By Cathy Schram

The 411 on Garlic and Milk Thistle Tea

Q: I know that garlic has numerous health benefits, but I simply cannot stand the taste of garlic. When I take it in pill form, I still taste it and sometimes even smell like it. What can I do?

A: If there was only one herb that you were going to take, I would recommend garlic. Fresh garlic can cause bad breath, indigestion and create an unpleasant smell on your skin. This is due to the allicin, an oxidant that is released when a clove is cut or chewed. However, studies have shown that garlic does not have to be fresh, nor its smell required in order to obtain health benefits.

The other option is called Aged Garlic Extract (AGE). It is a concentrated form of garlic that still retains its allicin content, yet is completely odorless.

Here are some of the health benefits of AGE:

  • Has anticancer activity, prevents free radical damage
  • Boosts immunity and protects against viral, bacterial and yeast infections
  • Helps reduce fatigue and stress
  • Protects against toxic effects of pollution, radiation and drug toxicity
  • Has been shown to help reduce blood pressure and/or cholesterol levels
  • Has anti-aging effects, enhances memory and stimulates neuron growth in the brain

Garlic is very safe and has no known side effects other than it is a mild blood thinner so be careful if you are taking other blood thinners.

Q: I’ve been drinking milk thistle tea to help protect my liver but my friend says that I should take the pills instead. Why?

A: I am so glad that you know that milk thistle helps protect your liver; however, your friend is right. The active component of milk thistle is silmarin. Silmarin is not water-soluble and when you make tea, the herb is steeped in water, thereby making it ineffective at protecting the liver.
Our livers are mighty organs. They filter out damaging agents that we take in by eating, drinking, breathing or absorbing through the skin. It has a big job to do. It also produces bile to help break down fats and carbohydrates. It even regulates hormones like testosterone and estrogen. Did you know that once damaged, the liver can actually heal and regenerate itself? Silmarin speeds up this process.

This herb information is for health education purposes only. It is not intended to replace the services of licensed health practitioners. Consult with a physician for any condition that requires professional care.

Do you have questions about herbs or vitamins? Send them to Cathy Schram, CNHP and Certified Herbalist. Write to: Herbs & More, 16021 Manchester Rd., Ellisville, MO 63011.