“Garlic then have power to save from death. Bear with it though it maketh unsavory breath, And scorn not garlic like some that think. It only maketh men wink and drink and stink.” – The Englishman’s Doctor, Sir John Harrington (1609)
Garlic has long been known for its incredible antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiparasitic and anticancer agents. Garlic is vegetable which kills fungus, yeast, bacteria, parasites and has antitumor agents. It contains allicin that has been proven to be a great antifungal agent to fight against micro-organisms that cause illness and disease such as Candida, Aspergillus, and Cryptococci.
My family has been using garlic and taking garlic supplements over the last year as part of our health protocol to fight against our mold illness. We believe that it has been one of the key factors in our diets that has helped us get better. Hence, I write from personal experience and the research below helps support these facts.
Garlic has been used for thousands of years as a culinary spice and medicinal herb. It is mentioned in the Bible and the Talmud. Hippocrates, Galen, Pliny the Elder, and Dioscorides all mention the use of garlic for many medical conditions, including parasites, respiratory problems, skin problems, acne, poor digestion, and low energy.(1)
Garlic is an important part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and its use was first mentioned in A.D. 510. For example, the Chinese use intravenous garlic extract to fight against the fungal infection called cryptococcal meningitis. It is well known in Iran and various parts of this plant have long been used in traditional folk medicines of Iran and some other cultures.
During the 17th century, the black plague (black mold) had ravaged France. A group of bandits known as the four thieves were said to be robbing the sick and the dead. These thieves did not get sick from the plague because they had protected themselves with a special all natural herbal blend of garlic, wormwood, and vinegar that protected them against the deadly black plague.
In modern medicine, Louis Pasteur studied the antibacterial action of garlic in 1858(1), and the fabulous antifungal properties of garlic were first established in 1936 by Schmidt and Marquardt (Lemar et al., 2002). It was also used in World War I and World War II by military physicians to prevent gangrene. In Russia, it is known by some as the “Russian penicillin.”
One of the reasons garlic is so effective because it is rich in antioxidants which helps your body protect itself from mold mycotoxins and harmful particles called free radicals that build up as you age and may contribute to various diseases such as Crohn’s disease, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer disease. Antioxidants like those found in garlic fight off free radicals, and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause over time.
Garlic contains 200 powerful nutrients such as volatile oils (allicin, alliin and ajoene) consisting of sulphur, enzymes (alliinase, peroxidase and miracynase), carbohydrates (sucrose, glucose), minerals (germanium, selenium, zinc), amino acids like cysteine, glutamine, isoleucine and methionine, bioflavonoids like quercetin and cyanidin and allistatin I and allistatin II, C, E and A vitamins and niacin, B1, B2vitamins and beta carotene.
Garlic is an incredible natural treatment to fight against fungal infections. For example, there are several studies that show garlic gel applied to the skin may treat various fungal infections such as ringworm, jock itch, and athlete’s foot. There are also studies that show that eating garlic regularly may help protect against cancer, help prevent heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, kill parasites, treat acne and it can boost the immune system.
Allicin (diallyl-dithiosulfinate), which is produced by the garlic enzyme alliinase from the harmless substrate alliin, has been shown to have wide-range antifungal specificity. A 2009 study had found garlic killed the fungi (black mold) known as Aspergillus fumigatus that is responsible for invasive aspergillosis in immunocompromised individuals.
Researchers in the study had shown that the presence of alliin, the conjugate produced cytotoxic allicin molecules, killed the fungus. In vivo testing of the therapeutical potential of the conjugate was carried out in immunosuppressed mice infected intranasally with conidia of A. fumigatus. Intratracheal (i.t.) instillation of the conjugate and alliin (four treatments) resulted in 80 to 85% animal survival (36 days), with almost complete fungal clearance. Repetitive intratracheal administration of the conjugate and alliin was also effective when treatments were initiated at a more advanced stage of infection (50 h).
The fungi were killed specifically without causing damage to the lung tissue or overt discomfort to the animals. Intratracheal instillation of the conjugate without alliin or of the unconjugated monoclonal antibody significantly delayed the death of the infected mice, but only 20% of the animals survived. A limitation of this study is that the demonstration was achieved in a constrained setting. Other routes of drug delivery will be investigated for the treatment of pulmonary and extrapulmonary aspergillosis.
One study showed that allicin from garlic has antifungal activity, particularly against Candida albicans. Another in vitro study showed both intrinsic antifungal activity of allicin and its synergy with the azoles, in the treatment of candidiasis. Studies on the effect of Amphotericin B (AmB) against C. albicans showed that allicin enhances significantly the effect of AmB against Candida albicans, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and against Aspergillus fumigatus in vitro and in vivo . It was found in another study that polymyxin B (PMB), is effective against various yeasts and filamentous fungi when used in combination with allicin. (2)
The Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research in December 2010 compared the antifungal cream clotrimazole, to a natural cream that contained garlic and thyme. and found that the garlic and thyme cream was just as effective as the clotrimazole cream.
The compound ajoene, found in garlic, is an antifungal agent that has been shown to be effective against athlete’s foot. The New York Times reported on a study in The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology that compared a week of twice-daily applications of mild garlic solutions with topical applications of the popular drug Lamisil in about 50 people with diagnoses of athlete’s foot. Two months later, the scientists found that a garlic solution that contained about 1 percent ajoene had a 100 percent cure rate, compared with a 94 percent cure rate for 1 percent Lamisil. Other studies have found similar results.
Allicin and other sulfur compounds are thought to be the major compounds responsible for the antimicrobial effect of garlic. Garlic is effective against a number of gram-negative, gram-positive, and acid-fast bacteria, including Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Vibrio, Mycobacteria, and Proteus species. Aqueous, ethanol and chloroform extracts of garlic inhibited the growth of the pathogenic bacteria, though with varying degrees of susceptibility.
The gram positive Staphylococcus aureus was more susceptible to the toxic effects of garlic than its gram negative counterparts. It has been shown that the aqueous extract of garlic can be used alongside conventional antibiotics to fight agents of nosocomial infections that are so prevalent in hospitals.(3)
A 1999 study, “Antimicrobial properties of allicin from garlic,” found allicin in its pure form was found to exhibit i) antibacterial activity against a wide range of Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, including multidrug-resistant enterotoxicogenic strains of Escherichia coli; ii) antifungal activity, particularly against Candida albicans; iii) antiparasitic activity, including some major human intestinal protozoan parasites such as Entamoeba histolytica and Giardia lamblia; and iv) antiviral activity.
The main antimicrobial effect of allicin is due to its chemical reaction with thiol groups of various enzymes, e.g. alcohol dehydrogenase, thioredoxin reductase, and RNA polymerase, which can affect essential metabolism of cysteine proteinase activity involved in the virulence of E. histolytica.(4)
Anticancer and Antitumor
The US government website dedicated to educating consumers about cancer, Cancer.gov says this about garlic : “Several population studies show an association between increased intake of garlic and reduced risk of certain cancers, including cancers of the stomach, colon, esophagus, pancreas, and breast.” The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, does not recommend any dietary supplement for the prevention of cancer, but recognizes garlic as one of several vegetables with potential anticancer properties.(5)
In 2011, a research paper titled, “Anticancer effects of garlic and garlic-derived compounds for breast cancer control,” had shown that garlic and garlic-derived compounds reduce the development of mammary cancer in animals and suppress the growth of human breast cancer cells in culture.Researchers found the mechanisms of action include the activation of metabolizing enzymes that detoxify carcinogens, the suppression of DNA adduct formation, the inhibition of the production of reactive oxygen species, the regulation of cell-cycle arrest and the induction of apoptosis.
Selenium-enriched garlic or organoselenium compounds provide more potent protection against mammary carcinogenesis in rats and greater inhibition of breast cancer cells in culture than natural garlic or the respective organosulfur analogues. DADS synergizes the effect of eicosapentaenoic acid, a breast cancer suppressor, and antagonizes the effect of linoleic acid, a breast cancer enhancer. Moreover, garlic extract reduces the side effects caused by anti-cancer agents. Thus, garlic and garlic-derived compounds are promising candidates for breast cancer control.(4)
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, side effects of garlic are generally mild and uncommon.
- University of Michigan
- PubMed: Therapeutic Uses and Pharmacological Properties of Garlic, Shallot, and Their Biologically Active Compound
- PubMed: Antimicrobial properties of allicin from garlic
- National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health
- PubMed: Anticancer effects of garlic and garlic-derived compounds for breast cancer control
Moe Bedard is the founder and CEO of Mold Safe Solutions. A full-service Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) company specializing in property water damage, mold inspections, consultations, and mold remediation. If you need help with a project, please call Mold Safe Solutions at 760-818-6830.