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Garlic vs. Antibiotics: Which Comes Out On Top?
Garlic has many health benefits, including being rich in antioxidants, strengthening the immune system, lowering blood pressure, and even reducing the risk of cancer. It’s no coincidence that the Mediterranean diet, considered one of the world’s healthiest, includes garlic as a staple ingredient. But some recent research has shown that garlic holds a lot of potential for treating bacterial diseases as well.
Garlic contains a natural compound called allicin, which has been shown to be very effective against harmful forms of bacteria. Interestingly, allicin is formed from its precursor compound allin by chemical changes that take place when the garlic cloves are physically crushed. Crushing or chopping garlic makes it healthier.
A study performed at the University of Washington found that garlic was an effective treatment against certain types of bacteria, like c. jejeuni, commonly linked to food poisoning. Another paper published by the same researchers demonstrated garlic’s effectiveness against E. coli, another dangerous germ linked to bacterial food poisoning.
There is no standard dose recommended by doctors for how much garlic to consume to fight bacteria, but most of the studies performed with garlic focused mainly on the allicin compound rather than the whole garlic clove. In each case, about 600mcg of allicin was shown to be effective.
Of course, people do not consume allicin on its own, but rather though whole garlic or garlic extract supplements. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, 2-4 cloves of crushed fresh garlic or 600-1200mg of garlic extract are beneficial for health.
This research is still in its early phases, and more needs to be done to clearly establish just how powerful garlic is against harmful forms of bacteria. For the time being, garlic should not be one’s first choice for treating a bacterial infection, or as a substitute for medicine or a doctor’s advice. Rather, enjoy garlic as a staple item in your diet that will reduce your chances of getting sick in the first place. Talk to your doctor before using whole garlic or garlic extract to assist in treating an illness.
As mentioned above, however, a solution to the antibiotic crisis will have to be found. Super-bugs represent a potentially devastating global health emergency, and doctors may be forced, however reluctantly, to return to traditional tools for healing illness. As the Greek physician Hippocrates once said: “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine thy food.”