By Dori Cranmore RN
Garlic has been used in many cultures for both its culinary and medicinal properties. Folklore shows garlic bringing good luck or protects against evil, ward off vampires and at the same time guaranteed to transform any meal into a bold, aromatic and healthy experience.
Native to central Asia, garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world and has been grown for over 5000 years. Garlic was placed in the tomb of Pharaohs, and was given to the slaves that built the Pyramids to enhance their endurance and strength.
From a medical history standpoint, the antibacterial and antiviral properties of garlic are perhaps its most legendary feature.
Garlic grows as a “bulb,” which averages about 2 inches in height and diameter and consists of numerous small separate cloves. The taste of garlic is like no other—it hits the palate with a hot pungency that is shadowed by a subtle sweetness. Elephant garlic has larger cloves but it is more closely related to the leek and therefore does not offer the full health benefits of regular garlic.
Garlic is an excellent source of manganese, vitamin B6, a very good source of vitamin C, and a good source of selenium.
In recent years researchers have concentrated on scientifically validating its numerous health benefits including;
- Helping improve your iron metabolism.
- Effective in lowering blood triglycerides and total cholesterol
- Garlic’s unique set of sulfur-containing compounds can help protect us against—oxidative stress and inflammation.
- By blocking the activity of angiotensin II, garlic is able to help prevent unwanted contraction of our blood vessels and unwanted increases in blood pressure.
- Used for the common cold and flu, and also infection from other microbes including yeasts/fungi and worms.
- Supplementation can boost the function of the immune system.
- At high doses, the sulfur compounds in garlic have been shown to protect against organ damage from heavy metal toxicity.
Garlic oil applied to the skin or nails can treat fungal infections, warts, and corns.
For infants with upper respiratory congestion, garlic oil rubbed on the bottom of the feet can help.
For ear pain or infection, placing a fresh peeled garlic clove at the outside entrance of the ear can help. Garlic oil placed in the ear often can reduce pain and inflammation.
Caution: Garlic-in-oil mixtures stored at room temperature provide perfect conditions for producing botulism, regardless of whether the garlic is fresh or has been roasted. Store fresh garlic in either an uncovered or a loosely covered container in a cool, dark place away from exposure to heat and sunlight. Pre-peeled garlic does not retain the medicinal value of fresh.
The minimum effective dose for therapeutic effects is one clove eaten with meals, two or three times a day. However, keep in mind that there are some downsides to garlic, such as bad breath. Garlic can be fatal for pets.
Information is intended for educational purposes only. Not intended to cure, diagnose or treat disease.
Dori Cranmore is a Registered Nurse and owner of All About Herbs, Inc in Wasilla. 376-8327