Most research has shown that fresh garlic provides a better means of obtaining garlic's benefits, but garlic capsules are an alternative option, especially if you don't like the taste or odor of fresh garlic. Garlic capsules contain concentrated garlic powder, essential oil or powdered extract. While garlic has a number of potential health uses for men and women, some research has shown that garlic may have specific benefits for women. Consult your doctor before using any dietary supplements.
Candidiasis, also known as thrush, is a yeast infection that occurs due to the overgrowth of the fungus known as Candida albicans. Although yeast infections can occur on a variety of body parts, women typically experience vaginal yeast infections. An in vitro study published in the August 1991 issue of the journal, "Phytotherapy Research" showed that specific compounds in garlic, known as diallyl thiosulphinate, or allicin, methyl allyl thiosulphinate, and allyl methyl thiosulphinate, also found in garlic powder, have antimicrobial and antifungal effects. The researchers report that "the anticandidal activities of commercially available garlic supplement products corresponded in general to the activities known for the chemical compounds found in the products."
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Potential Anticancer Properties
Garlic may have potential anticancer properties, although clinical studies are still ongoing regarding this claim. The National Cancer Institute reports that some studies show that garlic may help prevent certain types of cancer, such as colon, breast and stomach cancer, possibly due to its antibacterial properties or its potential ability to prevent cancer-causing substances from forming. However, it is unclear as to whether garlic capsules have the same benefit as fresh garlic. While the National Cancer Institute does not support the use of any dietary supplement for cancer prevention, it reports that the World Health Organization suggests "a daily dose of two to five grams of fresh garlic (approximately one clove), 0.4 to 1.2 grams of dried garlic powder, two to five milligrams of garlic oil, 300 to 1,000 milligrams of garlic extract or other formulations that are equal to two to five milligrams of allicim" for promoting good health.
While garlic may have a beneficial impact on cholesterol levels in both men and women, some limited research has shown that cholesterol levels in women may be impacted differently by garlic than in men. A study published in 2001 in the "Journal of Nutrition" showed that garlic oil capsules helped increase HDL-C, or high density lipoprotein cholesterol, the "good cholesterol" and reduce total cholesterol levels in women, whereas men who received the treatment experienced some "adverse effects." Additionally, a study published in the September 1998 issue of the "Journal of the American Dietetic Association" showed that garlic supplementation helped to significantly reduce total cholesterol levels in post-menopausal women.
Things to Consider
While garlic capsules may have a beneficial effect on a number of women's health concerns, you should not use dietary supplements to self-treat any symptoms you may be experiencing. Not all garlic supplements contain the same amount of active ingredients. The University of Maryland Medical Center advises patients to use standardized garlic products. Consult your doctor to discuss any medical concerns you may have. Garlic can cause certain side effects, such as stomachaches and headaches, and can interact with some medications, including birth control pills. Inform your doctor if you plan to use a garlic supplement.
- National Cancer Institute: Garlic and Cancer Prevention
- Journal of Nutrition; Gender May Affect the Action of Garlic Oil on Plasma Cholesterol and Glucose Levels of Normal Subjects; X. Zhang et al.
- Journal of the American Dietetic Association; Impact of Garlic on Serum Cholesterol and Apolipoproteins of Post-Menopausal Women; V. Ganji and D. Chen
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Garlic