Garlic

Garlic is an important medicinal herb.  It is also readily available everywhere, unlike some of the other herbs.  It is one of the safest herbs, and as such can be taken often.  It does, however,  have its drawbacks, as we all know.  Bear this in mind when using remedies (especially internal ones), and cut back when family and friends start avoiding you.

Garlic does indeed have scientifically-proven medicinal properties.  It contains a substance called Allicin, which has anti-bacterial properties that are equivalent to a weak penicillin.  It appears that cooked garlic weakens the anti-bacterial effects considerably, however, so don't count on cooked garlic with meals for much in the way of a curative.

Unfortunately, not all studies are completely honest, as sometimes vested financial interests of the pharmaceuticals industry sponsor studies with the apparent intent to show garlic to have no health benefits and thus seek to undermine the confidence of the public in garlic. There was a study done at a famous minnesota health clinic a few years ago that purported to show garlic had no health benefits because no changes were measured after consuming the pills. What they did not mention was that the pills they used in the study did not dissolve and therefore the subjects of the study received no garlic. The proper conclusion should have been that the particular pill used did not work because it did not dissolve - a fact well known to other researchers as well. Instead, they drew the conclusion that garlic has no health benefits, in spite of the thousands of other studies which prove otherwise. There are other recent studies making similar claims. I have been too busy to look into them all but I already know anything that flies into the face of so many thousands of objective studies to suddenly show dramatically different results needs to be looked into more closely and you'll usually find a commercial agenda between the lines. Many thousands of people have died from taking prescription medications, even according to the labels but no one has died from eating garlic - think about it.

Garlic appears to have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.  The list is long when it comes to its uses as a remedy.  This list includes wounds, ulcers, skin infections, flu, athlete's foot, some viruses, strep, worms, respiratory ailments, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, blood thinning, cancer of the stomach, colic, colds, kidney problems, bladder problems, and ear aches, to name a few.  It is believed to cure worms in both people and animals - try giving the dog a clove of garlic daily (but he's not going to like it).

For most internal problems, eating garlic raw is probably the most potent way to take it.  However, due to the obvious lingering odors associated with this, a tincture can be made by soaking 1/4 pound of peeled and separated garlic cloves in 1/2 quart of brandy.  Seal tightly and shake every day.  Strain and bottle after two weeks of this, and take in drops - 25-30 a day, if desired.

For cough, flu, and respiratory ailments, make a cough syrup out of garlic.  Slice 1 pound of fresh garlic and pour one quart of boiling water over it.  Let sit for 12 hours, then add sugar until you reach the consistency of a syrup.  Add honey for better taste, if desired.

For sore throat, make a garlic tea by steeping several cloves of garlic in half a cup of water overnight. Hold your nose and drink it.

Externally, garlic is a known anti-bacterial and anti-infection agent.  An interesting use for ear aches is to slice a garlic clove, heat briefly in a small amount of virgin olive oil, and let cool.  Then use a drop of two in the affected ear (strain the mixture beforehand, of course).

Make an ointment out of garlic (use cloves instead of leaves, stems, or flowers ) for wounds, cuts, athlete's foot, or any other external skin irritation, fungus, or infection.  Also, try a few drops of oil on a toothache for pain relief.

Garlic has long been considered a herbal "wonder drug", with a reputation in folklore for preventing everything from the common cold and flu to the Plague. It has been used extensively in herbal medicine (phytotherapy, sometimes spelt phitotherapy). Raw garlic is used by some to treat the symptoms of acne and there is some evidence that it can assist in managing high cholesterol levels. It can even be effective as a natural mosquito repellent. In general, a stronger tasting clove of garlic has more sulphur content and hence more medicinal value it's likely to have. Some people have suggested that organically grown garlic tends towards a higher sulphur level and hence greater benefit to health. Some people prefer to take garlic supplements. These pills and capsules have the advantage of avoiding garlic breath.

Modern science has shown that garlic is a powerful natural antibiotic, albeit broad-spectrum rather than targeted. The body does not appear to build up resistance to the garlic, so its positive health benefits continue over time. Studies have shown that garlic - especially aged garlic - can have a powerful antioxidant effect. Antioxidants can help to protect the body against damaging "free radicals".

The medicinal properties and benefits of garlic are strongest when it is raw and crushed or very finely chopped. Don't overdo it - too much can irritate the digestive tract. Raw, crushed garlic is an anti-fungal, however it can produce skin blistering. Raw, crushed garlic is a powerful antibiotic. Cooked prepared garlic is less powerful but still reputedly of benefit to the cardiovascular system. Garlic cloves cooked whole have very little medicinal value however their milder taste makes them more acceptable to some people. There have been claims that garlic can help with cholesterol management however the research is inconclusive.

Of all garlic's reputed medicinal benefits, perhaps the most well known is its use as a natural antibiotic and antibacterial with reports going back through history. There are even stories of garlic being used to ward off the plague. It's not known how effective this was, however there is some evidence that anthrax is sensitive to garlic. Some people have even suggested that it might help in the fight against acne although that might be too much to hope for.

Garlic's antibiotic properties have been more extensively studied than some of its other reputed health benefits. Numerous studies confirm that garlic has definite antibiotic properties and is effective against many bacteria, fungi and viruses. According to Wright State University, garlic is approximately one per cent as potent an antibiotic as penicillin. Some people have reported that even blood from a garlic eater can itself kill bacteria.

Researchers have compared the effectiveness of garlic with that of commercial prescription antibiotics. The result is often that garlic can be more effective as a broad spectrum antibiotic. However if a particular bacterium or virus is being treated a more specifically targeted antibiotic if available could be a more effective treatment than garlic. One significant advantage of garlic is that the body does not seem to build up a resistance to it as it does to many modern antibiotics. Note: Garlic can interfere with the operation of some medical drugs, in particular anti-coagulants.

The antibiotic properties of garlic are a direct result of the allicin produced from raw, crushed garlic. This is destroyed by age and cooking - cooked garlic has virtually no antibiotic value although it still retains other benefits.

There are two main medical ingredients which produce the garlic health benefits: allicin and diallyl sulphides.

Allicin is the most powerful medicinal compound derived from garlic and provides the greatest reputed health benefits. Allicin does not occur in "ordinary" garlic, it is produced when garlic is finely chopped or crushed. The finer the chopping and the more intensive the crushing, the more allicin is generated and the stronger the medicinal effect. As well as having antibiotic properties, allicin is an excellent anti-fungal and garlic preparations have been used in folk medicine to treat skin infections such as athlete's foot. Be cautious: too much contact with crushed garlic can result in skin blistering. You should also be aware that a few people are allergic to garlic. Garlic is powerful and needs to be treated with respect.

Allicin starts to degrade immediately after it is produced, so its medical effectiveness decreases over time. Cooking speeds up this degradation and microwaving appears to destroy allicin totally and eliminate any health benefits. So for the most powerful medicinal effect, crush a little raw garlic and combine with the cooked food shortly before serving. Don't overdo it - too much can produce irritation of and possibly even damage to the digestive tract. At the least it's downright uncomfortable and will have you drinking water and peppermints for hours ...

The diallyl sulphides obtained from garlic are less powerful than allicin but can still reportedly provide some benefits to health.

Diallyl sulphides are also less volatile than allicin. They do not degrade as quickly and, importantly, the health benefits survive cooking. Note that garlic still needs to be chopped or crushed to produce the sulphides - if garlic is cooked whole then it has almost no medicinal value or health benefits. Diallyl sulphides do not share the antifungal properties of allicin. However they are reportedly good for the blood and circulation in some cases. The sulphides might also help to lower the levels of "bad" cholesterol, hence garlic might help to keep the heart and cardiovascular system healthy. Diallyl suphides also have a reputation for boosting the immune system.

The garlic sulphides break down in the body within a few hours so for maximum health benefit it is best to have "a little often" as opposed to one large daily dose.

No. Garlic won't cure the problem, it won't get rid of acne. The real question is whether or not it can help to control and reduce the severity of the symptoms. I'm not aware of any scientific reasearch into any possible link between garlic and acne control, however it has a long-standing reputation in folk medicine. Many people do believe it can help treat the symptoms. It is said to do this in two ways: internal and external.

First of all, garlic has powerful antibiotic properties and is a general blood cleanser. Eating garlic might help your system internally to clean itself out and hence reduce acne symptoms. Garlic's most powerful medicinal compounds are released when it's eaten raw and crushed. A little raw garlic can be sprinkled on top of a meal at the end of cooking, added to a salad, included in a sandwich, etc. Be warned that the taste and the smell of raw garlic is very stong.

The antibiotic and cleansing properties of garlic also give it a reputation in folk medicine as being an effective acne treatment when a little is applied gently externally. However although some people seem to think it works, others have reported nothing other than skin burning and reddening. So for safety I would not use garlic on sensitive skin. Note: Raw garlic is very powerful and can cause problems. Some people are actively allergic to garlic. Do not use garlic if you suspect you are allergic. Even if you don't have an allergy, use garlic with caution and don't overdo it.

High blood pressure is a potentially dangerous problem suffered by many people, often without them being aware of it. High blood pressure is in essence hypertension - the blood is being pumped through the system unusually fast and powerfully. This constant exertion of greater than normal force can damage the arteries, possibly leading in turn to kidney failure, heart attack and/or stroke. High blood pressure is usually divided by doctors into "essential hypertension" and "secondary hypertension".

"Secondary hypertension" refers to the case where the high blood pressure is the result of some known factor such as kidney disease. "Essential hypertension" refers to the case where there is no obvious single cause of high blood pressure. There are many factors that can contribute to essental high blood pressure, the most common of which are lifestyle related. Smoking and high levels of saturated fat intake can both contribute significantly to an elevated level of blood pressure.

Garlic is not a substitute for prescription medicine or lifestyle changes, however it has long had a reputation for assisting with blood pressure management. The research data is not conclusive, however it does appear that there is some evidence to support the role of garlic in reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure. It appears that the reputed beneficial effects of garlic on blood pressure come more from the garlic sulphides than from allicin. Unlike allicin, garlic sulphides are not destroyed by cooking. Garlic might also assist blood pressure indirectly by helping to manage cholesterol levels. If you think you have high blood pressure then you