Garlic is well-known as a flavoring for food. Although its effectiveness is not yet proven, it has also been used medicinally for a variety of conditions, including respiratory ailments and digestion problems. It is also used to prevent or treat cardiovascular disease, prevent cancer, enhance the immune system and manage prostate problems. As with any herb, consult with your doctor before taking garlic for prostate conditions or any other medicinal use.
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About the Prostate
The prostate is a small gland in men that is located around the neck of the bladder and urethra, or the tube that connects the bladder to the outside of your body for excreting urine. The prostate contributes some fluid to semen -- the fluid that contains sperm during ejaculation. With age, the prostate can become enlarged, causing pressure on your urethra and symptoms such as frequent urges to urinate. The enlargement can be cancerous or non-cancerous, called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH.
Garlic may have properties that work to relieve symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Garlic contains an odorless substance called alliin that changes to another compound, allicin, when garlic cloves are crushed. Allicin is the main active substance that is responsible for garlic’s odor and health benefits. Because allicin is poorly absorbed, garlic is aged to remove odor and gasiness.
Preliminary scientific evidence suggests that garlic may be helpful for preventing urinary symptoms from an enlarged prostate. A study published in "Nutrition Research" in 2003, showed that men with BPH or prostate cancer who took aged garlic by mouth had significant improvement in urinary symptoms, such as enhanced urinary flow and decreased urinary frequency, after one month of treatment. While the size of the prostate gland was reduced in the BPH group, this did not occur in those with prostate cancer.
Preparations and Dosage
You can buy garlic supplements as dried or freeze-dried garlic, garlic oil and aged garlic extracts. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports daily doses of whole garlic as 2 to 4 g, or about two to four cloves. Aged garlic extract is taken in divided doses of 600 to 1,200 mg per day. Freeze-dried garlic is taken in 400 mg tablets that are standardized to 1.3 percent alliin or 0.6 percent allicin, three times daily.