Saturday, June 13, 2009

Alternative medicine: Garlic

Garlic has long been considered as herbal 'wonder drug' due to the marvelous therapeutic effects and healing powers ascribed to it.
Botanical: Allium sativum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Liliaceae
Synonym: Poor Man's Treacle.

Habitant: The Common Garlic, a member of the same group of plants as the Onion, is of such antiquity that it is difficult to tracethe country of its origin with certainty.

Description: Garlic leaves are long, narrow and flat like grass. The bulb is of a compound nature, consisting of numerous bulblets, known as 'cloves,' grouped together between the membraneous scales and enclosed within a whitish skin sac.

The flowers placed at the end of the stalk are whitish and grouped together in a globular head, or umbel, with an enclosing kind of leaf or spathae.

Part Used: Bulb. Constituents: Garlic bulb contains Alliin, enzymes (allinse, peroxidase, myrosinase), protein, minerals, vitamine B and C, lipids, aminoacids, and volatile oil (allicin, diallyl disulfide, linalool and allicin).

The active properties of Garlic depend on a pungent, volatile, essential oil, which may readily be obtained by distillation with water.

It is a sulphide of the radical Allyl, present in all the onion family. This oil is rich in sulphur, but contains no oxygen. The pecular penetrating odor of Garlic is due to this intense smelling sulphuret of allyl.

Medicinal Uses: In ancient times, Garlic was employed in treating leprosy, and was also believed to have beneficial results in smallpox cases. Its use as an antiseptic has long been recognized. Ointments and lotions containing garlic are often used to disperse hard swellings.

It is also employed as a poultice for scrofulous sores. Garlic syrup is an invaluable medicine for common colds, asthma, hoarseness, coughs, difficulty in breathing, and many other lung disorders, especially in chronic bronchitis, on account of its expectoration powers.

Rubbing its crushed-mix with lard on the chest and between the shoulder-blades has proven to relieve whooping-coughs. An infusion of the crushed bulbs, taken before and after every meal, is said to have a good effect on epilepsy.

A clove or two of Garlic, pounded with honey and taken two or three nights successively, is good in treating rheumatism and artheriosclerosi. The diuretic effects of garlic treat edema and prevents its future accumulation. When sniffed it revives patients suffering from hysteria.

Garlic juice made by boiling the crushed bulbs in milk is used as a vermifuge. Raw garlic is used to treat acne. There is evidence that it can help lower cholesterol levels. Allicin may prevent the production of artery clogging cholesterol.

Garlic can cut the risk of pre-eclampsia (raised blood pressure and protein retained in the urine) during pregnancy. It can also help improve the birth-weight of babies destined to be too small. Modern science has shown that garlic is a powerful broad-spectrum antibiotic.

As the body does not build up resistance to garlic, its positive health benefits continue over time. It is the only antibiotic that can actually kill bacteria and at the same time protect the body from the poisons causing infection.

Allicin, the garlic's main biologically active component, has an antimicrobial and cardioprotective effects and is used to alleviate cardiac pain.

Garlic also has antifungal effects. Allicin disables dysentery-causing amoebas and can even be a natural mosquito repellent.

Studies have shown that garlic has a powerful antioxidant effect. It helps digestion, keeps the coats of the stomach healthy. Garlic has always been known as an aphrodisiac and from a medical point of view it can significantly improve blood circulation.

Much information has been published regarding the role of garlic in cancer especially stomach and breast cancer. It is well known that garlic can strengthen the immune system which is vitally important for fighting cancer.

Recent findings support a growing body of evidence that garlic works as an anti-carcinogen in both cancer prevention and treatment.

Preparations: Raw garlic juice diluted with water, put on sterilized Sphagnum moss swabs, and then applied to the wound has antiseptic effects. It is used on infected wounds, acne, warts and varices. 2 grams of dried garlic powder used daily is shown to be effective in treating high levels of blood sugar and cholesterol.

Garlic syrup, made by boiling the bulbs till soft, adding an equal quantity of vinegar, and then sugaring and boiling down to syrup, was a popular remedy for asthma and non-inflammatory coughs for many years.

Caution: Raw garlic is very strong, so eating too much could cause irritation or digestive tract damage. Some people are allergic to garlic. Symptoms of garlic allergy include skin rash, fever and headaches. Garlic can also disrupt anti-coagulants, so it is best avoided before surgery.

A harmful interaction between garlic supplements and anti HIV/AIDS drugs has been reported in many studies. Garlic makes the retina more sensitive to strong light.

Pregnant women and those breast feeding should not use garlic, as it may result in cardiac discomfort in the fetus or infant. Garlic odor can be countered by consuming a tea spoon of honey, raw parsley or an apple.