What's Happening

Health and well-being through rain forest botanicals and sustainable living

Garlic: One of Nature’s Anti-Cancer Miracles

The following article is reprinted from the Puna Wai Ora Mind-Body Cancer Clinic and Healing Center in New Zealand, which provides holistic and integrative cancer treatment to heal the root emotional cause of cancer.


“Garlic has long been used to treat and cure cancer throughout the ages, dating back to Hippocrates who recommended his patients eat large amounts of crushed garlic to cure their cancer.

“If you choose to take garlic as an anti-fungal to heal your cancer (see the Cancer-Fungus Link) a minimum amount to take would be 5-6 cloves of (crushed) garlic per day.  There are about 12 cloves per whole pod of garlic.  Let them sit for at least 15 minutes after they have been crushed.   This amount of time is needed to release an enzyme (allinase) that produces these anti-fungal, anti-cancer compounds.

“You can eat the raw or cooked garlic as part of sandwiches or other meals.  Studies have shown that garlic supplements do not produce the same anti-cancer, anti-fungal results.

The National Cancer Institute states:  “Protective (cancer) effects from garlic may arise from its anti-bacterial properties, or from its ability to block the formation of cancer-causing substances, halt the activation of cancer-causing substances, enhance DNA repair, reduce cell proliferation, or induce cell death. 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 anti-cancer properties.”


Below are a list of studies undertaken demonstrating the effects of garlic to treat and cure cancer.

1. Natural Killer cells are the most powerful infection fighting cells in the white blood cell arsenal. NK cells kill cancer cells, viruses, fungus and bacteria. A study published in the German Medical Journal “Deutsche Zeitshrift” reports on the results of 7 patients taking 5 grams of garlic daily. They said that “6 of the 7 patients had normal NK cell activity after 6 weeks and that all had normal NK activity after 12 weeks.”

2. BBC News:  Scientists have uncovered fresh evidence that garlic can protect against some forms of cancer. The research, by a team from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, shows that people who eat raw or cooked garlic regularly cut their risk of stomach cancer by about a half compared with those who eat none.  They also cut their risk of colorectal cancer by as much as two-thirds. Lead researcher Professor Lenore Arab said: “There seems to be a strong, consistent protective effect for people who are regular garlic consumers.  “It doesn’t matter if they’re consuming garlic in China or in the United States, the effect is still there.” However, the researchers found no such benefit from taking garlic supplements. Professor Arab said it might be possible that this could be that the active ingredients are being destroyed in processing or by sitting on store shelves for a long time.  The researchers based their findings on data from 22 previous studies from around the world on the impact of garlic on cancer.  Many scientists believe garlic helps prevent stomach cancer because it has anti-bacterial effects against a bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, found in the stomach and known to promote cancer there.

3. The biggest study ever conducted in the history of garlic supplementation, a 7 year long clinical study was undertaken to determine aged garlic extract effects on stomach cancer and serious digestive problems that can lead to gastric cancers. It was performed through collaboration of National Cancer Institute (NCI) and leading Chinese researchers, who tested to see if aged garlic supplementation would significantly affect or reduce precancerous gastric lesions. The clinical study was double-blinded and randomized, with over 3,000 human subjects. It was led by Dr. Mitchell Gail at NCI and Dr. Wei-Cheng You at the Beijing Institute for Cancer Research.

Preliminary results of this study showed that people with the highest intake of allium-containing vegetables, like aged garlic, had only 40% of the risk of gastric cancers as those who rarely ate them.  Also from the Chinese study was another surprising finding: when researchers used aged garlic extract in combination with antibiotics to treat people with precancerous stomach lesions caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, 76% were completely healed. “It’s a very large and long-term study. We’re still sifting through the data, but we expect to report on it by the end of this year,” said Dr. Gail.

4. Professor Michael Wargovich at the University of Texas studied the effects of two major purified components of garlic – dialylsulphide (DAS) and S-allyl cysteine. He tested these compounds on two animal carcinoma models and found that tumors could be reduced by 50 to 75% He then gave his controls a prophylactic dose of garlic and then deliberately tried to induce a virulent form of esophageal cancer. He found that garlic completely prevented his experimental controls from becoming infected. He concluded that although the precise mechanism may not be clear, the administration of well tolerated garlic products may confer protection from cancer.

5.  In Dr. Earl Mindell’s Garlic: The Miracle Nutrient, a 1957 study in the journal Science reported that researchers incubated sarcoma tumor cells with the garlic compound Allinase and S-ethyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide, then injected the tumor cells into mice. Tumor growth was completely inhibited and the mice survived beyond the sixth month observation period according to researchers.  Mice injected with the tumor cells only (without the garlic compound), survived only 2 months. In another study, for cancer, it is found to be effective. Trasplanted tumours of Jensen sarcoma in rats regressed, and in some cases, completely disappeared after the injection of 1-3 mg of ‘Allicin’, an active fraction of garlic was given directly into the tumour.

“In 1973,” Mindell continued, “a Japanese researcher treated a variety of tumor cell types with fresh garlic extract, then injected the tumor cells into mice. According to the results published in the Japanese Journal of Hygiene, tumor development in the mice was ‘reversed.’ The same researcher was successful in inhibiting mammary tumors and other sarcomas with a solution of fresh garlic extract.”  Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, prescribed eating garlic as treatment for cancers.

6. In a study which appeared in a recent 1997 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, New York City’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s John T. Pinto, Ph.D., and colleagues, looked at the effects of major water-soluble compounds derived from aged garlic extract (S-allylcysteine and S-allylmercaptocysteine) on cultured (test-tube) human prostate cancer cells. The study found: 1) “Within 30 minutes of exposure” to either of the compounds, proteins that are usually “hopped up” (present at heightened levels) as prostate tumors grow were suppressed; 2) intracellular levels of the reduced (antioxidant) form of glutathione were increased; and 3) a special enzyme (ornithine decarboxylase) which helps produce those “bad-guy” proteins was blocked.  A series of breast cancer studies by Pennsylvania State University’s J.A. Milner, and colleagues (Carcinogenesis, 1992 & 1993 and Journal of Nutrition, 1996) reported that aged garlic extract significantly prevented [blocked] breast cancer in both the beginning (initiation) and later (promotion) stages. The compound, S-allylcysteine (SAC), by itself, also reduced the initiation of breast cancer.

7.  A study conducted by scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina [MUSC] have proven that garlic and its organo-sulfur compounds are effective inhibitors of the cancer process in glioblastoma, a type of brain tumor equivalent to a death sentence within a short period after diagnosis.

Swapan Ray, Ph.D.(MUSC Neurosciences/Neurology associate professor), Naren Banik, Ph.D. (MUSC Neurosciences/Neurology professor), and Arabinda Das, Ph.D. (MUSC Neurosciences/Neurology post-doctoral fellow) studied three pure organo-sulfur compounds (DAS, DADS, and DATS) from garlic and the interaction each had with human glioblastoma cells. All three compounds demonstrated efficacy in eradicating brain cancer cells, but DATS (with three sulfur atoms) proved to be the most effective, lending more support to previous studies of that particular compound. The study will be published in the September issue of Cancer, which is the premier journal of the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Cancer cells are known to have an incredibly high metabolism, as they require much energy to divide cells for rapid growth. In this study, it has been shown that garlic compounds produce reactive oxygen species in rapidly growing brain cancer cells, essentially gorging them to death with activation of multiple death cascades.

“This research highlights the great promise of plant-originated compounds as natural medicine for controlling the malignant growth of human brain tumor cells,” Ray said. “However, more studies are needed in animal models of brain tumors before application of this therapeutic strategy to brain tumor patients.”

Banik is highly enthusiastic about this discovery. “Our basic studies will eventually be translated to the clinics for patient care. Although we may have to wait several years before its application to humans, the significance of this discovery is enormous. The benefits from this research to brain cancer patients will bring great satisfaction to the researchers and clinicians who are now trying to find a successful treatment for this devastating cancer.”

Although there are several more steps, including animal and human trials, before brain tumor patients could receive garlic compound-based treatments, Ray and Banik are optimistic about the possible applications of their discovery to patient care. Garlic-derived organo-sulfur compounds are small molecules that would not necessarily require complicated methods of delivery for treating brain tumor patients, the scientists said, and by virtue of their natural origin are probably better for the human body than synthetic treatment options.

Ray has already received two R01 grants (combined funding of approximately $2.5 million), one from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and another from the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (NINDS), to support his neuro-oncology research program. He has a productive research team that includes five post-doctoral fellows.

As for those who seek to take advantage of any potential anti-cancer benefits from garlic now, certain rules apply. Ray said people should cut and peel a piece of fresh garlic and let it sit for fifteen minutes before eating or cooking it. This amount of time is needed to release an enzyme (allinase) that produces these anti-cancer compounds. Both Ray and Banik caution the public in eating too much garlic, noting that too much of it can cause diarrhea, allergies, internal bleeding, and bad breath and body odour, among other problems, so it is important to monitor garlic consumption.

8.  A major Japanese study by Hiroshima University Hospital, Deparment of Internal Medicine, Kawasaki Medical School, and Onomichi General Hospital, conducted a human clinical trial on the effect of Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) on colorectal adenomas (tumour growth).  Patients enrolled in this clinical study were between 40 and 79 y old, who were determined by colonoscopy to be carrying colorectal adenomas.  Among 51 enrolled patients (25 in the active group, 26 in the control group), 37 patients (19 in the active group, 18 in the control group) completed the study.

Two dosage preparations of AGE were used.  An active, high-dose form consisted of six capsules of high AGE, containing the equivalent of 2.4 mL of AGE daily.  The control, low-dose form consisted of six capsules, containing the equivalent of 0.16 mL of AGE daily.

Due to IRB approval and ethical reasons, in addition to the blinded manner, a low concentration of AGE was needed to function as the control preparation because patients in both groups carried colon cancer.  Each eligible subject was randomly assigned to each test preparation (high dose or low dose) in order of enrollment and took it at a dose of three capsules twice a day for 12 months.
Follow-up large bowel endoscopy was performed at 6 and 12 months after intake of either preparation, and the endoscopists recorded the location and size of any and all colorectal adenomas (tumour growths).
The number of adenomas in the control group proportionally increased to 0.56 ± 0.22 (mean ± SE) at 6 months after study initiation, and 1.44 ± 0.41 at 12 months, whereas the number of adenomas in the active group was suppressed to 0.68 ± 0.38 at 12 months (P < 0.05).  The change in the total size of adenomas was similar to the number of adenomas, and there was a significant difference between the two groups both at 6 and 12 months (P = 0.04).

The number of adenomas increased to 0.50 ± 0.29 (n = 4) at 12 months in the control group, whereas those in the active group decreased to 0.63 ± 0.32 (n = 8) at 12 months.  The total size of adenomas during the period of 6 to 12 months increased to 2.56 ± 1.04 mm (n = 9) in the control group and decreased to 0.86 ± 1.08 mm (n = 14) in the active group compared with the control group (P = 0.03).

Conclusions: The results of this trial, and of previous epidemiological and basic studies that are supportive and consistent with this trial, suggest that Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) has a suppressive effect on progression of colorectal adenomas in humans.  This effect seems to be multi-factorial and reduces many risk factors of cancer.  It is urgently necessary to perform larger scale investigations to confirm this trial and its positive effects.”

Garlic, our lowly, smelly garlic, is truly a medical marvel. Anti-biotic, anti-cancer, anti-viral…it lowers cholesterol, reduces blood pressure, promotes healthy cardiovascular functioning…AND…wait…it makes your foods delicious!

Recipe for Healthy Salad Dressing or Marinade:

6 cloves of crushed garlic

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup extra virgin cold pressed olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

dash of worchestshire sauce

1/4 teaspoon of coarse  ground mustard

Wisk it up and use it to dress your salad greens, your cooked vegetables, as a topping for grilled fish or chicken. Enjoy good health with garlic!

(recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Worley’s grandmother, her beloved ‘Danny,’ who used garlic with flare and daring!).