Garlic may be one of the most famous herbal remedies to be used by in human history- dating back to ancient cultures. Fresh crushed garlic has been an interesting medicinal plant for centuries – effective against a broad range of pathogenic organisms.
Plants do not have immune systems to defend themselves against the bacteria, fungi, viruses and yeasts that attack them. Their defence is direct chemical warfare. Their weapons are antibiotics, antivirals and fungicides that they manufacture internally.
In the case of garlic, one of the main active ingredients is a thiosulfinate compound called allicin. The manufacture of allicin is triggered by the release of enzymes breaking the cell walls of the garlic plant. Allicin is the pungent, hot, stuff that makes garlic smell.
In addition to allicin, garlic contains over 100 other beneficial nutrients. These include beta-carotene, folate, beta-sitosterol, ferulic acid, geraniol, oleanolic acid, P-coumaric acid, rutin, quercetin, thiamine, niacin, vitamin c, cysteine, zinc, calcium, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and others.
More health benefits
Garlic directly attacks bacteria and viruses. It also stimulates the body’s natural defences against foreign invaders. Garlic is reported to be more effective than penicillin against typhus disease, and works well against strep, staph bacteria, and the organisms responsible for cholera, dysentery and enteritis.
It is generally regarded as a preventative measure for colds, ‘flu and other infectious diseases. Furthermore, scientific studies have shown that garlic stimulates the production of the liver’s own detoxifying enzymes which neutralise carcinogens and other environmental toxins.
Raw is best
Raw garlic will give you the maximum health benefits. Just finely chop a garlic clove and sprinkle it on your salad, on a slice of whole-wheat bread or on your cooked vegetables.
Most of the health benefits in garlic can be attributed to the compound that is responsible for its strong odour. When garlic is chopped, crushed, sliced or chewed, alliinase enzymes are activated and, through a series of conversions, form a sulfur phytonutrient called allicin.
leave it to stand for 10 minutes
Cooking garlic cloves whole or immediately after crushing can destroy the sensitive enzyme (alliinase) in garlic that is responsible for producing allicin. However, the health benefits can be partially conserved by chopping or crushing garlic and allowing it to stand for 10 minutes prior to cooking. That gives the enzyme time to be released and for allicin to form. Once formed, allicin is relatively heat stable.
Or you can buy it
Of course garlic’s odour is none too pleasant – so if you want to get the benefits of allicin without the smell, you can buy the extract.
“Let thy food by thy medicine and thy medicine be food,”
(Hippocrates around 400 B.C.)
Garlic turned my life around!
Note: while garlic is an excellent supplement for high blood pressure it is contra-indicated when blood pressure-lowering drugs are being taken