Garlic has a long history and may have many health benefits. In clinical trials, garlic lowered total and low- density cholesterol. Weak evidence showed improved results when garlic was used for atherosclerosis and hypertension. May reduce risk of developing stomach and colon cancer. Topical application of garlic may treat ringworm, jock itch, athlete’s foot, and reduce risk of tick bites. There is quite a bit of garlic research, but more evidence is needed to establish efficacy.
Attention for Liver Disease: May decrease clotting ability. Because it appears to interact with cytochrome p- 450 metabolized substances (see Cytochrome P-450 ), do not take garlic supplements during HCV treatment. Eating garlic is likely safe.
Safety Information: Garlic is probably safe at recommended doses. Garlic may cause bad breath, body odor, gastric complaints and allergies. Garlic may increase bleeding risk. Avoid topical application and ingesting large amounts. A myocardial infarction was reported in a 23 year-old man who took excessive amounts of garlic. May be safe for children, pregnant or nursing mothers, but may alter the flavor of breast milk.
Interactions: Patients taking cyclosporine should use cautiously. One report of garlic’s interference with the effectiveness of saquinavir, a drug used to treat HIV infection. Two reports of gastrointestinal distress by people taking garlic and HIV drug, ritonavir. May interact with any cytochrome p-450 metabolized substances (see Cytochrome P-450). May interact with fish oils, EPA, pycnogenol, NSAIDs, protease inhibitors, hypoglycemic, anti- hypertensive, thyroid, lipid- lowering, and anticoagulant drugs.
Lab Notes: May cause abnormal insulin and thyroid levels, increase clotting times, and lower cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure.
Note: Fresh garlic is probably the best form to use, as commercial garlic formulations may not have sufficient active ingredients.