Authors: Dr Ranjeet Singh
Garlic’s slender green leaves, bulbous white roots and pungent flavor and aroma mark it as a member of genus Allium, which also includes onions, leeks, and chives. Prized as a vegetable, a condiment and a medicine. Garlic has been part of human culture since ancient time in both the East and the West. First cultivated perhaps more than seven thousands years ago, this herb was long thought to impart the strength and stamina.
Ancient history of garlic uses
The legions of slaves who built Egypt’s great pyramids were given garlic and onions as part of their daily diet. The original Olympic athletes in Greece ate garlic before competitions possibly making it one of the earliest Performance- enhancing substances. Widely used in spells and charms garlic was believed to protect against all forms of Evil, including witches and more famously vampires. Medicinally, garlic has long been revered for its powers particularly in treating infections.
Therapeutic uses of Garlic
- Cough and cold
- Heart burn
Garlic is a key ingredient in many ethnic cuisines and has a cherished history in herbal medicine. It also has its stunning reputation for fighting of infections especially in the gut and lungs. With the growing problem of antibiotic resistance (which occurs when bacteria and parasites are no longer vulnerable to antibiotics) garlic could be critical.
Louis Pasteur first documented garlic’s antibacterial activity in 1858. Albert Schweitzer relied on garlic to treat amoebic dysentery for years in Africa. Modern research has confirmed that Garlic can kill a number of diarrhoea causing organisms including Salmonella, E.coli, Entamoeba histolytica and Giardia lambica. In fact, a preliminary study indicated that taking a garlic supplement help prevent the common cold.
Garlic not only helps fight infection but also reduce the risk of some cancers. In 2002 the general of National Cancer Institute reported results of a population-based study showing reduced risk of prostate cancer of men with a high dietary intake of Garlic and Scallions. Garlic also protect the gastrointestinal tract.
In seven studies evaluating garlic consumption, those who eat the most raw and cooked Garlic have the lowest risk of colorectal cancer. Multiple studies have found that aged garlic abstract prevent or reduce gastrointestinal toxicity resulting from methotrexate a drug often prescribed for autoimmune conditions.
There are also good reasons to include garlic in a heart- healthy diet. It helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure, thought it affect are mild. Garlic also makes platelets a little less sticky, thus reducing the risk of clots.
How to use garlic?
- Cooking deactivates some of the garlic’s activity so one of the easiest way to take garlic is simply to eat it . Raw Garlic is probably the optimal form. Crush a couple cloves and put it in olive oil, add a dash of lemon and toss over a salad.
- Capsules; If buying garlic in capsule form look for product standardized to allicin, a key ingredient. Research suggests Garlic products providing 4 to 8 mg allicin daily are optimal.
Garlic is safe and well tolerated in the regular diet. There is a small risk that eating larger quantities of raw garlic ( more than four cloves a day) can affect platelets ability to form clot, so it makes sense to reduce consumption 10 days before surgery and not to exceed this amount if taking anticoagulant medications. Garlic can also interfere with medications used to treat HIV infection.
(Reference; National geographic, 36 healing herbs)