Because I write about health topics, I get a lot of spam emails from people who want to sell me magic pills that cure diseases. Today I got one from somebody who said that garlic pills can cure diverticulitis. Let’s examine that claim.
In order to cure diverticulitis, a pill would have to do one of five things.
- It could make diverticula go away, returning your colon to pristine condition.
- It could repair torn diverticula.
- It could prevent diverticula from forming.
- It could kill off the dangerous infection that has formed in someone suffering from a diverticulitis attack.
- It could prevent infection from forming in the gut of a person who has diverticula.
Taking them one at a time:
Make diverticula go away. There is no evidence of any chemical anywhere that can make diverticula go away. Once you have diverticula, the only way to get rid of them is for a doctor to surgically cut them away.
(Fortunately, most people never have any problems with their diverticula, so there’s no need to perform surgery merely to eliminate diverticula that have formed.)
Repair torn diverticula. This condition is more critical than merely having diverticula. Now, those diverticula have torn open and they’re releasing poisons into your body. Again, there’s no evidence that garlic pills can make your body knit those wounds closed. And the pills certainly can’t take out a needle & thread, and sew up the tears!
Prevent diverticula from forming. Diverticula form because a person’s diet doesn’t have enough fiber. That is, plain and simple, the root cause of the problem. Theoretically, you could get your fiber by eating about 300 garlic cloves every day.
Of course nobody will do that. A more reasonable amount of consumption, like five or six cloves per day, will bring you less than one total gram of dietary fiber. That’s negligible when your aim is thirty or forty grams of fiber per day.
That tells us that garlic can’t be effective in preventing diverticula from forming. But don’t go away, because we still need to look at whether garlic can fight bacteria.
Fighting infection. Whether you’re trying to beat off an infection you already have, or you’re trying to prevent an infection from forming, garlic could be valuable if it has antibiotic properties. Does it?
My reference books tell me that garlic has actually shown itself in to be an effective antibiotic in laboratory tests. The results have been consistent for more than 150 years: garlic kills bacteria. Tests show that the chemical doing the work is the one called allicin. It actually works!
But there’s a catch that the makers of garlic pills aren’t telling us about. Allicin disappears when garlic is cooked, powdered, or processed. That means that garlic pills can’t deliver the same health-giving results that raw garlic brings us.
Eat fresh garlic if you want to help your body cure diverticulitis. Don’t buy garlic pills!