Garlic is known to most of us as one of the common ingredients in a meal, and, as such, finds a place in the kitchen. However, garlic has immense potential as a medicinal herb. Interestingly, the therapeutic benefits of garlic were identified in the ancient period itself. We all know that pyramids of Egypt are renowned worldwide and fascinate us. It has been stated that the pyramid builders have been provided garlic, which provided them the necessary strength in their construction work and helped them control or prevent dysentery. History also records facts that garlic was consumed by Europeans to protect themselves against the deadly disease of plaque.
Garlic has attracted the eyes of medical research of late and as many as 1000 pharmacological studies are being done to explore the benefits of this herb. The research is primarily concentrated on exploring the benefits of garlic in curing cardiovascular disease as well as cancer. Garlic also has anti-oxidant and antibacterial properties, in addition to treating heart-related diseases.
It has been proved beyond doubt that garlic has as many as 100 compounds that are chemically active. When you crush and chew the bulb of the garlic, a sulphur compound, alliin, present in garlic, is transformed into allicin, which is responsible for providing benefits to the heart and also contains antibiotic properties. It has been proved that people consuming more garlic are less prone to heart diseases than those not consuming more of garlic.
Usage of garlic has bee found to reduce the incidence of blood clotting in the body. Garlic acts effectively on cell like structures called platelets in the blood, which tend to form clots, especially in the coronary arteries. Not only does garlic act effectively on platelets and ensure good blood flow in the arteries, but improves the blood flow across the body. The important feature of garlic as a medicinal herb is that it acts as a vasodilator, causing the blood pressure to drop and expand the blood vessels. It has been found that garlic helps in improving the flexibility of the arteries in which blood flows in our body.
Garlic is found to be an effective antibiotic treatment. Raw garlic crushed and applied to wounds has been found to be very effective in killing a number of organisms that cause infection in and around the wounds. It has been found to be very effective in treating common diseases such as athlete’s foot, vaginal yeast infection and some types of ear infection, by killing the fungi that causes these ailments.
The most important medicinal benefit of garlic is its ability to treat cancer. It has been found that chemical compound allicin found in garlic is very effective in treating tumors. Garlic is also found to block the formation of compounds that cause cancer. Garlic also neutralizes free radicals that are responsible for damaging DNA, causing cell-ageing and also initiating carcinogenic cell changes in the body. By effectively neutralizing these free radicals, garlic also prevents the formation of nitrites that are responsible for triggering stomach cancer.
Garlic, as such, is more useful as a medicine than as an ingredient in our cooking, but, it is through the consumption of garlic through meals that we reap the medicinal benefits of garlic to have a healthy life.