Health Benefits and Uses of Garlic
Garlic is a bulb-shaped herb related to onions, chives, and leeks. Its chemical compound, allicin, helps fend off free radicals and reduce oxidative stress.
Garlic has been used for medical purposes since ancient times. It has been recorded in various medical texts from Egypt, Greece, Rome, China and India.
1. Fights Infections
Whether you are fighting off bacteria, fungus, or viruses, garlic can be a great natural remedy to use. Often prescribed to treat ear infections and other illnesses, this spice can kill many different kinds of organisms, resulting in a faster recovery time.
Garlic has been used for thousands of years to treat a wide range of medical problems and is a common medicinal ingredient in both traditional medicine and herbal remedies across the world. It can be found in most produce sections of grocery stores and is usually sold in a head, with each clove being separated by a thin stalk that is called a scape.
It is also found in most kitchens as a key flavoring component of cooking. This vegetable contains a variety of sulfur compounds that contribute to its antimicrobial properties. The most studied is allicin, which comes from the amino acid alliin and the enzyme alliinase.
In addition to killing fungus and bacteria, garlic can reduce inflammation and swelling as well. It also boosts immunity, which can help your body fight off infection more effectively.
Moreover, garlic can be used to treat respiratory conditions like colds and the flu. It can also be used to promote healthy blood flow and improve cholesterol levels.
Another important role that garlic plays is to protect your heart and prevent diseases related to it. It has been proven to be effective against high blood pressure and reduced blood flow due to narrowed arteries.
Research has shown that it can also protect the liver from toxins and help lower blood sugar levels, which can lead to better overall health and a longer life. In fact, researchers have found that garlic oil can be as effective as some antibiotic drugs in protecting against cardiomyopathy, a type of chronic heart disease that leads to death among diabetics.
2. Boosts Immunity
If you have a cold or flu, garlic can help strengthen your immune system and make you more resilient to illness. The bulb-shaped plant contains a variety of antioxidants and nutrients, including vitamin C and zinc, which helps your body fight off infections. Garlic also contains thio-Sulfinite chemicals that are converted into allicin, a natural antimicrobial compound.
In addition to boosting immunity, garlic also promotes healthy blood cholesterol levels. It reduces total and LDL cholesterol levels, which are known to increase the risk of heart disease. The sulfur in the garlic bulb also helps your body absorb zinc, which boosts immunity and improves overall health.
Another benefit of eating garlic is that it can boost your estrogen levels, which can slow the onset of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. According to Laura Jeffers, MEd, RD, LD, garlic can also lower your risk for certain cancers, thanks to its phytochemicals.
Consuming garlic can also stimulate the production of antibodies, which are a group of proteins that fight off bacteria and viruses. It is believed that this is because garlic stimulates the production of cytokines called IFN-g and IL-12, which help your immune system respond to infection.
These cytokines can also trigger your immune system to produce additional antibodies, which are called immunoglobulins. This can increase your ability to fight off illnesses, says Judy Caplan, RDN, a nutritionist at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
You can easily boost your immune system with garlic, and you can find a number of recipes that include this delicious ingredient. Try sauteing a few cloves of garlic in a teaspoon of olive oil, and use it as a seasoning for your favorite dishes. Or, you can add some minced garlic to a glass of warm water and drink it as a tea for an immune-boosting beverage.
3. Treats Cold Sores
Garlic has long been used as a natural remedy for many health problems and cold sores is not an exception. This is because garlic contains a compound called allicin that has antiviral and antibacterial properties, which helps in curing the infection quickly.
Garlic can be taken orally as a safe, effective, and natural treatment for cold sores and fever blisters. It can be consumed at the first sign of an outbreak, or applied directly to a sore once it has erupted.
The best way to use garlic for cold sores is to crush or scrape a clove of garlic and apply it to the affected area regularly. This will help to speed up the healing process and relieve pain.
Another popular home remedy for cold sores is to apply a few drops of apple cider vinegar (ACV) to the affected area three times a day. This will help to fight off the herpes simplex virus and reduce the pain of the cold sores.
There is also some evidence to suggest that rubbing alcohol can be effective as a household treatment for cold sores. It can be mixed in a small amount with water and applied to the blistered area.
In the case of a severe cold sore, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection and speed up the healing process. However, antibiotics only treat bacteria and they are not helpful against the herpes virus that causes cold sores.
The herpes virus can be easily spread through direct contact, such as kissing or touching the mouth. This is why it is important to keep your hands clean, so that you don’t transfer the herpes virus onto others.
4. Prevents Alzheimer’s Disease
Garlic has many health benefits, including the ability to help fight Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also an antioxidant that can protect your brain from oxidative stress, prevent the breakdown of the blood-brain barrier and keep your gut bacteria healthy.
In addition, garlic contains a variety of compounds that are good for your body, including vitamin C, potassium, zinc and magnesium. These can help boost your immune system and decrease inflammation.
Despite the many benefits of eating garlic, there are a few things you should be aware of before you start adding it to your diet. First, raw garlic is pungent, and it can cause a gastrointestinal upset in some people. You should cook it before consuming it to mellow its flavor and make it more palatable.
Second, if you have a garlic allergy, it’s important to avoid it altogether. It can cause allergic reactions in some people, particularly those with hay fever.
Third, it can help prevent the growth of amyloid plaques in the brain, which are a major cause of Alzheimer’s disease. These plaques can lead to memory loss and cognitive impairment.
Fourth, it can help increase the level of glutathione, which is a potent internal antioxidant that protects your cells from free radical damage. Additionally, garlic can increase serotonin levels in your brain, which is linked to improved mood and learning.
Although garlic can have a positive effect on your memory, it is best to consult a doctor before you start eating it. In addition, it’s best to avoid it if you have high blood pressure or diabetes.
5. Treats Intestinal Problems
Garlic has antibacterial, ant-parasitic and antiviral properties that aid in removing waste and toxins from the colon. It also boosts the absorption of nutrients and improves digestion. It is also a good source of fiber and antioxidants.
Research shows that consuming garlic regularly may lower the risk of colon cancer. However, more studies are needed to confirm this.
Another study found that garlic extract lowers blood pressure in patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure. This is because it increases the level of nitric oxide and relaxes the blood vessels.
This effect is especially important if you have diabetes or high cholesterol. These conditions can lead to blood vessel blockages, which can cause heart disease.
Moreover, garlic reduces the growth of tumor cells. It is an excellent alternative to chemotherapy in these cases.
It also helps prevent inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. This is because it contains a chemical called allicin that acts as an effective antibiotic.
Furthermore, it is believed that the bioactive compound in garlic, S-allyl-L-cysteine (SAC), plays a major role in modulating inflammatory responses. SAC inhibits IL-12, IL-1a, IL-6 and IL-8 production. Besides, it has an effect on macrophages and enhances the microbiota in the gut.
Finally, garlic reduces gastrointestinal inflammation and oxidative stress in the colon. It stimulates the production of probiotic bacteria and reduces the risk of obesity and hypertension.
Although garlic has many health benefits, it can cause some digestive issues if eaten in large quantities or not eat it properly. Raw garlic can irritate the GI tract, so people with stomach pain or ulcers should avoid it. It can also cause indigestion and gas. It is best to use it in small quantities, such as 10 grams per day.