Garlic is an extremely popular herb and rightly so. It is one of the very few food products which has been clinically proven to have a measure of effectiveness for an array of health problems.
Originally from Central Asia, garlic is now grown around the world. A member of the lily family, garlic is closely related to onions, chives and shallots.
Garlic has been recognized for its healing constituents for thousands of years. These constituents include volatile oils, which contain potent sulphur compounds, vitamins, selenium and scordinins. As a medicinal food, garlic has been shown to actually have mild antibiotic, lipid lowering and other healthy properties. It is also believed effective for chronic circulatory problems, infections and toxicity.
While garlic has been scientifically proven to have a measure of antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, it also is effective against some parasites. Many cultures have advocated the use of garlic to treat intestinal worm infestations for centuries. Louis Pasteur confirmed the antibacterial action of garlic in 1858. With antibiotic resistance a major concern, natural alternatives can provide a measure of benefit. Quite surprisingly, garlic has been shown to be more potent against candida than traditional pharmaceutical treatment. Garlic is also beneficial for mild, chronic, recurring infections.
Garlic may help lower your risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart disease. Garlic has been shown to lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) while improving your HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol). Even greater improvement is achieved when combined with a healthy diet. Garlic also protects the LDL cholesterol from oxidative damage through detoxification and protects levels of glutathione, an important nutrient in the body. Studies have shown eating garlic with a fatty meal significantly reduces cholesterol and fats in the blood. Garlic also thins blood and dilates blood vessels thus increasing blood flow to the heart and brain. This makes clotting less likely and can also can help keep blood pressure down.
To provide a reasonable measure of benefit to overall health, the typical dosage is at least 4,000 mcg of allicin daily. This equates to approximately 1-4 cloves of fresh garlic. Anything over this may cause a strong odor of garlic. An enteric coating is preferred. This ensures that allicin, the active component of garlic, is not formed until it arrives in the small and large intestine. Allicin is produced only when the product is dissolved or digested.
Garlic is very safe in the amounts mentioned. It is best used as an addition to, rather than a substitute for a healthy diet. People taking anticoagulants or high blood pressure medications should consult with their physicians first due to its effects on blood thinning and blood pressure.
Also, I've said it before and I'll say it again. Garlic does not cure cancer. End of conversation.
Many people who cannot stand the taste or after effects of raw garlic can eat roasted garlic quite easily and enjoy the mild, smoky taste. All you need to do is to take entire bulbs of garlic, cut off a bit off the top so that each clove is exposed and then pop them in the oven for about 30 minutes or until they have become golden brown. Take the garlic out of the oven (watch out as it can be viciously hot) and then gently squeeze the bulb. The garlic will ooze out like a toothpaste which you can now spread on toasted sourdough or focaccia bread. It's a taste treat right out of garlic heaven! And healthy too!