This article looks at garlic supplements and their effects on our health. Then, we will be also exploring the specific effects of garlic supplements on people with diabetes. For example, this Guide covers the Benefits of Taking Garlic Pills for Diabetics.
Let’s start exploring by understanding diabetes and garlic better.
What is Diabetes?
Today’s estimated population of people affected with diabetes has risen above 371 million.
Arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease are a few of the many complications that accompany this metabolic disorder. Severe cases can even lead to nervous system damage, blindness, amputation and kidney failure.
The statistics are sobering and keeps getting worse by the day especially in developing countries. That is why there is a need to find a treatment or at least a natural remedy for managing diabetes in those developing countries.
Since ancient times, garlic was known to possess medicinal properties and has been traditionally in the treatment of various ailments, even diabetes.
In recent times, various scientific research
has been conducted to prove these medicinal properties and if they actually treat ailments according to popular beliefs.
Read on as we will be discussing the many health benefits of garlic, and how garlic pills can help in the management of diabetes. What exactly are garlic pills and the possible side effects of taking medicinal garlic, and many other concerns you may have thought about.
What is Garlic?
Garlic is one of the many ingredients used at home to cook dishes like stir-fries, pasta, sauces and baked vegetables. Since garlic is basically used as a spice or herb, many people do not know it is actually a vegetable belonging to the onion family same as leeks, shallots, and chives.
The garlic plant is edible with a tall stem, flowers, long leaves and a bulb containing about 10-20 cloves. Its bulb is the most frequently eaten, usually added to dishes in little amounts owing to its potent flavour.
You will need to remove the paper-like husk covering the garlic bulb before consumption. Allicin is the main active agent in garlic, which according to research is the factor responsible for all the possible medicinal properties of garlic.
This allicin molecule stays dormant until the garlic is physically disturbed through slicing, crushing, chewing or mincing, so boiled garlic prevents the release of allicin.
You can take garlic in these forms
- Raw or Fresh Garlic
- Boiled Garlic
- Garlic Oil
- Aged Garlic
Garlic is commonly boiled, roasted, or sautéed. But it can also be cooked either peeled, crushed or whole. You can easily buy garlic already minced, pickled, chopped or in supplement
Applications of Garlic
- Medicinal use
About 2-4 cloves of garlic can be consumed daily or supplemented with garlic pills following your doctor’s consent.
- Culinary use
Fresh garlic can be used as a condiment or in preparing assorted meals.
- Raw/Fresh or powdered Garlic
Freshly chopped garlic has the highest allicin concentration. The dried and powdered version may not have allicin up to the level of raw garlic, but it still works.
Raw garlic can also be ground and made into a paste for cooking and topical application, same as garlic oil.
- Soup with Garlic
Put together a refreshing and simple garlic-based soup or broth that can replace your calorie-filled chicken soup.
- Release the Potent power
Reap the benefits of garlic from crushing it to release its potent ingredients.
- Enhancing Garlic taste
You can ferment garlic with spice to control the taste. It is not advisable to eat garlic with honey for diabetics.
Health Benefits of Garlic
Dietary guidelines recommend about 800 grams of vegetables and fruits a day. However, you do not need to eat so much garlic in a day to benefit from its health properties.
Garlic is a potent vegetable containing allicin and various other sulphur compounds responsible for its medicinal benefits. According to research, just 1-2 cloves (4 grams) per day is enough and believed to provide tangible health benefits such as:
- Reduced risk of blood clots
- Antimicrobial and antifungal effects
- Treatment of respiratory infections (including asthma, bronchitis and cough)
- Enhanced immune function
- Improved nutrition and diet
High doses of garlic or garlic supplements have health benefits, including:
- Anti-oxidant effects (reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease)
- Helps in lead detoxification
- Improved cholesterol levels (lowers the risk of heart disease)
- Lower blood pressure
How Can Garlic Help You Manage Diabetes?
Apart from the fact that garlic has no carbohydrates and won’t be able to increase blood sugar levels, it also has the potential to reduce fasting blood sugar.
Garlic consumption through limited research confirms that it has the potential to reduce blood sugar levels in individuals suffering from type 2 diabetes and in the treatment of other metabolic conditions.
There are many chemical components present in garlic which helps in the treatment and prevention of many diverse health issues. But it is active agents including – allicin, S-allyl cysteine sulfoxide and allyl propyl disulphide that are responsible for preventing the liver’s inactivation of insulin. This result in increasing insulin levels in the blood and the body.
Another mechanism that garlic may use to reduce blood glucose levels in diabetics is to stimulate beta-cell insulin secretion.
Due to the phytochemical antioxidants that garlic contains, cellular damages caused by free radicals can be reduced. These free radicals are unstable and unpaired electrons that help in the formation of many diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Now let’s turn on to garlic supplements. What are they?
What are Garlic Supplements?
A great way to harness and amplify the medicinal benefits of garlic is through garlic supplements. Garlic supplements contain garlic extracts including the active agents in garlic, packed into pills in concentrated forms.
You can find garlic supplements in different forms made from either – Fresh garlic, Dried garlic, Garlic oil or Aged garlic extract.
- Garlic Oil Pills
They are made from crushed garlic and offer a large dose of allicin.
The process of making garlic oil involves steam distillation, which results in a product rich in organosulfur compounds. These compounds are then dissolved in vegetable oil, encapsulated, and sold at health stores.
- Garlic Powder Pills
Dried garlic is crushed to make garlic powder. It is then made into supplemented and formulated into capsules or tablets.
Garlic powder pills retain most of their allicin content, some products use an enteric coating to mask the garlic odour to an extent.
- Aged Garlic Extract Pills
This is simply a form of garlic powder that has been deodorized through the aging process. Although most of the allicin content is lost through the aging/deodorizing process, it is still a popular form of garlic supplement because it is simply odourless.
Each of these different forms of garlic supplements may have different effects on the body, according to the Penn State Medical Center. This is mostly because of the manufacturing process and other varying additives in the supplements.
Tip: Garlic dietary supplements coated with enteric coating do not dissolve in the stomach but in the intestines, which is better and more effective.
Garlic vs Garlic Supplements – What’s the Difference?
Garlic is mostly used for culinary purposes, but because of the health benefits attached to it and the need to amplify these benefits, garlic supplements have become necessary.
Fresh garlic always releases allicin as it is crushed, minced, or eaten
Some supplements (especially aged extracts) contain little or no allicin
Difficult to maintain daily dose consistency
Easy to maintain a daily dose
Leaves lingering mouth odour when consumed raw
Some supplements (odourless) leaves no odour when consumed
Versatile and easy to add into almost any dish
Can only be taken orally as pills
Types of Garlic Supplements (e.g. Odourless vs With Odour)
Garlic supplements often vary in their allicin content; thus their effectiveness also varies.
- Garlic supplement (odourless)
If you are worried about the odour that accompanies garlic consumption, there are garlic supplements that have been aged to reduce odour. The downside though, is that odourless garlic extracts contain very little to no allicin.
The ageing process of these garlic products reduces the already unstable allicin (the active ingredient in garlic), making it less effective.
- Garlic supplement (with odour)
Some garlic powders and extracts try to reduce their odour only a little, but they, in turn, contain more allicin than the odour-controlled version. So even if garlic pills with odour may have more benefits to offer, the pungent odour is still unbearable for some people.
Are Garlic Pills as Good as Raw Garlic?
Garlic pills are suitable for pregnant women who find it difficult to consume raw garlic or the elderly and diabetics cutting down on calories and unable to get adequate amounts from dishes.
Allicin is usually released when a person chews or minces fresh garlic, which is why it is challenging to get enough allicin from garlic pills. There are even cases when the pill dissolves inside the stomach, and the garlic enzyme necessary to produce allicin becomes inactivated.
Nevertheless, with a consistent dose of garlic supplement containing enough allicin, it is as good as raw garlic and even better.
Are Garlic Pills as Good as Garlic Tea?
Garlic tea is a common remedy for cold symptoms, including cough and congestion.
This herbal tonic is served hot, commonly made from garlic, honey and lemon, and comes with many medicinal uses supported by some scientific research. Many of these benefits are anecdotal and yet to be proven in human research.
You need to remember that drinking garlic tea will not necessarily provide you with the same benefits as garlic pills, much less raw garlic.
Many studies and research only support the benefits of garlic from researching with raw garlic, garlic powder or garlic oil. Therefore, because garlic tea may contain very little to no allicin when compared to garlic pills, it may not be as good as other garlic options.
Benefits of Taking Garlic Pills for Diabetics – What Research Say?
Rising evidence and research studies support claims that garlic may possess beneficial components that can help in diabetes management. In a research
investigation conducted in China, patients who received daily garlic supplement over a period of one to 24 weeks showed a significant reduction in fasting blood sugar levels, after just a week.
Additionally, circulating sugar in red blood cells (HbA1c) reduced after 12 and 24 weeks of supplementation. Moreover, there was an improved blood lipid levels, which may reduce the risk of heart diseases in diabetics.
The study also suggested that allicin, an active agent found in garlic, might increase secretion of insulin from the pancreatic cells, allowing the body to absorb more glucose from the blood.
Another recent study suggested that garlic is exceptional and packed with beneficial compounds that may;
- combat chronic diseases, and
- support the treatment of type 2 diabetes complications such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol (hyperlipidaemia) and LDL (bad cholesterol), as well as
- reduce oxidative stress (a major risk factor for atherosclerosis, age-related diseases, inflammation, premature ageing and diabetes).
Some reviews, however, argue that garlic does not clinically lower blood pressure, blood glucose or cholesterol by a significant degree. Further research is, therefore, necessary to establish consistency of results on blood sugar levels.
Tip: This is our article on 5 Things You Should Consider Before Taking Garlic for Hypertension.
How Many Garlic Pills Should You Take a Day? Optimum Garlic Dosage
Consuming garlic in very high doses can be toxic, therefore supplementation should never be more than 5% of the diet. That being said, the maximum suggested dosages should be:
- 17.0 grams for 68kg person
- 22.7 grams for 90kg person
- 28.4 grams for 113kg person
There is actually no standard recommended dose for garlic pills. A clove of garlic contains between 5 – 18 mg of allicin, and research studies suggest about 300 – 1500 mg.
Here are some suggested garlic doses to be taken with food:
The standard medicinal dose for diabetics is at least 2 cloves of garlic a day or 900 mg/day of powder extract, which contains about 4-5 mg of allicin potential.
You can consume more if your body tolerates it and if there is no drastic drop in glucose levels, and your doctor recommends you to do so.
250 mg/day of aged garlic extract for up to 12 months, or 300 – 1000 mg/day of garlic powder pill for up to 4 years.
- High Cholesterol
300 mg twice a day of garlic powder pill for 12 weeks. Or, 1000 – 7200 mg of aged garlic extract a day in divided doses for 4- 6 months.
- High Blood pressure
Garlic powder dosage based on antihypertensive trails ranges from 300 – 2400 mg/day, in divided doses, for a period of 24 weeks.
- Prostate Cancer and Cold
Through evaluations from clinical trials, you need at least 5.5 g of fresh garlic, or 1 mg/kg of water-soluble garlic extract a day for a month for the prevention of prostate cancer.
A 180 mg of allicin per day for prevention of common cold.
Again, I cannot stress enough – Remember to consult with your doctor if ever you get confused and need help with how much allicin dose you need.
When You Should Take Garlic Pills to Manage Diabetes?
Establishing the full extent of the effectiveness of garlic pills in the treatment of diabetes requires further research. However, cooked or raw garlic have been found to help in the regulation of fasting blood glucose.
Garlic pills may also help in the prevention and/or treatment of conditions and complications associated with diabetes. It believed to have effects on:
- Bad cholesterol or Low-Density Lipids (LDL)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Cardiovascular conditions (such as arteriosclerosis)
- Anti-inflammation and anti-microbial
- Fasting blood glucose reduction
- Better blood circulation
- Fortification of the immune system
When You Should Not Take Garlic Pills to Manage Diabetes?
If your diabetes status falls under any of the below, you should not consider garlic pills, without a specialists advice.
- If you already have high blood pressure with diabetes, then garlic pills will help in lowering it. On the other hand, it is not advisable to use garlic supplements if you have low blood pressure because it may cause your blood pressure to reduce to dangerously low levels.
- In the case where you have to undergo surgery, you are bleeding or having a bleeding disorder, it is not advisable to take garlic pills as it can prolong or even increase bleeding. Never take garlic pills before surgery or stop taking it at least 2 weeks before surgery.
Possible Side Effects of Taking Garlic Pills
Pregnant or lactating women can consume garlic pills, although it may influence the infant’s behaviour when breast-feeding mothers consume it. The impact on an infant’s behaviour includes increased sucking and prolonged attachment to the breast.
Garlic is typically safe to eat, but if you are increasing your garlic intake with garlic pills, you may have to deal with its strong taste and odour. Consuming too much of it can leave you with bad breath and even cause potent body odour.
Consuming garlic in high doses can worsen or contribute to:
- Diarrhea and gas
- Risk of bleeding (especially not recommended after surgery).
- Liver damage
- If you are allergic to garlic, do not take garlic pills.
- If you are sensitive to dairy, check the label on garlic supplement to determine its ingredients.
- Garlic pills may also interact with other medication such as vitamin E, Warfarin or high dose fish oil and other anticoagulants, and medication for the treatment of HIV infection.
If you have any of the following conditions, consult with your doctor and find out if it is safe for you to take garlic pills:
- Digestion problems
- Stomach ulcer
- Blood clotting or a bleeding disorder (like haemophilia) or if you are taking a blood thinner.
- At the risk of heart failure, hypoglycemia
- Children under the age of 18
Best Garlic Supplements for Diabetes
It is important that you bear in mind that these pills are only suggested supplements that you can add to your diet, and not for treating already existing or adverse conditions.
Remember to consult with your doctor first before taking supplements for health conditions.
The following supplements are listed among the best by considering their capsule coating, allicin content, purity and quality.
- Nature’s Way Garlinase 5000
Every 320mg enteric-coated tablet of Nature’s Way Garlinase delivers 5000 mcg allicin, which is just great.
This garlic supplement is not aged to better harness the beneficial properties of allicin. At the same time, its enteric coating ensures the tablets get to where you need it (small intestine) instead of the stomach and avoid bad breath.
The product contains other additional ingredients. It does have some garlic odour, but it does not linger on the breath.
- Zhou Nutrition Garlic
Other supplements focus on dishing out an equivalent dose of raw garlic, but Zhou Nutrition delivers at least 5000 micrograms (mcg) of allicin.
Encapsulated with an enteric coating, Zhou Nutrition allicin-focused garlic supplement is a great choice although it contains other additional ingredients.
- BRI Nutrition Odorless Garlic Extra Strength
This product combines garlic, parsley and chlorophyll to deliver a potent supplement adept at anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and better cognitive function.
Each 1000mg softgel is capsuled with gelatin coating and contains other additional ingredients.
- Puritan’s Pride Odorless Garlic
Using a special acid-processing step, Puritan’s Pride neutralizes the enzymes that cause garlic to smell.
Each 1000mg soft-gel capsule in gelatin casing contains potent garlic extract dissolved in soybean oil without additional ingredients.
- Sundown Naturals Odorless Garlic
This is a simple soft-gel garlic supplement of 1000mg garlic extract with gelatin coating. There is not much fault to find in this garlic supplement, except it is not vegan friendly due to its gelatin coating.
- Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract Formula 100
Kyolic uses organic garlic, and a special aging process, which they claim reduces garlic odour, while improving the potency and bioavailability of the garlic powder.
Even then, because the garlic content is low, you will need a higher dose to get the same result when compared with a different supplement.
It also uses whey (a milk derivative) as a binder, not a good choice for anyone sensitive to dairy.
Garlic is indeed among the first natural remedies used in the treatment of ailments and sustaining good health. After many centuries of conventional medicine in the West, it is encouraging to see this generation embracing holistic and natural medicines.
Although the scientific community still has their doubts and inconclusive evidence from researching with garlic regarding its benefits to diabetes, the medicinal properties of garlic are undeniable.
Nonetheless, modern science continues to actively pursue and research in order to validate and establish claims concerning the effectiveness of garlic in the treatment of diabetes, among other ailments.
Finally, garlic pill is just a dietary supplement and should not be used as a replacement for medical treatment. Always remember to consult with your doctor before taking garlic supplements or any supplement for that matter.