Garlic

Allium sativum, Liliaceae. The part that is used is the bulb.

Garlic belongs to the onion family. Garlic has been used as a medicinal herb for a long time and is one of the best herbs for boosting immunity. Fresh garlic can be added to the diet and garlic oil can be taken in capsule form.

Functions of garlic

Garlic:

  • cleanses the blood,
  • maintains healthy bacteria in the bowel,
  • helps to reduce a fever,
  • is an antiseptic with antibiotic and antifungal action,
  • tones the heart and circulatory system,
  • boosts the immune system,
  • may help to lower the blood pressure,
  • may help to prevent some cancers,
  • treats infections of the digestive tract and respiratory systems,
  • is an antioxidant,
  • helps to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis,
  • helps to prevent heart disease and
  • is a decongestant.

Therapeutic uses

Garlic is among the few herbs that have universal usage and recognition. Its daily use aids the body in a way that no other herb does. It is an effective antimicrobial acting on bacteria, viruses and gastrointestinal parasites. The volatile oil that is contained in garlic is excreted via the lungs and is therefore useful in conditions such as:

  • chronic bronchitis,
  • respiratory catarrh, and
  • recurrent colds and flu.

It may be helpful in the treatment of whooping cough and as a part of a broader approach to the treatment of asthma.

It may also be useful as a preventative for most infectious conditions and for the best treatment of infectious conditions it is well combined with Echinacea.

Notes on garlic

  • Garlic is widely used in cooking but heat destroys its medicinal properties so it is more beneficial to use it only slightly cooked, or raw, or to take it in supplement form.
  • Suggested daily dosage 600 to 1,000 mg garlic extract or 1,800 to 3,000 mg of fresh garlic equivalent.
  • Garlic is an anticoagulant so don't mix too much garlic with vitamin E or aspirin or other herbs that may have an anticoagulant effect such as, cat's claw, ginger, ginkgo, ginseng or feverfew.
  • Use with caution if you have diabetes (garlic may lower blood glucose levels).
  • Do not use in large amounts if you have a thyroid dysfunction, as garlic may interfere with iodine metabolism.
  • Do not ingest in large quantities during pregnancy and lactation as large amounts may induce labour. The small amounts used in cooking are generally safe.
  • Do not use in medicinal doses for children under ten years of age without consulting your health professional.

Dosages

A garlic clove should be eaten three times per day. If the smell becomes a problem then use prepared tablets or capsules. These can also be taken three times per day.

For the gardener

Garlic is generally grown as a annual plant but it will become a perennial if the bulbs are left in the ground.

Plant the bulbs about 2 inches (5 cm) deep in the ground and about 6 inches (15 cm) apart in very early spring or autumn.

Water your garlic plants during the dry weather, but stop once they start to ripen (when the leaves start to turn yellow). Cut off any flower stalks so that the plant's nutrients go into the bulbs. Lift the bulbs when the leaves are nearly 1/3 dry and brown. Hang the bulbs to dry, like onions. Once the root crown is hard they are ready to store in a cool dry place.

References

Duke, J. A. 2000, Anti-aging Prescriptions. Rodale.

Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

Hoffmann, F. and Manning M. 2002, Herbal Medicine and Botanical Medical Fads. The Haworth Press.

McIntyre, A. 1995, The Complete Women's Herbal. Henry Holt Reference Books.

Mills, S. Y. 1989, The A-Z of Modern Herbalism: A Comprehensive Guide to Practical Herbal Therapy. Thorson.

Sullivan, K. 2002, Vitamins and Minerals: A Practical Approach to a Health Diet and Safe Supplementation. Harper Collins.

Woodward, P. 2003, Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies. Hyland House.

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