Aside from being a fundamental ingredient in many different nationalities’ cuisines, garlic has been used medicinally throughout history and all sides of medicine – backed up by medical research – now recognise it as a wonder of the natural world due to its incredible healing and health-giving powers.
Garlic comes from the Allium family, which also includes onions, chives, leeks and shallots – and it is the trademark smell of garlic that gives it its medicinal powers. Containing allicin, a powerful sulphur compound, the medicinal properties of garlic are only released when it is bruised by being chopped, chewed or crushed.
The super-powers of garlic
Once called ‘stinking rose’ by ancient Greeks, garlic has been scientifically proven to have substantial medicinal properties including:
Additionally, when eaten, garlic can:
- lower cholesterol levels
- strengthen the immune system
- reduce of kidney and gall stones
- clean the blood
- lower blood sugar
- relieve asthma and bronchial coughs
- improve head cold symptoms
To get the full benefit of garlic’s super-powers, it needs to be eaten raw and immediately after being freshly bruised. While cooking garlic will soften both the pungent flavour and smell, it will also diminish its healing and health-giving powers.
Even used externally, crushed garlic has its uses, including:
- reducing acne
- preventing infection of small wounds
- speeding up healing
Garlic as preventative medicine
Much of garlic’s super-powers lie with its ability to prevent illness – as a preventative medicine, it seems that a clove a day keeps the doctor away.
While there is no doubt that garlic will improve certain conditions immediately, it is by taking it every day that you will experience the powers of garlic the most. Known for its ability to lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and prevent heart attack and stroke, garlic has immense health-giving abilities.
Garlic and the common cold
Studies have shown that garlic helps prevent and treat the common cold. Those who take garlic daily generally get less colds and then recover from them faster when they do succumb to the virus.
A powerful antioxidant which boosts the immune system, garlic also thins mucus which makes it particularly useful as a decongestant and expectorant.
Garlic breath cures
Because harnessing garlic’s medicinal powers involves eating garlic often and raw, the problem of ‘garlic breath’ is often given as a reason why more people don’t take garlic for their health.
While taking garlic in tablet form or as a liquid capsule will alleviate the bad breath problem, there are simple ways you can improve your garlic breath:
Include fresh parsley with your garlicky meal and your breath will be much improved. To get the benefits, though, you need to eat a sprig of fresh parsley – a sprinkle of the dried stuff won’t do the job.
Recent research suggest that drinking milk after eating garlic can have a positive effect on garlic breath – the fat in milk in seems to neutralise the odour. The research also explains that drinking milk mixed with garlic will have the best effect.
Another garlic breath remedy involves chewing cardamon seeds after eating garlic. As cardamon is, itself, a strongly flavoured spice, this may not be the remedy of choice for many garlic eaters.
Eating an apple after taking garlic will significantly reduce garlic breath. Apple cider vinegar also works well.