Ageless and forever faithful, is our friend, Garlic! Sometimes stinks, sometimes stings, but never lets you down. Can’t shake a cold or cough, itchy or sore throat, the flu? Put garlic to work on it. In a matter of days, hours or even minutes, the itch disappears, a cough softens, breathing returns to normal and healing is in progress. From the minor maladies to more serious medical conditions – chronic bronchitis, asthma, even, tuberculosis, cardiovascular disease, and certain forms of cancer – garlic is at your service! Who can neglect a dependable friend like that – one that loves to heal YOU!
Garlic Health: The Power of Garlic
Dr. Oz, host of the TV health show by the same name, recently remarked to a woman who liked to eat a lot of garlic, “You’re probably the healthiest person in this audience!” That comment speaks from a knowledge and faith in this humble herb by a medical professional who understands the power of garlic to protect our health.
Acting as a multi-spectrum antibiotic, garlic kills a wide range of bacteria including streptococcus and even the MRSA (antibiotic resistant) form of staphylococcus. Garlis is also effective against certain viruses, including viral meningitis, viral pneumonia, and the herpes virus. It is anti fungal and anti-yeast, it even inhibits the growth of parasites in the intestines. Recent research has proven its preventative and therapeutic effectiveness against high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, stroke, cholesterol, as well as pre-cancerous stomach, bowel lesions and breast cancer. It is also being used in treating HIV patients; And, to boot, it favorably works against candidiatis, athlete’s foot, arthritis, altitude sickness, blood clots and has been known, historically, to treat snake bites, diarrhea, heat exhaustion, plague, leprosy and smallpox.
Garlic History and Lore
It is no wonder that garlic has been used by more cultures for medicinal purposes for the longest of time than any other plant herb known to mankind. One of the earliest evidence of its use is from – you might have guessed – the ancient Egyptian tombs, dating from 3,200 B.C. The Pyramid builders extolled its use, believing it gave them strength. Reference to its use is inscribed on the Great Pyramid of Cheops. Among the ancients, Pliny mentions garlic as healing 61 different ailments. In more recent times, it is claimed that garlic helped save the lives of thousands of wounded soldiers in World War I and II when antibiotics were in short supply. Garlic juice diluted with water was used to stop and heal deadly infections. Its use as a stimulant of the sexual glands is another side effect, not often mentioned by writers.
Not to forget the use of garlic against vampires: the origin of this idea and the effectiveness of such a claim remain controversial, to say the least. In Bram Stocker’s, Dracula, a doctor places a garlic necklace around the throat of a woman and rubs garlic around the room as a means of keeping the fanged one out of bounds.
It has been surmised that disease-causing mosquitoes, vampire bats, and the like, that literally suck blood from their host in the middle of the night, leaving a changed (sickened) state in the victim may account for the origin of the Dracula myth. Garlic has been worn on the body to ward off life-sapping “evils” even in more recent times.
Americans wore garlands of garlic to protect themselves from the epidemic influenza in 1918. With the surge of the Swine Flu in 2009 garlic production and sales boomed around the world. In the markets of Belgrade, Serbia, for example, demand for the herb skyrocketed as panic spread after 270 cases of the flu were reported with 8 deaths. Serbs as well as other peoples of the Balkans place much importance on garlic; they even keep it on doorsteps or carry it in their pockets to chase vampires away; they also place it under babies’ pillows to protect their health.
Eating Garlic for Health
Garlic’s effectiveness, however, comes through eating it! Fresh, raw, if possible, is the best form in which to have it. Grated or minced directly on bread with some olive oil and a pinch of salt, for example! Or chopped into a salad or cooked vegetables and eaten promptly. The very powerful active ingredient, allicin, is released upon crushing the raw garlic. Although cooked or dried garlic still maintains some of its curative properties, its potency is tied to the fresh, raw state.
Since garlic has been used around the globe for centuries, recipes from many cultures abound. Very prominently are recipes from China, which, by the way, produces 77% of all garlic worldwide. Who hasn’t heard of Garlic Chicken, or Beef and Broccoli with Garlic Sauce. Italy is a great garlic user, with almost all pizzas containing some chopped or powdered garlic . Other Italian dishes using garlic, such as, Garlic Chicken Alfredo, and Garlic Shrimp come to mind. The recently re-discovered Mediterranean Diet uses garlic as a staple in its cooking. Virtually every country in the world uses garlic as a seasoning and for medicinal purposes.
While garlic’s medicinal benefits cannot be disputed, there remain a few concerns with its use, or rather, misuse, principally because of its potent ingredients, including sulfurous compounds. If raw garlic is stored in oil at room temperatures, for example, or even in the refrigerator, over time, it may become the breeding ground for botulism, a dangerous stomach ailment that can lead to death. Garlic is also known to interfere with some anti-coagulants used in surgery. Like with any kind of food, some people may simply be allergic to garlic, and of course, garlic can sting or burn sensitive skin or stomach lining, so caution and a sensible approach to eating it is always advisable!
Centuries of use around the world confirm garlic’s acceptance and effectiveness! For health and for flavor be a Garlic fan. Have it every day! You can’t go wrong with garlic. It IS a Forever Friend!