Garlic prevents and treats diseases but caution essential

(Medical News Today Photo)

Sandhya Govind
Auckland, October 29, 2022

Garlic, known scientifically as Allium sativum, is one of the first plants with documented proof of having been used in ancient times to prevent and treat disease and maintain good health.

The use of garlic as a food ingredient can be traced back to ancient China at around 2000 BC when it has been recorded as being used as a food preservative.

Prescriptions of garlic for heart conditions and arthritis can be found in the ancient Ayurvedic medical text, the Charaka-Samhita.

An ancient remedy

References to garlic can also be found in the Ebers Papyrus, an ancient Egyptian medical text dating back to around 1550 BC, where it is prescribed as a remedy for a wide variety of ailments. In ancient Greece, garlic was an important ingredient in the diet of soldiers and labourers, and there is also evidence that athletes who participated in the ancient Olympic Games consumed garlic to enhance their performance. Garlic is also mentioned in various religious texts including the Bible and the Talmud. Hippocrates, now known as the ‘Father of Medicine,’ also used garlic to treat patients. More recently, garlic was used extensively to treat German soldiers during the First World War, and during the Second World War, the Russian Army preferred to use garlic instead of penicillin to treat wounded soldiers, earning it the nickname ‘Russian Penicillin.’

In recent years, research has been undertaken in various parts of the world to scientifically validate some of the major health benefits that garlic is believed to possess.

This article, the last of my series on the important role played by herbs and spices in helping us remain healthy, looks at some of the health benefits of garlic that have been demonstrated by scientific research, and also the precautions to be taken by certain people.

Sandhya Govind

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extremely nutritious herb

Garlic is an extremely nutritious herb, its most important constituents being sulfur compounds such as alliin, allicin and ajoene. It also contains amino acids, and minerals such as magnesium, zinc and selenium, as well as vitamins C, A, and B complex.

Alliin is a sulfur compound found in garlic. When garlic is crushed or cut, an enzyme called allinase is released which converts the alliin into allicin. Allicin is responsible for most of the antibiotic, antibacterial and antifungal properties of garlic. Thus, regular consumption of garlic may help the body fight infections as well as boost the immune system.

Regular intake of garlic is also extremely beneficial to cardiovascular health. It has been seen that garlic may slow the development of atherosclerosis, which is the formation of plaque (a build-up of fats and cholesterol) on the artery walls, which results in the obstruction of blood flow, potentially leading to a heart attack or stroke.

The sulfur compounds found in garlic act as powerful antioxidants, which help in reducing blood pressure and oxidative stress in people with hypertension.

(Organic Lifestyle Photo)

Anti-inflammatory

Garlic also possesses very strong anti-inflammatory properties. This is very beneficial to heart health as inflammation in the blood vessels can cause atherosclerosis.

Consumption of garlic has also been found to alleviate pain and stiffness in people suffering from osteoarthritis. This again is mainly due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Apart from this, garlic may also help prevent osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, as it can increase oestrogen levels in the blood, which in turn can help reduce bone loss.

Though garlic is generally considered safe to eat, consuming large amounts may cause gastrointestinal side effects such as heartburn, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

(India.com Photo)

Not for all

Garlic has been found to have blood-thinning properties. Therefore, people who are on blood thinning medication such as aspirin, warfarin, dabigatran (Pradaxa), rivaroxaban (Xarelto), apixaban, enoxaparin and heparin among others, should be very cautious about consuming garlic and should only do so after consulting with their doctor as it might cause excessive bleeding.

It should also not be consumed along with other natural products and supplements with blood-thinning properties, such as gingko, ginseng, turmeric, and high-dose Vitamin E.

People who are on the HIV medication Saquinavir should be cautious while eating garlic as it might decrease the efficacy of this drug.

Garlic applied directly on the skin can cause irritation, which may result in blisters, and in some extreme cases, third-degree burns.

It is very important to note here that this article only talks about including fresh crushed garlic in one’s daily diet and not about taking it in the form of supplements. Nutritional supplements should only be taken if they are prescribed by a health care professional after a personal consultation, as they might be harmful if taken incorrectly.

Moreover, please seek professional advice before making any major dietary changes. This is especially important if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, are already on medication or supplements, or are suffering from any medical condition. The information provided in this article is not to be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor, especially if you have any concerns regarding your health.

Sandhya Govind is a qualified and trained Naturopath and runs ‘Sandhya’s Naturopathy Clinic,’ an integrated Natural Medicine facility, which helps people rediscover optimal health, radiance and vitality naturally. Email: sandhyanaturopathy@gmail.com; The above article should be read for general information purposes only and not taken as individual advice. Please always consult your GP or other authorised persons or agencies for personal advice. Indian Newslink and Sandhya Govind absolve themselves of all responsibility or liability in this connection.

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