The Discovery Health Channel recently ran a program about garlic and how its effect may be similar to those of the male enhancement drug, Viagra. The study involved eight middle-aged, English men suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED) who would, in conjunction with a diet consisting exclusively of fruits and vegetables, consume four cloves of garlic a day for 12 days. While the suspense was (and is) immense, let’s examine how Viagra became so famous in such a short time.
Sometime ago, researchers at the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer were trying to find a medication that would improve cardiovascular function and decrease both chest pain and blood pressure. In one of those classic blunders – remember the discovery of penicillin – the drug being tested lacked effectiveness for its intended purpose but had a side effect of increasing blood flow to the male reproductive organ. The rest, as they say, is history; what makes us stand at attention here is that garlic may hold similar effects, albeit with fewer risks since garlic is naturally occurring.
Allium sativum L., or garlic, is in the onion family Alliaceae and, according to research, is one of nature’s most promising and readily available herbs. The University of Maryland’s Medical website claims, though the research is not definitive, that garlic can help prevent heart disease (including atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup in the arteries that can block the flow of blood and possibly lead to heart attacks or strokes), high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, while also improving the immune system. Since impotence is frequently caused by problems with blood flow, garlic’s effects logically would help with ED.
A study published in 2000 by the US Department of Health and Human Services found that using garlic helped reduce the chances of cardiac complications; however garlic appeared to do little to decrease levels of bad cholesterol. Of the eight men in the British study mentioned above, six of them showed increased activity and blood flow. However, before you run out to the store and start warding off vampires, look at the other factor that was included in this experiment: for twelve days, the patients consumed no fatty foods, coffee, or anything else that did not come directly from the ground to the table. This fact indicates that garlic alone may not return life to the bedroom. Eating healthily, as any doctor will agree, is the best way to extend the life of the entire body. This study supports that fact more than any other.
What can be taken from this study is that while your local grocer may have the natural cure for ED, nature works more slowly than artificial medications. Do not expect overnight success from minor dietary changes. An all-round healthy diet and lifestyle will, over time, may produce the same effects as the medical substitutes. Considering that these men consumed more garlic at one time than most of us would in one week, if you try this option you should expect some side effects – especially the fact that your breath might be able to strip paint.
Even if you aren’t concerned with ED, think about the other healthy effects of garlic, that staple of Italian food. Enjoying the natural herbs and vegetables so common in the cuisine, you can gain other health benefits from the garlic such as the antioxidant which decreases the chance of developing certain types of cancer. Keep an open mind and, as with anything new, consult the family doctor to make sure that it is a safe option before you try it.