Garlic and health benefits
- 06-14-2006, 12:10 PM
Garlic and health benefits
Allium sativum - garlic, whose family members include onions, scallions, chives and shallots is a favorite, pungent flavoring agent around the world, but there's lots more to it than flavor!
Louis Pasteur proved that garlic had antibiotic properties by putting a small piece in a petri dish of bacteria, which it quickly killed. That was the first of thousands of modern scientific experiments using garlic - The Journal of the American Medical Association reported in the November 1990 edition that garlic has been described as therapeutic in more than 1,000 scientific studies!
As far back as 3,000 years ago, people were using it medicinally. It was a part of the diets of the slaves who built the pyramids. The ancient Greeks used it before battles and races. More recently, it was used to treat infected battle wounds of the First World War.
Is it really beneficial for the average person to eat it, though? Like most foods and substances, the answer is difficult to come by.
Some studies have shown that as little as half a clove of garlic a day can reduce cholesterol up to nine percent and because of that, reduce the risk of heart attack up to eighteen percent. Others say it will reduce cholesterol up to seventeen percent, still others say it has little if any effect. It's worth noting that many, many more studies show a reduction in cholesterol than those who don't.
We do know that it lowers blood pressure by enlarging or stretching blood vessels. One researcher noted that decreased blood pressure could be measured after patients took only one garlic powder capsule.
It's also an anticoagulant and could be helpful in protecting from clots which cause strokes. If you're taking aspirin to keep your blood from forming clots, garlic may be a more pleasant way. Mixing aspirin or other blood thinning medicines with garlic can be dangerous under some circumstances though, and should be done under a doctor's care.
It's been discovered that ulcers can be the result of viral infections, against which garlic can be a useful, internally taken, substance. It also is helpful against parasites, bacterial infection, cancer, and even slows the growth of existing tumors.
Garlic works inside the body by promoting the ability of white blood cells to fight infections, and by stimulating other immune cells like macrophages and T-cells which fight viral and bacterial infections, as well as cancer cells. In other words, it helps your body to help itself, and neither bacteria nor virus can develop a resistance to that.
Raw or cooked? It's still under debate. Some studies say one thing, some say another. Garlic pills are thought to be as effective as raw garlic cloves by some; by others they're thought to be useless. Standardized doses make it easier to track the effectiveness, but there are questions as to the effectiveness of garlic at all after it's been tampered with.
The reasoning is that the power as well as the taste and odor of garlic is released when a clove is bruised, cut or chewed. Allicin thus released oxidizes quickly and breaks down into over a hundred different substances, not all of which are proved to be helpful to the human body.
What can we believe? It's best to go with what we know to be true.
1. Raw garlic is an antibiotic, taken internally or externally.
2. It lowers blood pressure in pill form.
3. It's an anticoagulant in any form.
4. It inhibits the growth of cancers and tumors in raw form.
With all the benefits to the average person, it should be included in every other diet every day. Especially in the US, where overweight, high blood pressure and heart problems are common health concerns, a daily dose of garlic is a part of a sensible, healthy diet.
Note: Individuals who take anticoagulants or who have hemophilia, or need to guard against low blood pressure need to consult their doctors and/or alternative health care specialist.
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