Garlic contains high amounts of sulphur compounds, which are responsible for garlic’s pungent smell. Since one of those compounds, allicin, is an antibiotic agent, garlic has infection- and bacteria-fighting abilities. Scientific trials have also discovered that sulphur compounds have anti-tumour effects and can induce cancer cells to re-differentiate. There have also been studies that indicated garlic strengthens the immune system of cancer patients and may reduce the risk of renal and colorectal cancer.
Garlic is also an excellent source for selenium, an element vital to the immune system. Cellular function depends on selenium, which acts to protect cells from damage, which in turn helps protect the body from disease. Selenium is also crucial to the production of cytokines by white blood cells. Cytokines, a kind of protein important to the immune system, help control inflammation.
In terms of specific illnesses and conditions, garlic has been found to protect from colds. One scientific study discovered that patients who consumed garlic were less likely to suffer from cold symptoms and quicker to recover from the sickness.
There have also been studies that indicated garlic may reduce blood cholesterol, serum triglycerides and low density lipoprotein (LDL) levels. Yet another major cardiovascular effect is anti-thrombotic activity. All of these components contribute to lower the risk of thrombosis. It is also thought to reduce arterial surface adhesion of platelets and to contain inhibitors of platelet aggregation. All these factors appear to make it quite a potent way to reduce clotting risk.
When it comes to consumption of garlic for its therapeutic benefits, raw garlic is greatly superior to any heated or otherwise processed material. This is because the allicin of garlic requires an enzyme alliase to break it down to allicin. If the enzyme is denatured, for example by heat, the conversion to allicin will not occur. The current recommendation is 10g of fresh raw garlic daily.