Garlic: Ancient Medicine For Modern Ills?

Garlic bulbsAs you may have heard, garlic can do much more than season food and stink your breath. In fact, Garlic’s list of purported virtues seems to grow with each new age.

In ancient times, the greatest minds on the subjects of health and healing strongly advocated the use of Garlic for many ills.

    • In the Egyptian “Ebers Codex,” written in 1550 B.C., there were 22 different medicinal formulations that included Garlic. The use of Garlic by the pyramid builders, who believed garlic gave them greater strength, is inscribed on the Great Pyramid of Cheops.
    • Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.), the founder of western medicine, recommended garlic for pneumonia and other infections, for cancer and for digestive disorders, as well as a diuretic to increase the flow of urine and a substance to improve menstrual flow.
    • Dioscorides (1st century A.D.), the founder of the modern pharmacy, dispensed garlic to treat rabid dog bites, snake bites, infections, bronchitis and coughs, leprosy, and clogged arteries, as well as other conditions.
    • Galen (129-199 A.D.), personal physician to Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, whose writings influenced Arabic and western medicine for more than one thousand years, called Garlic “the theriac of the peasants,” and an inexpensive “cure-all” for countless aliments.
    • 12th Century writer Alexander Neckam recommended it as a palliative for the heat of the sun in field labor.
    • In his ‘Natural History,’ Pliny the Elder (23-79) offered a very long list of scenarios in which garlic would be beneficial. This list included everything from repelling serpents, scorpions and other beasts to curing Epilepsy. The list of what Pliny didn’t think Garlic could cure would be shorter.
    • In the Middle Ages, a German nun, St. Hildegarde of Bingen, who wrote two medical textbooks, advocated raw Garlic to heal the sick.
  • The London College of Physicians recommended garlic for the great plague in 1665. Around the same time, a leading English physician named Sydenham also used Garlic to cure small pox.

In more recent times, Garlic has been utilized for a plethora of ailments, some of them quite deadly. And the treatments were successful!

    • In 1858, Louis Pasteur demonstrated that Garlic could kill infectious germs.
    • In the early and mid-20th century, Albert Schweitzer used Garlic in Africa to cure typhoid fever and cholera.
    • Garlic was used during World War I to treat battle wounds and to cure dysentery.
  • During World War II, Garlic was known as “Russian penicillin” because it was so effective in treating wound infections when adequate antibiotics were not available.

Most modern research has been done on Garlic’s potential to reduce heart disease. And numerous large studies have shown that taking supplements that mimic fresh Garlic can significantly lower LDL cholesterol, without hurting beneficial HDL cholesterol levels.

There is also some evidence that Garlic supplements can lower blood pressure, by dilating or expanding blood vessels. And Garlic helps prevent blood clots, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke, by decreasing the stickiness of platelets — tiny, disk-shaped bodies in the blood that are necessary for blood clotting. When platelets are too sticky, they stick to the artery walls and contribute to clogged arteries.

Garlic has been shown to reduce pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis. It also reduces the size of some cancerous tumors and helps prevents some cancers, especially those of the intestines. However, the research on Garlic and cancer is not nearly as advanced as that on Garlic and heart disease, so do not use Garlic to treat cancer without consulting with a natural health care professional.

One of the oldest uses for garlic, which has been proven, is as an antibiotic. Garlic kills a wide range of microbes, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, and can be effective against conditions such as athletes foot and thrush (a fungal infection of the mouth), viral diarrhea, and the ulcer-causing bacteria Helicobacter pylori. But only fresh Garlic or supplements that mimic fresh have these effects.

For best results, always use fresh Garlic or preparations that mimic fresh. Dried or cooked garlic, as well as Garlic oil, lose a significant amount of potency during processing. Preparations used for medicinal purposes should have an allicin potential of at least 6,000 mcg on the label. Alternately, eat one chopped clove of fresh Garlic per day.

Good quality Garlic supplements will have the “allicin potential” listed on the label, not just a certain amount of allicin. “Potential” indicates how much allicin will be released when it reaches your stomach. The supplements do not contain actual allicin, as it is extremely unstable and quickly breaks down. Allicin is the pungent chemical that gives garlic its sharp flavor. Good Garlic supplements contain alliin, the precursor to allicin. It is released only upon digestion, so your body makes and uses the allicin more efficiently.

You must be careful, however, not to take excess amounts of Garlic or Garlic supplements. A rare, but serious, side effect of excess Garlic use is spontaneous bleeding. This can also occur if you take it with prescription blood thinners. Do not exceed the recommended dose and do not take with prescription blood thinners, without consulting a natural health care professional.

Also, since Garlic will make breath and sweat smell unpleasant, you should take a chlorophyll supplement or source — such as a fresh leafy green vegetable or parsley — with the Garlic. Those closest to you, proximately and intimately, will appreciate it.

In Conclusion

It seems that modern research is verifying the accuracy of many ancient beliefs regarding Garlic’s healing abilities. Nonetheless, whether or not it can cure rabis or leprosy remains to be seen. But who knows what old and new virtues Garlic researchers may discover in the future.

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