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Humans have known about the health benefits of raw garlic for at least 5000 years. Ancient civilizations of India, China, Egypt, and Greece valued garlic's ability to protect them from disease. They used it to:
- Cure circulatory and cardiovascular conditions
- Improve their digestive system
- Relieve constipation
- Ward off plagues
- Fight flu and flu-like illnesses
- Treat wounds and protect skin
- Rid the body of parasites
In fact, garlic was found in the tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt, and ancient medical texts contain recipes for using garlic medicinally.
Garlic is from the Allium family, which also includes onions, leeks, scallions, and chives.
The healing power of garlic is found in allicin; a sulfur compound released when garlic is crushed, chopped, or chewed. It is believed allicin is a natural antibiotic that can strengthen our immune response to viruses.
Ancient Medicinal Uses of Garlic
Here are some fascinating facts on the medicinal use of garlic throughout history.
- Working-class people and soldiers of ancient Rome, Egypt, and Greece ate raw garlic daily to increase stamina and productivity. Also, Olympic athletes used it for endurance and strength.
- Ancient Egyptian medical texts prescribed garlic for parasitic infections and circulation disorders.
- Hippocrates referred to garlic to help heal the lungs, cure abdominal growths, and help the body purge itself of toxins.
- Ancient Romans and the Chinese used garlic to heal gastrointestinal disorders.
- A medical reference, the Historica Naturalis of ancient Rome, recommended garlic to treat toxic blood conditions and protect against infections.
- The ancient Chinese and Japanese ate raw garlic to ward off parasites.
- Ancient people of China and Japan used garlic for depression and recommended it for lung and breathing ailments.
- In Medieval times, people treated the plague with garlic.
- Medical students in Salerno, Italy, were taught that a diet abundant in garlic would foster good health.
- In the 16th century, England garlic was used to cure toothache, dropsy, and the plague.
- Native Americans prepared garlic tea to treat flu-like symptoms.
- In Shaker herb catalogs garlic was advertised as being an expectorant, stimulant, and tonic.
- The Charaka-Samhita, Ayurveda's medical text, prescribes garlic for heart disease, arthritis, and digestive ailments.
Garlic and Ayurveda
Ayurveda is a health care system originating in India that has stood the test of time as it is over 5000 years old. The Ayurvedic diet recommends that we eat all six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent) if we want healthy digestion. Garlic has five of the six tastes (all but salty), and it is considered a genuine superfood.
Garlic is known to balance Vata and Kapha dosha, but increases Pitta dosha and has a positive effect on many diseases. Kashyapa, an ancient Indian physician, said that “garlic is born from nectar,” which means that is has a rejuvenating ability. It clears the channels of the body, is known to help with many imbalances in the body.
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Is Raw Garlic as Good For You as Cooked Garlic?
If you really want to get the most health benefits for garlic, consume it raw if you can. If you cook it, you will destroy its healthy allicin compounds that protect against heart disease and cancer. Yet, there are studies that show garlic supplements can boost immune function with extended use.
10 Health Benefits of Raw Garlic
1. Garlic has a positive effect on immune system function
In a 2001 study, researchers divided 145 volunteers into two groups. One group got daily allicin supplements for 12 weeks. The other group got a placebo. The group that took the daily garlic supplement got fewer colds than the placebo group.
On top of that, the group taking garlic also had fewer symptoms and recovered more quickly that those who took the placebo. The study found that the garlic supplement can prevent and lower the severity of a common cold.
2. Garlic is known to improve lipid status and circulation
In this 2008 study a group of researchers wanted to determine the lipid-lowering effects of garlic.
In a double-blinded placebo-controlled study 42 male men with high cholesterol between the ages of 35-70 were given 600mg of Allicor daily. The study found that after 8-12 weeks of taking Allicor tablets, their total cholesterol dropped by 7.6%. They also and 11.5% lower LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and 11.5% increased HDL cholesterol (the good) than the placebo group.
3. Garlic can help to fight cancer
Garlic may be able to fight certain kinds of cancer. A recent study by the Chinese found that consumption of raw garlic can reduce the risk of lung cancer.
Additionally, the American Institute of Cancer Research found that garlic could help prevent colon, stomach, and skin cancer. Garlic has quercetin, a flavonoid with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting properties.
The National Cancer Institute cites many studies that show an association between garlic and the risk of certain cancers.
4. Garlic and yeast infection
Many people think yeast infections are just for women. But, a yeast infection is systemic. An overgrowth of yeast can be a problem in other places of the body besides the vagina. It can affect other crevices of the body like the mouth, digestive tract, ears, and feet.
For instance, toenail and jock itch is caused by yeast overgrowth.
Excessive yeast growth in the digestive tract can cause digestive issues like bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
Garlic is known to have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. This means it should be able to lessen the number of yeast fungi. Some natural health practitioners even suggest placing a whole clove of garlic inside the vagina to cure a yeast infection. If caught at an early stage, they recommend letting the garlic clove stay there overnight to relieve symptoms of burning and itching.
The problem is that many women may not love the idea of garlic inside their vagina while they slept. Also, women who have tried this report that garlic can be detected on their breath, as the garlic can move throughout the body.
Another way to cure yeast using garlic is to buy it online. Twinlab has a product called Yeast Fighters, and it's an excellent blend of active cultures and powered garlic to kill yeast from the inside out.
Take Yeast Fighters at the first symptoms of yeast overgrowth and expect that it will clear up within several days.
You can take Yeast Fighter tablets as part of your daily supplements to prevent recurrent yeast infection.
5. Garlic for hypertension
At least 30% of people in the world have chronic high blood pressure or hypertension. Continued high blood pressure is an indicator of future strokes or heart attacks.
In another study, 88 hypertensive adults took aged garlic extract (AGE) for 12 weeks. Researchers reported that they had reduced blood pressure.
The research suggests that AGE can help smooth muscles to relax and blood vessels to dilate, which can help reduce hypertension.
6. Garlic for osteoarthritis
Even though it's said there is no cure for osteoarthritis, garlic may be able to reduce symptoms. A diet high in alliums (garlic, onions, and leeks) can provide some protective benefits by limiting cartilage-damaging enzymes.
7. Garlic for acne
8. Garlic for ringworm
Ringworm is passed from person to person through skin contact, and it is very contagious.
It's known that raw garlic can heal ringworm fungus quickly.
9. Garlic is a good prebiotic
10. Garlic for the common cold
Garlic Broth Recipe to Help Cure Cold and Flu Faster
If you're down with a bad cold or flu, it won't matter much how you smell while you're resting and recuperating.
So, here's a nutritious and delicious garlic home remedy for what ails you: garlic soup!
- Bone broth can be chicken, beef or fish/seafood-based, and homemade
- 2-3 cloves fresh, crushed garlic
- 1 knob fresh ginger, sliced with a few slits cut in to release the healing oils
- Fresh lemon juice
- Fresh, chopped parsley
- Ground pepper and Himalayan salt
- Cayenne pepper
Into a small sauce pan, place the bone broth, cayenne, and ginger. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Drop in the crushed garlic cloves. Squeeze in the juice of half the lemon. Sprinkle in fresh parsley. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Serve steaming, sip slowly from your mug. Relax, and let the healing begin.