Healing Power of Garlic (Allium sativum L.)

Garlic has been identified by different traditions as a prophylactic and therapeutic medicinal plant. References to the plant’s use dates back to 6th century where it was mentioned in the Zoroastrian holy writings. There is also evidence of the use of garlic in ancient times as a treatment regimen for arthritis, toothache, chronic cough, constipation, parasitic infestation, snake and insect bites, gynecologic diseases, as well as in infectious diseases (as an antibiotic).  In Africa, particularly in Nigeria, it is used to treat abdominal discomfort, diarrhoea, otitis, media and respiratory tract infections.

Garlic is a bulbous plant; grows up to 1.2 m in height. Garlic is easy to grow and can be grown in mild climates. Allium sativum belongs to the Lillaceae family, along with onions, chives, and shallots.

Nutritional benefits

  • Garlic contains at least 33 sulphur compounds. The most abundant sulphur compound in garlic is alliin (Sallylcysteine sulfoxide).
  • The plant also contains several enzymes and the minerals: germanium, calcium, copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, selenium and zinc; vitamins A, B1 and C, fiber and water.
  • Garlic also contains 17 amino acids; lysine, histidine, arginine, aspartic acid threonine, swine, glutamine, proline, glycine, alanine, cysteine, valine, methionine, isoleucine, leucine, tryptophan and phenylalanine.

Health benefits

  • Research indicates that Garlic has a reducing effect on the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Garlic consumption have significant effects on lowering blood pressure, prevention of atherosclerosis, reduction of serum cholesterol and triglycerides, inhibition of platelet aggregation,  increasing fibrinolytic activity.
  • Garlic has been found to contain a large number of potent bioactive compounds with anticancer properties, largely allylsulfide derivatives. These bioactive compounds have a variety of anti-tumour effects, including tumour cell growth inhibition and chemo preventive effects.
  • It is also rich in antioxidants.
  • Garlic is a good antimicrobial. It is effective against a wide range of microorganisms including Salmonella, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas, Proteus, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella sp, Klebsiella sp, Micrococcus sp, Bacillus subtulis, Clostridium sp, Mycobacterium sp and Helicobacter sp.
  • The antibacterial activity of garlic is widely attributed to the bioactive compound, allicin.
  • The bulb is also active against fungi (aspergillus sp, candida, trichophyton sp etc) and viruses (influenza A and B, rotavirus, rhinovirus, etc)


  • Leyla B., Peir H,K and Ali G (2014). Garlic: A Review of Potential Therapeutic Effects. Avicenna J Phytomed.  4(1): 1–14.
  • Gebreyohannes G and Gebreyohannes M (2013). Medicinal Values of Garlic: A Review.Int. J. Med. Med. Sci. 5(9):401-408

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