Friday, September 26, 2014

Garlic Supplements

Since I am taking a class in medicinal botany, I have found that I really like to learn about different plants that can affect the human body in one way or another.  So, I thought that I would share some of the information that I have found with you!  Some of the information has come directly from my class and other information has come from internet sites that post their sources and that I believe to be reliable (I have posted their links further down in this post). 

Plant Description

Garlic is a perennial plant that is grown throughout the world.  It can grow more than 2 feet in height.  The compound bulb is the part used for medicine.  Each bulb is made up of 4 to 20 cloves (each clove weighs approximately 1 gram).  Garlic supplements can either be made from fresh, dried, or aged garlic or garlic oil.

Garlic, Allium sativum, contains several sulfur compounds and alliin. Alliin converts to allicin which gives garlic that characteristic smell when it is crush.  Allicin is thought to have antibacterial properties, but some studies suggest that it is a short-lived, unstable compound.


Garlic has been used as both food and a medicine for thousands of years.  Garlic cloves can be eaten raw, cooked, in a dried / powder form, in tablets and capsules, or used to make oils.  

 "Garlic is rich in antioxidants.  In your body, harmful particles called free radicals build up as you age and may contribute to heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.  Antioxidants like those found in garlic fight off free radicals, and may reduce or even help some of the damage they cause over time."  - From Penn State Hershey

Medicinal Uses

Traditionally, garlic has been used for high cholesterol, heart disease and some cancers. 

Today, garlic is still used to prevent heart disease including atherosclerosis and lowering blood pressure.  Atherosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries due to plaque buildup.  A 4-year long study found that people taking 900 mg daily of standardized garlic powder slowed the development of atherosclerosis.

In addition, garlic was used to lower cholesterol, but recent studies suggest that garlic does not lower cholesterol.

Garlic is thought to boost the immune system because of the antioxidants it contains.  In one study, people that took garlic supplements for 12 weeks during the cold season had fewer colds and if they did catch a cold, the symptoms went away much faster than the people that took a placebo.

Eating garlic regularly may also help protect against cancer.  Garlic has been found to kill cancer cells in test tubes.  In addition, researchers that reviewed 7 different studies found a 30% reduction in risk of colorectal cancer among people who ate a lot of raw or cooked garlic.  Unfortunately, garlic supplements do not seem to have the same effect.

How to Take It

  • Whole garlic clove - 2 to 4 grams per day of fresh, minced garlic clove (each clove is approximately 1 gram)
  • Aged garlic extract - 600 to 1,200 mg daily, in divided doses
  • Tablets of freeze-dried garlic - 200 mg, 2 tablets 3 times daily, standardized to 1.3% alliin or 0.6% allicin (Products may also be found standardized to contain 10 to 12 mg/gm alliin and 4,000 mcg of total allicin potential (TAP))

Possible Interactions

According to the information found on Penn State Hershey

Garlic may interact with a number of medications. Some of these medications are listed below. But this list does not include every medication that garlic may interact with. To be safe, if you take any prescription medicines, ask your doctor before taking garlic supplements.

Isoniazid (Nydrazid) -- This medication is used to treat tuberculosis. Garlic may lower the amount of isoniazid that the body absorbs, meaning it might not work as well.

Birth control pills -- Garlic may make birth control pills less effective.

Cyclosporine -- Garlic may interact with cyclosporine, a medication taken after organ transplant, and make it less effective.

Blood-thinning medications -- Garlic may make the actions of these medications stronger, increasing the risk of bleeding. Blood thinners include warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), and aspirin.

Medications for HIV/AIDS -- Garlic may lower blood levels of protease inhibitors, medications used to treat people with HIV. Protease inhibitors include:

  • Amprenavir (Agenerase)
  • Fosamprenavir (Lexiva)
  • Indinavir (Crixivan)
  • Nelfinavir (Viracept)
  • Ritonavir (Norvir)
  • Saquinavir (Fortovase)

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) -- Both NSAIDs and garlic may increase the risk of bleeding. NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve), as well as prescription medications.


I also thought that I would share a recipe that I found on pinterest that I would try out!  The recipe below looks amazing!  It comes from Kirbie's Cravings.  



1/2 lb boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 extra large egg, whisked
1 tbsp white sesame seeds (optional garnish)
1 tbsp fresh chopped scallions (optional garnish)
for the sauce:
6 tbsp honey
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup water + 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp sriracha sauce
2 tbsp water


1. Preheat oven to 400F. Dip chicken pieces in egg and then roll in bread crumbs until fully coated and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all chicken is coated. Bake for 15-20 minutes until chicken coating is a dark golden brown and is crunchy. I recommend using Kikkoman bread crumbs as they brown evenly, even at the bottom.
2. While chicken is cooking, make sauce on the stove. Add all sauce ingredients except the 1/2 tbsp cornstarch + 1/4 cup water. Bring to a low boil. In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in water, then add to the mixture. Stir until sauce boils again and cook until sauce thickens. Pour sauce on chicken right before serving. Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions if desired.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Medicinal Botany

I am taking several courses this semester and one of the most interesting right now is Medicinal Botany.  Learning about different plants and the effect that they have on the human body is fascinating!  In class, we were told that over 80% of the world's population uses herbal medicine for part of their primary healthcare.  It is a $34 billion per year industry!

One of the things that really caught my attention was how herbal medicines / supplements can interact with other things you take including medicines.  For example, St. John's wort can actually cause your body to metabolize certain medications faster which can make them less effective.  

Certain plants or plant derivatives, in general, can even affect medications that you might be taking.  Compounds found in grapefruit juice have been found to inhibit CYP3A4 in the intestine which cause increase the amount of a medication in your body because it is not being broken down which could lead to a possible overdose!

Another point to consider is how regulated (or not) supplements are.  The amount of the compounds from the plant can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer or even from different batches made by the same manufacturer!

Therefore, it is important to do your research if you make the decision to take herbal supplements.  I think that, if properly researched, certain supplements could be beneficial to living a healthy lifestyle.