From Ancient Egypt to the Science Lab to Your Dinner Plate... Garlic: It's Good for You!

Ancient Health Remedy Is "Rediscovered" in Latest Medical Research, Including by NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Physician-Scientists

Mar 28, 2006


Garlic, recognized for its healing powers in ancient times, is now being rediscovered by medical scientists, who have new evidence of its efficacy against cancer and heart disease. Dr. Richard Rivlin, of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, is guest co-editor of a special March peer-reviewed supplemental issue to The Journal of Nutrition. The issue comprises 35 articles representing the latest research on garlic findings that were first presented at a symposium held last year at Georgetown University.

"Medical texts from China, India, Egypt, Greece and Italy mention medical applications of garlic," says Dr. Rivlin, professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, attending physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, and director of the Nutrition Center at the Strang Cancer Prevention Laboratory. "Cultures that developed independently came to the same general conclusions, namely, that garlic could be administered to provide strength and to increase work capacity. Hippocrates, considered the Father of Medicine, used garlic as an essential component of one of his therapies."

Dr. Rivlin believes that while much promising research has been made pointing to the disease-preventive and therapeutic effects of garlic, at the present time, it should be considered complementary medicine, not alternative therapy. "The rapid pace of advances in garlic research provides increasing evidence that garlic has significant potential as a complement to established therapies."

New research on the health benefits of garlic, as published in The Journal of Nutrition special issue, include the following:

  • Selenium an element found in garlic may be instrumental to garlic's anti-cancer properties. ("Cancer Chemoprevention by Garlic and Garlic-Containing Sulfur and Selenium Compounds," by Drs. K. El-Bayoumy and R. Sinha, Penn. State; Dr. J. Pinto, Cornell-Burke Medical Research Institute; and Dr. R. Rivlin, Weill Cornell Medical College)
  • Garlic may slow the progression of coronary artery calcification in patients on statin therapy. ("Aged Garlic Extract Retards Progression of Coronary Artery Disease," by Dr. M. Budoff, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center)
  • In addition to its cholesterol-lowering potential, blood-pressure-lowering effects, and antioxidant properties, garlic may help moderate levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is a marker for coronary artery disease. ("Homocysteine-Lowering Action Is Another Potential Cardiovascular Protective Factor of Aged Garlic Extract," by Drs. Y. Yeh and S. Yeh, Penn. State)
  • Garlic may inhibit platelet aggregation a major contributing factor to cardiovascular disease by suppressing calcium mobilization. ("Aged Garlic Extract May Inhibit Aggregation in Human Platelets by Suppressing Calcium Mobilization," by Drs. G. Allison, G. Lowe, and K. Rahman, Liverpool John Moores University, U.K.)
  • Garlic may reduce pre-cancerous gastric lesions. ("Factorial Trial Including Garlic Supplements Assesses Effect in Reducing Precancerous Gastric Lesions," by Dr. M. Gail, National Cancer Institute, and Dr. W. You, Beijing Institute of Cancer Research)
  • Garlic may suppress progression of precancerous lesions of the large bowel. ("Aged Garlic Extract Has Potential Suppressive Effect on Colorectal Adenomas in Humans," by Drs. S. Tanaka, Hiroshima University, Japan; K. Haruma, Kawasaki Medical School, Japan; M. Yoshihara, Hiroshima University, Japan; G. Kajiyama, Onomichi General Hospital, Japan; K. Kira, Wakunaga Pharmaceutical, Japan; H. Amagase, Wakunaga of America; and K. Chayama, Hiroshima University, Japan)

Studies published in the journal were made possible through a variety of public and private funding sources.

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