What are some Therapeutic uses of Garlic?
The Latin name for garlic is Allium sativum, and it belongs to the family of Lilies, as do onions and leeks, and not to the same group as lettuce or marijuana, which bear the same species name. It is a potent cleanser of the body, internally as well as externally, containing a natural antibiotic called “allium”, which can be used either by consuming garlic in its natural state or by extracting this substance to be included in salves, tinctures and other preparations in kitchen or laboratory. If crushed in milk, soaked into bread and applied in a compress to wounds and inflamed spots, garlic is reputed to draw out the toxins. Slices of garlic can be placed on bites from some insect, such as ants, to neutralize the acidity.
Among the therapeutic uses of garlic are those based on its action against bacteria. When a shortage of penicillin threatened Russia during World War II, peasants reminded the doctors of the antimicrobial properties of garlic, which can be used to treat infection. It was dehydrated and powdered, to facilitate its preservation and use, thus helping to save many lives. When 2-3 cloves are minced and left to cure a few days in olive oil, the resulting product can be used for treating external injuries as well as many internal infections. A “tea” made of several cloves of raw garlic crushed in a glass of cold water helps cystitis and other urinary infections. For ear inflammations, a piece of garlic can be cut to size, wrapped in gauze (to avoid burning the skin, and to facilitate the removal of the garlic when finished), and inserted into the ear.
Aside from the antiseptic applications already mentioned, there are many other therapeutic uses of garlic. It has a strong healing action on the respiratory system, especially the bronchial tubes, and acts as a bronchodilator to permit easier breathing. For treating asthma, coughs and colds, a tincture can be made by chopping several buds of garlic and putting these into a small bottle of brandy or other ingestible alcohol. If left to cure for two weeks in a dark place, the alcohol absorbs the active ingredients of the plant, and can then be taken daily to benefit the chest disorders. For external use, the sympathy doctors of the Pennsylvania “Dutch” (who were really German, or “Deutsch”) prepared a penetrating unguent of garlic in lard to rub on the chest for whooping cough.
Other important properties of this medicinal herb are beneficial for the circulatory system. Garlic reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood, benefiting and preventing high blood pressure and heart disease. It also stimulates fibrinolytic activity, thus dissolving blood clots that can block the coronary artery in the case of heart attacks, or that may cause stroke through blockage of blood flow to the brain. Garlic also has a vasodilator action that lowers the blood pressure by causing the arteries to expand and allow more room for the blood to flow.
Garlic stimulates and protects the thymus gland, which is responsible for regulating the immune system. It also helps to prevent cancer by inhibiting the development of cancer cells. But pay attention – everything in life has both a good side and a bad side. Garlic suppresses the coagulation system in the blood, which can be a negative side effect for people with dengue fever, AIDS, or those who have just undergone surgery. In these cases, it may cause hemorrhaging. Consult your doctor when in doubt.
The therapeutic uses of garlic can take many forms. It can be prepared as a syrup, useful for colds and breathing difficulties, by being chopped and cooked in a mix of sugar and water. It can be peeled and dried and shaped into pill-like “pearls” or balls. This drying should not be done in direct sunlight or high temperatures, to avoid evaporating some of the valuable chemical components of the herb. By spreading the garlic on a sheet in the oven, at a very low temperature and with the door open, water will leave the cloves without losing much of the beneficial properties.
In the form of tea, oil or alcoholic extract, garlic can be consumed orally, or by external application through the skin. Many people forget that the skin is a second “mouth”, which absorbs nutrients directly into the blood while bypassing the digestive system, thus avoiding the loss of many of garlic´s desirable qualities during digestion. It can also be taken in the industrialized form of dietary supplements, such as garlic oil, which apparently cause less body odor than the more natural methods of ingestion.
Of course, the most natural method of all for using garlic is in the diet. One recipe for a side dish or salad dressing that is also medicinal is to combine finely diced red (Spanish) onion, chopped tomatoes, crushed garlic, vegetable oil (olive, sunflower, canola, soy or corn), and a little lemon juice. This sauce can substitute pickles in sandwiches and salads, and combines flavor with the beneficial aspects of the plant. Remember that the best way to guarantee these benefits is to turn the therapeutic use of garlic into a continuous habit, altering the form of consumption according to your own personal needs. The much maligned garlic breath is a small price to pay for the enormous good it will contribute to your health – and chewing a mint leaf after each meal may help.
Written By: David Michael (Teresópolis, Brazil)
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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )