A nutritionist, Dr. Mary Mgbekem, says people must understand their health status before consuming garlic supplements.
She noted that the use of garlic supplements may be harmful to health by causing other drugs to be less effective, especially in those with certain health conditions like heart diseases and HIV.
Dr. Mgbekem, who is an Associate Professor, Department of Nursing Science, University of Calabar, Cross River State, stated this during an interview with PUNCH HealthWise.
She explained, “The use of supplements for good result cannot be generalised. There are reported concerns about garlic use as supplement for some people, especially those with certain health conditions.
“A study published in American College of Cardiology asserts that garlic (along with green tea, ginkgo and ginseng) can interfere with the efficacy of some heart medications and or increase their side effects.
“It has also been reported that too much garlic can cause a bleeding risk for people on anti-coagulation like warfarin or prescribed aspirin regimen.
“It may cause other drugs to be less effective. Example is seen in the use of saquinavir, a drug deployed in the treatment of HIV infection.”
The nutritionist also said, “People with stomach cancer and helicobacter pylori, cystic fibrosis and cancer of the esophagus are restricted from garlic supplements.
“It is advisable for individuals to understand their health status before consuming certain supplements, especially garlic.
“When in doubt, consult your dietician and physician. Many people have lost their lives out of ignorance. Let us be wise.”
According to WebMD, garlic supplements may also increase the risk of bleeding.
“There have been reports of bleeding after surgery in people who have taken garlic. Asthma has been reported in people working with garlic, and other allergic reactions are possible”, it added.
The associate professor, however, said notwithstanding some of the harmful effects, garlic has some proven health benefits.
“Garlic is a herb known all over the world. It is in the class of onions, leeks and chives family (Allium).
“Garlic is viewed as an excellent source of nutrients such as: vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin C and minerals like: manganese, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, iron and copper.
“It is also reported to be an antioxidant that protects the body against cell damage.
“Today other claims are made concerning the benefits derived from garlic. These include: lower blood pressure and cholesterol, an anti-inflammatory effect, a reduced risk of cancer and a stronger immune system.
“While many of these claims are overemphasised, there is evidence of some health benefits.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it has not approved garlic for medicinal use and categorises it as a food substance.
Because garlic is sold as an herbal supplement, there aren’t universal government manufacturing standards in place, experts say, warning that garlic supplement must not be taken as a substitute for regular medical treatment.
“It’s best to speak to a trained health professional who is skilled in complementary, integrative, or functional medicine when considering garlic supplement,” experts warn.
Also, in its overview information on garlic, WebMD notes that garlic is an herb that is grown around the world. It is related to onion, leeks, and chives. It is thought that garlic is native to Siberia, but spread to other parts of the world over 5000 years ago.
“Garlic is most commonly used for conditions related to the heart and blood system. These conditions include high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia), and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
“In foods and beverages, fresh garlic, garlic powder, and garlic oil are used to add flavour,” the portal stated.
It, however warned that while garlic may have some benefit for preventing the common cold, there is no good evidence to support using it for COVID-19.
“Follow healthy lifestyle choices and proven prevention methods instead,” it counselled.
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