The Medicinal Uses of Garlic

A garlic press, with pressed garlic.
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Garlic (Allium Sativum L.) is part of the onion family. The bulb, stems, flowers, and leaves of the garlic plant are all edible. Everything except for the bulb is normally harvested and consumed early in their growth cycle. A wax paper type of protective cover is layed over the bulb and other parts of the plant and is not considered edible.

Garlic is a hardy plant and can be grown in just about any mild climate around the world. If the climate is cold you can plant around 6 weeks before the ground freezes and harvest late in the spring. China produces most of the worlds garlic with a stunning 77% of the overall harvest. The United States produces about 1.4% of the annual harvest. Most of this comes from Gilroy California. There are two basic types of garlic and you have to be careful to pick the right one for your climate. Softneck garlic thrives close to the equator and hardneck garlic performs better in cold climates.

Garlic has many medicinal uses. It’s biggest claim to fame is the prevention of heart disease and cancer. It also is said to prevent high cholesterol, atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.

A recent study in the US claims that garlic has no effect on improving your cholesterol. The study concluded that garlic had no effect on the levels of HDL, LDL or tryglycerides. This is interesting because for decades smaller studies have been saying that it does help with cholesterol. So, don’t write off garlic it is still very good for you.

Garlic was used by the Cherokee Indians to help soothe the croup and coughs. More recently, the BBC reported that garlic can help fight the common cold. Traditionally, it has been used this way for many years by many naturopaths.

During WWI and WW2 garlic was used ads an antiseptic to prevent gangrene. Today there are ongoing clinical trials that are testing the use of a mouthwash with 2.5% garlic. Many of the people who were part of these studies reported halitosis, which is a common side effect of garlic.

People who suffer with diabetes can greatly benefit from the garlic plant. It has been shown to regulate the level of blood sugar in the human body. This is something you should definitely consult your doctor over before attempting.

Halitosis is the most common side effect of garlic. It causes bad breath in the form of a nasty garlic scent. The reason this happens is because of the Allyl methyl sulfide that is contained in the garlic plant. Allyl methyl sulfide is absorbed into the bloodstream while garlic is being digested. From here it travels to the skin and lungs creating the unpleasant odor to become external. If you are looking to lessen this effect be sure that you cook the garlic before you eat it.

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