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Medicinal use and health benefits of Garlic (Allium sativum L.)

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Garlic has been used as both food and medicine in many cultures for thousands of years. Garlic is widely used around the world for its pungent flavor as a seasoning or condiment. It is a fundamental component in many or most dishes of various regions, including Asia, the Middle East, northern Africa, southern Europe, and parts of South and Central America. The flavour varies in intensity and aroma with the different cooking methods. It is often paired with onion, tomato, or ginger. The parchmentlike skin is much like the skin of an onion and is typically removed before using in raw or cooked form. An alternative is to cut the top off the bulb, coat the cloves by dribbling olive oil (or other oil-based seasoning) over them, and roast them in the oven. The garlic softens and can be extracted from the cloves by squeezing the (root) end of the bulb, or individually by squeezing one end of the clove.

Oils are often flavored with garlic cloves. Commercially prepared oils are widely available, but when preparing garlic-infused oil at home, there is a risk of botulism if the product is not stored properly. To reduce this risk, the oil should be refrigerated and used within one week. Manufacturers add acids and/or other chemicals to eliminate the risk of botulism in their products.

Garlic leaves are a popular vegetable in many parts of Asia. The leaves are cut, cleaned, and then stir-fried with eggs, meat, or vegetables. Mixing garlic with eggs and olive oil produces aioli. Garlic, oil, and a chunky base produce skordalia. Blending garlic, almond, oil, and soaked bread produces ajoblanco.

Medicinal use and health benefits

Garlic (Allium sativum) has a very long folk history of use in a wide range of ailments, particularly ailments such as ringworm, Candida and vaginitis where its fungicidal, antiseptic, tonic and parasiticidal properties have proved of benefit.

The plant produces inhibitory effects on gram-negative germs of the typhoid-paratyphoid-enteritis group, indeed it possesses outstanding germicidal properties and can keep amoebic dysentery at bay. It is also said to have anticancer activity. It has also been shown that garlic aids detoxification of chronic lead poisoning. Garlic is claimed to help prevent heart disease (including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis) and cancer.

 Garlic (Allium sativum) has been found to reduce platelet aggregation and hyperlipidemia.

Garlic (Allium sativum) is also alleged to help regulate blood sugar levels. It can reduces glucose metabolism in diabetics, slows the development of arteriosclerosis and lowers the risk of further heart attacks in myocardial infarct patients. Externally, the expressed juice is an excellent antiseptic for treating wounds. The fresh bulb is much more effective medicinally than stored bulbs, extended storage greatly reduces the anti-bacterial action. The bulb is said to be anthelmintic, antiasthmatic, anticholesterolemic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, cholagogue, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, stimulant, stings, stomachic, tonic, vasodilator.

Garlic (Allium sativum) to Prevent Heart Disease . Supplementation with garlic extract inhibited vascular calcification in human patients with high blood cholesterol. The known vasodilative effect of garlic is possibly caused by catabolism of garlic-derived polysulfides to hydrogen sulfide in red blood cells, a reaction that is dependent on reduced thiols in or on the RBC membrane. Hydrogen sulfide is an endogenous cardioprotective vascular cell-signaling molecule.

In modern naturopathy, garlic is used as a treatment for intestinal worms and other intestinal parasites, both orally and as an anal suppository. Garlic cloves are used as a remedy for infections (especially chest problems), digestive disorders, and fungal infections such as thrush.