the one about raw garlic curing a cold? Well, that's just the
tip of the iceberg. What natural-health experts have been saying
for years - that garlic is one of the most medicinal plants in
the world - is at last being confirmed by medical establishments
on both sides of the Atlantic. Scientific studies have now shown
that the consumption of garlic can improve kidney function and
circulation, lower cholesterol, reduce high blood pressure and
fight infections (bacterial, viral and fungal).
saw the launch of a new garlic treatment for Candida albicans
(thrush), Yeastguard by BioCare.
"This is the
first time that garlic has been used in a pessary for the prevention
and treatment of thrush," says Dr Nigel Plummer, a microbiologist
and the creator of Yeastguard. "Candidiasis affects 75% of all
women in Britain at least once in their life, and 3m suffer from
it every year. We see this as an important new development."
So, how does
this treatment work? "Each pessary contains a unique combination
of allicin (the active ingredient in garlic) and Lactobacillus
acidophilus," explains Plummer. "The allicin has a potent
antifungal effect that kills the actual yeast, and the Lactobacillus
acidophilus, a 'friendly' bacterium, stops the Candida
albicans from getting out of control, which is the reason
that thrush occurs in the first place."
the naturopath Gillian Hayner, who gave the pessaries to 20 patients
to try for three months, the results look promising. The treatment
eradicated thrush in those patients who had occasional bouts of
it, and 13 out of 15 patients with recurring thrush were still
clear of it after three months.
from Pennsylvania State University also suggests that the natural
chemicals found in garlic can suppress tumours, and may even help
to prevent cancer. Meanwhile, scientists at the Chelsea and Westminster
Hospital, in London, have discovered that taking garlic during
pregnancy reduces the risk of pre-eclampsia (raised blood pressure
and protein in urine).
A recent study
also finally confirmed that there is something in the "garlic
for colds" theory after all. The study, carried out by Peter Josling,
a chemist and founder of the Garlic Centre, based in East Sussex,
shows that a new type of garlic supplement, Allimax, which contains
high doses of allicin, can help to ward off or minimise the effects
of the common cold.
When 146 volunteers
were monitored over a three-month period, it was shown that the
group taking a daily garlic capsule (containing 180mg of allicin)
had only 24 colds in all, compared to 65 colds in the placebo-
taking control group. The garlic group also recovered three times
as quickly. "This study proves that allicin has powerful antiviral
and antibacterial properties," says Josling.
Not all garlic
supplements have the same effect, he warns. "Most regular supplements
contain a mixture of alliin and the enzyme alliinase, which combine
to produce allicin. If the capsule coating breaks open too soon,
the stomach acid deactivates the alliinase enzyme, and the allicin
is not produced. This means that there is no therapeutic effect."
However, a novel type of patented technology means that a completely
new group of garlic supplements, such as Allimax, can now be produced.
rush out to buy medicinal forms of this pungent plant, however,
Michael van Straten, an author and naturopath, urges caution.
don't realise that garlic can be an irritant, even in minuscule
doses, which makes it a fairly common cause of contact allergies.
Therefore, I wouldn't recommend pessaries, for instance, to anyone
with sensitive skin or to those who think that they may be allergic
garlic regularly can be just as beneficial, as it gets into the
bloodstream that way. The only downside is that you could end
up spending a fortune on breath-fresheners."