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What Are the Health Benefits of Garlic?

5/31/2011 9:25:53 AM

Tags: blood pressure, cholesterol, garlic, heart disease, herbs, immune system, plant medicine

Garlic

I’ve heard garlic is good for you, but what exactly does it do? Are there any specific health benefits that come from eating a lot of garlic? 

My initial reaction to this question is that even if garlic weren’t healthy, my diet would still be full of the stuff. Just considering that aroma and flavor are part of what makes life worth living, I’d say that garlic is exceptionally good for you. But yes, it does have specific medicinal uses.

Ethnobotanist James Duke, Ph.D., one of the world’s leading experts in medicinal plants, places garlic among the best all-around plant medicines in the world. According to Duke’s seminal book, The Green Pharmacy, garlic is effective for alleviating conditions ranging from high cholesterol and high blood pressure to yeast infections and clotting disorders. Garlic compounds have the potential to help treat more than 200 ailments, Duke says. It’s the best overall plant for stimulating the immune system, the best anti-clotting herb, one of the best anti-fungals, and potentially useful for preventing heart disease and cancer.

When I’m learning about any herb, what gets my attention isn’t the amount of advertising it garners on late-night TV or even in the pages of magazines, but how long it has been in the human medicine cabinet and what its uses have been through the ages. Garlic passes that test with the highest marks. Cultures throughout the world have recognized garlic’s healing abilities. The first-century Roman scholar Pliny the Elder cited uses for it from treating snakebites to dealing with dizziness and intestinal parasites. In China, records show garlic was used as early as the sixth century to treat conditions such as colds and digestive ailments.

For specific information on how much garlic is recommended for a particular condition, check out the articles at The Herb Companion, or read about garlic in The Green Pharmacy, a welcome addition to any home library.

Note: Because garlic is a powerful anti-coagulant (prevents bloodclotting), don’t take it in large amounts if you have a clotting disorder, and consult with your health care practitioner if you take anti-coagulants, such as Coumadin, or therapeutic doses of aspirin. Stop using garlic two weeks before any scheduled surgery. 


K.C. Compton is senior editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS, and formerly was Editor in Chief of our sister publications, The Herb Companion and GRIT. A huge fan of the food chain, from molecules to meals on the table, K.C. is passionate about the idea that most of what we need to be healthy can be found in the garden. Find her on .

Photo by Fotolia. 



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Post a comment below.

 

Barrt Thrift
6/22/2011 2:06:56 PM
If you have problems with ED, then taken large a mounts of garlic up to 3 bulbs at a time, improves blood flow to the penis, I tried it and it worked for me, but boy do you stink of garlic, and I'm talking both ends and its serious.But garlic is so nice for lots of things, and the best is good old garlic bread, I do mine with lots of butter a whole head of garlic+ some herbs and a French loaf, and away you go.

Larryp Parker
6/19/2011 11:33:43 AM
One use I have found amazing is fighting warts. I tried compound W and others that would shrink a wart, but I could never get rid of it. Smashed some garlic, put the juice and a little tidbit on the wart, bandaged it, and waited. In a week or two the wart was gone and never came back. ten years now. worked on my kids, too.

Wilco 22
6/1/2011 12:04:52 PM
Thanks for the article on Garlic! I'm a BIG fan of the medicinal uses of the herbal medicine - used properly of course. Garlic's one of my favorites. I've been using Charles Kane's Herbal Medicine-Trends and Traditions lately. The book's recommended Hawthorn and Garlic combination lowered my BP from 160/100 to 125/80. Also the book's large index and bibliography listings are impressive - it's clear a lot of scientific research went into it. I'm not a 'tincture' maker myself but the worksheets for do-it-yourself tincture makers look to be helpful as well. Granted many the herbs the author covers have been covered elsewhere - BUT the nuances and detail he brings to light helped me to clarify and fine-tune usage of these popular herbs...it's in my top 10.







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