Arthritis affects 3.85 million Australians and is the leading cause of chronic pain and disability in Australia. It causes significant debilitation, pain, loss of movement and affects both mental and physical health. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and affects 8-10% of all men and women. It usually occurs in middle-aged and older adults. The benefits of complementary medicines such as fish oil, glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis have been demonstrated in numerous clinical studies.
Garlic & Osteoarthritis
Did you know that consuming large quantities of garlic and similar vegetables may help protect you from developing osteoarthritis? In a study involving 1,086 female twins aged 46-77 years, researchers monitored participants’ diets over an average of nine years and used x-rays to check for osteoarthritis in their hands, knees or hips.
The results showed that eating a diet rich in garlic and other vegetables from the allium family (which includes onions, leeks, shallots and chives) had a significant association with reduced rates of osteoarthritis at any site. Non-citrus fruits such as apples, pears and stone fruit were also strongly associated with reduced osteoarthritis rates in general and eating large quantities of fruit and vegetables of all varieties was specifically shown to help reduce the rates of osteoarthritis of the hip.
How could it work?
When garlic and other allium vegetables are crushed or chopped, a compound they contain called alliin is converted to a new compound, allicin. Allicin breaks down quite quickly and as it does so, it releases sulfur-containing compounds that are considered responsible for many of the herb’s medicinal actions.
Researchers believe that the potential effects of garlic against osteoarthritis could be due to some of these compounds, including diallyl disulphide (DADS), which may inhibit certain enzymes that have degrading effects on cartilage and diallyl sulphide (DAS), which may have anti-inflammatory effects on the joints.
What else is garlic good for?
Garlic has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antiprotozoal properties, and helps to enhance the immune system response. Consequently it has traditionally been used for a wide range of conditions, including upper respiratory complaints like coughs and sinusitis and fungal infections such as Candida albicans. Garlic also has antioxidant properties, and supports the health of the heart, blood vessels and blood flow, and may provide nutritional support for normal cholesterol and triglyceride levels in healthy individuals.