Garlic

Allium sativum

Description

Garlic that is used as a staple of modern cuisine is a domesticated version of the original garlic plant, which comes from ancient central Asia. Over the centuries, the plant flourished as a culinary and medicinal essential, being used to flavour meals and to treat ailments ranging from leprosy and parasites to haemorrhoids. It was also thought that hanging garlic bulbs on doors would check the spread of diseases such as smallpox. Modern science supports some of these remedies, although not its effectiveness as a deterrent against smallpox.

Parts used

The bulb.

Constituents

Garlic contains sulphur-containing compounds, one of which is alliin. When crushed or chewed, alliin becomes allicin, which is responsible for the distinctive aroma of garlic and has various health benefits.

Medicinal uses

Studies show that the compounds in garlic may be therapeutic in pain relief, worm removal, and in fighting bacterial, fungal and viral infections. It also appears to have anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, blood-glucose lowering, blood-pressure lowering and liver protection benefits. Further studies reveal that garlic may help lower cholesterol, prevent blood clots and spasms, act as an expectorant and alleviate swellings, sores and acne. It is recommended to:

  • Boost the immune system’s virus-killing T cells.
  • Lower cholesterol levels.
  • Possibly reduce blood pressure.
  • Help prevent heart disease.
  • Reduce blood clotting.
  • Fight infections such as colds and flu.
  • Help relieve symptoms of allergies.
  • Possibly help in preventing and fighting certain cancers.
  • Promote recovery from fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and the bacterium that causes stomach ulcers
  • Help protect the liver.
  • Lower blood glucose levels.

CAUTION

Talk to your medical practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.
In general, garlic has few side-effects apart from a garlicky breath. Occasional incidents of body odour or a burning sensation in the mouth and intestines have been reported. Garlic may interfere with some prescribed medicines. It can enhance the effect of medications used to prevent blood clots, but may increase the risk of bleeding in patients undergoing surgery.

Flora Force Products containing Garlic

Domestic & culinary uses

GarlicUse garlic liberally in cooking. Leave bruised, chopped or crushed garlic to stand for 10 minutes before cooking to maximise its active healing component.

Cultivation

A perennial member of the onion family, garlic can be grown throughout South Africa provided it is regularly watered. Plant bulbs or cloves in well-drained soil in sun or shade. Cut off the flower heads as they wilt. Bulbs can be dug up for use when the flowers fade. The bulbs can be harvested 17 to 25 weeks after planting.

Recipe

Pasta with garlic basil pesto
Pasta with Garlic Basil Pesto

Ingredients (serves 4):
500g linguine pasta
100g pine nuts
100g Parmesan cheese, grated
200 ml olive oil
1 bunch fresh basil leaves
4 cloves garlic

Method
Blend together the pine nuts, Parmesan, olive oil, basil and garlic in a blender until smooth. Cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente. Drain, retaining a spoonful of the water, and return to the pot. Add the cooking liquid and a little pesto to the pasta and mix well with a knife and fork. Scoop onto plates, drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and serve with fresh bread.

Photo credits

  1. Photo by Donovan Govan.
[GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
  • By Lee Kindness [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
  • http://static.cooksunited-cdn.co.uk/cu.co.uk/recipes/71/71697/2835-960×720-pasta-with-garlic-basil-pesto.jpg
  • Information in our herb library is intended only as a general reference for further exploration. It is not a replacement for professional health advice and does not provide complete dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription medicines. Accordingly, this information should only be used under the direct supervision of a suitably qualified health practitioner such as a registered homeopath, naturopath or phytotherapist.