Garlic gets a bad rap, unless you are an Italian mama and use it liberally to give robust flavor to your special pasta sauce. This funny-looking vegetable with its rotund shape, delicate parchment-like skin and appendages that resemble toes, has long been the brunt of cartoons (i.e. two people – one with a discernible breath of air being emitted, the other beating a hasty retreat.
Whether you get your daily dose of garlic in the food you eat, or via supplements, be advised that you are improving your health with every dose you ingest.
The method of consuming garlic for health benefits is really a personal preference. Of course, it is easier to just buy the supplements to ensure you are getting the recommended dosage for optimal health benefits. The recommended dosages for garlic use are listed below. Though they are considered “safe doses”, before embarking on any supplement use, check with your doctor to ensure it does not counteract with existing health conditions or prescription/over-the-counter medications you are currently using. Ask your health practitioner for the recommended dosage, brand, and, if the supplement contains an odor or not.
Whole garlic clove: 2 – 4 grams per day of fresh (each garlic clove is approximately 1 gram).
Aged garlic extract: 600 – 1,200 mg, daily in divided doses.
Freeze-dried garlic capsules: 200 mg, 2 tablets 3 times daily.
Fluid extract: 4 mL, daily.
Tincture: 20 mL, daily.
Oil: 0.12 mL, 3 times daily.
Garlic is a plant in the Allium (onion) family, so that is why it closely resembles onions, shallots and leeks in looks, as well as its odoriferous properties, odoriferous merely being a polite word for something that carries a smell. That lingering odor from garlic, in the house or from your mouth and pores, might be the reason you don’t like to cook with it or eat it.
But don’t let garlic’s stinky properties hold you back from reaping its health benefits. The sulfur compound allicin, enters your body through the digestive tract, but it doesn’t stay there – instead it travels throughout your body depositing its potent biological magic everywhere, from helping to battle the common cold to cancer prevention.
Dental health – You might want to forego eating a lot of garlic a day or two before you visit your dental practitioner for obvious reasons, but, your dentist and hygienist sure can’t fault you for consuming garlic for its dental benefits, among them, helping to fight gum disease by eradicating enamel-eating bacteria. Caveat: To reap the benefits of garlic’s benefits for your teeth, however, you must eat the garlic raw, since cooking essentially destroys its organosulfur compounds.
As to gum disease, there are 500 different species of bacteria that live in your mouth. While some are beneficial, many are not. You need to balance the “good bacteria” versus the “bad bacteria” for good oral health. Garlic is instrumental in preventing gum disease because it contains organosulfur compounds (thiosulfinates and thiosulfonates). These compounds keep the bad bacteria that cause tooth decay in check. Using garlic extract, for example, combats gum disease (a/k/a periodontitis), by controlling the population of the bad bacteria and letting the good bacteria thrive. It is imperative that you not fall prey to oral health products which claim to “kill off bad bacteria to give you healthy gums”, when, in essence, you need proper balance of good and bad bacteria for a healthy mouth.
If you want to know more about garlic’s benefits for oral health, be sure to ask a dentist in South Orange, New Jersey to fill you in.
Immune system – If you are susceptible to colds and flu during the Winter season, taking garlic supplements will boost the function of the immune system to help prevent and reduce the severity of these common illnesses. A high dose of garlic extract (approximately 2.56 grams daily) will reduce the duration of cold symptoms by 70% (or from five days to 1½ days). Folklore has it that increasing the natural garlic use, in conjunction with the supplements, at the onset of a cold or flu, will speed you through that malady.
Heart health – Regular consumption of garlic may promote heart health by helping to halt hardening of the arteries (a/k/a atherosclerosis) and lower blood pressure slightly, between 7% and 8%. Additionally, garlic acts as an anticoagulant, which means that it is like a blood-thinner, which may help thwart heart attacks and strokes.
Hypertension – Achieving a lower systolic blood pressure can become a reality with regular garlic use.
Hair loss – Forget those high-priced treatments (some are scams) that prey on those who suffer hair loss. Rubbing sliced garlic cloves on the scalp, or infusing oil with garlic, then massaging the scalp, will help with hair loss.
Foot fungus – Fight itchy athlete’s foot by soaking your feet in a bath of warm water with crushed garlic. Your feet might be stinky in a different kind of way, but garlic’s anti-fungal properties work better, and more quickly, than the usual products manufactured for the malady that line drugstore shelves.
Mosquito repellent – In this age of valid concern over the Zika and West Nile viruses, regular consumption of garlic, as well as rubbing the skin with garlic, effectively keeps flying pests away. Yes, you might not smell nice … and you may repel a few friends by all the garlic, but, for someone who must work outside where mosquitoes lurk, garlic as a mosquito repellent can’t be beat.
Cancer – Just as garlic strengthens the immune system helping to keep colds and flu at bay, it also helps the body fight diseases like cancer. Population studies have discovered that people who consume more raw or cooked garlic (as opposed to supplements) are less likely to develop certain types of cancer, particularly colon and stomach cancers. Men who regularly consumed 10 grams (about 2 teaspoons) of garlic, onions or scallions daily, statistically exhibited a lower risk for prostate cancer. Though garlic may help thwart cancer, unfortunately, when this disease does strike, immune activity is greatly improved for those who consumed aged garlic extract for six months.