonvolatile glutamylcysteine peptides which make up more than 82% of the sulfur content of garlic. Allicin, ajoenes and sulfides are degradation products of alliin.

• Some of garlic’s effect is attributed to alicin, its active ingredient, which is converted to ajoene, allyl sulfides and vinyldithiins.

• Allicin (dially thiosulfinate or dially disulfide) is generated only when the garlic is crushed or cut, which activates the enzyme allinase which metabolizes alliin to allicin.

• Aged garlic products lack allicin, but may have activity due to the presence of S-allycysteine.

• Bulb: allicin; volatile oil, 0.9% – allyl disulfide, allypropyl disulfide; inulin; protein; fat, 1.3%; carbohydrates, 0.2%; ash, 9.4%; choline, 0.7%; myrosinase.
Leaves: Protein, i.2%; fat, 0.5%; sulfides.

Medicinal properties of garlic

Antibacterial, antihelminthic, antimycotic, antiviral, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, expectorant, fibrinolytic, hypotensive, promoting leucocytosis, lipid lowering and platelet aggregation inhibition.

Parts utilized

Bulbs: Features prominently as a condiment and flavor in many cuisine.
Herbalists, with concerns that cooking diminishes medicinal potency, recommends eating raw garlic cloves.

Edibility / Culinary

– Widely used by Filipinos for flavoring dishes.

Folkloric traditional benefits of garlic

– In the Philippines, bulbs used for hypertension. Also used as diuretic, and eaten fresh or burned for coughs in children.

– Arthritis, rheumatism, toothaches: Crush several cloves and rub on affected areas.

– Crush clove applied to both temples as poultice for headache.

– Crush garlic or cut clove crosswise and rub directly to areas of insect bites.

– Decoction of leaves and bulbs for fever and as hypotensive, carminative, expectorant, and antihelmintic.

– Juice from freshly crushed garlic used for colds, cough, sore throat, hoarseness, asthma and bronchitis.

– Decoction use for tonsillitis.

– Steam inhalation of chopped garlic and a teaspoon of vinegar in boiling water used for nasal congestion.

– Fresh garlic has been used as a complement to INH therapy for tuberculosis. In Mexico, fresh bulb is eaten as a preventive for tuberculosis.

– In India, garlic juice diluted in water, applied externally to prevent hair from turning grey.

– Diluted juice used for earaches and deafness.

– In the Antilles, used as vermifuge.

– Also used for menstrual cramps.

– Used for digestive problems and gastrointestinal spasms.
– Infusion of a peeled broiled clove used for gas pains.

– Juice of bulb with common salt applied to bruises and sprains; also used for neuralgia and earache.

– Rubbed over ringworm for soothing effect.

– In WWI, fresh raw juice was used as antiseptic for control of wound suppuration.

Scientific proven health benefits and uses of garlic

Antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic:

Topically, ajoene 0.4% cream, has been found 70% effective in certain dermatologic fungal infections. A 0.6% gel was effective in tinea corporis and tinea cruris.


Study on the mode of action of aqueous garlic extract (AGE) against Candida albicans showed garlic treatment affected the structure and integrity of the outer surface of the yeast cells. Growth was affected in a number of ways: decreased total lipid content, higher phosphatidylserines and lower phosphatidylcholines, and decrease oxygen consumption of AGE-treated C. albicans. AGE exerts its effect by oxidation of thiol groups causing enzyme inactivation and subsequent microbial growth inhibition.


Studies suggest a beneficial antihypertensive effect but blood-lowering effects probably not dramatic. Other studies show a vascular benefit through improvement of aortic elasticity and possible slowing of the rate of atherosclerosis progression.

Hyperlipidemia / Antioxidant:

Controversial, but probably has beneficial effect on serum cholesterol and LDL levels. Some studies have shown a 4% to 12% lowering of total cholesterol. It seems to have no effect on high density lipoprotein (HDL).

Hypocholesterolemic / Fresh Bulbs:

Study of feeding of fresh garlic bulbs to induced-hypercholesterolemic rats showed decrease in total and LDL cholesterol and increase in HDL levels.

Lipid Profile Benefits:

Study concluded that garlic extracts may have a beneficial effect on blood lipid profile and antioxidant status.

Study evaluated the effect of Allium sativum on experimentally induced hyperlipidemia in guinea pigs. Aqueous and alcoholic extracts showed significant hypolipidemic activity with significant reduction in triglycerides, LDLc, VLDLc and atheriogenic index.

Anti-cancer / Chemoprotective:

Possible anticarcinogenic properties, specifically colon, stomach and prostate cancers. In stomach cancers, probably through its inhibitory effect on H. pylori. In epidemiologic studies on stomach and colorectal cancer prevention, the garlic use was 3.5 grams to 30 grams of fresh or cooked garlic per week.

Effect on Salivary Gland Tumorigenesis:

Study showed garlic may have an adjuvant effect on various defense mechanisms against -induced carcinogenesis in sub-maxillary salivary glands of rat through increased availability or utilization of beta-carotene.

Hepatoprotective / Hematologic Effects/ good for liver and blood:

Study results on female Wistar rats suggest garlic and vitamin C have some hepatoprotective and hematological effects.


Study evaluated the effect of increasing doses of A. sativum aqueous extracts on alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Results showed promising hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic activity. Glibenclamide was used as standard.

Study results of ethanolic extracts of AS in normal and streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats suggest that A. sativum can be considered an excellent candidate for future studies on diabetes mellitus.

Sperm Immobilization Activity :

Study of crude extract of A. sativum bulb showed spermicidal activity in vitro.

Hepatopulmonary Syndrome Treatment:

A trial showed garlic may improve oxygenation and symptoms in patients with hepatopulmonary syndrome.

Anti-Thrombotic Activity :

Study of extracts of Allium sativum and Vernonia amygdalina showed both extracts offered protection against thrombosis produced by an intravenous injection of ADP and adrenalin, with A sativum showing the stronger activity.

Diallyl Sulfide / Anti-Cancer:

Study showed diallyl sulfide, a thioether found naturally in garlic, when given by gavage to mice, inhibited by 74% the incidence of colorectal adenocarcinoma induced by 1,2-dimethyl-hydrazine.

Cardiovascular Benefits/ good for heart:

Garlic is an ideal herb with its several cardiovascular benefits: blood pressure lowering, antihyperlipidemic effects, platelet inhibition and fibrinolytic effects, antioxidant and antiatherosclerotic effects.

Antibacterial / Anti-Staph aureus:

Study of an aqueous extract of Allium sativum showed concentration-dependent antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus.


Study showed garlic oil may have an adjuvant effect on host defense mechanisms against DMBA-induced carcinogenesis in sub-maxillary glands of rat through increased availability and utilization of beta-carotene.

Antimicrobial / Crude Juices:

Study evaluated the antimicrobial activity of crude juices of Allium ascalonicum, Allium cepa, and Allium sativum. Results showed strong antibiotic properties, and the complete absence of development of resistance from juices of Allium species merit consideration.


In a study using DPPH scavenging method, raw garlic extract showed a color change from deep violet to yellow, indicating antioxidant activity.

Essential Oil / Antibacterial / Pseudomonas Aeruginosa:

Essential oil extract from Allium sativum bulbs showed inhibitory activity on growth of over 50% of Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains tested.

Antibacterial / Garlic and Ginger Comparative Study:

In a study comparing the antimicrobial potency of various extracts of garlic and ginger, results showed all the bacterial strains to be most susceptible to garlic aqueous extract while showing poor susceptibility to the ginger aqueous extract.


Experimental studies provide compelling evidence that garlic and its organic allyl sulfur components are effective inhibitors of tumor growth.


Study showed the protective role of raw Nigelia sativa, garlic, and onion against ethanol-induced gastric ulcers and gastric acid secretion. Raw or boiled Nigella sativa, garlic or onion significantly inhibited histamine stimulated acid secretion. Raw Nigella sativa and garlic showed a decrease in ulcer index. Boiling reduced the potency of garlic and onion.

Allyl Alcohol and Garlic in Oxidative Stress Effects on C. Albicans:

Study evaluated on the effects of purified constituents, in particular, allyl alcohol, a metabolic product that accumulates after titration of garlic cloves on anticandidal activities. Typical changes of oxidative stress were observed—NADH oxidation and glutathione depletion, and increased reactive oxygen species.

Antimicrobial Effects with Combined Extracts:

Study evaluated the in vitro antimicrobial effects of aqueous and ethanolic extracts of garlic (A. sativum), ginger (Zingiber officinale) and lime (Citrus aurantifolia) against S. aureus, Bacillus spp., E. coli and Salmonella spp. The aqueous and ethanolic extracts of garlic and ginger did not inhibit any of the test organisms. The highest inhibition zone was seen with combination of extracts on Staphylococcus aureus.

Antibacterial Against Multiple-Drug Resistant Pathogens / Cloves:

Ethanol extracts of cloves of garlic and rhizomes of ginger showed effective antibacterial activity against multi-drug resistant clinical pathogens. The highest inhibition zone observed with garlic was against Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Effect on Systolic and Diastolic Pressure in Essential Hypertension:

Study evaluated the effect of garlic on blood pressure in patients with essential hypertension. Study showed a significant decrease in both systolic and diastolic pressure in a dose- and duration-dependent manner, when compared to atenolol and placebo.

Improved Diabetic Control with Garlic Supplementation:

Study evaluated the potential effect of garlic in T2DM with the addition of garlic tablets to standard antidiabetic therapy. Results showed the combination of garlic with typical antidiabetic remedy improved glycemic control in addition to an antihyperlipidemic activity.

Anthelmintic/ remove parasitic worms:

An alcoholic extract of bulb of A. sativum has shown moderate in vitro anthelmintic activity against human Ascaris lumbricoides.

Study evaluated methanol extracts of various plant materials of ethnoveterinary importance in Pakistan, including A. sativum, for in vitro anthelmintic activity. All the studied plants showed anthelmintic activity.

Analgesic / pain relief/ Anti-Nociceptive:

Study evaluated the analgesic and anti-nociceptive effects of Allium sativum powder in animal models. Results showed the ASP to be effective in both non-narcotic and narcotic models of nociception, suggesting possible peripheral and central mechanisms as well as peripheral pathways through inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis.

Immune System Enhancement / Black Garlic:

Study evaluated black garlic—created from ordinary fresh garlic—for antitumor activity. Heat extracts of black garlic were rich in S-allyl-L-cysteine (SAC) and enforced anti-tumor activity with a 50% cure rate of BALB/c mouse fibrosarcoma. The black garlic enhanced cellular immunity by raising the activity of NK (natural killer cell) cells which may play a critical role in eradication of tumor cells inn vivo. There was also generation of cytokines of NO, IFN-y, IL-2, and TNF-a from the extract-treated mouse spleen cells.

Antihypertensive :

Study evaluated the cardiovascular effects of aqueous extracts of garlic on normotensive and hypertensive rats using the two-kidney one clip model. Aqueous garlic extracts caused a decrease in blood pressure and bradycardia by direct mechanism not involving the cholinergic pathway in normotensive and 2K1C rats, suggesting a likely peripheral hypotensive mechanism.

Effect on the Pharmacokinetic of Metformin / Herb-Drug Interaction:

Study evaluated the pharmacokinetic interactions of Metformin with Allium sativum. Allium sativum altered the pharmacokinetics of Metformin in rats, increasing bioavailability by significantly increasing its Cmax and AUC0-12hr and a slight increase in t1/2.

Effect on Liver Glycogen Deposition and Gonadal Protein Metabolism:

Study evaluated the effect of garlic extract on glycogen deposition in the liver and protein metabolism in gonads of female albino rats. Results showed a significant increase in glycogen and protein level on low and medium dose of garlic extract, with a significant decrease in glycogen level with high dose of extract. The quantity of protein depends on rate of protein synthesis or on rate of degradation.

Pharmacodynamic Interaction with Cilostazol in Diabetic Patients:

Garlic is known to have antiplatelet properties. Garlic showed significant inhibition of platelet aggregation. Cilostazol showed significant inhibition at all three time points tested. In the randomized, open label, placebo-controlled, crossover study of type II diabetes patients, coadministration of aged garlic extract and cilostazol did not produce any significant change in the antiplatelet activity of the individual drugs.


Garlic has been shown to have antiviral activity. Study identified garlic associated compounds: diallyl thiosulfinate (allicin), allyl methyl thiosulfinate, methyl allyl thiosulfinate, ajoene, alliin, deoxyalliin, diallyl disulfide, and diallyl trisulfide. Activity was determined against selected viruses including, herpes simplex virus type 1, herpes simplex virus type 2, parainfluenza virus type 3, vaccinia virus, vesicular stomatitis virus, and human rhinovirus type 2. Virucidal activity was: ajoene > allicin > allyl methyl thiosulfinate > methyl allyl thiosulfinate. Results indicate virucidal activity and cytotoxicity may depend upon the viral envelope and cell membrane, respectively.

Hepatoprotective / Paracetamol Induced Liver Damage:

Study showed administration of A. sativum extracts protected against paracetamol liver damage in rats.


Anticoagulant Use:

Reports have suggested that garlic may decrease platelet aggregation and have antifibrinolytic activity; therefore, should be used with caution in patients on anticoagulant therapy.

Induction of Cytochrome P450-34A:

Concern for patients on cyclosporine and protease inhibitors. May increase the effects of hypoglycemic drugs.


Wildcrafted.Perennial market produce.
Commercial: Tablets, extracts, capsules, powder and tea.

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