Today is National Garlic Day!
Garlic is truly a gift of nature – not only for it’s countless culinary benefits, but for its remarkable health benefits, too. The Latin name for garlic is allium sativa and it’s a member of the lily family (often referred to as the “stinking rose!”) Garlic has a long and credible history in natural healing. The Israelites used garlic long before Moses led them out of Egypt; the Greeks used it to strengthen athletes for the Olympics, and Hippocrates used it to treat pneumonia, cancer, digestive disorders and to improve menstrual flow. In 1665, the London College of Physicians recommended garlic for the great plague and the same year it was used to cure small pox. In WWI it was used to treat battle wounds and dysentery and in WWII garlic was heralded as the “Russian penicillin.” We also know it to be anti-parasitic and anti-tumorogenic (fights tumor growth.)
Wow! With such a proven history, why aren’t we all taking garlic and what’s in this incredible plant that makes it so special?
Garlic is good for you!
Garlic contains two highly prized medicinal ingredients, the sulfur compounds: allicin and diallyl sulphides. Allicin is the key biological ingredient in garlic. These sulfur compounds are what give garlic it’s strong taste and give you bad breath! They’re also responsible for giving garlic its broad spectrum anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. In other words, garlic serves as a general (not targeted) antibiotic but unlike pharmaceutical drugs, the bacteria do not become resistant to it. In addition, allicin is the ingredient that gives it the ability to improve cardiovascular health. There are multiple scientific studies that show garlic can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels and reduce high blood pressure.
Please note: to gain the medicinal benefits of allicin in garlic – the cloves must be chopped and/or crushed – the more the better, and once crushed, it has a short shelf life, so it should be consumed quickly. And by the way, microwaving garlic destroys its medicinal properties! Microwaving is bad for your food, period!
Diallyl sulphides (sulfides) is less volatile than allicin is and can tolerate cooking and still maintain some of its health benefits like aiding in circulation and blood flow. It’s been shown to be effective in treating MRSA, too. The beneficial sulfides will break up within a few hours of consumption so it’s best to eat it often throughout the day…not always easy to do, so supplementing might be simpler!
In summary, garlic is indeed a wonder herb – second only to Echinacea in herbal sales in the US. It can improve your health without all the nasty side effects of Rx drugs. Garlic is:
One word of caution – if you’re considering more garlic in your diet or taking a garlic supplement and you’re on any prescription medications – consult your healthcare practitioner first! Some people are allergic and garlic can interfere with some medications like anti-coagulants. Likewise, too much allicin can irritate or damage the digestive tract.
And just for fun, because we know peeling garlic is a pain., this video shows how you can do it in 10 seconds!
+Mary Bloomer is an advocate for natural health and wellness and writes regularly for Natural Healthy Concepts. Visit the site today to browse a wide selection of herbal nutrition supplements, homeopathic medicine and natural skin care!
- NPF Science Update: Garlic and Immunity (naturalproductsfoundation.org)
- http://jac.oxfordjournals.org/content/52/6/974 – from Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy