Garlic is a bulb that is easy to grow. It is a popular cooking ingredient because of its delicious taste and smell.
It is in the allium family along with onions, scallions and leeks. Each section of a garlic bulb is called a clove.
History of Garlic
Before this spice was used to flavor your favorite dishes, it was used for health and medicine in ancient cultures. The phytochemicals in garlic give it numerous beneficial properties. Throughout history it has been recognized to act as a prophylactic and a medicinal plant
Allicin is the main compound in garlic, which becomes active when it is chopped or crushed. Allicin is the most important component of garlic and generally claimed to be responsible for its numerous beneficial effects. Cooking it above 140 degrees kills the allicin, so add it at the end of your recipe.
Higher concentrations of sulfur compounds are responsible for its medicinal effects.
Therapeutic use of garlic has been recognized as a potential medicinal value for thousands of years to different micro organisms. Antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, antiparasitic, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties of garlic have been well documented.
In 1858 Pasteur noted garlics antibacterial activity and it was used as antiseptic to prevent gangrene during WWI and WW2
Most of the benefits come from extracts and supplements. They have a much higher dosage than the garlic you eat. Lower doses may result in needing to take it for a longer time.
Garlic preparations with lower amounts of allicin have less of an effect.
Sliced raw garlic stored in 15-20% ethanol for more than 1.5 year is refereed to aged garlic extract.This whole process is supposed to cause considerable loss of allicin and increased activity of certain newer compounds, such as S-allylcysteine, sallylmercaptocysteine, allixin, N-0 -(Ideoxy- D-fructos- 1 -yl)-L-arginine, and selenium which are stable and significantly antioxidant.
Additionally, as garlic ages, it loses its strong flavor, so there is no need to worry about breath odor.
Health Benefits of garlic
Garlic is an anti-inflammatory food. Garlic can even decrease symptoms of arthritis.
It also has strong antioxidant properties.
Cardiovascular disease risk
Garlic consumption has significant effects on lowering blood pressure, prevention of atherosclerosis, reduction of serum cholesterol and triglycerides, inhibition of platelet aggregation, and increasing fibrinolytic activity.
Although supplementation needs to be fairly high. One study showed it as effective as a drug over a 24 week period using 600-1500 mg.
Suppressed LDL. Reduction in total cholesterol. Effective in people with raised cholesterol, not normal cholesterol. It appears to have no effect on HDL and triglycerides levels.
It helps reduce soft plaque build up in the arteries.
It also helps reduce platelet aggregation, which is the clotting of your blood by reducing fibrin formation necessary for blood clotting. It also reduces fibrin already in the blood better than aspirin.
The American heart association says almost half of American adults have high blood pressure. It is also important to note that in 2017 the numbers considered high blood pressure were changed from 140/90 to 130/80.
Garlic has been found to contain a large number of potent bioactive compounds with anticancer properties. In 1990, the U.S. National Cancer Institute initiated the Designer Food Program to determine which foods played an important role in cancer prevention. They concluded that garlic may be the most potent food having cancer preventive properties. Garlic has a variety of anti-tumor effects, including tumor cell growth inhibition and chemopreventive effects.
According to the Iowa Women’s Health Study, women who ate garlic regularly with other vegetables and fruits had a 35% lower chance of getting colon cancer.
Numerous epidemiological, clinical and laboratory studies have demonstrated that, garlic has a great role in cancer prevention especially in relation to digestive tract cancers. Human population studies have shown that, regular intake of garlic reduces the risk of esophageal, stomach and colon cancer. This was thought to be due to the antioxidant effect of allicin in reducing the formation of carcinogenic compounds in the gastrointestinal tract
Garlic has been used for centuries to fight infectious diseases. It is shown to be effective against salmonella, e-coli, heliobacter, micrococcus and others.
The antibacterial activity of garlic is widely attributed to allicin.
Blood Glucose Levels
This needs more study, but Metaformin and garlic combined reduced fasting blood glucose more substantially than Metaformin alone.
They have also been reported to reduce insulin resistance.
Chemically Induced Hepatotoxicity
Excessive Acetaminophen is toxic to your liver. Studies have shown that garlic can protect your liver cells against acetaminophen induced toxicity.
Garlic has shown results just as effective as d-Penicillamine in reducing mild to moderate lead poisoning.
Garlic is a powerful detox food that promotes glutathione production by various liver enzymes. It also provides other important detoxifying components, including multiple bioactive selenium and sulfur compounds.
Several studies have shown that the extract was effective against a host of protozoa including Candida albicans
Many fungi are sensitive to garlic including Candida, Aspergillus and Cryptococcus.
Garlic has been shown to inhibit growth of fungal diseases as equally as the drug ketoconazole, when tested on the fungi Malassezia furfur, Candida albicans, Aspergillus, Cryptococcus and other Candida species
Some people recommend garlic water for athletes foot.
Nicknamed Russian penicillin
Garlic extracts have been shown to suppress the growth of:
- fungi elements
- Protozoa elements
- viral infections
- numerous bacteria, for example, Salmonella
Allicin is believed to be a viable antibiotic replacement. It also assists when used in conjunction with conventional prescribed antibiotics. Garlic supplements are know to fight urinary tract infections.
It can also protect your food from bacteria.
Few studies have been done on the antiviral properties of garlic, but it did show activity against influenza A and B, rhinovirus, viral pneumonia and others. More studies need to be done.
Several laboratory tests have shown that garlic is an effective treatment for both the influenza B virus and herpes simplex virus.
Most recently, a double blind placebo controlled study has shown significant protection from the common cold virus (prevention, not cure)
For one, the allicin in garlic provides antibacterial properties. Scientists also believe that garlic has antiviral properties that may work in two ways: by blocking the entry of viruses into cells, and by strengthening the immune response so that it can effectively fight off potential invaders. It’s these things that can help support a healthy immune system.
Garlic contains compounds that stimulate immune function.
Some studies have shown regularly taking garlic to reduce cold frequency as well as shortening the duration of the cold.
While garlic has fewer side effects than antibiotics, Nausea and vomiting when consumed in large quantities, and some rare cases of topical burns when used raw on the skin
It is also suggested that you don’t use garlic if you are on anticoagulant therapy, because garlic slows blood clotting.
Since garlic lowers blood pressure, using it with blood pressure meds may cause your pressure to drop too low. Talk to your doctor. Monitor your pressure.
Since garlic lowers blood sugar, taking it with diabetes meds could cause your blood sugar to drop too low. Monitor your glucose levels.
It also interacts with medications that are changed or broken down in the liver, causing it to the medications to break down more quickly or slowly. Talk to your doctor.
While eating garlic is considered safe, if you are pregnant, don’t take garlic supplements in high amounts.