The Odoriferous Herb
Garlic Is Mother Nature's Pungent Cure-All
I don't know about you, but one of my very favorite aromas is garlic wafting through a kitchen, especially when it's in a great tomato sauce or stir fried with some vegetables. Whether it's in a pan with olive oil or roasting in oven, smell of garlic sets my appetite on overdrive!
While not everyone shares my predilection for this odoriferous herb, there can be no denying that its appeal extends far beyond its smell or taste.
Time and again, garlic has come through as one of most versatile healing herbs known to humans.
The value of garlic (Allium sativum) has been recognized since ancient Egypt, when slaves went on strike to increase their garlic rations. In 1950s, great Albert Schweitzer, M.D., used garlic in his African clinic to treat dysentery, typhus and cholera.
During Second World War, garlic was used as a disinfectant for wounds and as protection against gangrene in injured soldiers.
Now, research is showing that it protects against two of most dreaded diseases of our time: heart disease and cancer.
Some have even argued that since our ancestors ate a diet rich in a variety of plants and herbs now missing in modern diets, we should consider phytonutrient-rich plants such as garlic to be essential nutrients!
I think this is a great idea, and you can easily incorporate into your own personal diet plan just by taking aged garlic supplements.
Garlic is a member of lily family. Its genus (Allium) also includes onions. When a clove of garlic is crushed or chewed, an odorless sulfur-containing compound, alliin, is transformed to allicin, which gives garlic its characteristic odor. Allicin is element of garlic that has been most intensively studied and which appears to have most medicinal value. Allicin naturally breaks down to other compounds, including daily sulfide and ajoene, which are thought to have unique healing effects on body.
Garlic Keeps Your Blood Vessels Clear
While early studies on heart-protective effects of garlic showed that garlic supplementation tended to decrease "bad" LDL cholesterol and raise "good" HDL, more recent research has conflicted with those results.
Whether garlic affects blood cholesterol levels or not, it still dramatically reduces buildup of plaque (the fatty deposits that clog blood vessels) in arteries.
In one study from journal Atherosclerosis, 152 subjects had amount of plaque in two major arteries measured, and then took garlic powder for 48 months. The results showed that growth of plaques was slowed by five to 18 percent, and that in some subjects plaques actually became smaller.
Several studies on non-human subjects show same trend. It appears that garlic protects heart by way of its potent antioxidant effects. Oxidized LDL, not just LDL, is what causes plaques to grow. In study after study garlic has shown itself to be a superior preventative against LDL oxidation. Garlic also protects against clogged blood vessels by decreasing tendency of blood to clump or clot.
Garlic Protects Against Infections Of All Kinds
Whether you want to stave off bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic infections, garlic is good protection. Garlic has been shown in test-tube studies and animal studies to be deadly to Helicobacter pylori, bacteria that causes ulcers, and to dreaded food-borne bacteria Salmonella, E. coli, Staphylococcus and Listeria.
Bacteria do not develop resistance to garlic—a good reason to favor garlic over antibiotics! Phytochemicals in garlic are also effective at stopping cold, flu and herpes viruses in their tracks. The growth of Candida albicans, fungal yeast that causes vaginal yeast infections and intestinal candidiasis, is slowed by garlic. Garlic kills parasites such as Giardia and Entamoeba, both common causes of chronic diarrhea.
Cancer Prevention With Garlic
Studies on gastrointestinal, colon, and breast cancer show that in populations that consume more garlic, cancer risk is significantly lower. It appears that phytochemicals in garlic interfere with growth of several kinds of cancer cells.