Garlic is one of the most broad-reaching therapeutic plants in existence. Louis Pasteur observed garlic’s antibacterial activity in 1858 and it has been used as a food and medicine for thousands of years. Greek military leaders fed it to their troops to strengthen them for combat and the Russians used it to treat soldiers’ wounds during World War II after they ran out of antibiotics.
Indeed garlic has a myriad of medicinal uses. Its antioxidant activity and high sulphur content offer powerful protection against blood clot formation. The sulphur-based essential oils, which cause the pungent odour, are extremely effective at destroying both viruses and bacteria as they move through the body, in particular in the respiratory and digestive tracts. It is also second to none for expelling worms.
The high sulphur content of garlic is also very useful for joint health. Sulphur makes up about 75% of all connective tissues and a good dietary source offers support to these tissues, making sure that they stay strong and supple.
Garlic is also now often used for its advantageous effect on the cardiovascular system. Hundreds of studies show that garlic offers protection against the formation of plaques within artery walls. In addition to this, garlic seems to lower blood pressure, probably by it vasodilatory action which causes blood vessels to relax thus lowering overall pressure.
There is even evidence to suggest that regular garlic consumption may protect against colon cancer by protecting the cells from damage (antimutagenic effect). It has a positive effect on digestion in general and swelling and irritation may be rectified with regular consumption.
Although adding garlic to your dishes will always be enormously beneficial (and delicious) whichever way you decide to use it, the absolute best way to consume it is raw. What’s more, the oils are made even more powerful when garlic is crushed or very finely chopped as this starts the enzymatic process that releases the active compounds. Use garlic raw in salad dressings, over roasted vegetables or added to your dishes at the last minute. Bon appétit!