Well known for its culinary uses, garlic is also a versatile medicinal plant.
Garlic has many health benefits, particularly on the cardiovascular system, but of more interest to visitors of this site will be its antimicrobial activity. Garlic is perhaps the most famous natural antibiotic which can be bought in supplement form as a dried extract or used raw, although this requires a strong constitution and may irritate the mucous membranes of the intestinal tract.
Garlic's antimicrobial activity is derived from several compounds, the most important of which appears to be allicin. Others include alliin, alliinase and S-allylcysteine and all are sulphur-containing compounds.
As a result garlic is often recommended as an alternative to antibiotics for gastrointestinal and systemic infections. Naturopaths and herbalists often recommend garlic as a treatment for Candida overgrowth and indeed one study showed it was comparable to the drug nystatin in its ability to kill Candida albicans. Garlic is also effective against a range of bacteria with studies having found garlic to be capable of combating infections with various strains of bacillus, brucella, citrobacter, E.coli, hafnia, klebsiella, Salmonella typhi, shigella, Vibrio chlorae and various species of staph and strep.