Gotta Grow GARLIC!!!!
Extra Pungent and Powerful…
“It is truth, garlic gives man youth.”
–cry of 5th century Greek garlic street hawkers
Allium sativum has been called many things from bountiful bulb to poor man’s treacle
Liliaceae: Lily Family. The other members of this family-the onion and leek, also contain many of the same compounds that are in garlic to a lesser degree and are therefore used quite similarly in most cases.
Garlic is the name given to the leek (herb) with gar (spear) shaped leaves and phallic flowers. Perhaps referring to the belief that garlic imparts warlike properties and raises passion. Its Latin name Allium sativum is derived from al = burning, sativum= harvested. It is uncertain exactly where it originated but it is believed to be from either Central Asia and/or Siberia.
William Harvey who published a revolutionary book The Motion of Blood in 1628, was intrigued by a folk remedy for colds which placed a clove of garlic in the stockings overnight. This generally led to the smell of garlic on the patient’s breath the next morning, and reinforced his ideas of how blood circulated around the body. The other well-known connection between garlic and blood is the herb’s traditional property of repelling vampires.
Garlic was also reported to destroy a magnet’s power of attraction. Galen described it as the rustic’s theriac, (meaning heal-all or antidote to poison). Garlic has been used for thousands of years for both culinary and medicinal purposes all over the world.
Egypt: Remnants of garlic have been found in cave dwellings over 10,000 years old. Sketches of garlic and clay sculptures were found in Egyptian tombs dating to 5700 years ago. In Codex Ebers, an ancient Egyptian text,there are formulas that use garlic as a remedy for heart problems, headaches, tumors and other ailments. The Egyptians used garlic cloves as a form of currency. The laborers constructing Khufu’s pyramid ate garlic for endurance. According to Pliny, garlic and onions were invoked as deities by the Egyptians upon taking an oath. The inhabitants of Pelusium in lower Egypt, who worshiped the onion, are said to have had an aversion to both onions and garlic as food. The Israelites dreamed of garlic while wandering for years in the desert. “We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt–the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.” Numbers 11:5
Greece: Garlic was dedicated to Hecate, the Greek goddess of witchcraft, famous for her knowledge of plants and her magical garden in Colchis on the shore of the Black Sea. The ancient Greeks placed garlic on the piles of stones at cross-roads, as a supper for Hecate. In Homer’s Odyssey, Hermes recommended garlic to Ulysses to protect him from the sorceress Circe who turned men into swine. It was sold in taverns and on street corners as an elixir for vitality. Garlic symbolized strength — athletes at the Olympic Games ate it before competing to improve chances of victory. The Greek herbalist of the Roman army, Dioscorides called garlic a holy herb because of its use for purification ceremonies in the temples. The Greeks also used it to cure snakebite and pneumonia.
Rome: In Roman mythology, garlic is ruled by Mars — god of war. Roman legions were issued this potent bulb to heat their blood and make them fierce. Pliny claimed that sixty-one ailments could be cured with garlic. Horace detested the odor of garlic. The Romans attributed many magical powers to garlic.
Europe: Many cultures throughout Europe, use garlic for protection and white magic. To ward off vampires, garlic could be worn, hung in windows or rubbed on chimneys and keyholes. The belief that garlic warded away evil spirits, probably stems from the antibacterial, antiviral and anti-parasitic properties of garlic. Also preventing disorders of the digestive tract that can lead to delusions, fatigue and other symptoms of mental illness. During World War I, garlic was used extensively to prevent gangrene and treat typhus and dysentery. Garlic was regarded by Culpeper, as the “poor man’s treacle, it being a remedy for all diseases and hurts”. It was believed that everyone who purchased garlic on St. John’s Day would be safe from poverty during the coming year. An ancient story tells of how Satan, upon leaving the Garden of Eden had garlic spring up from his left footprint, and onion from the right. Certain Slavic peoples still eat a clove of raw garlic with each meal during winter months to prevent colds and flu. Gypsies worship garlic.
Asia: Garlic was also used around Asia to ward off the evil eye. Chinese writings dating from 2700 BC describe using garlic for treating ailments and enhancing vigor. In India, Ayurvedic medicine recommends garlic to boost energy, to treat colds and fatigue. According to orthodox Hindu and Buddhist philosophies, onions and garlic are believed to have the quality of tamas or “darkness”. They were forbidden to upper-cast people because they were believed to bring out ignorance, sloth, fear and lewdness. Many aesthetics abstain from consuming garlic and onions. They feel that consuming foods which are grown underground will have a grounding affect, making it difficult to attain the sought after higher states. Another reason for abstaining is because the high sulfur content of garlic has a heating (yang) effect upon the blood, resulting in sexual excitement. As a result, many celibates prefer not to eat garlic. Baba Hari Das has said garlic is good for the body but bad for the sadhana.
United States of America: Chicago is named after the Native American term for the place where the wild garlic grows. back to top
Garlic’s pungency disappears with cooking, leaving a sweet garlic flavor. A head of garlic is made up of many individual cloves (formerly called toes). The leaves and stems are delicious when immature and tender. They have a milder flavor than the cloves and are often used in stir fried dishes. Young garlic shoots are often pickled in the states of the Caucasus and eaten as an appetizer. Garlic can be stored in cooking oil with herbs creating a nicely flavored infused oil. Be hygienic during preparation of fresh garlic oils as there is a risk of botulism developing in the oxygen-free oil if it is not stored properly. To reduce the risk of botulism, keep the oil refrigerated and mark the date it was prepared on the bottle. In Chinese cuisine, the young bulbs are pickled for 3-6 weeks in a mixture of sugar, salt and spices. Always use garlic or ginger with meats to counter the toxic acids meats create during digestion. Garlic breath is supposedly freshened by eating parsley. The herb is, therefore, included in many garlic recipes, such as Pistou and Persillade. Crushing garlic with a good mortar and pestle is the best way to prepare garlic. Boiling and heating destroy many of garlic’s medicinal properties. Add garlic to soups, stews and salads just before serving. In India and Myanmar the combination of garlic and ginger is considered to be a very special flavor combination. Pounded garlic, onion and ginger is used as the basis for many curries and soups and is absolutely delicious and addicting. back to top
Fresh or Cooked? Most studies have been done on the properties of the volatile oil allicin, which has been proven very effective against Eschericahia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Helicobacter pylori. Cooked garlic has powerful healing properties in it’s own right. In a world of fear of bacteria and viruses, garlic is an affordable, useful preventative. So eat some garlic raw, some garlic cooked, keep the balance and enjoy good health.
Constituents: Garlic has over 100 different compounds that contribute to its effects. The primary being volatile oil with sulfur containing compounds, enzymes, B vitamins, minerals and flavonoids.
Phytochemicals (botanical): Allicin, Beta-carotene, Beta-sitosterol, Caffeic acid, Cholorogenic acid, Diallyl disulfide, Ferulic acid, Geraniol, Kaempferol, Linalool, Oleanolic acid, P-coumaric acid, Phloroglucinol, Phytic acid, Quercetin, Rutin, S-Allyl cysteine, Saponin, Sinapic acid, Stigmasterol, Allin. Phyto (plant) sterols are chemically similar to animal cholesterol and normally broken down in bile. Stigmasterol is found in garlic and is an unsaturated plant sterol occurring in the oils in garlic. Stigmasterol is also found in nuts, seeds and unpasteurized milk. It is a precursor in the manufacture of progesterone, a valuable human hormone that assists in regulating tissue rebuilding mechanisms related to estrogen effects. As a result stigmasterol may be useful in prevention of cancers such as: ovarian, prostate, breast and colon.
Organosulfur substances: garlic has a high and unique content, containing at least four times more than the other high sulfur vegetables (onion, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower). It has both water and oil soluble sulfur compounds. The water-soluble antioxidant S-allyl cysteine easily gets into the blood through the gut wall with absorption close to 90%. It has an amazing ability to detoxify, and also helps prevent oxidant-related damage including cancer, heart disease and aging. Allicin is oil soluble, volatile and forms when the garlic is cut, mashed or pounded. Crushing garlic activates the enzyme alliinase which converts a chemical in garlic, alliin, into allicin. Allicin is quickly destroyed by heating. If garlic is being used medicinally it should be added to the foods freshly pounded and just before eating. Allicin is another powerful antioxidant found in garlic. Microwaving crushed garlic completely destroys allicin. Allicin is also responsible for the hot, burning flavor and smell of fresh garlic.
Non-sulfur compounds: Non-sulfur compounds in garlic include proteins, carbohydrates, saponins (steroid substances which have antibacterial and anti-fungal actions), and flavonoids, such as allixin, that are important antioxidants. Garlic also contains selenium.
Antioxidants: Garlic is rich in powerful antioxidants. Many of garlic’s disease preventive, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects are due to its antioxidant actions. It has been used for centuries as an invigorating tonic and elixir of youth. The fact that garlic imparts energy and vitality may explain its reputation as an aphrodisiac.
Nutrients: calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, vitamin B1 (Thiamine), vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), vitamin B3 (Niacin) and vitamin C. Garlic is a rich dietary source of sulfur and selenium.
Fresh garlic is generally preferred for the live enzymes it contains. As a preventative, it has no equal in the home. When eaten in quantity, garlic becomes strongly evident through sweat and breath. Garlic’s strong smelling sulfur compounds are metabolized forming allyl methyl sulfide (AMS) which is not digested and passes into the blood. From there it is carried to the lungs and the skin where it is excreted. One way of accelerating the release of AMS from the body is by taking a sauna. back to top
Uses — traditional and otherwise:
Strongly antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-viral, bactericide, decongestant, expectorant. Specific for bronchitis, asthma, stomach ulcers, chronic colitis, influenza, urinary tract infections, Candida albicans, cardiovascular problems, all respiratory infections and inhibiting thrombus formation. Leaves and bulbs have hypotensive, carminative, antiseptic, diaphoretic and expectorant properties. Other uses — abortion, age-related memory problems, AIDS, allergies, antioxidant, antitoxin, aphrodisiac, atrophic gastritis, arthritis, parasites, athlete’s foot, benign breast disease, bile secretion problems, bladder cancer, bloody urine, breast fibromatosis, cholera, claudication (leg pain due to poor blood flow), cytomegalovirus infection, dental pain, digestive aid, diphtheria, diuretic, dysentery, dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), earache, fatigue, fever, gallstones, hair growth, headache, heart rhythm disorders, hemorrhoids, hepatopulmonary syndrome, hormonal effects, immune system stimulation, inflammation, kidney problems, kidney damage from antibiotics, leukemia, liver health, mucous thinning, muscle spasms, nephrotic syndrome, obesity, perspiration, pneumonia, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), psoriasis, Raynaud’s disease, ringworm, sedative, snake venom protection, spermicide, stomach acid reduction, stomach lining protection, stress (anxiety), stroke, traveler’s diarrhea, tuberculosis, vaginal trichomoniasis, typhus, warts, well-being, whooping cough.
In certain parts of China people eat about 20 grams of garlic a day (approximately 8 medium size cloves).
Circulation/Heart: Garlic’s components prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and injuring cell walls along the blood vessels. This prevents plaque deposits forming on the vessel walls. Garlic also prevents blood platelets from clumping and sticking to the walls of blood vessels. This thins the blood and keeps it circulating smoothly around our bodies, swiftly removing toxins from our blood-stream. With the circulation moving without resistance there is less chance of blood clots, heart disease or strokes.
Anti-oxidant: Garlic contains flavonoids and selenium that stimulate the production of glutathione (the liver’s most potent antioxidant). Glutathione enhances elimination of toxins and carcinogens, putting garlic at the top of the list for foods that help prevent cancer. The antioxidant abilities of garlic also offer protection against brain injury by ischemia. If blood circulation to the brain is decreased due to atherosclerosis or a poor heart condition– the brain is deprived of oxygen (ischemic hypoxia). When the brain is enriched again with oxygen, free radicals are produced, causing brain injury that accelerates aging and diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Garlic’s antioxidants act together to help prevent atherosclerosis, heart disease, stroke, cancer and aging, as well as boost immunity and help increase memory and life span. The antioxidants protect against toxic effects of free radicals from radiation, including sunlight, environmental pollutants and some anti-cancer drugs.
Cancer: Regular consumption of garlic reduces the chances of developing several types of cancer, especially cancers of the digestive system. This is because of the antioxidants in garlic and it’s ability to improve blood circulation for quick removal of toxins. Garlic is also high in flavonoids which prevent formation of prostagladins, (hormone-like substances that help to cause inflammation, platelet aggregation and tumor growth).
Garlic protects against cancer by:
- preventing mutations
- preventing the binding of carcinogens to DNA
- producing enzymes that increase destruction of carcinogens
- enhancing immunity
- stopping the growth of some human cancer cells
Blood Sugar: If used consistently garlic can lower blood homocysteine levels, and has helped to prevent some complications of diabetes mellitus. People taking insulin should not consume medicinal amounts of garlic without consulting a physician. In such applications, garlic must be fresh and uncooked, or the allicin will be lost.
Upper Respiratory: Garlic is an important herb for cleansing and feeding the lungs. Garlic may reduce the severity of upper respiratory tract infections.
Anti-viral: Garlic can prevent infection by the influenza virus and destroys the virus that causes cold sores.
Anti-bacterial: Garlic acts by stopping the growth of harmful bacteria thereby allowing health-giving bacteria to proliferate. Garlic enhances the capacity of the immune cells to engulf E. coli bacteria. Garlic contains substances that kill Heliobacter pylori. Treatment for ulcers with garlic supplementation may become an essential approach.
Immune Enhancer: Produces more “natural killer” cells in the blood to fight tumors and infections. Subjects receiving 10 cloves of garlic a day showed an increase of 139.9% in natural killer immune cell activity.
Neuron Protector: Helps fight against neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Nerve cells exposed to S-allyl cysteine and other compounds in garlic showed an unusual ability to grow and branch.
Detoxification: Enhances detoxification by reducing toxins. Cardio-toxicity and liver toxicity caused by anti-cancer agents is a concern in cancer therapy. Doxorubicin, which is used in treating breast cancer, ovarian carcinoma and other tumors, damages the heart muscle and leads to in-heart failure. Methotrexate and 5-fluorouracilused, which are used in treating a variety of cancers, produce liver toxicity.
Anti-fungal (applied to the skin): Several studies describe the application of garlic to the skin to treat fungal infections, including yeast infections. Caution: garlic can cause severe burns and rash when applied to the skin of sensitive individuals.back to top
Garlic is powerful and needs to be treated with respect.
It is very heating and can irritate the stomach.
Skin Irritation: Be careful when applying garlic directly to the skin as it can cause burning.
Bleeding: Cases of bleeding have been associated with garlic use. Garlic supplementation should be stopped prior to surgical or dental procedures. Bleeding may be due to effects of garlic on blood platelet aggregation, or to increased breakdown of blood clots (fibrinolysis). Special caution is recommended for people who have bleeding disorders or who take blood thinning medications (anticoagulants, aspirin/anti-platelet agents, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen) or herbs/supplements that may increase the risk of bleeding.
Digestive irritation: Eating fresh or dehydrated garlic may cause burning of the mouth, bad breath, abdominal pain or fullness, poor appetite, gas, belching, nausea, vomiting, irritation of the stomach lining, heartburn, diarrhea, or constipation. Garlic should be used cautiously at first by people with stomach ulcers or who are prone to stomach irritation. Increase slowly until you find an acceptable level for your body.
Botulism: Cases of botulism have been caused by consuming garlic-in-oil preparations. Add acid and/or keep refrigerated to retard bacterial growth. Commercial preparation of chopped garlic have been linked to botulism. It is best to freshly prepare garlic for your needs. Or make turmeric-garlic oil for infusions.
Allergies: People with a known allergy to garlic, or to other members of the Liliaceae (lily) family, should avoid garlic. Allergic reactions have been reported from garlic taken by mouth, inhaled, or applied to the skin. Some reactions are severe including throat swelling and difficulty breathing (anaphylaxis). It has been suggested that some cases of asthma from inhaling garlic may be due to mites on the garlic. Fresh garlic applied to the skin may be more likely to cause rashes than garlic extract.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Garlic is safe during pregnancy in amounts usually eaten in food. However, garlic supplements or large amounts of garlic should be avoided during pregnancy due to a possible increased risk of bleeding. Garlic may cause contraction of the uterus. Many tinctures contain high levels of alcohol, and should be avoided during pregnancy. Garlic is generally safe during breastfeeding in amounts usually eaten in food, based on historical use.
Interactions with Drugs: Garlic may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that also increase the risk of bleeding. For example: aspirin, anticoagulants (“blood thinners”) such as warfarin (Coumadin) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve). Animal and human studies show that garlic can lower blood pressure. Use caution when combining with other medications that lower blood pressure. Antiviral drugs like ritonavir may be affected. Garlic may lower blood sugar levels, caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Garlic may alter levels of various anti-cancer drugs. Check with your oncologist and pharmacist before starting to take garlic supplements.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements: Garlic may increase the risk of bleeding. This risk may be increased when garlic is taken with other herbs or supplements that also increase the risk of bleeding. Cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba and a couple of cases with saw palmetto. Effects of herbs and supplements that act on the thyroid may be affected by garlic. back to top
No household should be without garlic. Garlic grows very easily. Plant garlic cloves 2 inches deep in the full sun in fall. They will be ready to harvest in July when the tops turn yellow. Cure the bulbs 2-4 weeks in a dark, dry area with moderate temperature.
Growing garlic in your garden can rebuff rabbits and many insect pests. For modern pest control plant cloves of garlic around your peach, apple and pear trees. It also protects cucumbers, peas, celery and lettuce and makes a useful spray. It is just about the most useful plant an organic gardener knows. It has excellent and potent antibiotic and repellent qualities. As early as the sixteenth century it was used as a mole repellent (“to make them leap out of the ground”). It is very health giving and is liked by cattle, dogs, fowl, gorillas and wild animals who seek out colonies of wild garlic. At present garlic is grown all over the world from the equator to latitudes of 50° in both hemispheres. Garlic will concentrate germanium if it is in the soil where it is growing. back to top