Garlic is the bulb of a plant from the family of lilies. It has a very distinctive odor and specific strong taste.
It is widely used in different cuisines, especially Mediterranean. One of the reasons for such popularity is the fact that it has been well-known for thousands of years for its medical benefits.
Garlic can be used in the form of a supplement, as well as in its raw form, without loosing its medicinal qualities.
Garlic has been used throughout history for treating all kinds of diseases. In ancient cultures, such as Egyptian and Greek, it was used for almost everything, from leprosy to toothaches. During the nineteenth century, its antibacterial properties have been used in the treatment of tuberculosis, and also for disinfecting wounds.
Nowadays, researchers confirm these health benefits, and it has been proven that garlic can fight different bacteria, including streptococcus and staphylococcus, which are very common causes of disease in humans, as well as helicobacter pylori which causes gastric ulcers.
Also, garlic has shown good results in fighting fungal infections of the ear and skin.
Garlic may also help diabetics by lowering blood sugar level and is a good antioxidant.
Garlic can be helpful for the heart by reducing cholesterol and by making it more difficult for blood clots to form. It also helps breaking up existing clots by using a mechanism called fibroinolytic action. By doing all of this, garlic consequently helps lower blood pressure.
Garlic contains a sulphur-bearing compound by the name of allicin. It is believed to be the main source of the power of garlic and is released when garlic cloves are cut, chewed or crushed. On top of that, garlic contains traces of germanium and selenium. These minerals also contribute to the positive health effects of garlic.
According to studies that were done in China, eating about seven clovers of garlic every day may help a person not develop cancer. This is a situation where garlic supplements probably should be used instead of raw garlic. Studies on animals also confirm this effect of garlic. It does help the body to fight tumors and it seems to interfere with cancer causing chemicals.
Garlic is excellent in preventing colds as well. A clove of garlic should be eaten three times a day. Supplements may also be used in order to avoid the garlic odor. High doses are not recommended in certain cases. People who have digestive problems can experience irritation of the intestinal tract.
Pregnant women should not take high doses of garlic, because it may stimulate uterine contractions.
Individuals with low thyroid function should be careful when consuming garlic, because its components can interfere with the proper functioning of thyroid gland.
Garlic components could interfere with medications such as anticoagulants, or those that lower blood sugar. Garlic odor can be diminished by chewing fresh parsley, or by using supplements.
It is recommended to receive medical advice prior to taking any kind of garlic supplements.