Garlic The Wonder Bulb
Garlic has a long history of medicinal use by cultures around the world for a wide variety of conditions. One of the first medicines, garlic was included in the Codex Ebers, a 1550 BC papyrus that some consider the oldest medical test on record.
It has been indispensable to Chinese medicine for thousands of years and was reportedly used by the ancient Egyptians to treat dental cavities and as a general tonic.
Garlic’s uses in folk medicine include treatments for bronchitis and respiratory problems, gastrointestinal problems, flatulence, leprosy, menstrual cramps, high blood pressure, diabetes and externally for warts, corns, arthritis, muscle pain, neuralgia and sciatica.
In Ayurvedic medicine garlic is considered heating, diuretic, diaphoretic (enduces sweating), expectorant, carminative, anti-coagulant, anthelmintic (rids the body of intestinal worms) and immune enhancing.
Homeopathically, garlic is used to treat upper respiratory tract inflammation, rheumatism and digestive problems. Louis Pasteur first verified garlic’s antibacterial properties scientifically in 1858, and during WW1 garlic juice, water and sphagnum moss were used to bandage wounds, during which time garlic was known as ‘Russian penicillin’. It was also used in WW2 to prevent septic poisoning and gangrene.
Even before Pasteur’s discovery, garlic was a military disinfectant, and poultices of moss, garlic and wine were used to treat soldiers in the army of ancient Rome.
Recently, science has begun to confirm many of garlic’s long-standing medical uses. Garlic has been shown to lower blood cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar in studies and clinical trials. Garlic has also demonstrated anti-cancer, antibacterial, anti-fungal and antioxidant effects.
Medicinal garlic comes in many forms, but raw garlic is most potent medicinally, and deodorized forms may have reduced medicinal action. According to a researcher at the National Cancer Institute, garlic should be chopped and allowed to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking to stabilize beneficial compounds and maximize garlic’s anti-cancer properties.
Other than garlic breath, garlic’s side effects include digestive disturbance, flatulence, occupational asthma, postoperative bleeding and skin irritation, particularly from prolonged or excessive exposure.
Garlic ‘folk remedies’ have been used on children and babies in various cultures, but large amounts of ‘garlic preparations’ such as oil or extracts have reportedly caused deaths in small children. Garlic can irritate the digestive tracts of very young children and some resource don’t recommend garlic for breastfeeding mothers. In addition, some individuals are allergic to garlic.