- GARLIC :
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
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
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.
HABITAT AND CULTIVATION
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.
HOW MUCH TO TAKE
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
HOW TO GROW IT
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.
HOW IT WORKS IN THE BODY
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.