Paavo Airola - Let's Live - November 1977PrevNextIndex
Garlic: Poison Or Miracle Food?
FROM THE readers of Nutrition Forum,
I receive hundreds of questions every
week. Since the Forum space is limited,
I can answer only a fraction of all the
questions I receive, giving preference to
questions of general interest that can be
answered by short replies. Sometimes I
receive a question that elicits a thorough and elaborate answer, where my
contentions and claims must be substantiated by well-researched facts. The
following question, I feel, is one of
those. It deals with one of mankind's
most well-known and cherished foods - garlic.
In your books, you highly recommend garlic. In fact,
in Are You Confused? You refer to garlic as "the king
of the vegetable kingdom" and mention
many studies and clinical tests that
demonstrate garlic's almost miraculous
healing and health-building properties.
Yet, I just read a book by another famous writer who says that garlic is poisonous and should never be eaten in
any form. Who is right? Why such disagreement between two experts, both of
whom I consider to be leaders in the
field of nutrition and holistic medicine? Please, help me to find out the
truth. Give me the facts!
Ms. P.F., Hollywood, CA
You don't have to read far into American so-called health literature to discover that there is a great diversity of
opinion on many pertinent questions related to nutrition and health. There are
many reasons for this: the almighty dollar - the greedy commercialism - is,
perhaps, the prime reason. Many experts are inVolved in manufacturing
and selling the products and services
which they recommend. It is difficult to
be totally objective when you have an
axe to grind. Also, medicine and nutrition are not exact sciences.
Every vitamin or food brings a different reaction
in each individual, and, therefore, it is
often difficult to draw a generalized
conclusion. Scholastic dogmatism in
the area of human nutrition, the scientifically rigid adherence to a principle
or tenet, without taking the varied and
changeable human element into consideration, can only result in pseudoscience and confusion.
Moreover, not only is the study material human and varied,
but nutritionists and health writers are human, too.
They are very subjective in their judgement.
Many of their conclusions and beliefs may be colored by their own likes
and dislikes. For example, the son of
one of the most knowledgeable and prolific health writers, now deceased,
wrote that his father's strong pro-meat,
high-protein stand was motivated by his
own personal liking for the taste of
meat. There is also a deplorable lack of dependable research on nutrition in our
country. Almost all research is done
and/or financed by the giant commercial food industries involved.
And, "he who pays the piper calls the tune."
Just a hypothetical example: it would be
naive to expect that research on the nutritional value of sugar, financed by
the sugar industry, would turn up revealing facts that
sugar is a mass killer - which, in fact, it is.
Another point to consider is that although nutrition is as old as mankind,
the science of nutrition is a relatively
new field of research. It has been said
that we have learned more about nutrition in the
last 20 years than in the preceding 2,000 years.
For example, the idea that garlic and,
onions are poisonous foods originated
with the writings of natural hygienists
more than a half a century ago, then
was picked up by some of their contemporary followers. Their conclusions
were based on outdated, obsolete beliefs and speculations,
rather than scientific data. Since then, Russian,
Finnish, Indian, Japanese, and American
research has shown that garlic and
onions are miracle health-promoting
and disease-preventing foods, as I will
show later in this article.
The Price of Freedom
We live in the freest and most wonderful country in the world. Currently,
Americans are obsessed with self-criticism and fault-finding,
seemingly oblivious to the fact that in spite of our imperfections,
corruption, and crime rate,
the United States is still, and by far, the
best, the freest, and the safest country
in the world. Not only do we have the
highest living standard in the world, but
we have more personal freedoms and
basic human rights than any nation on
earth. But, worthwhile things don't
come free. We have to pay a price for
this freedom. Nutrition confusion is just
one of the prices we must pay for living
in a free country, where there is a free
press - i.e., where anyone can write
books and pose as an expert. One of our
most knowledgeable nutritionists, Dr.
Carlton Fredericks, hit the nail on the
head when he said, "everyone who eats
thinks he is an authority on nutrition."
Consequently, we have a growing number of
book-writing "experts," who present their dramatically opposing and
contradictory views on virtually any
given subject, leaving their readers and
followers in total confusion and bewilderment.
I don't know how we could
remedy this situation without infringement on our highly cherished freedom
of expression and freedom of the press.
I guess the reader just has to make his
own choice of experts and nutritional
gurus and follow the ideas and advice
that make the most sense to him or her.
But, in the question cited earlier, I
was asked for facts - facts that substantiate my enthusiastic endorsement
of garlic as a miraculous healing and
health-building food. Here they are:
Garlic has been used for thousands of
years both as food and as medicine.
Most people around the world, especially those known for their excellent
health, absence of disease, and long
life, have used and are now using garlic
extensively in their daily diet. I have
studied the diets of Russians and Bulgarians,
where onions and garlic are
consumed in astronomical quantities!
Not a single case of garlic poisoning has
ever been known among them. On the
contrary, healthy Russian centenarians
often have told me that the large
amount of garlic and onions in their
diets was one of the main causes of
their exceptional health and long life.
Garlic has also been attributed with
miraculous healing powers, and used
throughout medical history in the treatment of many kinds of disease. Ancient
records show that garlic was used as
medicine as early as 3,000 BC. by Babylonians, Chinese, Greeks, Romans,
Egyptians, and Vikings. Egyptian pyramid builders
had raw garlic as part of
their food ration. Most great physicians
of old - Pliny, Dioscorides, Hippocrates, and Galen,
to name a few - as well
as some more contemporary medical
greats such as Are Waerland, Werner
Zabel, Ragnar Berg, Albert Schweitzer,
Bircher Benner, and many others, used
garlic to cure everything from intestinal
infections and digestive disorders to
high blood pressure, senility, and impotence. 1
Modern Garlic Research
There are several scientific studies that
confirm the ancient beliefs of the therapeutic and preventive properties of
Dr. F.G. Piotrowski, of the University
of Geneva, used garlic on 100 patients
with abnormally high blood pressure.
The study revealed that garlic treatment brought
"excellent results." Garlic, according to Dr. Piotrowski, has a
dilating effect on blood vessels and is
effective in reducing blood pressure. 2
A study in India, conducted under the
direction of Drs. Sainani, Desai, and
More, showed that garlic and onions
have a preventive effect on the development of arteriosclerosis and consequent '
high blood pressure and heart disease. 3
Pathologist Dr. R.C. Jain, of the University of Benghazi, in Libya, demonstrated in experimental animal studies
that garlic can prevent plaque formation in arteries and, thus, help prevent
the development of atherosclerosis and
heart disease. 4
A controlled Australian study by Dr.
K. Halwax showed that garlic extract
(odorless liquid garlic extract, Kyolic)
has a beneficial effect in the treatment
of anemia. Studies show that the hemoglobin and red cell count were significantly higher in the group of 10 female
patients with chronic anemia after 8
weeks of treatment, as compared to 10
patients with the same degree of
anemia who were given placebos. 5
In Japan, the Department of Surgery
at Fukuyama Army Hospital of Self Defense Force tested the
same garlic extract on patients with lumbago and arthritis.
The extract showed "remarkable" effectiveness on 86% of the patients. 6
Russian electrobiologist, Professor Gurwitch, discovered that garlic emits a
peculiar type of ultra-violet radiation
called mitogenetic radiations. These
emissions, now referred to as Gurwitch
rays, have the property of stimulating
cell growth and activity and have a rejuvenative effect on all body functions.
Russians also found that garlic has antibiotic properties. They commonly refer to garlic as Russian penicillin. Russian clinics and hospitals used garlic
extensively, mostly in the form of volatile extracts that are vaporized and inhaled.
During my travels in Russia, studying
the health system, the native diets, and
their effects on health and longevity, I
observed that Russian doctors, through
the available channels of public health
education, advise people to eat lots of
garlic and onions as a health-promoting
and disease-preventing measure. It is
not uncommon to see Russians munching on a large
onion the way we eat apples. And the fact that they eat lots of
garlic can be evidenced by the unmistakable aroma every time you mingle
with the crowds.
Antibacterial And Antifungal Properties
Numerous studies demonstrate that garlic juice exhibits strong antibacterial
and antifungal properties. Due to those
properties, garlic has, been Widely
known as a blood purifier. Nobel Prize
Laureate, Dr. Arthur Stoll, established
in the 1940's the antibiotic and bactericidal effect of garlic and ascribed this
power to the allicin, a sulfur-containing
amino acid present in garlic. 4
In Russian studies by Drs. D.B. Dubova 7 and E.P. Leskinov,8
it was established that a number of fungus diseases
responded to treatment with garlic juice. According to Indian studies
by Datta and others, the active factors in garlic,
allistatin I and allistatin II,
were found to be powerful agents
against staphylococcus and escherishia coli (E. coli).
Russian studies demonstrated that garlic extract was useful in
treatment of such disorders as grippe,
chronic colitis, gastritis, and whooping
Garlic preparations of various kinds,
mostly in natural form, but also as extracts or juices,
have been used successfully against cancer, both in animal
and human studies.
In animal studies by Weisberger and
Pensky, as reported in Science, 1957,9
mice injected with cancerous cells died
within 16 days. When cancerous cells
were treated with garlic extract and injected into the animals,
no deaths occurred for a period of 6 months.
In other studies, feeding fresh garlic to female mice completely
inhibited the development of mammary tumors. 10
And, in Russian studies, garlic preparation was found not only to retard
the tumor growth in animals, but also in
Germanium And Cancer
At a recent Cancer Control Convention
in Los Angeles, Dr. K. Asai, from Japan,
reported on his extensive studies of
trace mineral, germanium, which has
been found to have both preventive and
curative effects on cancer. 12 Garlic is
one of the best natural sources of germanium.
Although there are many active factors in garlic that have been
shown to possess therapeutic effects,
the germanium, according to Japanese
research may be one of the most important factors. The reason for making
such an assertion is based on empirical evidence of the low cancer incidence
among peoples like Chinese and Koreans, who eat large amounts of garlic
daily. Also, the results of the animal
experiments conducted at the Tokyo
Medical University Laboratory of Hygienics, show that garlic in the daily
diet can prevent formation of cancer.
Injections of cancer cells were given to
two groups of rats. One group received
garlic as an addition to the diet, while
the control group received no garlic.
Although cancer developed in the group
that received no garlic, the garlic-fed
group remained totally free from cancer.
Therapeutic Property of Garlic
In the clinical studies - animal as well
as human - mentioned above and reported in major medical
journals worldwide in the last couple of decades,
garlic has been shown to have preventive
and/or therapeutic properties in the
treatment of a variety of ailments.
Here is a list of diseases that have been successfully
treated by raw garlic or garlic extracts:
In the treatment of the above-mentioned diseases, garlic has been Used by
biologically oriented physicians singularly
or as an effective adjunct to other
nutritional and biological modalities.
Personally, I have used garlic very
successfully in my clinical practice to
treat patients with diarrhea, intestinal
putrefaction, dyspepsia, asthma, and
high blood pressure. In most cases, the
blood pressure was reduced 20-30 mm
in one week by taking large amounts of
garlic or garlic preparations.
- high blood pressure
- common cold
- intestinal worms
- whooping cough
- parasitic diarrhea
- intestinal putrefaction and gas
How And Why It Works
Although there is plenty of empirical
and clinical evidence that garlic is effective both in prevention as well as
treatment of disease, scientific studies
are meager as to what specific factors
in garlic are responsible for these beneficial effects. I am sure that future
studies will reveal more "unidentified
factors" in garlic in addition to the factors
which are presently known. For example, the famous Finnish Nobel Prize
winning scientist, Dr. A.I. Virtanen, in
his thorough biochemical analysis of
onions, discovered 40 new beneficial
At present, research and clinical observations have shown the following active factors being present in garlic (Allium Sativum):
- Allicin, the substance in garlic that is
' believed to be largely responsible for
garlic's antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. Allicin is also the odorous factor in the garlic.
- Allin, a sulfur-containing amino acid
in garlic from which allicin is made by
the action of the enzyme alliinase. Russian studies ascribed the antibiotic effect of garlic to its alliin content.
- Gurwitch rays - the mitogenetic radiation factor that stimulates cell growth
and has a rejuvenating stimulating effect on all body functions.
- Anti-hemolytic factor, responsible for
its beneficial effect in the treatment of
- Anti-arthritic factor, as shown in Japanese studies at Fukuyama Hospital.
- Sugar-regulating factor, which makes
garlic useful as an adjunct in the treatment of both diabetes and hypoglycemia.
- Allithiamine. Garlic is an excellent
source of biologically active compounds and B-1. Japanese researchers
(Matsukawa et. al) 13 have isolated from
garlic a substance, allithiamine, which
is formed by the action of vitamin B-1
on alliin. This component has been
found to have beneficial therapeutic
- Selenium. Garlic is also an excellent
source of biologically active selenium,
and it is believed that garlic's antiatherosclerotic property (preventing
platelet adhesion and clot formation) is
due to its high selenium content.
Selenium also normalizes blood pressure and
has been shown to protect people
Perhaps the most clearly observable
effect of garlic in the treatment of most
diseases is its detoxifying effect on the
body. Whether due to the factors mentioned above,
or some other unidentified factors, garlic is a powerful detoxifier.
It neutralizes toxins present in
the digestive tract and eliminative organs,
as well as in the blood, and has a
beneficial effect on the function of the
liver, kidneys, nervous system, and circulatory system.
Garlic, being an antitoxin, also strengthens the body's
defenses against allergens and is, therefore,
used in the treatment of allergies
Heavy Metal Poisoning
The threat to our health from environmental poisons is increasing every day.
Lead, mercury, cadmium, and copper
poisoning are becoming epidemic. Lead
and mercury come mostly from polluted air plus industrial and medical
uses, such as lead-containing paint and
amalgam dental fillings. Copper enters
our bodies usually from copper water
pipes - commonly used in plumbing.
Heavy metal poisoning is difficult to
treat. Expensive chelation treatment is
the only known medical treatment that
is effective in detoxifying the body of
heavy metals. Now, the Japanese study
conducted by Doctors Ikezoe and Kitahara, show that Kyolic, a raw garlic extract developed in Japan, is effective in
protecting the body from the toxic
effects of the heavy metal poisoning. 14
Dr. Kitahara and his co-workers, Ikezoe and Yamada, conducted controlled
studies on animals (rabbits) and humans. The method of study was: observation of release of potassium and
hemoglobin by heavy metals from
erythrocytes, and destruction of erythrocyte membrane. The conclusion of
the study was the garlic preparation
prevented the poisoning effect arising
from heavy metals and protected the
erythrocyte membrane from destruction.
In another study conducted in Russia,
a drug made from garlic extract was
given to workers in industrial plants
who were suffering from chronic lead
poisoning and lowered the high porphyrin levels in the urine.
The preparation also normalized the elevated blood
pressure in the majority of workers. 15
Russian researchers believed that the
efficacy of the garlic preparation is due
to garlic's high content of sulfur compounds.
These studies may have a far-reaching effect, as it is becoming more and
more difficult to avoid deadly toxic metals,
especially lead and mercury, in our poisoned environment.
Garlic, An Antioxidant
Like onions, marjoram, and green chilies, garlic is known to
possess an antioxidant property, and is used for this
purpose in food preparation in many
countries, for example in the preparation of ghee.
Ghee is a heated butter
that is very stable in terms of rancidity.
An Indian study showed that garlic
exhibited a high antioxidant property
as determined by the peroxide values of
the products by the swift stability test. 16
Garlic restrained the development of all
characteristic indexes of rancidity
(acidity, peroxides, iodine No., etc.).
Garlic retained its antioxidant property
for a half year after harvesting.
Delicious Gourmet Food
In addition to having such miraculous
preventive, protective, and healing properties,
garlic is also a most delicious
food, enjoyed and treasured by most
peoples around the world. Used wisely
and in moderation, it can improve the
nutritional quality as well as enhance
the taste of many cooked dishes as well
as raw salads. In French, Spanish, Italian, and Mexican cuisine, garlic is used
almost in everything. One favorite Mexican dish is garlic soup - something
like French onion soup, but made from
Personally, I use garlic in and on anything except fruit. My favorite dish is a
raw vegetable salad with lots of tomatoes, avocados, and 2-3 finely chopped
cloves of garlic. I also love garlic and
cheese sandwiches. On a slice of dark
sourdough rye bread, spread a layer of
chopped raw garlic and cover with a
thick slice of natural cheese of your
choice. Delicious! And, of course, no
soup is complete without some garlic or
So, don't let anyone confuse you regarding garlic! It is most certainly a terrific health food as well as a miraculous medicine. In fact, garlic fulfills
more than any other food I know Hippocrates'
requirement of a perfect food - "let your food be your medicine - Let your medicine be your food."
But aside from all the scientific evidence presented in this article, perhaps the most effective, common-sense
proof of garlic's harmlessness is the fact
that Italians have been, and are now,
using so much garlic in their daily diets,
that, if the author referred to in the beginning
of this article was right in his
claim that garlic is poisonous, the Italians would all be sick or dead by now.
Yet, they are some of the healthiest peoples on this planet.
Apparently, garlic and olive oil can even counteract the
negative effect of too much pasta!.
"If he kissed you once, will he kiss you
Now, I hear my readers complaining
in unison: "Okay, okay! I believe you!
I am convinced by the evidence you presented, and it all makes sense to me.
But! I am a social creature, I am married,
I have a family, I work, I mingle
with people. If I eat garlic the way you
recommend, my husband will divorce
me, I will lose my job, and will never be
able to come within six feet of anyone!
It may be okay in Italy, but here, in the
land of mouthwashes and deodorants,
you just don't go around reeking of garlic."
It is true that in our culture, eating
garlic may have social repercussions
and impose some social limitations. Of
course, there would be no problem if
everyone ate garlic - like everyone in
Italy does. Those who eat garlic themselves
cannot detect the odor of garlic
from others. It's similar to smoking those who
smoke don't notice the objectionable odor of stale tobacco coming
Usually, garlic, when used in cooking, does not leave garlic breath - only
raw garlic does. Throughout the years,
there have been several garlic and
onion breath deodorizers, but none of
them has proved to be effective. Eating
parsley or other chlorophyll-rich vegetables helps a little,
but it does not remove the odor completely. Odorless
garlic pills? I have tried many brands
but haven't found one yet that does
what it promises. Garlic oil capsules are
almost safe, as far as breath is concerned, but even they do not pass the
close-up test, such as kissing.
Great News From Japan
Last year, I made an extensive tour of
Japan where I studied their eating and
living habits as well as presented several public
and professional lectures on
behalf of the International Academy of
Biological Medicine. I learned many
health secrets from the health-oriented
Japanese, such as buckwheat soba, soy
miso, and their many ways of eating
large amounts of seaweed daily. But
one of the most exciting items of health
news I brought from Japan was actually not a part of their
traditional diet at
all. It was the new, completely odorless
garlic preparation developed by the
highly enterprising and ingenious Japanese.
They have developed a garlic supplement called Kyolic (Kyo-Leopin in
Japan, or Leopin in Canada), which retains all the traditional well-known
medicinal-nutritional properties of raw
garlic, but without garlic's odor. By a
special process, which involves curing
garlic for 20 months without the use of
heat, organically grown garlic loses its
odor through a natural fermentation
process. It is sold in liquid or tablet
form and it has been available in Japan
for several decades as one of the most
widely used supplements. It has been
tested for its therapeutic value by several research
clinics in Japan and Australia, and it is approved by the
Japanese equivalent of our FDA for preventive and therapeutic use.
Best of all, Kyolic is now available in the United
States and is sold in most health food
stores. It is the only garlic product I
know of that leaves no breath odor or
body odor, even when taken in large
So, if after reading this article, you
are convinced that garlic has a great
potential, and would like to incorporate
it into your daily diet, but are afraid to
do so because of possible social repercussions,
you can safely enjoy garlic's
traditional benefits by using Kyolic. Or,
train your whole family to eat garlic in
its many natural forms every day, and
associate yourself socially with other
garlic eaters. Let's make garlic eating
the new "in thing" (just like non-smoking or jogging are)
so that those of us
who eat garlic regularly will not have to
excuse ourselves for its delightful
How Much Garlic?
Now, only because you know that garlic is good for you doesn't mean that
you can gorge on it in unlimited quantities. Remember, garlic is not so much a
food as a condiment or seasoning, and
should be used judiciously, the way
other strong spices such as peppers and
chilies are used. The excess of volatile
oils in garlic may cause some unpleasant symptoms
if used in extreme excess. Two or three small cloves of garlic
in one meal are sufficient, possibly
only one clove in most cases. The garlic
pills and other preparations should be
taken as recommended in the directions on the label.
Kyolic is usually
taken in doses of 3-4 capsules twice a
day; super-kyolic tablets - 3 to 4 a day;
garlic oil pills usually 2-3 pills with
each meal. The only exception to this
limitation rule is when garlic is used in
cooked form. When used in cooking, I
don't know of any danger of consuming even large amounts, like a whole
bulb in garlic soup. When used as
seasoning for salads, garlic should be
used very sparingly, as its flavor will
overpower other more delicate scents
and flavors of milder vegetables.
The empirical and scientific evidence
presented in this article shows that
garlic is, indeed, a wonderful health
food and a miraculous healing plant. It
can truthfully be called "the king of the
vegetable kingdom." Garlic, in its natural form,
or in the form of special garlic pills, tablets, and other supplements
(sold in health food stores), should be
incorporated in the Optimum Diet as
one of the most beneficial and delicious
natural seasonings and flavor enhancers. Garlic not only will improve
and enrich the diet, but will help to improve your health, prevent disease, and
- Airola, Paavo, Are You Confused?, Health Plus Publishers, Phoenix, Arizona, 1971.
- Piotrowski, F.G., Praxis, July 1, 1948.
- Nutrition News Byline, Alive, Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition, #12, 1977.
- Passwater, Richard, Supernutrition for Healthy Hearts, the DiaL Press, New York, N.Y., 1977.
- Halwax, K., Research paper published by Wakunaga Pharmaceutical Co., Hiroshima, Japan.
- Wakunaga Pharmaceutical Company, report, with detailed study data.
- Dubova, D.B., Mikrobiologlya, 19, 222, 1950.
- Leskinow, E.P., Byull. Eksperim. Biologiskoy Mediciny, 21  70, 1947.
- Weisberger, A.S., and Pensky, J., Science, 126, 1112, 1957.
- Kroening, K., Acta Unio. Intern. Contra Cancium, 20, 855, 1964.
- Rommanyuk, N.M., Ukrainskaya Blokhim, Zh., 24, 53, 1952.
- Asai, K., report at Cancer Control Convention, Los Angeles, California, July 5, 1977. The tape of Dr. Asai's report can be obtained from the Cancer Control Society, 2043 N. Berendo, Los Angeles, CA 90027.
- Matzukawa, et. al, Journal of Pharmaceutical Society of Japan, 72, 1585, 1952.
- Ikezoe, T., and Kitahara, S., Medical Journal, Kiso-to-Rinsho, Japan, March, 1975.
- Petrov, V,, et. al, Gigieva Trudalproflabolevaniya, 9,42, 1955.
- Dhar, D.C., Journal of Indian Chemical Society, Ind. & News Ed. 14, 1951.