The health and
medicinal benefits of garlic, “Wonder Drug” of the herb world, are
many. Garlic’s range of health benefits ranges from its ability to kill
cancer cells to prevent mosquito bites and more.
The herb garlic is an edible root bulb of the onion family. Garlic is related to onions, leeks and chives. The medicinally active substance of garlic, also responsible for its distinctive pungent odor, is a compound called allicin. Allicin is interesting in that it’s not present in garlic until the garlic clove is cut or crushed.
What may be more accurate is to consider the other health and medicinal benefits of garlic associated with the circulatory system and realize that the any cholesterol-lowering benefits documented may actually be an indirect effect of the benefits of garlic.
Since garlic is an antioxidant, it may help reduce the build up of bad cholesterol in the blood. Foods high in antioxidants like garlic destroy damaging free radicals, preventing all types of various health related problems. The antioxidant properties of garlic may indirectly benefit the heart and circulatory systems by preventing the accumulation of bad cholesterol.
Another related benefit of garlic may be to lower blood pressure. If indeed, there is some truth to the idea that the antioxidant properties of garlic help in preventing the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries, a natural result of this health benefit would be a reduction in blood pressure since the heart does not have to work so hard to pump the blood through cholesterol-clogged arteries.
The most well documented of the health and medicinal benefits of garlic is its antibiotic properties. Garlic can kill a wide range of harmful bacteria, making it as effective as some commercial antibiotics. Unlike prescription antibiotics, the human body does not build up a resistance to garlic. The broad range of antibiotic properties helps strengthen the human immune system against the common cold. The Encyclopedia of Health recognizes the benefit of garlic in helping to remove various types of warts when applied topically. This benefit is most likely due to the antiviral properties of garlic that kills the wart-causing virus.
The active and health-giving ingredient of garlic is the compound allicin, which is found only in crushed or cut raw garlic. Garlic loses this important element once it is aged or cooked.
Folklore insists that garlic will ward off vampires. That is certainly one of the major health and medicinal benefits of garlic! If vampires seem to be lacking in your neighborhood, a more practical benefit of garlic is to prevent mosquito bites. While insect repellent may do the trick in a better smelling manner, it’s interesting to note that those who eat a lot of garlic seem to avoid insect bites. Possibly the garlic smell that seeps out of the body’s pores discourages these hungry pests.
Although it’s not a reason to eat
garlic, it’s interesting to note that garlic-based preparations are
also used to discourage rodents and pesky insects from gardens.