Garlic, also known as allium sativum, is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. Garlic is an herb and has been affectionately referred to as “The Stinking Rose.” Most of us are familiar with garlic’s use when it relates to preparing and flavoring food. Some of my favorite recipes contain garlic. I can’t imagine cooking without it.
Garlic is one of the most beneficial foods, treasured around the globe for its incomparable character. Pungent in a raw state, but when cooked, garlic surges to a sweetly mellow mood. Size matters—the more it is minced, the stronger the flavor. Be wary of overcooking, especially when sauteing. Burned garlic has a bitter flavor that will permeate the dish.
For thousands of years, Garlic has been used for both culinary purposes and for its therapeutic benefits. Healers have always found it to have miraculous effects and kept their medicine chests well supplied with it. Garlic contains volatile oils and sulfurous compounds that are responsible for both its pungent odor and its medicinal properties.
There is no one particular panacea for everything. But through the ages, people have attributed qualities to certain foods, teas, herbs and oils. Garlic has been regarded as a remedy for a diversity of ailments.
How Garlic Can Improve Your Health
Garlic has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that fight a variety of disorders.
In ancient Egypt, garlic was standard treatment for wounds, infections, tumors, heart disease, lack of stamina and intestinal parasites.
Ancient Greeks and Romans used garlic for some of the above as well as asthma, leprosy, bladder infections and repelling scorpions.
African farmers chewed the herb in the field, believing it relieved them from the hot sun.
Native Americans used it for hoarseness, coughs and croup.
During the Middle Ages garlic was thought to be an antidote for the plague sweeping Europe and patients were dosed with the herb. As double protection, braids of garlic bulbs hung across doorways to prevent entrance to evil spirits inciting the disease.
In 1858, the French Microbiologist, Louis Pasteur conducted experiments that showed garlic’s bacteria-killing abilities. The antibacterial and antiviral properties of garlic are perhaps its most legendary features.
Long before antibiotics were readily available, garlic application was used for lacerations and cuts. During both World War I and II, soldiers were given garlic to prevent gangrene. It was also used as an antiseptic to prevent wound infection.
Garlic has been used for the treatment of the following:
- Stomach Ache
- Sinus Congestion
- Hay Fever
- Cold and Flu
- Stress and Fatigue
- Diabetes Management
- Traveler’s Diarrhea
- Preventing Tick Bites
- Intestinal Parasites (Roundworms)
- Vaginal Infections
- Healthy Liver Function
- Jock Itch
- Athlete’s Foot
The sulfur compounds that imbue garlic with its characteristic odor and flavor are believed to be responsible for its health benefits, including enhancing immune function and increasing the activity of enzymes that break down carcinogens. In addition to sulfur, garlic is rich in selenium, an essential trace mineral that helps protect against cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute, studies show that an increased intake of garlic is associated with a lowered risk of breast, colon, esophagus, pancreatic and stomach cancers.
Some people use garlic for the prevention of cancer:
- Colon Cancer
- Rectal Cancer
- Stomach Cancer
- Breast Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Bladder Cancer
Crushed garlic seems to offer the strongest cancer protection. By crushing the garlic, it activates enzymes that create protective compounds. According to the Herb Research Foundation, a typical daily dosage of garlic is 600 to 900 mg of powdered garlic in capsule or tablet form. This could also be taken as 4 mL of aged garlic liquid extract, 10 mg of garlic oil capsules OR as one medium clove of fresh garlic. Consumption of raw garlic usually yields the best results. You can also make garlic tea.
Recipe for Garlic Tea
Boil four cups of filtered water. Add four to five cloves of garlic (chopped fine or crushed). Incorporate lemon juice and/or raw, unprocessed honey to taste.
Garlic is used for many conditions of the heart and blood including:
- High Blood Pressure
- Cholesterol Levels
- Coronary Heart Disease
- Heart Attack
Garlic is known to build the immune system
The biggest annual crop (23 billion pounds) of garlic is derived from China, followed by India, South Korea, Russia and the US. Most of the American yield comes from Gilroy, California. Some have deemed Gilroy as “The Garlic Capital of the World.” Every July for the past thirty years, Gilroy has hosted a three day Garlic Festival. They say if you plan to attend but have unfortunately lost your way, just open your car windows and smell your way to the event. Three tons of garlic fill the air. There are over fifty vendor booths, ten thousand garlic fries being prepared for consumption and a host of cooks competing at the Garlic Showdown for culinary honors.
If you would like to support and improve your health start adding more of this amazing herb to your diet!