The secret therapeutic benefits of garlic


garlicCouple of years back, I was waiting for city bus in the good summer days.  I saw a girl with a backpack and some herbs were sticking out of her bag.  I could not resist myself and asked her, about the herb.  She told that she was a Vegan and every week of that particular day she goes for picking fresh vegetables.  The herb she picked today was actually garlic. Wow! I have used garlic in form of cloves available in supermarkets, but had not seen fresh garlic with leaves sticking out.   Any how it was interesting for me.  


Most of you must have used garlic in one form or another. garlic-facts-knowabouthealth1 It is a part of many cuisines like Thai, Chinese, Indian and etc. Apart from adding flavor, off course if you like that favor, garlic is actually highly beneficial for health.  For instance, my mother use to eat one clove of garlic to alleviate her gastric problems. I would like to share with you the wonders this herb can provide to your health.  Since garlic has many medicinal uses, I have divided the information into two parts.  In this first part you will see the health benefits related to infections and in second part related to cardiovascular, cancer and liver problems.  There are two main medical ingredients which produce the garlic health benefits: allicin and diallyl sulphides.


Allicin:  Allicin is produced when garlic is finely chopped or crushed. The finer the chopping and crushing, the more allicin and the stronger the medicinal effect.  Allicin starts to degrade immediately after it is produced, so its medical effectiveness decreases over time. Moreover, cooking speeds up this degradation and destroys allicin totally, thereby eliminating any health benefits.


Diallyl sulphides:  Diallyl sulphides are another beneficial compounds containing sulphur, present in garlic.  They do not degrade as quickly as allicin and remain after cooking.  But garlic still needs to be chopped or crushed to produce the sulphides.


Let us now look in more detail about the therapeutic role of garlic:


bacteriaAntibiotic effects:  Many studies have confirmed that garlic is an effective and broad spectrum antibiotic on bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses, and that garlic extract can suppress the growth of bacteria that are resistant to commonly used antibiotics.  Garlic’s antibiotic activity is due to presence of allicin.  Crushed raw garlic is a powerful antibiotic,...

whereas whole boiled cloves, have no allicin therefore offers no antibiotic activity.



Against pathogenic bacteria:  Studies show that garlic inhibits pathogenic intestinal bacteria that are responsible for diarrhea, but normal beneficial intestinal flora is less affected.  Garlic is effective against typhus-paratyphus-enteritis pathogenic group and has proven to enhance the effectiveness of antibiotics in the treatment of tuberculosis.


Against protozoal infections:  Garlic kills pathogenic protozoa.  Physicians in former Soviet Union used garlic for treatment of giardiasis, an intestinal infection caused by Giardia lamblia.


Against fungal infections: Garlic is also effective against pathogenic fungi and yeast.  Study reveals that aqueous garlic extract inhibits or kills series of fungi and yeasts originating from patients with infectious vaginitis, including Candida, Cryptococcus, Rhodotorula, Trichosporon. virus


Against viral infections: Garlic is not an antiviral panacea, but evidence does show that it is effective against some viruses, including certain types of influenza.  Prior to the availability of vaccines, garlic was successfully used as prophylacti-cally against polio.  It has also proven effective against some types of herpes virus and against viral pneumonia.


 You can see that garlic is helpful in fighting against various types of infections.  I have included garlic in my daily diet. I usually put it in sauces I make from cilantro. One thing you must have noticed in this article that it gives too many names of virus, bacteria, etc.  Well, when it comes to infections, you want to get rid of these micro-organisms but you can not get rid of their names.  I think, you will find next post on garlic more interesting as it discusses cardiovascular and liver benefits.

Till then, Healthy eating!!


Book Reference: 2008. The complete book of garlic. A guide for gardeners, growers and serious cooks. Tej Jordan Meredith 


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