This is a reprint of a guest article Dr. Duke gave me last year. It was posted previously on my blog WaveFunctionCollapse.com.
Garlic and Lung Cancer by Dr. Jim Duke, Ph.D.
I’ve had a deep hacking cough in need of an expectorant this month, and garlic is breaking it up very nicely. I’ve never eaten garlic so many ways — cooked, in my soups and stews and bean dishes, a garlic hot-dog-be-gone (like a hotdog with all the trimmings, onion, garlic, mustard, ketchup, pickle relish, but no hot dog), garlic butter on my garlic toast, garlic/olive oil/chile/vinegrette on my salads, garlic-stuffed olives, cooked garlic seed (which look and taste just like miniature garlic cloves, but you don’t have to dig them. They are close to mouth high here in the Green Farmacy Garden. Almost too hot to eat raw, that heat will open the sinuses, if not threaten an incipient cancer. Seeds are quite pleasant after boiling, when I munch on them, 5-10 an hour. And dangerously, I peeled and swallowed a couple whole, medium-sized cloves, knowing that the herbalists always recommend a clove a day. They slipped down pretty easily. (But don’t you bloggers try this.) I have even strung myself a new garlic necklace, to keep the vampires away, if not anthrax and cancer. (I have evidence that it works against all three.)
With Peter Jennings expiring due to lung cancer this month and Dana Reeve coming out of the lung cancer closet, ex-smokers are seeking advice on how they might improve their odds against this quick and dirty killer, lung cancer. It dawned on me as I expired the heat of fresh garlic, that there was no herb better equipped to deliver medicinal power and punch to the lungs. Some garlic chemicals are expired within just a few minutes after ingestion. They can even be detected in the breath of nursing babies whose mothers ingested garlic. I have a 52-page printout of the hundreds of herbs that have folkloric anticancer reputations, and, like a Gatesian magician, my computer has moved the most important of these hundreds of herbs to the top of the 52 pages. And voila, what I would call a dynamic duo of superstar herbs, garlic and green tea. I’d take both if I were genetically or environmentally targetted for lung cancer. And to further improve my luck I’d enjoy three brazilnuts a day to get that chemopreventive 200 micrograms of selenium.
I’ll just talk about the Biblical garlic today, thinking that among those 95% of Americans who pray when ill, thousands may be ex-smokers wishing they had never smoked. But if they believe that the garlic can help them, as prayer can help them, then they have two things going for them. And in this battle you need as many helpers as you can enlist. There are many other reasons that I suggest garlic. Many of its active compounds are moved thru the bloodstream to the lungs, thus getting some anticancer activity to the lungs. Additionally garlic has over a dozen immune stimulant compounds. In a great book by Koch and Lawson [Garlic — The Science and Therapeutic Application of Allium sativum L. and Related Species. 2nd Ed. 1996], we read of clinical trials whereby those who ate raw garlic doubled the immune natural killer cell activity. Diallyl sulfide significantly improved the ability of the macrophages to fight tumor cells. Koch and Lawson also recite epidemiological studies indicating that those people who consume the most garlic and onion have the fewest cancers. And pre-echoing what my Nicobase said above, Koch and Lawson say "The consumption of black or green tea,, as well as of garlic, is known to be a culinary practice which inhibits tumorigenesis in the lung, forestomach and esophagus" (p. 176). At that time they reported only one clinical trial of garlic with cancer, and it was positive though basd on injections. I’m talking food pharmacy. Remember many of the chemicals in ingested garlic go to the lungs for excretion in the breath. I failed when I went to PubMed and searched for clinical trials on lung cancer and garlic.
But again I did find this quote in one of the two abstracts that surfaced. "Among the numerous other compounds and dietary substances purported to have chemopreventive effect, soybeans, garlic, and green tea stand out as having the greatest promise and can freely be recommended to patients." (Kamat and Lamm, 2002 PubMed 12109342). Urge your congressman to urge a mandated garlic arm in future clinical trials of pharmaceuticals for lung-cancer. Garlic is a cocktail of anticancer phytochemcials, dozens of them, some of which may have just the activities needed to turn incipient or developing cancers around.
Chang, HP et al (2005) suggest that garlic oil's anticarcinogenic activities may be due to (1)antioxidant activity; (2)induction of apoptosis; (3)inhibition of DNA-adduct formation; (4)modulation of immune function and/or (5)modulation of xenobiotic-metabolizing enzyme activities. There are dozens of other phytochemical reasons. For several other useful phytochemical activities in whole garlic, consult the multiple-activity-menu site at the USDA http://www.ars-grin.gov/duke/dev/all.html . You’ll be overwhelmed by the 19-page printout you’ll get. I'll not include it in this blog, but I am willing to e-mail it to bloggers who’d like a copy. I’m convinced that this Biblical herb, so well remembered during the desparate desert ordeal, should be clinically tried in the desparate ordeal of lung cancer.