Garlic – Here’s to Your Health!

How do you fight hypertension, ward of a hex and flavour food all in one breath? “Bam! gawlic,” Emeril Lagasse, the American celebrity chef would probably say while serving you up his Garlic Schmeared Rosemary Chicken.In fact in one of his Emeril Live TV episodes “Gotta Have Garlic”, he celebrates his love for garlic, garlic, and MORE garlic! But this isn’t about Emeril but about the powers of garlic as alleged by the sages through the ages.

Jamaican folk healers will tell you to rub up with garlic before you get to the balm yard for a proper bath of oils and herbs if some one has set an untoward spirit on you.

“Garlic’s health benefits and medicinal properties have long been known. 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!” says the Garlic Central Web site, that lists itself as “an information resource all about the glorious stinking rose.”

According to the site, garlic has been used extensively in herbal medicine with raw garlic 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, says Garlic Central.

Allium sativum L., commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion family Alliaceae. Its close relatives include the onion, the shallot, the leek and the chive.

Probably because of its active ingredients allicin and diallyl sulphides, 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.”

Hippocrates (300BC), dubbed the father of modern medicine, recommended garlic for infections, wounds, cancer, leprosy, and digestive disorders. Dioscorides praised it for its use in treating heart problems, and Pliny listed the plant in 61 remedies for a wide variety of ailments ranging from the common cold to leprosy, epilepsy and tapeworm.

During World War I, the Russian army used garlic to treat wounds incurred by soldiers on the Front Line. Although Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin in 1928 largely replaced garlic in England, the war effort overwhelmed the capacity of most antibiotics, and garlic was again the antibiotic of choice. The Red Army physicians relied so heavily on garlic that it became known as the “Russian Penicillin”.

Today, garlic is used by herbalists for a wide variety of illnesses including high cholesterol, colds, flu, coughs, bronchitis, fever, ringworm and intestinal worms, and liver, gallbladder, and digestive problems. Several scientific papers have been published in recent years which strongly indicate that garlic is highly efficient in preventing heart disease and cancer, and even reducing the severity of established cancer.

There are some cautions to be aware of. Research published in 2001 concluded that garlic supplements “can cause a potentially harmful side effect when combined with a type of medication used to treat HIV/AIDS”.

Raw garlic is very strong, so eating too much could produce problems, for example irritation of or even damage to the digestive tract.

There are a few people who are allergic to garlic. Symptoms of garlic allergy include skin rash, temperature and headaches. Also, garlic could potentially disrupt anti-coagulants, so it’s best avoided before surgery. As with any medicine, always check with your doctor first and tell your doctor if you are using it.

The ancient world loved garlic – particularly the Egyptians, who used to swear on garlic in much the same way some swear on the Bible today. Greek athletes would take copious amounts of garlic before competition, and Greek soldiers would consume garlic before going into battle. Greek midwives to hang garlic cloves in birthing rooms to keep the evil spirits away – a custom that became commonplace in many European homes.

The Koreans of old ate pickled garlic before passing through a mountain path, believing that tigers disliked it.

Also, be warned! After eating a large quantity of garlic, a person will usually have halitosis (bad breath). Their sweat and excreted oils will also smell like garlic. If an extremely large amount of garlic has been consumed, the person’s mucus, vaginal discharge, dandruff, and even earwax will also smell like garlic. Btathing will not take away the scent, although perfumes will mask the scent, which usually fades over the course of several days.

But you probably won’t mind the inconvenience if the garlic had been served up by Emeril.

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