Garlic is commonly used in food throughout the world, but its use as a dietary supplement to treat or improve various medical conditions is also widespread. Garlic supplements come in many forms, including capsules containing oil or extract. Research into garlic's medicinal properties continues, with some studies showing promise that it is effective in treating and preventing certain conditions, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Always speak with a knowledgeable medical practitioner before using garlic capsules to improve your health.
High Cholesterol and Atherosclerosis
Studies performed on the effect of garlic capsules on cholesterol levels have shown that the supplement can lower total blood cholesterol and LDL -- or bad cholesterol -- levels slightly, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Use of garlic for this purpose remains controversial because of conflicting research data and results, and more research is needed. People with atherosclerosis, a condition in which arteries become hardened because of cholesterol deposits, may benefit from using garlic supplements. Studies have shown the cholesterol deposits that cause the condition do not grow as rapidly in people who are taking garlic, according to the National Institutes of Health. Always speak with a health-care professional before using garlic capsules to treat high cholesterol levels or prevent atherosclerosis.
Study data about garlic's effect on blood pressure have been mixed. Several small studies have shown garlic capsules and other garlic supplements can slightly lower blood pressure, but larger studies have not yet been conducted to verify this effect, according to the National Institutes of Health. Do not use garlic capsules to treat high blood pressure without first consulting with your medical practitioner.
Garlic supplements may also help treat and prevent the common cold. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that in one study, participants given garlic pills over 12 weeks during cold season had fewer colds than those given a placebo. Those taking garlic also had cold symptoms resolve more quickly than those taking a placebo.
Another way in which garlic capsules are promoted for medical use is in treating and preventing cancer. Garlic contains allyl sulfur compounds and several other chemical constituents that may have anti-cancer properties, according to the American Cancer Society. These anti-cancer constituents reportedly can help eliminate cancer-causing chemicals from the body and cause cancer cells to die. Additionally, garlic may boost the immune system so cancer cells are not able to grow and multiply. The role garlic plays in fighting and preventing cancer is still being studied. If you have cancer, speak with your doctor before using garlic to help treat the illness.
Garlic's ability to boost the immune system may also make it useful in treating bacterial, fungal and viral infections. The allicin in garlic may be responsible for this effect because it has anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-viral properties, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. However, more research needs to be conducted on garlic's role in fighting infections.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.