Garlic is known to be the oldest plant with medicinal properties; they say from common cold to plague, garlic has the cure for all. The herbalists also call it “wonder drug”.
It was introduced in England for the first time in the year 1548. It belongs to the Alliaceae family which includes vegetables like onions, leeks, chives and shallots. Garlic is also known as Allium sativum in Latin.
What is the key ingredient found in garlic that makes it such a powerful herb? The answer is the disease combating combination of sulfur and flavonoids. There are a variety of sulfur compounds found in garlic such as allicin, alliin, and dithiins, these compounds are also responsible for garlic’s pungent smell and strong taste. You will also find vitamins like Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C in it. Garlic also contains in it essential nutrients like calcium, manganese, phosphorous, tryptophan and copper.
Now let’s move on to the health benefits of Garlic:
The active compound of sulfur known as allicin is known for its antibiotic properties. This chemical is produced when garlic is either chopped or chewed. Allicin not only kills the germs but also inhibits their development in the body. In fact, 1mg of allicin has potency equal to 15 standard units of penicillin.
The antioxidant properties of garlic help to maintain the immune system. It stimulates the activity of the immune cells of the body such as T-lymphocyte and macrophage, and helps to strengthen the body’s defense mechanism.
Ideal for maintaining Blood Pressure
On average 50 million people in the US are suffering from High blood pressure. Researches prove that garlic aids the blood cells to release hydrogen sulfide gas H2S which helps to dilate the blood vessels and also controls the blood pressure.
Garlic reduces cholesterol levels that again indirectly help to control blood pressure.
Reduces the risk of Cardiovascular Diseases
The vitamin B6 present in garlic also protects against the heart disease by lowering the levels of homocysteine that can directly damage the walls of the blood vessels. Garlic also has blood thinning properties similar to Aspirin.
Garlic is classified as an anti-cancer food and it has been found helpful in curing almost all types of cancer except for prostate and breast cancer, if taken on daily basis. However, if the herb is taken only few times a week it cures only two types of cancer i.e. renal and colorectal cancer.
Cure for Common Cold
There are almost 200 viruses that are responsible for causing cold. The antiviral compound allicin helps to treat these cold causing viruses. Researches prove that garlic is more effective if taken before the infection is caught. It has also been proved that it also reduces the duration of recovery from cold. Either chew 4 cloves of raw garlic or add them to your soup as soon as you get the first sign of cold.
Garlic as a Pain Reliever
Garlic is very helpful in relieving pain caused in arthritis. Pain caused by insect bites such as centipedes and scorpions can also be relieved by applying garlic juice. It can also heel bruises and sprains if its juice is applied mixed with salt.
Quick remedy for Toothache
Cut a clove of garlic and rub it to your teeth and gum where you are having pain, your tooth ache will be gone after some time.
Effective for treating Warts and Herpes
The antiviral properties of garlic are not just effective for curing cold but they are also helpful in treating warts and herpes. For treatment of warts apply freshly crushed garlic on the affected area, soon they will disappear and fr treating Herpes, take a clove of garlic and cut it into two halves, eat one half and apply the other on the affected areas (this would sting a little).
How Garlic should be used?
As mentioned earlier that the strong taste and pungent odor is the sign of garlic being rich in sulfides. So try to choose the one that are strong tasting, also the garlic grown organically are the best ones and have the highest amount of sulfur in them.
The aged garlic is known as the most powerful antioxidant. What is aged garlic? It is the garlic that has been sliced and then macerated in water or alcohol for two years time.
The World Health Organization prescribes the following daily dose of garlic:
Unless otherwise prescribed, average daily dose is as follows (7): fresh garlic, 2-5g; dried powder, 0.4-1.2 g; oil, 2-5mg; extract, 300-1000mg (as solid material). Other preparations should correspond to 4-12mg of alliin or about 2-5mg of allicin). Bulbus Allii Sativi should be taken with food to prevent gastrointestinal upset.
Bradley PR, ed. British herbal compendium, Vol. 1. Bournemouth, British Herbal Medicine Association, 1992.