Despite its reputation for causing bad breath, garlic has been used for millennia not just to add flavor to food but to heal people. This powerful allium aids health in a number of ways and is also one of the key ingredients of my Shaman Tonic. Ancient populations from China, to Rome, Greece, and Africa used garlic as a cure-all. It was even written by Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder in 32AD that garlic and its close cousin the onion were invoked as deities by the Egyptians at the taking of oaths. So the ancients held this bulb in high regard, but what is it about garlic that makes it so beneficial?
When cut or crushed, raw garlic creates a sulphur-rich amino acid called allicin which is a powerful natural antibiotic, about 1/50th as strong as penicillin, with antifungal and antiviral properties. Sadly for those looking for a tasty cure, cooking garlic causes allicin to decay and become less effective.
Seven Health Benefits of Garlic
1. Cold Killer
A number of studies have shown garlic’s effectiveness to help treat illnesses. One study showed that daily doses of a garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63% over placebo. The duration of a cold was also cut by 70%, from 5 to 1.5 days with the aid of garlic.
2. Helps Digestion
The allicin in garlic aids digestion in two major ways. First, it reduces excessive activity in the stomach by combining with the stomachs natural proteins to reduce indigestion. Second, it stimulates the mucous membrane of the stomach to boost secretion of digestive juices and break down all the grub.
3. Reduces Blood Pressure
Heart disease is the number one killer of people according to the World Health Organization. Lowering blood pressure can combat against this, and a number of human studies have shown garlic supplements to have this effect. According to one of those studies, aged garlic extract at doses of 600-1,500 mg was just as effective as the drug Atenolol at reducing blood pressure over a 24 week period.
4. Aids A Healthy Pregnancy
During pregnancy, along with other healthy foods, adding a garlic supplement has been shown to greatly reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia, a dangerous condition that affects one in ten pregnant women. Other studies suggest that garlic can help prevent low birth-weight as well. Who knew there was a plant that could be helpful for pregnant women and vampire hunters alike?
5. Helps Prevent Some Cancers
A number of compounds found in garlic have been shown to help fight cancer. S-Allylcysteine is effective at preventing cancer-causing agents from attaching to breast cells. Diallyl-disulphide, when formed in the bloodstream, has been shown to reduce tumors by up to a half. Garlic helps strengthen white blood cells, and other immune cells, which help fight viral/bacterial infections along with cancer.
6. Nature’s Viagra
One of garlic’s oldest applications was for impotence. In agreement with healers of the past, research has shown that garlic can stimulate the production of nitric oxide synthase, which is responsible for the mechanism of erection.
The easiest and most palatable way to get garlic’s benefits is with a supplement capsule. Eating it raw is also great, but definitely an intense experience. Cooking it in food is also beneficial but not as potent as the former two methods. What are your favorite garlic-filled recipes? Leave your recommendations in the comment section below.
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