Garlic is the edible bulb from a plant in the lily family. Ancient Egyptians considered garlic to be a potent medicinal food.
Garlic has been used as both a medicine and a spice for thousands of years.
What Garlic Is Used For
- Garlic's most common uses as a dietary supplement product that contains vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, and/or other ingredients intended to supplement the diet for high cholesterol, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
- Garlic is also used to prevent certain types of cancer, including stomach and colon cancers.
Garlic, the cousin of the onion, enhances the taste of many foods. When cooking, break apart the head of garlic and remove the skin from individual cloves before chopping.
The smaller you chop garlic, the stronger the flavor. Chopping or pressing releases more of its essential oils, giving the strong garlic aroma.
Garlic cloves can be eaten raw or cooked. They may also be dried or powdered and used in tablets and capsules. Raw garlic cloves can be used to make oils and liquid extracts.
Instead of adding raw garlic to sauces, saute the garlic first for a milder flavor.
Garlic leaves are edible and can be used like chives.
Store garlic cloves in clean, empty baby food jars and place in the freezer.
Garlic Aids Detox
Garlic helps cleanse harmful bacteria, intestinal parasites, and viruses from the body, especially from the blood and intestines. It also helps cleanse build-up from the arteries and lowers blood pressure. Garlic has anti-cancer and antioxidant properties that help detoxify the body of harmful substances. Fresh garlic helps cleanse the respiratory tract by expelling mucous build-up in the lungs and sinuses. Try to eat at least a clove or two per day. Raw is best but cooked garlic is often easier for those of us with sensitive stomachs.
Garlic should be pulled from the ground when 75 percent of the stems are dry and brown.
When planted as a companion, garlic seems to enhance the growth of roses, strawberries, fruit trees, cabbage, and tomatoes. However, as a companion plant, garlic seems to inhibit the growth of peas, beans and asparagus.
Tying the stems of a garlic plant in a knot a few days before harvesting helps dry out the stems and is believed to concentrate the garlic juice in the cloves.
What Does Science Say?
Evidence indicates that taking a garlic supplement can slightly lower blood cholesterol levels; studies have shown positive effects in even short-term (1 to 3 months) use.
Preliminary research suggests that taking garlic may slow the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), a condition that can lead to heart disease or stroke.
Evidence is mixed on whether taking garlic can slightly lower blood pressure.
Some studies suggest consuming garlic as a regular part of the diet may lower the risk of certain cancers. However, no clinical trials have examined this.
NCCAM is supporting studies looking at how garlic interacts with certain drugs and how it can thin blood.
Did you know? Elephant garlic bulbs weigh up to one pound.
Shakespeare and Garlic
In his play, "A Midsummer Night's Dream", first performed around 1595, Shakespeare wrote, "Eat no onions nor garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath".
Side Effects and Cautions for Garlic
- Garlic appears to be safe for most adults.
- Side effects include breath and body odor, heartburn, upset stomach, and allergic reactions. These side effects are more common with raw garlic.
- Garlic can thin the blood (reduce the ability of blood to clot) in a manner similar to aspirin. This effect may be a problem during or after surgery. Use garlic with caution if you are planning to have surgery or dental work, or if you have a bleeding disorder. A cautious approach is to avoid garlic in your diet or as a supplement for at least 1 week before surgery.
- Garlic has been found to interfere with the effectiveness of saquinavir, a drug used to treat HIV infection. Its effect on other drugs has not been well studied.
- Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.
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