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Herbalists everywhere consider garlic to be one of the most important and effective medicinal herbs. It has been used as food and medicine in many cultures for thousands of years.

The Miracle of Garlic

For many decades, people have been using garlic and garlic based supplements to prevent a myriad of health conditions including atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, flu, colds, coughs, bronchitis, gastrointestinal problems, and menstrual pain. Studies have shown that garlic can kill many types of bacteria, some viruses, a number of fungal infections and in some cases even intestinal parasites. Garlic is also considered an effective antioxidant which can boost the body's immune system. It may even help prevent certain cancers such as colon cancer.

Garlic is best known for its favourable effects on cardiovascular health. It is believed to be effective in preventing and treating high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, atherosclerosis and respiratory infections. One study reported that garlic was able to reduce arterial plaque formation by nearly 20% in some participlants and especially in women.

The primary active ingredient in garlic is alliin. Alliin is an odourless chemical that is similar in structure to the sulphur-containing amino acid, cysteine. When garlic bulbs are crushed, alliin is converted into another compound called allicin which in turn produces other compounds: ajoene, allyl sulphides and vinyldithiins. Allicin and its deratives are what give garlic its characteristic odour and many of its medicinal effects.

Side Effects and Possible Interactions

No severe side effects have been reported by those taking garlic supplements.

There have been reports of a possible interaction between garlic and warfarin that could increase risk of bleeding. If you are taking anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medications such as aspirin, warfarin, dipyridamole or indomethacin, you should refrain from consuming large amounts of garlic, either fresh or commercially-processed.

Dosage and Administration

The most common form of garlic supplementation is in capsules. In capsule form, a commonly recommended dosage is 1000 to 3000 mg daily. In oil form take 0.03 to 0.12 mL three times a day. Always follow the manufacturers recommendations.

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