Wild Garlic and Garlic For Disease Prevention

Wild Garlic

Allium ursinum (wild garlic or ransoms), and including information on Allium sativum (garlic).

Make garlic part of your regular diet. Garlic is a readily available powerful foodstuff medicinal plant. Our native Ransoms or Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum) carries similar benefits to the common foodstuff garlic (Allium sativum). This is due to the presence of sulphur-containing compounds which are found abundantly in species in the genus Allium.

Wild Garlic has been less scientifically studied than garlic – but for garlic and other allium species containing these sulphur-containing compounds, there are a number of clinical and laboratory studies to show efficacy against a range of disorders.   

Garlic In Disease Prevention

DISEASE PREVENTION

Romans, Gaels and Celts were all familiar with Wild Garlic’s medicinal properties. They called it herba salutaris or ‘healing herb’. And so this member of the onion family is a medicinal and dietary plant species with a long tradition of use.

Garlic supports against cardiovascular disease, microbial infection, oxidative stress, cancer and supports the immune system.

Garlic’s sulphur-containing chemical ingredients are key to its action. They help protect the cardiovascular system by lowering cholesterol, blood pressure and by helping prevent blood clots (anti-platelet) action, and they help protect the body by scavenging free radicals, protecting membranes from damage and by maintaining cell integrity.

It’s garlics antimutagenic (lowering cell mutation) and antiproliferative (lowering cell growth) actions that make garlic particularly relevant in cancer preventative interventions.

FOOD IS MEDICINE

Reliance on natural foodstuff preventative medicine is key to maintain our good health. Due to scientific research, medicinal plants are finally regaining their status and popularity in the UK as preventative medicine. Medicinal plants can be used to to combat various chronic physiological threats including oxidative and inflammatory stress, cardiovascular complexities, cancer and immune and neurological dysfunction.

 

GARLIC – IMMUNNITY & CANCER

Garlic may be useful in preventing the suppression of immune response associated with an increased risk of malignancy. Garlic stimulates the proliferation of natural killers cells and other lymphocytes – white blood cells which help kill tumour cells and control immune responses, and macrophages – also a type of white blood cell that clear up dead cells and foreign bodies. 

Garlic also stimulates the release of interleukin-2 – a cytokine that stimulates other immune cells and the signals tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interferon-gamma – both of which mediate changes in cellular homeostasis following invasion by viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Garlic therefore has significant prospects as an immune booster.

 

GOOD TO KNOW

A clinical study has found that there was a significant reduction in the risk of developing gastric cancer with increasing dietary intake of allium vegetables, particularly garlic vegetables. 

Allium Vegetables

The Allium genus are the most interesting medicinal plants in restricting cancers. They include garlic, onions, leeks, chives, and shallots. These plants are used in plant medicine because of their beneficial health effects in preventing and improving numerous diseases, including cancer.

ALLIUM’S CONSTITUENTS work in various ways – such as, by being antimutagenic (reducing cell mutations), suppressing cell growth, inducing apoptosis (cell death), activating detoxification enzymes and reducing reactive oxygen species and DNA damage.

And so allium’s foodstuff medicinal plants interfere with diverse stages of the formation, growth, differentiation and metastasis of cancer cells.

THE ENGLISH PROVERB says ‘Eat leeks in Lide [March] and ramsons in May. And all the year after the physicians may play.

Harvest

Forage and harvest wild garlic from riversides and woods.  Flourishes best in light and medium, nutrient-rich, damp, but well-drained soils, in full shade and semi-shade.  All parts of the plant are edible.

Active chemical ingredients like allicin are at their highest in March and April, before flowering.

Dose is not specified other than to regularly use ‘a handful’.

 

Use Regularly

Leaves, flowers, seeds and bulbs of Wild Garlic are all edible and add a subtle garlic flavour when fresh and a sweeter flavour when cooked. Use wild garlic and chopped or sliced garlic bulbs in salads, soups, sauces, rice dishes, roasts, pesto and pasta.

Dry in small bunches in an airated location out of sunlight. Dehydrate wild garlic, or use the lowest setting on your oven with the door slightly open.

Garlic in general is effective against a range of health risks and is used as a dietary supplement, fresh or as aged garlic extract (AGE) and garlic oil etc.

CARE Well-tolerated with few side effects reported. Consult first if taking garlic at a medicinal level with anticoagulant, antiplatelet, antihypertensive and antihyperlipidaemic agents.

Caution

NOTE Do not mistake wild garlic for the poisonous Lords & Ladies / Cuckoo Pint – they both grow in the same places and look very similar.  Leaves of wild garlic are convex, broadly lanceolate and glabrous (smooth and hairless) and have one main central vein with parallel secondary veins.

Lords & Ladies on the other hand has a broad arrow shaped leaf, with a more wrinkled appearance and does not have the garlic aroma – thought this can be hard to tell if your hands already smell of wild garlic!

Key Chemicals

The distinct garlic-like aroma and taste, and its biological activity, are due to the presence of organosulfur compounds, such as alliin and methiin, which are the most characteristic constituents of Allium plants. These organosulfur compounds are believed to prevent the development of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular, liver and neurological disease, as well as allergies and arthritisWild Garlic also contains polyphenols, such as the botanically abundant gallic acid and flavonoids, and also steroidal saponins/glycosides like diosgenin.

Important

Before taking any plant at a medicinal level, always consult a NIMH (National Institute of Medical Herbalists) medical herbalist and inform your healthcare provider if you are pregnant, have any medical condition, allergy or are taking any medication.

Always be sure of the identity of your plant and grow, harvest, prepare and store your plant material following the exact guidelines – this ensures that the bioactive phytochemicals are present and stable.

Source plant medicine products from an established reputable source. Read any caution and do not exceed the recommended dose & duration – but note that there is an effective dose & duration.

Effective plant medicine is about individual prescription to your whole condition in order to get to the root of the problem, and it can take time to treat long-term conditions. When using plant medicine for the first time we recommend consulting a medical herbalist from the NIMH to find out what benefits you most.

Scientific Research

Li WQ, Zhang JY, Ma JL, Li ZX, Zhang L, Zhang Y, Guo Y, Zhou T, Li JY, Shen L, Liu WD, Han ZX, Blot WJ, Gail MH, Pan KF, You WC. Effects of Helicobacter pylori treatment and vitamin and garlic supplementation on gastric cancer incidence and mortality: follow-up of a randomized intervention trial. BMJ. 2019 Sep 11;366:l5016. doi: 10.1136/bmj.l5016. PMID: 31511230; PMCID: PMC6737461.

Ried K, Frank OR, Stocks NP. Aged garlic extract reduces blood pressure in hypertensives: a dose-response trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jan;67(1):64-70. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2012.178. Epub 2012 Nov 21. PMID: 23169470; PMCID: PMC3561616.

Heshmat-Ghahdarijani K, Soltani R, Ghanadian M, Soleymani H. The effect of Allium hirtifolium bulb on serum lipid profile in adult patients with hyperlipidemia: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2022 Nov;49:101654. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2022.101654. Epub 2022 Aug 27. PMID: 36274534.

Sobolewska D, Podolak I, Makowska-Wąs J. Allium ursinum: botanical, phytochemical and pharmacological overview. Phytochem Rev. 2015;14(1):81-97. doi: 10.1007/s11101-013-9334-0. Epub 2013 Dec 25. PMID: 25774103; PMCID: PMC4352197.

Asemani Y, Zamani N, Bayat M, Amirghofran Z. Allium vegetables for possible future of cancer treatment. Phytother Res. 2019 Dec;33(12):3019-3039. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6490. Epub 2019 Aug 29. PMID: 31464060.

Nicastro HL, Ross SA, Milner JA. Garlic and onions: their cancer prevention properties. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2015 Mar;8(3):181-9. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-14-0172. Epub 2015 Jan 13. PMID: 25586902; PMCID: PMC4366009.

Zadhoush R, Alavi-Naeini A, Feizi A, Naghshineh E, Ghazvini MR. The effect of garlic (Allium sativum) supplementation on the lipid parameters and blood pressure levels in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2021 Nov;35(11):6335-6342. doi: 10.1002/ptr.7282. Epub 2021 Sep 8. PMID: 34496450.

Choudhary PR, Jani RD, Sharma MS. Effect of Raw Crushed Garlic (Allium sativum L.) on Components of Metabolic Syndrome. J Diet Suppl. 2018 Jul 4;15(4):499-506. doi: 10.1080/19390211.2017.1358233. Epub 2017 Sep 28. PMID: 28956671.

 

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