Garlic is a herb with the botanical name Allium sativum. It is also known as ail, allium, camphor of the poor, da-suan, knoblaunch, la suan, nectar of the gods, poor-man's-treacle and stinking rose.
Garlic has a long history of use by many cultures, including the ancient Romans and Greeks. It is thought to be native to Southwest Siberia and in time spread to the mediteranean countries of Southern Europe. The root is made up of a group of small bulbs or cloves surrounded by a dry, whitish covering that holds them together. The bulbs should be harvested when the leaves begin to wither, usually in September. When these are collected, keep in a cool, dry area.
The part used in herbal medicine is the bulb. It contains many active constituents, most importantly a sulphur-containing compound called Allicin. Garlic is also rich in Sulphur-containing amino acids (cysteine, methionine), selenium (if the soil it is grown in is high in selenium), germanium, essential oil, ajoene, glucokinins, B group vitamins , vitamin C and flavonoids.
Herbal supplements can alter the effects of certain drugs, including prescription medications. Always tell your Doctor about any prescription medications, non-prescription medications, herbs or other dietary supplements you are taking. - Garlic should not be used by people taking anticoagulant/anti-platelet medications (e.g. warfarin), or NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as aspirin) as this can cause uncontrolled or spontaneous bleeding. - People taking the drug saquinavir (used in the treatment of HIV/AIDS) should not take garlic while taking this drug, as it may decrease its effectiveness. - People with diabetes should use Garlic with caution as it may result in decreased blood glucose levels (hypoglycaemia).
Always consult your Health Professional to advise you on dosages and any possible medical interactions. Garlic has been used in modern medicine for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fungal infections, heavy metal toxicity, free radical damage and infectious and immune deficiency diseases. Clinical studies indicate that regular garlic consumption may protect the body from various types of cancers.
HEART AND BLOOD VESSELS Clinical trials indicate that Garlic may aid in the treatment and prevention of coronary artery disease, possibly for hyperlipidaemia or hypercholesterolaemia, and mild hypertension. Garlic may also help reduce blood clots by reducing the stickiness of platelets or "thinning the blood". Garlic may also help other heart conditions such as high cholesterol levels and blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, angina and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)..
INFECTIOUS DISEASES Garlic is well known as an antibiotic herb. Its main area of use in the treatment of infectious disease is in the lungs and throat and the digestive tract. Due to the antiseptic oils in garlic being secreted from the lungs, it is extremely useful in treating any form of colds or flu, from a mild head cold to pneumonia. It is effective for bronchial conditions such as inflammatory disease, tuberculosis, asthma and hepatopulonary syndrome. Garlic also loosens mucus, encouraging it to be brought up from the lungs, throat and nose, improving dry, unproductive coughs and tightness in the chest.
In the digestive tract, garlic has been shown to be effective against a wide variety of germs and fungi including E. coli, Streptococci, staphylococci, Salmonella and Candida albicans. This makes garlic helpful in the treatment of yeast infections, by both destroying yeast and promoting the growth of beneficial microorganisms i.e., it has a normalising' effect on the bowel flora. Garlic may also aid in the treatment of such common infections as cystitis, furuncles (boils) and sore throat.
Promotes sweating, expectorant, antispasmodic, antiseptic, bacteriostatic, antiviral, lowers blood pressure, anthelmintic, reduces high cholesterol, binds and removes lead.
NOTES- Garlic supplements should be avoided before surgery, as they may increase post-operative bleeding time. - Garlic may interact with blood sugar medication. - Avoid doses that are higher than the garlic content of normal food intake while pregnant and breastfeeding. - Patients with gastrointestinal problems, such as peptic ulcers or gastric reflux should avoid Garlic. - Possible side effects include mouth, stomach or throat irritation, dizziness, stomach upset, allergic reactions and sweating. - Garlic contains a compound called alliin which reacts with an enzyme on crushing to convert to allicin, giving Garlic its characteristic odour. Allicin is responsible for the antibiotic and antiviral activity of Garlic, so when using Garlic for these purposes, it is important to use an allicin-stabilised product or use fresh Garlic immediately on crushing. Garlic is often sold in an odourless form and may not have these properties. - To combat the smell of Garlic on the breath, ensure the diet is high in chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the green pigment in fruit and vegetables. Parsley is especially high in chlorophyll. - If taking an acidophilus supplement, high allicin Garlic should be taken separately, e.g., acidophilus in the morning, Garlic at night.