The EclecticPhysician

The Eclectic Physician
Medicinal Herb Monographs


Botanical Name 
Allium sativum

The information on this page compiled by
Beth Burch N.D.
(click on the keywords)


The medicinal use of garlic dates back at least 5000 years- records from ancient Greek, Chinese and Egyptian cultures document its use for infections, high blood pressure and digestive complaints. Pasteur confirmed garlic’s antibacterial properties in 1858. Modern research has shown garlic to have antibacterial and antifungal action as well as decreasing blood lipids, preventing blood clotting, stimulating the immune system and potential anti-tumor and anticancer effects (9, 10). Garlic can be used in supplement form or incorporated into foods for beneficial effects.

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  • Originating in central Asia, garlic was introduced in the Mediterranean and is now cultivated world-wide. It is a perennial, belonging to the Lily family. The medicinal and food part is the bulb, which consists of individual bulblets or cloves covered with a white papery skin and arranged around a central stem-base. The leaves are flat and long. The plant sends up a flower stalk in the summer, with a head of white, pink or reddish flowers, intermixed with small bulbs.

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  • Alliins- transformed by cutting or crushing the bulb in to compounds including allicin, ajoene and allyl sulfides
  • Polysaccharides
  • Saponins

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Conditions used for

  • Infections
  • Atherosclerosis (2,3)
  • Elevated cholesterol and triglycerides (4, 5, 6, 7)
  • Prevention of blood clots (4,8)

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  • Fresh garlic- 1 clove once or twice a day
  • Liquid extract- 1/2-1 teaspoon three times a day
  • Dry in enteric coated tablets or capsules assayed for allicin - 4000-5000 mcg of allicin once or twice a day.

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Side Effects

  • Stomach upset

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  • Allergy to garlic
  • Garlic supplements should be discontinued at least 2 weeks prior to surgery or dental extractions to prevent excessive bleeding

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Interactions with medications

  • Should be used cautiously with other anticoagulant herbs and medications like ginkgo, ginger, aspirin and ibuprofen.
  • Should not be used with prescription anticoagulants like warfarin

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Use in pregnancy & lactation

  • Appears to be safe for use in pregnancy and lactation. Supplements should be discontinued several weeks before delivery to prevent excessive bleeding. Garlic will be found in breast milk, this may cause stomach upset in sensitive infants.

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1. Arora DS et al, Antimicrobial activity of spices, Int J Antimicrob Agents 1999;12(3):257-62
2. Orekhov AN et al, In vitro effect of garlic powder extract on lipid content in normal and atherosclerotic human aortic cells, Lipids 1997;32(10):1055-60
3. Orekhov AN, Direct anti-atherosclerosis-related effects of garlic, Ann Med 1995;27(1):63-5
4. Bordia A et al, Effect of garlic (Allium sativum) on blood lipids, blood sugar, fibrinogen and fibrinolytic activity in patients with coronary artery disease, Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 1998;58(4):257-63
5. Steiner M et al, A double-blind crossover study in moderately hypercholesterolemic men that compared the effect of aged garlic extract and placebo administration on
blood lipids, Am J Clin Nutr 1996;64(6):866-70
6. Warshafsky S et al, Effect of garlic on total serum cholesterol. A meta-analysis, Ann Intern Med 1993;119(7 Pt 1):599-605
7. Jain AK et al, Can garlic reduce levels of serum lipids? A controlled clinical study, Am J Med 1993;94(6):632-5
8. Ali M et al, Consumption of a garlic clove a day could be beneficial in preventing
thrombosis, Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 1995;53(3):211-2
9. Sumiyoshi H, New pharmacological activities of garlic and its constituents, Nippon Yakurigaku Zasshi 1997;110 Suppl 1:93P-97P
10. Agarwal KC, Therapeutic actions of garlic constituents, Med Res Rev 1996;16(1):111-24

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* The information presented in this web site is intended to inform and educate. It is not intended replace a qualified medical practitioner to diagnose or treat medical conditions.

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