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What is Garlic and where is it found?

Garlic is an herb related to the onion, leek, and chive. It contains a chemical called allicin, which has antimicrobial and antifungal effects. Garlic capsules contain concentrated garlic powder, essential oil or powdered extract. Not all garlic supplements contain the active compound of allicin, but instead contain alliin, which can be converted to allicin.

What are the benefits?

Garlic is used to treat high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, colon cancer, prostate cancer, rectal cancer, ring worm and jock itch. Some people take garlic to reduce the probability of breast cancer, diabetes, and cystic fibrosis. It is also used to treat candidiasis (thrush) and yeast infections. Topically it is used to prevent tick bites and athlete’s foot.

Are there interactions with food or medications?

Garlic may speed up the breakdown of certain medications and therefore decrease the effectiveness of the medication. As a result, garlic should not be taken with HIV/AIDS transcriptase inhibitors, isoniazid, and saquinavir. Also, care should be taken when combining garlic with birth control pills, cyclosporine, medications that slow blood clotting, and warfarin.

Are there side effects?

Orally, garlic can cause bad breath, gas, body odor, diarrhea, and heartburn, especially with raw garlic. Garlic may increase the risk of bleeding and should not be taken before surgery.

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