In this article you will learn how you can get a stronger heart and better health with garlic!
This simple herb/spice has more power than most people can imagine so let’s get started!
CAUTION: Medical Disclaimer
Table of Contents
Herbal Name and Characteristics:
- Name: Garlic,
- Pin Yin: Dà suàn,
- Latin: Allium sativum
- Taste: Mildly hot and pungent
- Color: white.
About this Herb/Spice
Garlic is a native ingredient to a lot of famous cuisines including but not limited to Greek, Turkish, Arabic, Armenian, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian and endless more.
As a kid I hated garlic until later on in life when I started cooking for myself. Then it became a necessary addition to most of my healthy dishes.
Other than its distinct aroma and flavor, it has many health benefits and medicinal properties. But in high doses, it can become a problem for some people as it can drop blood pressure and cause hyperglycemia. And let’s not forget that in high amounts it can also harm your social life due to bad breath.
I use both fresh, raw garlic as well as in powder/dried spice form and below I will help you understand the health benefits of this amazing herb.
What is Garlic
Garlic is a powerful vegetable/herb that comes in a small white package of cloves. It can be found almost everywhere in the world and has been used for over 6000 years in the history of mankind by many civilizations.
In Ancient Greece, athletes used it as a tonic during the Olympics as well as to fight off infections. In China it was used as medicine. Romans used it before battle. Egyptians also used it and rumor has it that it was one of the secret ingredients the pyramid workers used as a tonic. Lastly, in the Middle Ages it was used to fight off the plague.
It is a very powerful superfood with many medicinal properties because of all its bioactive ingredients:
- Alicin which has anti-bacterial and antibiotic properties similar to penicillin,
- Adenosine which is a natural muscle relaxant,
- B vitamins,
- Vitamin C,
- Lots of trace elements and minerals (copper, magnesium, zinc, iron and more).
Benefits and properties of Garlic
Summarizing the many benefits of Garlic:
- It possesses strong antibiotic properties due to its allicin content and can thus protect the immune system from various diseases. It can successfully fight off the common cold and flu.
- Due to its strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties it has shown promise for the fight against various cancers by increasing natural killer cells however more studies are needed to determine the effect of garlic on the tumor growth itself.
- It can improve blood circulation and can be beneficial for atherosclerosis by reducing the deposition of calcium in the arterial walls (just like vitamin K does).
- It has strong anti-bacterial properties and has been shown to be able to fight off H.Pylori infections. Traditionally it is applied topically to fight off various skin conditions and internally to help with parasites such as the intestinal worm Ascaris lumbricoides.
- It has strong anti-inflammatory properties as it can lower NF-kB activation.
- It can help fight fatigue which can be beneficial to everyone from the regular person to professional athletes.
- It can reduce blood pressure levels and battle hypertension. In the long run, this can help increase insulin sensitivity (by reducing blood glucose levels).
- It can protect heart health by lowering total cholesterol levels. It actually lowers LDL cholesterol but has no effect on HDL(good cholesterol).
- It has been proven to be beneficial for Alzheimer patients and people with dementia (which usually happens at an older age).
- It has strong antioxidant properties. It can help fight off free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. It contains glutathione in a small percentage and it can also stimulate its production. (Glutathione is a very strong antioxidant and detoxifier of the body).
- It can help the body get rid of heavy metals and toxins and can potentially protect from exposure to lead as shown in one study.
- Traditionally, it is used to improve libido and testosterone production which could be attributed to its LDL lowering properties (which means better cholesterol to testosterone conversion).
- Also traditionally, it is rumored to have anti-aging properties. While this was not actually proved in studies, it can improve quality of life due to its many benefits which could account for better vitality, energy levels and better mood.
When and how to take it
Fresh cloves: The best way to get the benefits of garlic is to use fresh garlic cloves.
There are different ways to consume them. You can chop them up to small pieces and add to your salads and foods, or eat/swallow the clove or even juice them.
To properly activate the allicin content, you need to crush the garlic. Some people suggest swallowing whole cloves to avoid the taste but this is a mistake. You always need to crush them first or they will be digested before the allicin starts working its magic.
When it comes to cooking, grilling, sautéing or roasting will not damage its bioactive ingredients as long as you crush or chop the cloves. However, microwaving will kill most of the ingredients (as it does with most foods).
Powder: This is a very convenient way but you will require a higher dose.
You can add it to your foods and salads.
Tablets and capsules: Garlic is also available in pill form. In some cases this can help with the bad breath associated with garlic and sometimes the intense taste of garlic. However, nothing beats the real deal.
Aged Garlic: Aged garlic is very famous in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) but I currently have no personal experience with it in order to recommend its use.
The best times to take it would be:
- With your salad at meal times,
- After your workout,
- At night to help you relax,
- On the onset of a cold or flu.
Safety and side effects
Garlic is generally safe when used in normal doses when taken orally (as food or dried spice).
When used topically in gels, creams and other forms it can cause a burn.
Other side effects that have been reported and associated with oral consumption include:
- Bad breath,
- Burning sensation in the stomach,
- Body odor,
Last but not least, garlic can lower blood pressure so avoid taking it if you already have low blood pressure.
You should not take Garlic if you:
- Have low blood pressure or diabetes as there is a high risk of hypoglycemia from using garlic.
- Have stomach problems or ulcers as garlic can augment the existing situation by irritating the G.I Tract.
- Have any bleeding disorders (or take related medication) as garlic can increase bleeding.
- Are scheduled for an operation as garlic can lower blood sugar levels which can cause problems during and after the surgery due to prolonged bleeding. Stop using garlic at least 2 weeks before the surgery.
- Have allergies to this specific herb or any of its ingredients.
The best thing you can do before taking any herb supplement is to test it. If you want to be safe while using herbs I strongly urge you to read my other article on how to test an herb for allergies and intolerances.
Contraindications or interactions with other medication/substances
Avoid using this herb/spice if you have any medical condition or are taking any kind of medication without consulting your doctor first.
Special Precautions & Warnings
Garlic is safe when used as food or spice in small doses however since there are not enough studies performed to determine the full safety of this herb/spice, pregnant women or breastfeeding women should avoid using garlic.
Garlic is only intended for use on an as-needed-basis in spice quantities. You should not use it in high doses and for extended periods of time as it is unsafe and can cause adverse effects.
Take a small break if you tend to use it on a daily basis, even in small amounts, in order to protect the body from accumulation of other toxins unrelated to the herb itself.
I am currently working on a series of herbal ebooks that cover the power of herbs for sleep, testosterone boosting and stress relief. There you will find the dosages I use for better sleep and stress relief along with the different methods of delivery (tablets, powder, tincture, decoctions), how to combine them with other herbs and where you can buy them. So make sure you bookmark this page and come back to check for more info!
Garlic is a true powerfood. Powered by alicin, all you need to do is add to your food so that you can benefit from its many wonderful heart-protecting properties. That being said, don’t forget that more is not always better and that you must consistently check with your doctor if you have any heart problems and follow their instructions to the letter.
I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did writing it. Putting together this article took a bit of time but it will only take you a second to click on the Share buttons below and show your support to this blog.
Also if you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks!
by Nick Sigma
CWC, EH, E-YRT200
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