What is Garlic?
Also known as allium sativum, garlic is derived from the onion family. It can be grown year-round in mild climates all over the world. Depending on which region of the world you live in, garlic varieties differ. There are two main varieties of garlic Ė softneck and hardneck. Those closer to the equator generally grow the softneck variety as it grows larger and better in warmer climates. Hardneck is grown in cooler climates because it doesnít require the same heat that softneck does to grow as large. Both are safe to ingest as cloves and use in medicines through their raw oils in capsules.
According to historians, garlic has been used for thousands of years for medicinal and culinary purposes. Many people use garlic to help add some flavor to their foods, but it has also been claimed to help prevent heart disease by reducing plaque buildup on the arteries. The Cherokee Indians have reportedly used garlic to help treat coughs and hoarseness for many years. During World War I and II, garlic was used by the army to help prevent gangrene and colds among the troops. In recent years, scientists have studied garlic use in AIDS patients and noticed that the use of garlic as a medicine has helped treat cryptosporidium (an intestinal disease causing extreme discomfort and diarrhea).
Benefits of Garlic:
Garlic can be considered to be one of the most diverse medicinal herbs because of all of its benefits. There are so many health benefits associated with the herb that we have yet to uncover all of them. Not only can it help prevent heart disease (the number one killer of men and women in the US), but garlic also has many other problems which it helps to treat.
- Bladder and Kidney Infections
- Yeast Infections
- Throat and Ear Infections
- Diabetes (helps lower blood sugar)
- Tumor Prevention
- Improves Digestion
- Insect Repellent
Scientists have also uncovered in recent years that garlic can be used as a natural antibiotic and antioxidant. They have discovered that the body doesnít build up a resistance to garlic. Therefore, the health benefits can only increase over time.
Garlic appears to be safe for most adults. Some people are allergic to garlic. If someone with an allergy ingests garlic they will experience skin rash, temperatures, nausea and headaches. The side effects are more severe with raw garlic. One of the biggest precautions to take when eating garlic is that it has such a strong smell that it can cause halitosis. These effects can be combated when cooking garlic before eating as raw garlic has a much stronger smell than cooked garlic. If you want to avoid the bad breath associated with eating garlic you can buy capsules and pills that contain garlic oil that will keep you from developing the halitosis. Finally, you should avoid garlic one week prior to surgery or dental work as it thins the blood out making it difficult for it to clot and stop bleeding.
Where and how to buy Garlic
Garlic can easily be grown in your own garden and seeds can be bought online or from your local herb or greenhouse shop. You can also purchase garlic from the grocery store. When purchasing garlic from the grocery store, make sure the head of the bulb is dense and heavy to assure that it isnít dehydrated. Make sure the head is firm because spongy heads arenít fresh. Make sure the head covering is white in color and that there are no green sprouts shooting out from the head. Sprouts tend to make the garlic bitter. As always, organic garlic provides a better taste and is better for the body.
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