Garlic for Your Health
Just about everyone is familiar with using garlic to enhance the flavor of foods, however garlic also has important medicinal properties Garlic has a long history of medicinal use in many culturesJust about everyone is familiar with using garlic to enhance the flavor of foods, however garlic also has important medicinal properties. Garlic has a long history of medicinal use in many cultures. An Egyptian papyrus written about 1500 BC listed garlic as a treatment for several different types of illness including heart disease and body strengthening. The Egyptians had great respect for garlic and at one time used it for currency. Clay models of garlic bulbs were also found in King Tut''s tomb. Oddly enough, upper class Egyptians did not cook or eat garlic but they did feed it to the slaves to build up their strength.
Garlic was also used for strength building in other ancient cultures including the Romans and the Greeks. The Greek military units ate it before battle and it was also fed to athletes to improve their performance in Olympic competitions. From writings in the Talmud, we know that the ancient Israelites were fond of it. It is mentioned in the writing of Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, as a treatment for infections and pneumonia.
It was popular in the Middle Ages for warding off the plague. It was known in eastern cultures as a medicine but again was not used for food. It is also mentioned by Louis Pasteur as having the ability to kill infections and germs. Its antibiotic properties have been known for centuries and it was used in World War I by the military as an antibiotic. And again, in World War II, it was used as a substitute when other antibiotics were unavailable. It was also attributed with magical powers by many cultures and believed to scare off vampires. So people hung the bulbs in the windows and doorways of their houses. Although today few people if anyone subscribe to the vampire scaring properties of the plant, science has confirmed its healing properties.
The botanical name for the plant is Allium sativum and it is a member of the onion family. According to Dr. Eric Block of the State University of New York at Albany, New York its healing properties are attributed to the presence of sulfur compounds within it. Dr. Block has been researching sulfur-containing compounds for the last 25 years and has written over 120 scientific articles. Dr. Block states that there are studies demonstrating that people who regularly consume garlic have a lower rate of stomach cancer, lower blood lipid levels and longer blood clotting times. The latter two characteristics are important in reducing the risk for cardiovascular illnesses and stroke.
The fact that garlic is so effective against so many different types of diseases is attributed partly to the fact that it improves the functioning of the immune system. By strengthening the immune system, it enhances the body''s own defenses, enabling it to fight off any type of invader. In addition to its disease fighting properties, it is also effective as an insect repellent. Many gardeners plant a row or two of garlic among their other plants to protect them from marauding insects. And for people in areas at risk for Lyme''s disease, ticks don''t like garlic either.