By Gene Bruno

Garlic has been used as both a food and medicine throughout the course of human history. As a matter of fact, garlic is mentioned in written medical texts dating back as far as 5,000 years. The studies conducted on garlic have identified this plant as helping to improve cardiovascular health, fighting infection, effective against certain types of cancer, and providing antioxidant protection.

Meta-analyses, reviews, and individual studies in a variety of countries have demonstrated that garlic is capable of lowering total cholesterol levels by an average of 9–12% over a one-to-four month period, which often included lowering LDL cholesterol, and increasing HDL cholesterol as well.

Garlic is probably the granddaddy of all natural blood pressure lowering agents, with an extensive traditional history of use for this purpose. This traditional use has been scientifically validated in a meta-analysis that included ten double-blind studies. All of these studies administered garlic for at least four weeks, typically in doses of 600–900 mg daily.

Sulfur is an antioxidant, and so are the sulfur compounds found in garlic. In fact, in one study garlic was examined for its free-radical scavenging properties in vitro (i.e., in a test tube). The scavenging effects of garlic on hydrogen peroxide were measured and found to be equivalent to the reference compound.

The type of garlic supplement used is important. In most studies, but not all, aged garlic extracts and garlic oil (both containing no allicin) have not lowered cholesterol levels in humans. Therefore both of these supplements cannot be recommended at this time for cholesterol lowering. An effective alternative to consuming raw garlic is tablets utilizing coatings (to protect against degradation by stomach acids), and standardized for allicin content—which appear promising in some research. An appropriate dose is 600-1200 mg daily (providing no less than 5,000 mcg of allicin).

VivaVitamins’ Phyto-Garlic is a great garlic supplement with high doses of sulfur compounds such as allicin and is coated with chlorophyll.

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