Various cultures around the world have used garlic in food and medicine for thousands of years, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The aromatic, flavorful bulb we are familiar with today, however, is not the one found in the wild. Although believed to be native to Asia, it has been cultivated to grow in different temperatures. Garlic or garlic juice, which is made by crushing garlic and blending it with purified or filtered water, provides several health benefits.
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Help With the Common Cold
Garlic has antiviral properties and promotes circulation, sweating and lung health, according to Paul Pitchford, author of “Healing with Whole Foods." All of these properties make it a useful treatment for the common cold. In one 2001 study published in “Advances in Therapy,” 146 volunteers received a placebo or garlic supplement over a 12-week period during the winter months. The garlic group contracted only 24 colds compared to 65 in the placebo group. Also, the garlic group had a much shorter duration of symptoms.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
All members of the onion family, including garlic, remove stagnancies in the blood and reduce clotting, states Pitchford. It’s this quality that makes garlic beneficial in treating conditions such as heart disease and atherosclerosis, which is an accumulation of fatty substances or plaque in the arteries. Atherosclerosis blocks blood flow and contributes to heart attack and stroke, states the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC. A review, published in "Nutrition Research" in 2014, notes that garlic contains several compounds that help fight chronic high blood pressure, a key risk factor for heart disease.
Garlic may also strengthen your immune system and enable you to better fight diseases such as cancer, states the University of Maryland Medical Center. People who consume raw or cooked garlic have a lower risk of some cancers, especially colon and stomach cancer. Furthermore, garlic helps to quell some of the side effects of chemotherapy such as loss of appetite and fatigue.
Tips and Considerations
Talk to your doctor before using garlic or garlic juice as a supplement, especially if you already have an underlying medical disorder. While garlic is generally safe for consumption, it can cause digestive upset, fatigue and dizziness in some cases. Handling garlic while making your juice can also irritate your skin, so make sure to wear gloves. Because of its blood-thinning effects, garlic might cause health problems if you suffer from a clotting disorder, and might interact with blood thinning medications and increase their effect, putting you at risk of excessive bleeding.