Garlic is an erect biennial herb of the onion family, normally grown as an annual. I t has irregular roots, condensed, flattened stem and narrow, flat leaves. The bulb consists of 6 to 35 bulblets called cloves, enclosed in a thick whitish, glistening and transparent covering.
Garlic has been highly valued for centuries all over the world for its health-building qualities. Khnoum Khoufouf, the builder of one of the oldest pyramids, (4500 BC) was among the first to recognise the virtues of garlic, for he decreed that all his workers should take garlic every day to maintain their health and strength. Hippocrates, the father of medicine (460-357 BC) recommended the use of this herb in infectious diseases and particularly prescribed it for intestinal disorders.
Garlic is believed to have originated in Central Asia and was known to the Chinese as far back as 3,000 BC. It continues to be one of the staple spices of the Chinese diet till today. Egyptians, Greeks and Romans also used garlic both as a staple food and as a medicine for several ailments. It spread to all parts of the world and is now widely grown in the Mediterranean region, India, Philippines, China, Ethiopia, Kenya, Brazil and Mexico. It grows well in cool climates with dry weather.
An analysis of garlic shows it to contain moisture 62.0 per cent, protein 6.3 per cent, fat 0.1 per cent, minerals 1.0 per cent fibre 0.8 per cent and carbohydrates 29.8 per cent per 100 grams of edible portion. Its mineral and vitamin contents are calcium, phosphorus, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C. It also contains traces of iodine, sulphur and chlorine. Its calorific value is 145.
The bulbs yield an essential oil containing allyl propyl disulphide, diallyl disulphide and two other sulphur compounds. They also contain antiseptic and hypotensive, or, causing low blood pressure principles-allicin, aIlisatin I and aIlisatin II.
In herbal medicine, garlic has been traditionally used for asthma, deafness, leprosy, bronchial congestion, arteriosclerosis -that is hardening of arteries-:-fevers, worms and liver and gall bladder trouble. Garlic is good for the heart, a food for the hair, a stimulant to appetite, a strength-giving food, useful in leucoderma, leprosy, piles, worms, catarrhal disorders, asthma and cough.
Clinical experiments in recent times have confirmed several ancient beliefs about the healing value of this herb. These experiments have in fact proven much greater power of garlic than known previously. The unpleasant odour in garlic is due to its sulphur content. This mineral is contained to a greater degree in its volatile oil, which has remarkable medicinal virtues.
Garlic juice has a most beneficial effect on the entire system. The ethers in garlic juice are so potent and penetrating, that they help dissolve accumulation of mucus in the sinus cavities, bronchial tubes and the lungs. They help in the expulsion of poisons from body through pores of the skin.
Garlic has proved effective in certain diseases of the chest. It reduces foetidity or stinking of the breath in pulmonary gangrene. Garlic is useful in the treatment of tuberculosis.
In Ayurveda, a decoction of garlic boiled. in milk is considered a wonderful drug for tuberculosis. One gram of garlic, 250 ml of milk and a litre of water are boiled together till its reduces to one fourth of the decoction. It should be taken thrice a day. Taken in sufficient quantities, it is a marvelous remedy for pneumonia.
Three cloves of garlic boiled in milk, can be used every night with excellent results in asthma. A pod of garlic is peeled, crushed and boiled in 120 ml pure malt-vinegar. It is strained after cooling and an equal quantity of honey is mixed and preserved in a clean bottle. One or two teaspoons of this syrup can be taken with fenugreek decoction in the evening and before retiring. This has been found effective in reducing the severity of asthmatic attacks.
Garlic is one of the most beneficial herbs for the digestive system. It is good for the lymph, and aids elimination of noxious waste matter in the body. It stimulates peristaltis, or movement of the intestines-and the secretion of the digestive juices. Crushed cloves of garlic may be infused in water or milk and taken for all disorders of digestion. It has an antiseptic effect and is an excellent remedy for infectious diseases and inflammations of the stomach and intestine. Garlic oil is absorbed into the alimentary tract and is eliminated partly through the urine.
The herb is an excellent worm expeller. It is also good in treating various forms of diarrhoea. Problems such as colitis, dysentry and many other intestinal disorders can be successfully treated with fresh garlic or garlic capsules. One garlic capsule taken thrice a day is usually sufficient to correct mild cases of diarrhoea or dysentery. For more persistent cases, upto 6 capsules a day can be taken. Garlic has the ability to destroy harmful bacteria in the intestines without affecting the beneficial organisms which aid digestion.
Garlic is one of the most effective remedies for lowering blood pressure. Pressure and tension are reduced because it has the power to ease the spasm of the small arteries. It also slows the pulse and modifies the heart rhythm, besides relieving symptoms of dizziness, shortness of breath and formation of gas within the digestive tract. The average dosage should be 2 to 3 capsules a day to reduce the blood pressure.
In Russia, garlic is used extensively in the treatment of rheumatism and associated diseases. Even in Britain, garlic is recommended for rheumatic afflictions. Recent experiments in Japan tested a garlic extract on patients with lumbago and arthritis with a large number being benefited without any undesirable side-effects. Its anti-inflammatory property accounts for its effectiveness in the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism.
Following a recent study, a West German doctor claims that garlic may prevent heart attack. Garlic helps to break up cholesterol in the blood vessels, thereby preventing any hardening of arteries which leads to high blood pressure and heart attack. If a patient takes garlic after a l:1eart attack, the cholesterol level comes down. Though the earlier damage may not be repaired, the chances of new attacks are reduced.
Garlic preparations, including extracts and juices, have been used successfully against cancer in both animal and human studies1. A study report tells of mice being injected with cancer cells, some of which were treated with garlic extract and some were not. The mice not given garlic died within 16 days while the ones treated, lived for 6 months. In Russian studies, garlic preparations have been found to retard tumour growth not only in animals, but also in human beings, writes Dr. Airola.
Dr. Tariq Abdullah, a USresearcher and staff physician of the Akbar clinic and Research Institute in Panama City, Florida, said recently that he and his colleagues found that white blood cells from six patients given garlic killed 139 per cent more tumour cells in a lab dish than did cells from people who did not eat garlic2.
Garlic is an excellent remedy for whooping cough. Syrup of garlic should be taken in doses of five drops to a teaspoon, two or three times a day in treating this condition. It should be given more often if the coughing spells are frequent and violent.
The herb is regarded as a rejuvenator. It has been found to help remove toxins, revitalise the blood, stimulate circulation and promote intestinal flora, or colony of bacteria that prevent infection by harmful bacteria.
Garlic has been used successfully for a variety of skin disorders. Pimples disappear without a scar when rubbed with raw garlic several times a day. Even very persistent forms of acne, in some adults, have been healed with garlic. The external use of garlic helps to clear the skin of spots pimples and boils. The process is further helped by also taking the garlic internally to purify the blood. A regular course of three garlic capsules per day should help to dear minor skin infections quickly.
Garlic, rubbed over ringworm, gives quick relief. The area is burnt by the strong garlic and later the skin peels off and the ringworm is cured.
The herb has been used as an antiseptic m wounds and ulcerations with beneficial results. Garlic juice with three parts of distilled water is employed as a lotion for cleansing infected wounds. Definite improvement is noticed within 24 hours and substantial improvement within 43 hours. Application of dressing, containing 15 per cent garlic juice once a day over an ulcer removes pus in a few days. It also relieves pain within a short time. Russian physicians are making extensive use of garlic in the healing of wounds.
Garlic is considered an excellent remedy for diphtheria. Chewing a clove of garlic cures the infected mucous membranes, reduces temperature and provides relief. About 30 to 60 grams of garlic can be used in this way in three or four hours for the membranes to disappear in a week. However, it is advisable to hospitalise and isolate the patient as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed.
Aphrodisiac Effect: Garlic has a pronounced aphrodisiac effect 1. It is a tonic for the loss of sexual power from any cause. It also treats sexual debility and impotency caused by overindulgence in sex and nervous exhaustion from dissipating habit. It is said to be especially useful to old men with nervous tension and failing libido.
Garlic is the most widely used of the cultivated alliums after onions. It is used both as a food and seasoning, in the preparation of soups, sauces and pickles. In Spain and Italy, it is used with almost every food.