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Botanically it is known as Allium sativum. It is a bulbous perennial plant of the lily family (Liliaceae) used to flavour foods. The aroma is powerful and onion-like, the taste is pungent. A classic ingredient in many national cuisines, garlic has become popular in the United States since World War II. In ancient and medieval times garlic was used as a medicine. The bulb contains antibiotic allium and it has antiseptic properties and is an expectorant and intestinal antispasmodic. Fresh garlic is used to flavour meats, stews, sauces and salads. Garlic powder made from ground dehydrated bulbs is often used in cooking as a substitute for fresh garlic. It is also used by the meat-packing industry in prepared meats. Garlic salt, a mixture of garlic powder and table salt, is another seasoning for cooking.

Garlic has been used since ancient times in the treatment of various diseases. Crushed garlic is sometimes applied to the skin to alleviate the pain of insect bites or scorpion stings. Popular belief has credited garlic with the ability to ward off disease and evil spirits.

Virgil and Pliny both wrote in praise of its medicinal virtues. It is probably one of the most powerful antiseptics known to man; catarrh simply cannot persist against garlic. Its oil penetrates to almost every single tissue of the body and can actually be treated within hours after eating just one or two cloves. All kinds of worms are destroyed by garlic. The dose varies from one to three cloves of garlic eaten raw and preferably chewed slowly.

Garlic contains vitamin A, B, C and D in plenty. Some doctors found that garlic contained calcium, iron, phosphorus, iodine, acrolein (which kills germs), crotonic aldehyde, allyl sulphide and volatile terpenes.

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, has said, 'If one chews a clove of garlic everyday and swallows its juice, one will remain free from all sorts of diseases.' Such is the great power of medicinal properties of garlic.

Garlic was highly honoured in ancient Egypt and thousands of slaves working on the great Pyramid were fed garlic daily in order to keep them free from diseases. In ancient times, the soldiers relied on garlic to give them added strength in battle. The phoenicians and vikings carried large amounts of garlic with them on their sea voyages. In Bulgaria, there was a surprising number of people who reached the age of 100 years and were still active and working. In that country, it was a common practice to chew garlic regularly. The Chinese, Greeks, Romans, Hindus, Egyptians and Babylonians all claimed that garlic cured intestinal and lung disorders, flatulence, constipation, worms, infections of the respiratory system, skin diseases, wounds and aging. Aristophanes regarded the juice as a restorer of masculine vigour. Pliny stated that garlic had very powerful medicinal properties and added that even its odour drove away serpents and scorpions. During the middle ages, when the horrible plague ravaged Europe, it was said that those who ate garlic daily were not infected.

Dr. John Gunn in his book 'The home book of health' has described garlic as a stimulant, diuretic and expectorant and if applied to the skin, rubefacient that it is, it will produce a blister. The medicinal uses of garlic are numerous. It is being recommended by some doctors as a valuable expectorant in consumption and all affections of the lungs; by some others as an important diuretic in dropsy and as a remedy for worms and is often given to children for that purpose. It is an excellent remedy in nervous and spasmodic coughs, hoarseness and the like and may be given in the form of a syrup, tinctures or in substances but the best way to use it is to express the juice and mix it either with syrup or some other vehicles like honey.

Richard Lucas has described in the book 'Nature's Medicines' garlic as very useful in asthma, cough and cold, bronchitis, intestinal disorders, constipation, high blood pressure and urinary troubles. It keeps one young. Evidences have proved that garlic is a blood pressure regulator. It also cures indigestion, disinfects the bowels, kills putrefying bacteria in the large intestines; neutralises poisons in the organism itself. If one puts a piece of garlic in his mouth at the onset of cold, the cold will disappear within a few hours or a day.

Garlic has a curative effect on chronic diseas in the upper respiratory organs provided one keeps a garlic in his mouth day and night renewing the cloves. This is also applied to clinical infection of the tonsils, salivary glands and neighbouring lymph glands, severe Pharyngitis, laryngitis and bronchitis.

Garlic makes loose teeth take root again, removes tartar and has a curative effect on eye catarrh and inflammation of the lacrymal duct as well as of the middle-ear. Pimples disappear without leaving a scar if rubbed several times daily with garlic juice but this does not prevent the formation of new pimples. Purification of the skin must take place through the blood. During World War II, the Russians discovered that garlic placed on unclean wounds of soldiers cleaned these wounds in four or five days. Grated garlic placed near the most vicious bacteria will kill them in five minutes.

In Germany, Fusagauger and Bechar found in 1931 that garlic was an effective remedy in intestinai and lung disorders. French scientist Poullard found that garlic caused a decided drop in blood pressure. Amano and Kitagower of Japan reported in 1935 that garlic possessed antiseptic properties which were effective against typhoid bacillus.

Jewish scientist Dr. Albert Schwaitzer employed garlic in typhoid and cholera and obtained miraculous results. He confirmed that garlic certainly possessed miraculous healing powers. In Russia, garlic was commonly known as 'Russian Penicillin'. Almost all Russians eat garlic daily and their average longevity rose beyond 100 years of age.

J.F. Dastur has said in his book 'Medicinal plants of India and Pakistan' that garlic resembles squill in its medicinal properties; it is given in fevers, coughs, flatulence, disorders of the nervous system, agues, dropsical affections, pulmonary phthisis, whooping cough, gangrene of the lung and dilated bronchi. Garlic in the form of syrup is a valuable remedy for asthma, hoarseness and disorders of the chest and lungs. Externally garlic is used as rubefacient, vesicant and disinfectant. It is applied on indolent tumours, ulcerated surfaces and wounds; a poultice of the bulb is used for scrofulous sores and ringworm.
A clove of garlic is introduced in the ear passage for relief of earache. As a rubefacient, garlic is locally used in sciatica, paralysis and neuralgic pains. The oil extracted from the seeds is given for checking cold, fits of intermittent fevers. As a liniment, it is used for paralytic and rheumatic affections.

Dr. M. Kraig has said in his book 'Green Medicines' that garlic is the best individual treatment found to get rid of tubercle bacillus, no matter what part of the body is affected, whether skin, bones, glands, lungs or private parts. Thus nature has give us specific treatment of tuberculosis by diet, rest, exercise, sun-baths and garlic.

He has also confirrned that garlic is a sure remedy for all sorts of intestinal disorders. Daily use of garlic cures stomach troubles, lung troubles, dysentery, diarrhoea and heart palpitations. All symptoms will certainly vanish if garlic is taken continuously for six weeks.

Dr. Swinburn Clymer, in his book 'The Medicines of Nature' has expressed the view that garlic juice causes a decided drop in blood pressure and checks sudden attack of stroke. He was of the view that one should take or chew garlic day and night renewing the cloves that have absorbed poisons till full recovery is obtained.

Ayurvedacharya Sivakali Bhattacharjee in his book 'Chiranjib Banausadhi' has highly praised the medicinal virtues of garlic. According to him, garlic juice applied externally on septic boils, abscess, carbuncles, tumours, insect bites, dogbites, scorpion stings etc. cures these ailments miraculously. Garlic chewed raw every morning cures cough and cold, elephantiasis, gall-stones, high blood pressure, nervous disorders, diphtheria, skin eruptions, worm whooping cough, tuberculosis and heart troubles.

A.W. Hatfield has described in his book 'Pleasure or Herbs' the medicinal virtues of garlic which were recognised since time immemorial. Pliny gave an exceedingly long list of its curative uses and Gallen praised it as 'Heal-all'. Chaucer and old writers referred to it as 'Poor man's treacle'. Shakespeare also praised the medicinal virtues of garlic in 'A midsummer night's dream' and also in 'Measure for Measure'. In ancient Greece, no one not having eaten garlic was allowed to enter the temple of Cybele.

Sir R.N. Chopra has mentioned in his book 'Indigenous drugs of India' that garlic juice is most powerful remedy for cough and cold, bronchitis, tuberculosis, stomach disorders and urinary troubles.

K.R. Kirtikar in his book 'Indian Medicinal plants' has expressed the view that garlic is a sure remedy for cough and cold, bronchitis, heart troubles, tuberculosis, high blood pressure, intestinal troubles, urinary disorders and kidney ailments.

Benefit and uses of Garlic.

  • It contains alliin, ajoene, enzymes, vitamin B, minerals, and flavonoids.
  • Regular and prolonged use of therapeutic amounts of aged garlic extracts lower blood homocysteine levels, and prevent some complications of diabetes mellitus.
  • It may have some cancer-fighting properties because it is high in dially sulphide (DADs), believed to be an anticarcinogen.
  • Garlic is used as a carminative, aphrodisiac, expectorant, and stimulant.
  • Garlic is regarded as one of the most effective remedies to lower blood pressure. The pressure and tension are reduced because it has the power to ease the spasm of the small arteries.
  • It is used in dermatophytosis, cough, febrifuge, in intermittent fever, earache, dyspepsia, flatulence, colic, reduction of mineralization and antifertility. It is also used as a rubefacient, hepatoprotective and anti-androgenic.
  • Garlic oil used in ear drops, poultices, syrups, ointments, and other garlic treatments.

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