What Are the Benefits of Garlic Pills?
The heady aromas of an Italian restaurant tempt us all. Everyone loves to eat buttery, toasted garlic bread, pastas and casseroles oozing with garlic flavor. The benefits of garlic may exceed just the delightful taste, though.
Garlic is a perennial bulb plant that belongs to the onion family. It has a strong flavor and odor. It is favored in many international cuisines. The outer skin of the garlic can hold up to 20 cloves in each bulb. In medieval times and even now, garlic is thought to be useful in medicinal purposes. In ancient times, it was worn as an amulet around the neck to ward off evil spirits.
Garlic is packaged in many forms including pills, capsules. It can be minced or packaged in oils and powdered seasonings. The compound allicin is released when garlic is crushed, and this is what is rumored to have medicinal properties.
Garlic pills are expensive, but the allicin breaks down quite easily and is not a very stable component. On the other hand, fear of bad breath keeps many people from ingesting garlic in its raw form very often, as the smell can linger for hours and possibly a day or two, but pills and capsules are often touted to be odorless.
Garlic or its supplements may have a slight medicinal effect on some conditions according to the Mayo Clinic. Studies in humans show there is a small decrease in cholesterol levels in people who regularly ingest garlic in one form or another. This reduction was evident in total cholesterol and LDL readings. These reductions in cholesterol levels occur over a four- to 12-week period, it is not clear whether the effects are ongoing and long term. When searching for a garlic pill you should note what percentage of the pill is actually allicin.
The December 5, 2001 article “Garlic Supplements Impede HIV Medication,” found on The National Institutes of Health website indicates that garlic interferes with certain medications. The drug saquinavir is an anti-HIV drug and can raise cholesterol in some patients. Garlic was given to the patients and it resulted in less saquinavir in their blood streams, therefore making the drug less effective.
The consensus, according to the Mayo Clinic, is that small studies have been done to see if there are any medical benefits in taking garlic for diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, atherosclerosis and cancer. The studies thus far show that there is little or no benefit to these conditions by ingesting raw garlic, pills or supplements. They feel that the jury is still out and many larger studies need to be done to reach conclusive results.