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Julie Wilkinson, BSN, RN

Garlic May Fight More Than Vampires

By November 4, 2012

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Chopped garlic

Image Hong Chan/Dreamstime

If you're a fan of sci-fi or horror movies you may know that garlic wards off vampires and other creatures of the night. What you may not know is that there are studies underway to determine if it can also ward off certain types of digestive cancer, which include colorectal and stomach cancers.

A brother to leeks and chives, garlic is a highly versatile vegetable which is frequently used in cooking as a spice. Prior to being used as a culinary staple, however, garlic extracts and oils stand out in history as a medicinal compound. The documentation of garlic and health goes back thousands of years.

So, why is this herb so special? Aside from being a potent antioxidant, which means it helps your immune system, garlic contains phytochemicals. We are starting to learn the myriad ways in which these chemicals help fight disease in the human body. One compound, allyl sulfur, is notably being studied for its cancer-fighting potential.

Although eating more garlic seems like a simple way to augment your cancer fighting diet, the clinical research studies are ongoing as to how much and how often we should eat it. The National Cancer Institute cites a few clinical studies showing the benefit of garlic in cancer risk reduction, but the studies are very limited and depicted use of varying dosages of garlic.

Before you run to the store and by pounds of the stuff know this: Garlic has the potential for some nasty gastrointestinal side effects if you eat too much. Aside from the obvious - bad breath - garlic consumption can elicit heartburn and diarrhea in some people. Like any other natural compound, it's probably safest for now to make garlic a part of your healthy, balanced diet.

Comments
June 5, 2012 at 10:09 am
(1) Bob McCurdy says:

Thanks for the read Julie. I find it interesting that garlic may reduce the risk of cancer. I’ve had colitis for over 40 years and maybe my focus on fiber, nutrition and garlic has helped me stay healthy. I’ve been eating garlic my whole adult life. It’s enjoyable to know that some things you like are good for you. Thanks again for the information.

July 17, 2012 at 2:42 pm
(2) brian says:

Check out the recent Washington state university study where garlic beat two different actual antibiotics for the most common food poisening, as well as elevating testosterone in aging men, BUT IT CANT BE COOKED

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