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Health Benefits of Garlic. Pennington Biomedical Research Center Division of Education. Heli Roy, PhD Shanna Lundy, BS Phillip Brantley, PhD, Director. History. The potency of garlic has been acknowledged for >500 years.

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Health benefits of garlic

Health Benefits of Garlic

Pennington Biomedical

Research Center

Division of Education

Heli Roy, PhD Shanna Lundy, BS Phillip Brantley, PhD, Director


  • The potency of garlic has been acknowledged for >500 years.

  • In ancient times, garlic was used as a remedy for intestinal disorders, flatulence, worms, respiratory infections, skin diseases, wounds, symptoms of aging, and many other ailments.

  • Through the middle ages into World War II, the use of garlic to treat wounds surfaced repeatedly.

    • It was ground up or sliced and was applied directly to wounds to inhibit the spread of infections.



  • To date, >3000 publications from all over the world have gradually confirmed the traditionally recognized health benefits of garlic.

  • Favorable experimental and clinical effects of the consumption of garlic preparations (including garlic extract) have been reported.


Health benefits of garlic

  • Biological responses include:

    • Reduction of risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and cancer

    • A stimulation of immune function

    • Enhanced foreign compound detoxification

    • Radioprotection

    • Restoration of physical strength

    • Resistance to various stresses and potential anti-aging effects



  • It has long been known that extraction of a food can increase its potency and eliminate unpleasant characteristics.

  • The irritating, acidic and oxidizing compounds in raw garlic can be eliminated or modified by extraction.

  • Many of the adverse reactions to garlic can be attributed to an excess of oil-soluble organosulfur constituents.

  • Water-soluble sulfur compounds, which are effective at reducing cholesterol, were not cytotoxic.


Garlic preparations
Garlic preparations

  • Have been shown to exhibit hypolipidemic, antiplatelet, and procirculatory effects

  • Aged garlic extract (AGE) has been reported to possess hepatoprotective, immune-enhancing, anticancer and chemoprotective activities.

  • In addition, AGE exhibits antioxidative activities, whereas raw or heated garlic stimulates oxidation.


Reports on garlic
Reports on Garlic

  • Several clinical reports, including meta-analyses, have revealed a cholesterol-lowering effect of garlic in humans, prompting public awareness about the cholesterol-lowering effects of garlic.

  • Recent publications suggest that not all preparations may be hypocholestrolemic, causing confusion with both the public and the academia.

  • The cause of this is likely to be related to the components present in the preparation, the quantity of the preparation provided and/or the duration of the study.


Facts on garlic
Facts on Garlic

  • According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, the amount of garlic produced in the United States in 1998 was ~252,000 metric tons.

  • Over 60% of the garlic consumed worldwide is produced in California.

  • Garlic products have experienced increasing popularity in the last decade.


Top supplements used by us households in 1997
Top Supplements Used by US Households in 1997

Of 91 herbal supplements, garlic was found to be used more than twice as much as other supplements.

Intake of garlic
Intake of Garlic?

  • The appropriate amount is yet to be determined

  • The German Kommission E monograph (1988) proposed a daily intake of ~1-2 cloves of garlic or ~4 g of intact garlic per day for health benefits

  • However, there was no scientific evidence to back this recommendation.


Garlic supplements
Garlic supplements

  • Essential oil

  • Dehydrated powder

  • Oil macerate

  • Extract


Essential oil
Essential Oil

  • Garlic essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of garlic

  • The essential oil content of garlic cloves is 0.2-0.5% and consists of a variety of sulfides.

  • Commercially available garlic oil capsules generally contain vegetable oil and a small amount of garlic essential oil because of pungent odors.


Dehydrated powder
Dehydrated Powder

  • Garlic powder is mass-produced as a flavoring agent for condiments and processed foods.

  • Garlic cloves are sliced or crushed, dried and pulverized into powder.

  • Garlic powder is thought to retain the same ingredients as raw garlic; however, the proportions and amounts of various constituents differ significantly.


Oil macerate
Oil Macerate

  • Oil macerates were originally developed for use as condiments.

  • Oil macerate products are made of encapsulated mixtures of whole garlic cloves ground into vegetable oil.



  • For garlic extract, whole or sliced garlic cloves are soaked in an extracting solution (purified water and diluted alcohol) for varying amounts of time.

  • After separation of the solution, the extract is generally concentrated and used.

  • Powdered forms of the extract are also available.

  • The extract, especially AGE, contains mainly the water-soluble constituents in garlic and a small amount of the oil-soluble compounds.


Aged garlic extract
Aged Garlic Extract

  • As the name implies, this extract is aged for up to 20 months.

  • Over this time, the harsh and irritating compounds in garlic are converted naturally into stable and safe sulfur compounds.

  • Aged garlic extract contains primarily water-soluble sulfur compounds such as SAC and SAMC, as well as a variety of oil-soluble sulfur compounds.

  • The safety of AGE has been confirmed by various toxicological studies.


Bioavailability of garlic compounds
Bioavailability of garlic compounds

  • SAC is one of the water-soluble organosulfur compounds in garlic, whose concentration can be detected in the plasma, liver, and kidney after oral intake.

  • Its concentration increases during extraction/aging.

  • The pharmokinetics of SAC are well-established.

  • Its bioavailability in mice is 103.0%, in rats 98.2%, and in dogs 87.2%.


Health benefits of garlic

  • From several studies, SAC has proven to be a stable, odorless, water-soluble compound with the ability to lower cholesterol, serve as an antioxidant, inhibit the cancer process, and protect the liver from toxins.

  • AGE has shown cholesterol-lowering effects in several clinical studies

  • At present, SAC is the only reliable human compliance marker used for studies involving garlic consumption because it is detectable and increases quantitatively in the blood after oral intake of garlic capsules.


Health benefits of garlic

  • The oil-soluble organosulfur compounds in garlic, including allicin, sulfides, ajoene, and vinyldithiins are not found in the blood or urine after garlic consumption.

  • They are not likely to be the active compounds.

  • The instability and/or metabolism of such compounds likely contribute to the inconsistent results found in the clinical cholesterol studies using garlic oil and garlic powder products.


Safety issues
Safety Issues allicin, sulfides, ajoene, and vinyldithiins are not found in the blood or urine after garlic consumption.

  • Prevention, rather than in therapy, is where the effectiveness of garlic probably lies

  • However, to obtain the preventative benefits of garlic, long-term supplementation may be necessary


Safety issues1
Safety Issues allicin, sulfides, ajoene, and vinyldithiins are not found in the blood or urine after garlic consumption.

  • Although garlic has been used safely in cooking as a popular condiment or flavoring and used traditionally for medicinal purposes, it is commonly known that excessive consumption of garlic can cause problems.

  • Garlic odor on breath and skin and occasional allergic reactions are recognized.


Health benefits of garlic


Health benefits of garlic

  • Oil-soluble sulfur compounds are known irritants and allergens

  • Topically applied diallyl-sulfide (DAS) is the most allergenic

  • The following toxicity effects of garlic were reported in 1990:

    • Allicin is one of the major irritants in raw garlic

    • Oil soluble sulfur compounds are more toxic than water-soluble

    • When garlic is extracted in a certain period, its toxicity is greatly reduced


Health benefits of garlic

  • On the other hand, the safety of AGE has been well established by the following studies:

    • Acute and subacute toxicity tests

    • Chronic toxicity tests

    • Mutagenicity tests

    • General toxicity tests

    • Teratogenicity tests

    • Toxicity tests conducted by the USDA

    • Clinical studies conducted on >1000 subjects


Sac versus dads
SAC versus DADS established by the following studies:

The 50% lethal oral dose for each in mg/kg body weight

  • The United States National Cancer Institute tested the toxicity of SAC vs. other typical garlic compounds and found that it has a 30-fold less toxicity than allicin and diallyl-disulfide (DADS)


References established by the following studies:

  • Harunobu A, et al. Journal of Nutrition. 2001. 131(3):955-962. Available at: