Garlic is the oldest known medicinal plant variety or spice in existence that is grown around the world. It is a species in the onion genus, Allium and is native to Central Asia and Northeastern Iran, and has long been a common seasoning worldwide. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, chive, and Chinese onion. Mankind recognized the curative qualities of this magic herb over 3,000 years ago.
Garlic has a pungent smell, and is good in certain dishes. It is often considered a great, healthy herb.
World War I medical surgeons used the health benefits of garlic juice as an antiseptic for treating war wounds. It contains useful minerals such as phosphorous, calcium, and iron, as well as trace minerals like iodine, sulfur, and chlorine, which are also present in the cloves. In terms of organic compounds, it is one of the rare sources of allicin, allisatin 1, and 2. The allicin compound contains sulfur, which gives the herb its pungent savour and peculiar smell. The health benefits of garlic are innumerable. It helps to fight heart ailments, fight cold, cough, and lowers blood pressure.
Health Benefits of Garlic
Daily inclusion of garlic in your diet aids in eliminating any digestive problems. The herb assists in the normal functioning of the intestines for good digestion. Even swelling or irritation of the gastric canal may be rectified with garlic as a treatment.
Lowers cholesterol levels
Of the two kinds of cholesterol –LDL, and HDL, the former is bad for human health. Garlic, rich in the allicin compound, effectively prevents LDL cholesterol from oxidizing. All those who have high cholesterol levels should include this herb in their daily diet.
Reduces risk of hypertension
Garlic is an herbal ingredient for curing high blood pressure. When exposed to high levels of pressure, the allicin present in it relaxes the blood vessels. It also fights against thrombosis by reducing platelet aggregation.
Garlic is rich in nutrients like selenium, quercetin and vitamin C, all of which help treat eye infections and swelling.
Relieves ear aches
Garlic is commonly used for curing earaches, as it has several antiviral, antifungal, and antibiotic properties. Its oil can be made at home by squeezing the juice of its cloves and adding it to olive oil. The mixture should be kept at room temperature for a few days, but shouldn’t be saved indefinitely, if made at home.
Diabetes can harm the kidneys, inhibit nervous system functions, cause heart disorders, and even lead to poor eyesight. The oil extracted from garlic may protect diabetic patients from these side effects.
Garlic has certain aphrodisiac properties, so this helpful herb can be utilized as an effectual sex rejuvenator. The health benefits of garlic are further known to enhance the libido of both men and women. People who overindulge in sexual activities should consume garlic in their diet or in supplemental form to protect themselves from nervous fatigue.
Treats intestinal problems
Garlic clears up most intestinal problems like dysentery and colitis. Its role in dispelling worms is phenomenal. It does not affect the functioning of useful organisms in the intestine, which aid in digestion, but it does destroy the harmful bacteria present in the intestines.
Raw garlic is used to treat colds and coughs. At the very onset of a cold, you should eat at least two crushed cloves of it, which will thereby help in lessening the severity of your cold.
Garlic can be placed on infected wounds as an herbal treatment. It should be mixed with three drops of water, rather than using it in raw form, as the undiluted juice can irritate the skin.
Half the people in the world suffer from mild to severe forms of acne. Garlic may be used, along with other ingredients like honey, cream, and turmeric, to treat acne scars and prevent the initial development of acne. Garlic acts as a cleanser and an antibiotic substance for soothing skin rashes.
Good for skin and hair The invigorating properties of garlic protect the skin from the effect of free radicals and slow down the depletion of collagen which leads to loss of elasticity in aging skin. Applied topically, garlic does wonders to skin infected with fungal infections and provides relief from skin ailments like eczema. It is also an effective remedy for fungal infections like athlete's foot and ringworms.
Rubbing crushed garlic extract on your scalp or massaging with garlic-infused oil is known to prevent and even reverse hair loss.
Reduces the risk cancer
A regular intake of garlic reduces the risk of colon, stomach, and oesophageal cancer. It aids in reducing the production of carcinogenic compounds, and also reduces the occurrence of tumours associated with breast cancer.
Applying a gel containing 0.6% ajoene, a chemical in garlic, twice daily for one week seems to be as effective as antifungal medication for treating ringworm.
Good for chest pain (angina)
Early research suggests that administering garlic intravenously (by IV) for 10 days reduces chest pain compared to intravenous nitroglycerin.
Enhances exercise performance
Early research suggests that taking a single 900 mg dose of garlic before exercise can increase endurance in young athletes.
Good for shortness of breath and low oxygen levels associated with liver disease (hepatopulmonary syndrome)
Early research suggests that taking garlic oil for 9-18 months might improve oxygen levels in people with hepatopulmonary syndrome.
Treats lead poisoning
Early research suggests that taking garlic three times daily for 4 weeks can reduce blood lead concentrations in people with lead poisoning. But it does not seem to be more effective than D-penicillamine.
Treats vaginal yeast infections
Some early research suggests that applying a vaginal cream containing garlic and thyme nightly for 7 nights is as effective as clotrimazole vaginal cream for treating yeast infections. But other early research suggests that taking garlic (Garlicin, Nature's Way) twice daily for 14 days does not improve symptoms.
Garlic’s Side Effect & Safety
Garlic is likely safe for most people when taken by mouth appropriately. However, consuming too much of it is also not very good as it may cause irritation in the digestive system.
When taken by mouth, garlic can cause bad breath, a burning sensation in the mouth or stomach, heartburn, gas, nausea, vomiting and body odour. These side effects are often worse with raw garlic. Garlic may also increase the risk of bleeding. There have been reports of bleeding after surgery in people who have taken garlic. Asthma has been reported in people working with garlic, and other allergic reactions are possible.
Garlic products are possibly safe when applied to the skin. However, when applied to the skin, garlic might cause skin damage that is similar to a burn. Raw garlic is possibly unsafe when applied to the skin. Raw garlic might cause severe skin irritation when it is applied to the skin.
How to Select and Store
For the best flavour and maximum health benefits, buy fresh garlic. Do not buy garlic that is soft, shows evidence of decay or is beginning to sprout. Purchase garlic that is plump and has unbroken skin. Gently squeeze the garlic bulb between your fingers to check that it feels firm and is not damp.
Garlic in flake, powder or paste form is convenient, but it is not as good as fresh garlic because, less culinary and health benefits are derived from garlic in flake, powder or paste form.
Garlic is best stored at room temperature in an uncovered or loosely covered container in a cool, dark place away from exposure to heat and sunlight. Storing it in this manner will help prevent sprouting. Depending on its age and variety, a whole garlic bulb will keep fresh from 2 weeks to 2 months as long as they’re stored properly. The trick is to inspect the bulbs frequently, and remove any cloves that are dried out or mouldy. Remember that breaking the head of the garlic also reduces the shelf life to just a few days.
No need to refrigerate garlic. Some people freeze peeled garlic, but be warned that this will reduce its flavour profile and cause its texture to deteriorate.
Size is often not an indication of quality. If your recipe calls for a large amount of garlic, remember that it is always easier to peel and chop a few larger cloves than many smaller ones.
How to Enjoy
Purée fresh garlic, canned garbanzo beans, tahini, olive oil and lemon juice to make quick and easy hummus dip.
Healthy Sauté steamed spinach, garlic, and fresh lemon juice.
Add garlic to sauces and soups.
Purée roasted garlic, cooked potatoes and olive oil together to make delicious garlic mashed potatoes. Season to taste.
It is very effective when eaten raw- either crushed or chopped. As little as one clove of garlic per day may bring a vast improvement in your overall health.
The only drawback is its pungent smell and taste that leaves bad breath, but other than that, garlic is a medicinal blessing for mankind.