The bloom of health from the stinking rose

Taste may not be the only reason garlic appears in so many dishes around the world. The bulb has long been valued for its medicinal qualities. Hippocrates treated infections and intestinal disorders with it, and Muhammad used it to relieve pain from wounds. More recent research has confirmed that the compound allicin in garlic has therapeutic properties.

Uses: Garlic is perhaps most popular as a remedy to lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Some people believe it improves blood flow, enhances immunity and prevents infection.

Dose: Typically, 4,000 micrograms a day (about one clove).

Precautions: Garlic supplements should not be used for at least three days before surgery because they can increase postoperative bleeding. They can also interact with blood-thinning drugs and alter the effectiveness of some diabetes medications. Like the cloves themselves, garlic supplements can produce an odor (on the breath or through the skin). Stomach upset is possible.


Research: The federal government is conducting an early phase study to determine whether garlic helps lower cholesterol and triglycerides in HIV-infected patients. Garlic is also being studied for its possible effects on cancer and arthritis.

Dietary supplement makers are not required by the U.S. government to demonstrate that their products are safe or effective. Ask your health-care provider for advice on selecting a brand.