Arthritis is a common disease with over 100 different forms known to mankind. It is a degenerative health condition that affects your joints and causes severe damage and loss of movement in the affected areas. It hinders with the day-to-day activities of the patients and could lead to surgery in chronic cases.
The best known drugs to heal the disease symptoms are the NSAIDs and the DMARDs. Apart from these various different alternate therapies can also be employed to relieve pain and inflammation.
Garlic for arthritis – Why is it effective?
Arthritis is a disease that might affect you at any age or stage in life. There is no reversing from this condition. But there are definitely ways to fight it in order to lead an ordinary life. Proper exercise and diet is equally important for arthritic patients as is regular medications.
A number of complementary or alternative therapy have also been stated in ancient texts to help relive its symptoms. While most of these remedies do not have a scientific proof-of-concept; few have been tested by the researchers and are proving to be highly effective. One such home-based remedy for arthritic pain and inflammation is – Garlic.
Garlic is a highly researched herbal product and has been used for a number of health conditions. It is a widely used and loved spice. It can even function as an aphrodisiac and is responsible for numerous other medicinal purposes. There are clinical evidence for the role of garlic in treating conditions like hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, rheumatoid arthritis, and cold. Also it has been found responsible for prevention of different types of tumours and atherosclerosis.
It is said to be responsible for strengthening the immune system and thus treating various disorders affecting the cardiovascular system, and liver. Apparently it possesses some anti-bacterial, anti-thrombotic and anti-hypertensive properties as well. Hence it is a highly useful herb and numerous studies have concluded its efficacy and safety in treating different disease conditions.
The chief factor responsible for these curative effects from garlic are its biologically active ingredients. Garlic contains sulphur-containing compounds like alliin, enzymes like alliinase, and products produced by the enzymatic reactions between alliin and alliinase; like Allicin.
8 Awesome Benefits of Garlic in Arthritis
The efficacy of garlic in the treatment of arthritis has been investigated by various research studies. The efficiency of garlic compounds with various beneficial properties have been studied in animal models as well as cell lines.
1.Garlic has anti-inflammatory action
The main symptoms of arthritis are pain and inflammation in the affected joints. Garlic extracts have anti-inflammatory properties that have beneficial effects in reducing levels of proinflammatory cytokines and preventing auto immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
The inflammatory cytokines production seen in such diseases is reduced significantly in the presence of garlic extracts.
Experimental studies conducted by Lee et al.in 2012 identified four sulfur-containing compounds from garlic that exhibit anti-inflammatory action.
The results of the study showed that these compounds inhibit the production of prostaglandins, proinflammatory cytokines and interleukin activated macrophages indicating that they have anti-inflammatory potential.
One such study also isolated a novel sulphur containing compound, thiacremonone from garlic. The study was published in the journal of Arthritis research and therapy in 2009.
The aim of the study was to investigate anti-inflammatory and arthritis properties of thiacremonone. The results suggested consumption of garlic containing thiacremonone beneficial for inflammatory and arthritic diseases.
What does this mean?
The anti-inflammatory properties of garlic can prevent pain and inflammation in the joints affected by arthritis by inhibiting production of proinflammatory cytokines, prostaglandins and interleukins which are a major cause of inflammation. It can be used effectively for treatment of arthritis.
2.It has antioxidant property
Research studies have shown that garlic and garlic extracts contain anti-oxidant compounds like allyl cysteine, alliin, allicin and allyldisulphide.
The study found that all these garlic compounds show different patterns of anti-oxidant activities like inhibition of lipid peroxidation, scavenging superoxides and hydroxyl free radicals. This property for garlic can prevent oxidative damage caused by free radicals in joints affected by arthritis.
A study published in the journal of Phytotherapy research investigated the effects of garlic as an anti-oxidant. It estimated that garlic may exert anti-oxidant properties through various mechanisms by modulating the free radicals.
The study also warns that although raw garlic may have high anti-oxidant potential, higher doses can be toxic to the heart, liver and kidney so one needs to be careful and fully aware of the dosage while consuming garlic or its supplements.
Cooked garlic in foods has not shown any adverse effects yet. It is always recommended to consult a doctor before consuming supplements.
What does this mean?
The anti-oxidant properties of garlic can prevent oxidative stress and oxidation of free radicals in the joints affected by arthritis. The inhibition of free radicals by garlic prevents damage of the joints. It also prevents cartilage damage.
3.It is a natural anti-microbial agent
Infection or septic arthritis is another type of arthritis which occurs due to an infection in the joint. The infection may be bacterial, viral or fungal and it has the ability to spread to another part of the body.
Symptoms include pain, redness swelling in the joints, fever, chills and inability to move. The joints of the knee, ankle or toe are usually susceptible to this type of arthritis.
A study published in the journal of applied and environmental microbiology in 1996 showed that a sulphur containing compound called Ajoene derived from garlic prevents platelet aggregation and exhibits a broad spectrum of anti-microbial activity.
The study found that Ajoene was capable of inhibiting the growth of a variety of gram positive bacteria at different concentrations. It showed microbicidal effects on a variety of other microorganisms. Ajoene also inhibited growth of yeast.
Another study published in the journal of Phytomedicine in 2000 reported that compounds present in garlic show greater anti-fungal activity that anti-bacterial activity. This was attributed to the presence of diallyl disulphide which was an active constituent.
The results of the study showed that garlic oils with higher amounts of diallyl disulphide showed great inhibitory activity against microorganisms.
What does this mean?
Garlic contains several active compounds that show anti-microbial properties against bacterial, fungal and viral infections that commonly cause infectious arthritis. Garlic can be used as an effective anti-microbial agent in this case.
4.It attenuates symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
A Clinical study conducted by Denisovet. al. in 1999 performed controlled trials of allisate, a preparation of Garlic produced in Russia on 30 patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
The study concluded that allisate was well tolerated by the arthritis patients and had no side effects. It improved the symptoms of arthritis and can be used as an alternative for its treatment. 86.5% cases showed good response to Garlic.
What does this mean?
Common symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis are pain, inflammation, stiffness and swelling in the affected joints. Garlic when consumed in appropriate dosage has proved to be beneficial in alleviating symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
5.It protects joints and benefits in osteoarthritis
Research studies conducted by Kings College London and university of East Anglia suggested that consuming vegetables rich in allium compound like garlic can prevent women from developing hip osteoarthritis.
The study was published in BMC Musculoskeletal disorders journal. The study highlighted that active compounds present in garlic have a beneficial effect in treating symptoms of osteoarthritis.
The compound diallyldisulphide was found to limit the amount of cartilage-damaging enzymes hence protecting the cartilage in the joints.
What does this mean?
Active ingredients of garlic protect bone and cartilage in arthritis.
6.It benefits in gout
Gout is caused due to accumulate of urate crystals in the joints leading to pain, inflammation and swelling in the affected region.
A study conducted by Lee et al. in 2009 showed that diallydisulphide which a sulfur containing compound derived from garlic has an anti-inflammatory action on joint inflammation induced in gout arthritis by urate crystals and interleukins.
The study indicated that anti-inflammatory action exerted by the compound can be used for the treatment of joint inflammation.
What does this mean?
Patients with gout arthritis suffer severe joint inflammation due to accumulation of urate crystals and interleukins in the joints. Garlic can be used for the treatment of gout as it contains sulphur compounds that show efficient anti-inflammatory activity.
7.It protects from side effects of anti-arthritic drugs
Methoxtrexate is a drug commonly prescribed for treatment of arthritis. However its use is limited as it is known to cause nephrotoxicity.
A study conducted by Ahmed et al. in 2015 determined the effect of garlic extracts in treating methoxtrexate induced nephrotoxicity on animal model. It was found that garlic improved renal function and increased renal anti-oxidant enzyme activities.
Thus garlic treatment had a reversible effect upon the nephrotoxicity caused by the anti-arthritis drug.
Non steroidal drugs used for the treatment of arthritis have shown signs of gastric damage. A animal study conducted by Choi et al. in 2014 on rats showed the protective effects of garlic against such anti-arthritic drugs.
The results strongly suggested that a sulphur containing compound present in garlic exerted gastroprotective activity against acute gastric mucosal damage caused by the anti-arthritis drug. It suppressed the proinflammatory cytokines and increased production of mucous.
What does this mean?
Anti-athritis drugs have shown adverse side effects like nephrotoxicity and gastric mucosal damage. Garlic can be used as an alternative to these drugs as it is a natural product or it can be used in combination with these drugs to suppress their side effects.
8. It benefits in metabolic health and protects heart
Garlic has beneficial effects in maintaining a healthy metabolic state in people suffering from arthritis and other disorders. It has been observed that patients with arthritis are at a a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and high levels of blood pressure.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical nutrition described an experiment wherein administration of garlic in patients suffering from coronary heart disease resulted in low serum cholesterol levels and triacylglycerols and increased levels of good cholesterol in the blood.
It also reduced levels of bad cholesterol. The study concluded that essential oils found in garlic lead to hypolipidemic action in both healthy individuals and patients with the heart disease.
Another experimental study suggested that consumption of raw garlic can be more beneficial than cooked garlic in reducing blood lipid and glucose levels preventing risk of atherosclerosis and diabetes. Research proves that garlic can lower cholesterol levels. All these factors lower risk of developing heart diseases.
Research studies suggest the intake of garlic for reducing blood pressure. In a study conducted by Reinhart et al. it was revealed that garlic reduced blood pressure in patients having systolic blood pressure but not in those without systolic blood pressure.
What does this mean?
Garlic reduces blood pressure, cholesterol levels in the blood and hypertension. Consumption of garlic regularly can keep cardiovascular diseases at bay hence reducing risks to metabolic heart and health.
Dosage of Garlic For Arthritis
No side effects were observed in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis when they were treated with a dose of 300mg of Garlic preparation, allisate for a span of 4-6 weeks twice a day.
The dose was well tolerated by the patients.
Studies suggest that consuming half to one clove of fresh garlic may have a cholesterol lowering effect up to 9%. 7.2 g of aged garlic is associated with anti-clotting in reducing blood pressure.
Garlic can be consumed by peeling 1-2 cloves of fresh garlic daily. Raw garlic may cause irritation in the digestive tract in some people, to reduce this effect it can be roasted or mashed for easier digestion.
It can be made in the form of paste and applied on bread. Garlic oil can be used for topical application. When consuming garlic supplements the amount of allicin present in it must be taken into consideration. One can consult the doctor before consuming supplements.
Consumption of garlic may cause body and breath odor, heartburn or an upset stomach in some people. These side effects are seen usually when raw garlic is consumed.
Allergic reactions to garlic like rashes, itching and swelling are very rare. One must consult a doctor if any such symptoms or allergies appear.
Garlic is known to cause or increase risk of bleeding problems. People who use blood thinners or are going for a surgery must consult the doctor before taking garlic supplements.
Garlic has been found to interact with certain drugs like drugs used to treat HIV infection. People on medication must seek a doctor’s advice before consuming garlic dietary supplements.
Proper exercise and diet is equally important for arthritis patients along with nutrition supplements. Garlic is an excellent herbal remedy to cure symptoms related to arthritis.
It is one of the oldest home remedies used to treat arthritis when consumed orally or applied on the affected area to strengthen the joints. Its numerous health benefits outweigh the rare minor side effects caused by its consumption like bad breath.
Garlic can definitely be incorporated as a dietary supplement in appropriated dosages for relieving pain and inflammation caused by people affected by arthritis.