Garlic (Allium Sativum) belongs to the onion family. It is believed to have originated in Central Asia. Garlic is one herb that has been used since ancient times to cure people of various illness. Clinical experiments in recent times have confirmed several ancient ideas about the healing value of this herb. The odour in garlic is due to its sulphur content. Crushing or chopping garlic releases an enzyme called allinase that catalyzes the formation of Allicin. The compounds that give raw garlic its pungent smell are responsible for the many health benefits of garlic.
In herbal medicine, the health benefits of garlic extend to the treatment of asthma, deafness, leprosy and worms. It is good for the heart. It stimulates appetite, helps to remove toxins and revitalizes the blood. Garlic juice is most beneficial as it helps in penetrating and dissolving the accumulation of mucus in the sinus cavities, in the bronchial tubes and in the lungs. It is most beneficial for the digestive system. Garlic also strengthens the immune system.
Garlic is known for its antibacterial and antiviral health benefits. It has the ability to destroy harmful bacteria in the intestines without affecting the beneficial organisms which aid digestion. It is also a powerful antibiotic. Garlic may also help in iron metabolism.
Anti-Inflammatory Health Benefits of Garlic
There’s preliminary evidence from animal studies, that our musculoskeletal system and respiratory system can benefit from anti-inflammatory compounds in garlic. Compounds in garlic like diallyl sulfide (DAS) and thiacremonone have shown to have anti-arthritic properties. Studies show that women whose diets were rich in allium vegetables had lower levels of osteoarthritis. Garlic extract has been effective in improving inflammatory conditions in the case of allergic airway inflammation in animal studies.
Garlic health benefits for Cancer Prevention
Studies in Russia have found garlic preparations to retard tumour growth not only in animals but also in human beings. Diets rich in garlic and other foods from the allium family may cut the risk of developing prostrate cancer by half. Being a natural antioxidant, it helps the cells from degenerative changes. According to medicalnewstoday.com, researchers from the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China carried out a population-based case control study between 2003 and 2010, to analyze the link between raw garlic consumption and lung cancer. They found that, people who eat raw garlic at least twice a week have a 44% lower risk of developing lung cancer. Also, Scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina reported “first direct evidence that the compound DATS, found in garlic, is effective in blocking pathways of the proliferation of cancer cells and ultimately may help reduce tumor growth in patients with glioblastoma, the most lethal brain tumor.
Garlic health Benefits for the Heart
Garlic has no sodium or potassium. It has a dilatory effect on blood vessels, thereby reducing pressure. It is regarded as one of the most effective remedies to lower BP. It helps to breaks up cholesterol in the blood vessels and helps prevent the hardening of arteries and blood clots, which lead to high BP and heart attack. Animal studies show that garlic oil may help protect diabetes patients from cardiomyopathy. Garlic possesses significant potential for protecting hearts from diabetes-induced cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is a chronic disease of the heart muscle, which is abnormally thickened or enlarged.
Kashmiri Garlic or Snow Mountain Garlic
This grows on the Himalayan mountain ranges. It comes in hard shelled bulbs. In ancient days mountaineers took it to raise their energy levels, increasing oxygenation and detoxifying the body. Break the shell of the buds and crush them before intake.
Home remedies with Garlic
- Rubbing raw garlic heals persistent acne, spots, pimples and boils.
- Three cloves of garlic boiled in milk, and consumed every night is a very effective home remedy for coughs and colds.
- Crushed cloves of garlic can be infused in water or milk and ingested for digestive disorders.
- Garlic is an excellent worm expeller: Soak 3-4 crushed garlic cloves in a cup of milk at night. Next morning, press the cloves, remove them and drink the filtrate. Soak 8-10 crushed garlic cloves in a cup of water overnight. Next morning drink the water. It acts as a enema and flushes out the worms.
- A decoction of garlic boiled in milk is also very good for tuberculosis.
- Garlic juice mixed with distilled water can be used for cleaning wounds and ulcers.
- Taking 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic on an empty stomach in the morning, is very effective in controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Garlic is an amazing home remedy for earaches. Peel a garlic clove and expose the tender inner flesh. Place it in your ear canal. The clove should be big enough so that it does not get stuck inside your ear. Leave it there and the pain will disappear.
How to eat Garlic
The health benefits of garlic are best obtained when eaten raw. When cooked, garlic loses most of its health and medicinal properties. Crushing garlic before cooking can reduce the loss of garlic’s healthy properties. Researchers suggest allowing crushed garlic to stand for 10 minutes before cooking which may allow the allinase to work before cooking inactivates the enzyme. People all over the world eat garlic, but mostly cooked.
Eating raw garlic is the best way to maximise its health benefits. You can do so by adding garlic right at the end of the cooking process. Other ways to include it in your food is to add crushed garlic to soup, stir fry or curries and gravies, just before serving. You can also add crushed garlic to butter for sandwiches and toasts.
Get rid of Garlic Breath
If you are worried about garlic breath, it is said that eating fresh parsley, coriander, cardamom or mint will mask the breath. Sucking a lemon wedge sprinkled with salt also helps.
People who are prone to acidity, heartburn or peptic ulcer should avoid garlic.