Garlic, scientifically known as Allium sativum, is a species of bulbous plant used for centuries for its health-promoting characteristics. It includes multiple compounds, including allicin, which is responsible for its distinctive odor and many health advantages. Garlic can be eaten raw, cooked, or as a supplement.
Historically, garlic was employed primarily for its therapeutic properties. People used it in ancient civilizations to enhance their strength. Indeed, some historical texts state that the ancient Greeks consumed garlic to increase their performance in the Olympics. In North America, indigenous civilizations discovered wild garlic and employed it in teas for therapeutic purposes.
Garlic has a long history of being used to improve performance and reduce fatigue, dating back to ancient Greece. Despite some evidence from rodent studies, there are limited human studies to confirm garlic's effect on exercise performance. One small study of people with heart disease showed a 12% reduction in peak heart rate and improved exercise capacity after taking garlic oil for six weeks, even though a study on nine competitive cyclists found no performance benefits.
Eating garlic, fruits, and vegetables can lower colon cancer risk by 35%. Garlic oil works as an anti-inflammatory and is recommended by the Arthritis Foundation to prevent cartilage damage. Garlic expands blood vessels, making it easier to regulate blood pressure. Its antibacterial properties and antioxidants can clear the skin and kill bacteria that cause food poisoning.
Garlic also fights fungus, making it an ally in treating athlete's foot. Consult a doctor or dermatologist before trying garlic on the skin or replacing medication with garlic.
Although garlic is typically safe to eat, some people may be allergic or sensitive to it, especially if allergic to birch pollen. Hives, face swelling, and breathing problems are symptoms of a garlic allergy, whereas bloating and gas are symptoms of food sensitivity.
Eating garlic or taking garlic supplements can cause various side effects in some people, such as heartburn, bad breath, mouth and throat burning, upset stomach, body odor, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and ulcers. Chewing raw garlic or eating it on an empty stomach can increase these effects.
Taking garlic supplements can interact with certain medications like HIV drugs and anticoagulants, increasing the risk of bleeding. Garlic essential oils should be used with caution on the skin, as they can cause eczema, burns, and irritation if incorrectly used.
Most research on garlic employs doses between 600 and 1,200 mg per day, usually divided into multiple doses. The minimum effective dose of one raw garlic clove should be ingested twice or three times a day with meals.