In addition to being a popular spice throughout the world, garlic has also provided a variety of medicinal benefits for thousands of years. Garlic may help to treat certain health concerns that typically occur during pregnancy, such as poor blood circulation and elevated blood pressure. Before you begin taking garlic while you're pregnant or breastfeeding, however, consult your doctor to discuss the safe dosage and potential dangers.
Garlic contains the constituent alliin, a sulfurous amino-acid derivative that converts to allicin, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center explains. Allicin appears to have antibiotic, cholesterol-lowering, blood-thinning and antioxidant effects. Garlic also seems to lower blood pressure and reduce gastric and colorectal cancer risks. Additionally, garlic relaxes the smooth muscles, dilates the blood vessels, stimulates immunity while inhibiting antibody reactions, improves selenium absorption and reduces oxidative stress.
For pregnant women, garlic may help improve blood circulation, lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels, Sloan-Kettering reports. Garlic could potentially reduce fatigue during pregnancy, as well as destroy harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. Garlic's antimicrobial properties are seen both in topical remedies applied to the skin and oral forms taken by mouth. Garlic could help in treating vaginal infections, including yeast hypersensitivity syndrome and chronic candidiasis, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. As with any natural remedy or supplement, talk with your physician before using garlic for medicinal purposes during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
Garlic might also help prevent the common cold and heart disease, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center explains. Garlic could help treat middle ear infections, athlete's foot, diabetes and high blood pressure. People with atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, circulatory disorders and skin infections may benefit from using garlic, Sloan-Kettering adds. Garlic has also been used medicinally to get rid of parasites, treat ulcers and prevent or treat cancer, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. No widely accepted scientific research supports the use of garlic for preventing or treating any health condition, however.
In addition to raw crushed or whole garlic cloves, garlic is also available in the form of an aged extract, powder and essential oil, Sloan-Kettering advises. Each form of garlic contains varying amounts of active constituents. For example, garlic essential oil and garlic powder don't contain allicin, but the powder does contain a small amount of alliin. For garlic's potential health benefits during pregnancy, consume two to four fresh garlic cloves each day, or take 600 to 1,200 milligrams of aged garlic extract daily, the University of Maryland Medical Center instructs. Alternatively, you could take 0.03 to 0.12 milliliters of garlic essential oil three times per day, 5 milliliters of the fluid extract daily or 20 milliliters of the tincture each day. Garlic supplements often come in the forms of freeze-dried garlic tablets, which you might take at a dosage rate of 400 milligrams three times daily. Ask your doctor about the dosage of garlic that's right for you while you're pregnant, because these dosages may be unsafe for your specific health status.
As a widely consumed natural food and spice, garlic is considered very safe, even during pregnancy. But garlic's potential blood-thinning effects may cause uncontrolled bleeding during surgery or labor and delivery, warns the University of Maryland Medical Center. You shouldn't take garlic before, during or after labor and delivery or a Cesarean section. Garlic may also interact negatively with certain medications, such as anticoagulants like Coumadin, insulin, cyclosporine and saquinavir, cautions the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Garlic could increase your insulin release and lower blood sugar levels, as well as reduce your iodine absorption, which could lead to hypothyroidism, the Mayo Clinic warns. During pregnancy, you shouldn't take large amounts of garlic that exceed the normal amount of garlic you might consume in your daily diet.