Garlic and Kidney Health
Garlic: What is It?
Garlic is known scientifically as Allium Sativum. According to KewScience’s “Plants of the World” garlic is considered a species of the onion genus and is therefore closely related to onions, shallots, leeks, and chives among the 750 species known to this genus.1 It can be eaten raw or cooked, made into a powder or oil, and is used for a variety of health benefits. Most likely, our ancestors were more interested in the healing properties of garlic and domesticated it for easier and quicker access.
A Brief History of Garlic
It is theorized that garlic has been used since before recorded history, but the first documented use of garlic through cultivation appeared around 5,000 years ago in Egypt and India.2 From there it seemed to spread across the world and was domesticated into the plant people know and love today.
The Allure of Garlic
How did such a pungent smelling plant make its way into the hearts of people from every corner of the world? Well, besides being a natural food enhancer that is used by both home cooks and professionals, it seems to offer a wide array of health benefits. Many believe these benefits stem from the substance alliin which turns to the alliinase enzyme when crushed or cut.3,6
1. Hypertension: High blood pressure affects a large swath of the global population and can be extremely dangerous and life-threatening, leading to stroke or heart attack. One way to combat this condition is with the use of garlic. “Potential of garlic (Allium sativum) in lowering high blood pressure”, a 2014 study published in Integrated Blood Pressure control, concluded that garlic has the ability to lower systolic levels (pressure during heart contraction) by 10 mmHg and diastolic (pressure between beats) by 8 mmHg.4 As a more natural remedy, these results are very encouraging.*
2. Cancer: The National Cancer Institute recognizes garlic as a plant with potential anticancer properties, explaining that it may decrease a person’s risk of getting certain cancers like “stomach, colon, esophagus, pancreas, and breast” cancer. They explain that this effect may come from its antibacterial properties, ability to block and halt the formation of cancer-causing substances, capacity for DNA repair, and reduce cell death.*5
3. Diabetes: A 2017 retrospective study lead by Juan Wang concluded that garlic could lower glucose levels in the blood. They believe it raises glucose tolerance but admit more human studies need to be done.*6
Garlic and Kidney Health
Hypertension and diabetes both negatively affect the kidneys. High blood pressure and changing glucose levels can damage the tiny filters in the kidney. So, if garlic can help control these issues than it could inadvertently be helping the kidneys as well.*
Safety of Consumption*
For the most part, garlic is exceptionally safe for consumption. Of course, it should be eaten in moderation, and people with garlic allergies should avoid it. The side effects that do occur are rather mild and include bad breath, heartburn, upset stomach, and body odor.7
Please note that professionals have conflicting views about garlic’s benefits so, as always, speak with your healthcare professional about the possible health benefits of garlic and how it may affect you.
1 Allium sativum L. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2019, from http://powo.science.kew.org/taxon/urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:528796-1
2 Simon, P. W. (2016, August 13). The origins and distribution of garlic: How many garlics are there? Retrieved May 10, 2019, from https://www.ars.usda.gov/midwest-area/madison-wi/vegetable-crops-research/docs/simon-garlic-origins/
3 Coleman, E. (2002). Alliin. Retrieved May 10, 2019, from http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/motm/alliin/chemistry.htm
4 Ried, Karin, and Peter Fakler. “Potential of garlic (Allium sativum) in lowering high blood pressure: mechanisms of action and clinical relevance.” Integrated blood pressure control vol. 7 71-82. 9 Dec. 2014, doi:10.2147/IBPC.S51434
5 Garlic and Cancer Prevention. (2008, January 22). Retrieved May 10, 2019, from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/garlic-fact-sheet
6 Wang, J., Zhang, X., Lan, H., & Wang, W. (2017). Effect of garlic supplement in the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM): a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Food & nutrition research, 61(1), 1377571. doi:10.1080/16546628.2017.1377571
7 Garlic. (2016, November 30). Retrieved May 10, 2019, from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/garlic/ataglance.htm