Garlic is one of the most intensively used herbs both as food and as a medicine. The ancient Egyptians used garlic in many ways, garlic were eaten, both as food and to repel agents of diseases.As a medicine Egyptians thought garlic and onions aided endurance, and consumed large quantities of them.
Raw garlic was routinely given to asthmatics and to those suffering from bronchial-pulmonary complaints. In ancient Egypt, the workers who had to build the great pyramids were fed their daily share of garlic.
It was also found in burial tombs including the tomb of Tutankhamen and in the sacred underground temple of the bulls at Saqqara.
Its common name is garlic or poor man’s treacle. Its botanical name is Allium sativum. Its Arabic name is Thoam or Thoum.
The bulb of the garlic plant has been used since a very long time for its antimicrobial effects before microbes were even discovered.
French priests of the Middle Ages used garlic to protect themselves from bubonic plague, now known to be a bacterial infection. During World War I, European soldiers prevented infection by putting garlic directly on their wounds.
Nearly every culture has used garlic for general health, from ancient Chinese to colonial Americans.
Medicinal uses are various and much impressive. Results of both clinical and laboratory studies, point out the protective value of garlic against lots of diseases of the modern world. Thus it acts as an antiseptic, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant and also stimulant. The protective actions also include heart disease, cancer and many infectious diseases.
The action of garlic although not clearly known how, involve lowering cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure, cancer prevention, antioxidant effects, treating infection and enhancing immune function.
One of the most traditional uses of garlic is for colds and flu. It has also antimicrobial activity against antibiotic resistant strains of staphylococcus, proteus, Escherichia and pseudomonas bacteria that causes severe chest infections.
Syrup of garlic is good for asthma, coughs, difficulty in breathing and chronic bronchitis, while fresh juice is used to ease tubercular disease.
It is also effective against herpes and Candida.
It is also used in earaches where is used externally as ear drops, garlic is crushed and then infused in vegetable oil for a few hours before straining and then applying to ears.
Garlic can be used externally as first aid measures in bee stings and in splinters using crushed garlic due to its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties.
There is some evidence to show that garlic helps support the cardiovascular system, and has benefits in reducing the build up of fatty acid plaques on the artery walls which has potential benefits in preventing the development of atherosclerosis.
Garlic reduces cholesterol levels, raises the level of healthy high- density lipoproteins, and has antiplatelet or blood thinning effects.
Garlic also appears to lower blood pressure directly.
The active component of garlic is allicin, which is believed to give garlic its medicinal properties of antimicrobial action.
The active properties of Garlic depend on a pungent, volatile, essential oil, which may readily be obtained by distillation with water. It is a sulphide of the radical Allyl, present in all the onion family. This oil is rich in sulphur, but contains no oxygen. The peculiar penetrating odour of Garlic is due to this intensely smelling sulphuret of allyl, and is so diffusive that even when the bulb is applied to the soles of the feet, its odour is exhaled by the lungs.
Cancer preventive properties are now researched thoroughly. There is a correlation between the diallyl sulphides- the breakdowm products of allicin that are present in garlic oils and the anticancer effect of garlic. It lowers the risk of stomach and colon cancer and may inhibit tumor formation and protect against damage from radiation and chemotherapy.
Also it appears that garlic has immune-stimulant, antioxidant and liver protective benefits.
The essential oil is commonly taken as a supplement in the form of gelatine capsules.
|The leaves are long, narrow and flat like grass. The bulb (the only part eaten) is of a compound nature, consisting of numerous bulblets, known technically as 'cloves,' grouped together between the membraneous scales and enclosed within a whitish skin, which holds them as in a sac.||
The flowers are placed at the end of a stalk rising direct from the bulb and are whitish, grouped together in a globular head, or umbel, with an enclosing kind of leaf or spathae, and among them are small bulbils.
It is administered as expressed juice, syrup, tincture, essential oil, poultice, lotion and ointment.
Garlic has an excellent safety margin and is well tolerated by many people. Occasionally, mild gastrointestinal symptoms such as heart burn and nausea may occur with high garlic intakes especially with no food present in the stomach. In some cases, high doses of garlic may potentiate the blood-thinning effects of anti-inflammatory medicines such as aspirin, and dietary supplements such as vitamin E and Omega supplements. Concentrated garlic products are used with caution during pregnancy, while food consumption in pregnancy is quite safe.
Using both raw and cooked garlic has health effects, although cooking destroys the ability of garlic to produce allicin.
Raw garlic may also be pickled in vinegar or olive oil. Since some of garlic's aroma is extracted by the liquid, pickled garlic is usually very mild. Herbal vinegar is commonly made with one or two garlic cloves per liter vinegar.
Usage of fried or cooked garlic is, however, much more common. On heating, the pungency and strong odour get lost and the aroma becomes more subtle and less dominant.
Most people prefer to take garlic in the more convenient forms of concentrated supplements, this of course due to the highly áromatic smell’ of breath due to ingestion. This can be easily overcome by eating parsley leaves after garlic.
Supplement includes tablets, capsules and perles of garlic oil. These supplements may vary considerably in strength. The health benefits of garlic are associated with regular and long term use.
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