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(Allium sativum)

This spice is a perennial herb whose bulb, composed of small cloves, is readily identifiable by its peculiar odor. The odor, of course, is due to the many different sulphur compounds present inside each clove. Due to the large concentration of this particularly smelly mineral, garlic has been referred to at various times throughout history as "an herb that only the Prince of Hell himself could enjoy the aroma of full time with nary a complaint."

Garlic usually grows to a height of about 2 feet and has flat, long, pointed leaves. Garlic flowers in mid-summer and the colors range from pink to white; the flowers are quite edible. Many varieties and cultivars of garlic exist. Some of the large, white-skinned types are referred to as American or California garlic; early and late cultivars are available. The many varieties with pink- or purple-skinned bulbs may be called Chilean, Creole, Mexican or Italian. Garlic grows well all over the continental United States, although it seems to do best in dry, mild regions. In northern climates garlic doesn't develop as large a bulb because of the shorter growing season. Elephant garlic (A. ampeloprasum) is a garlic relative whose prodigious heads of 4 to 6 cloves can reach the size of an orange.

Rocambole (A. sativun var. ophioscorodon) is another type of garlic sometimes seen in the gardens of garlic aficionados. It goes by other names such as Italian or French garlic and looks somewhat dramatic, with many flat leaves like those of garlic chives (A. tuberosum) appearing in spring and looped flower stalks in summer. The "flower" head of this particular garlic opens to reveal a cluster of bulbils instead of flowers. All parts of rocambole are edible and these bulbs are harvested just like those of regular garlic. According to some who have grown it, French or Italian garlic is well worth growing for different reasons. For one thing, the bulbs seem to keep very well; for another, the cloves peel a lot easier; and finally the flavor is quite good. Rocambole is available from some mail-order seed houses but is seldom offered at nurseries.

Garlic is an effective remedy against bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic infections. Raw garlic when crushed releases allicin, which has been shown to be more powerfully antibiotic than penicillin and tetracycline. Garlic can be used for sore throats, colds, flu, bronchial and lung infections, infections in the gut and to help re-establish beneficial bacterial population after an infection or orthodox antibiotic treatment. Garlic is an effective remedy for worms as well as for candidiasis, and thrush in the mouth or vagina when used locally. Garlic improves digestion, relieves wind and distension, enhances absorption and assimilation of food. Garlic also enhances the production of insulin by the pancreas, making it an excellent remedy to lower blood sugar in diabetics.

Garlic acts as a decongestant. Garlic is an excellent expectorant remedy for acute and chronic bronchitis, whooping cough and bronchial asthma, as well as sinusitis, chronic catarrh, hay fever and rhinitis. By causing sweating garlic helps resolve fevers. Garlic can significantly lower blood cholesterol. Garlic also reduces blood pressure and a tendency to clotting, thereby helping to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Garlic opens up the blood vessels, increasing the flow of blood to the tissues, increasing the circulation, relieving cramps and circulatory disorders. Recent research has shown that garlic acts as a powerful antioxidant and its sulphur compounds have antitumour activities, while it is also said to protect the body against the effects of pollution and nicotine.


Traditional remedy - Garlic has always been esteemed for its healing powers and before the development of antibiotics it was a treatment for all manner of infections, from tuberculosis to typhoid. Garlic was also used to dress wounds in the First World War.
Bronchial infections - Garlic is an excellent remedy for all types of chest infections. Garlic is good for colds, flu, and ear infections, and it helps to reduce mucus.
Digestive tract - Digestive infections respond well to garlic. The herb can also rid the body of intestinal parasites.
Circulatory remedy - Garlic prevents circulatory problems and strokes by keeping the blood thin. Garlic lowers cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
Other uses - Garlic is used for infections, and may be taken with conventional antibiotics to support their action and ward off side effects. Also, garlic reduces blood sugar levels and can help in late-onset diabetes.

Originally from central Asia, garlic is now grown worldwide. Garlic is grown by dividing the bulb and is harvested late the following summer.

Antibiotic - Garlic has been researched in Germany, Japan, and the US from the 1980s onward, but authorities still disagree on how it achieves its remarkable antibiotic action. When the fresh clove is crushed, alliin is broken down by alliinase into allicin. Allicin and other constituents of the volatile oil are highly antiseptic and antibiotic, explaining why garlic is effective even in severe infections such as dysentery.
Blood pressure - Clinical trials in the 1980s have confirmed that garlic reduces blood lipid (fat) levels and lowers blood pressure

Garlic contains volatile oil with sulphur containing compounds (notably allicin, alliin and ajoene); enzymes, B vitamins, minerals, flavonoids.

Some people chew one whole clove of raw garlic per day. For those who prefer it, odor-controlled, enteric-coated tablets or capsules with standardized allicin potential can be taken at 400-500 mg once or twice per day (providing up to 5,000 mcg of allicin). Alternatively, a tincture of 2-4 ml can be taken three times daily.

Most people enjoy garlic. However, some individuals who are sensitive to it may experience heartburn and flatulence. Because of garlic's anticlotting properties, persons taking anticoagulant drugs should check with their nutritionally oriented doctor before taking garlic. Those scheduled for surgery should inform their surgeon if they are taking garlic supplements. There are no known contraindications to the use of garlic during pregnancy and lactation.

Annual. Plant the cloves 6 inches deep and 2 inches apart in rich soil during the fall or early spring. Pull up the heads when the leaves turn yellow, and dry them in the sun.

The volatile oil, which produces garlic's distinctive odor, contains allicin, which has been proved to have an antibiotic effect on staphylococcus aureus, among other bacterial infections affecting the body. It has also been effective against candida albicans. The allicin has in addition been shown to have a hypoglycemic effect, reducing blood sugar levels. Further, it has demonstrated an anti-thrombotic action, reducing blood clotting, as well as lowering blood pressure and reducing cholesterol.


FRESH - Rub on acne, or mash and use on warts and verrucas, or to draw corns. Add the cloves regularly to the diet as a prophylactic against infection, to reduce high cholesterol levels, to improve the quality of the cardiovascular system, and help lower blood sugar levels. Eat crushed cloves (3 - 6 daily in acute conditions) for severe digestive disorders (gastroenteritis, dysentery, worms), and infections.
JUICE - Drink for digestive disorders and infections, or to combat atherosclerosis.
MACERATION - Steep 3 - 4 garlic cloves in water or milk overnight and drink the liquor the next day for intestinal parasites.
CAPSULES - Garlic powder can be made into capsules as an aromatic alternative to commercial "pearls." Clinical trials suggest that 2 g powder in capsules daily can prevent further heart attacks in those who have already suffered one attack. Taking the capsules daily can also combat infections, including thrush.
PEARLS - Use as an alternative to capsules. The more "deodorized" the pearls, the less effective they are.

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