You know the old maxim ‘let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.’ There’s never been a time when those words were more important than they are now.
Throughout ancient history, garlic was revered for both its taste and its medicinal properties. It has been used for centuries in folk medicine for both internal and external conditions ranging from snakebites to dysentery to the prevention of the common cold and flu. Research indicates that in 1858 Louis Pasteur tested its efficacy by placing garlic juice in laboratory culture dishes to examine its ability to destroy bacteria. In 1984, a study conducted at Georgetown University Hospital found that whole garlic extract inhibited the growth of 30 strains of bacteria, including 17 species of mycobacteria, known to cause tuberculosis.
But the benefits of garlic extend even further than that. Garlic was mentioned more than 2,000 years ago in ancient Chinese medical literature. Egyptians used garlic to treat a variety of health conditions and Aristotle and Hippocrates followed in the tradition, calling attention to both its healing and preventive powers. At the slightest hint of respiratory illness, many herbalists will reach for fresh garlic — peeled, sliced in half and tucked inside the cheek to allow the absorption of garlic’s powerful juices into the system.
Though many consider it a spice, garlic is botanically classified as a vegetable and is part of the allium or onion family. What makes garlic so special is it’s sulfuric compounds that are formed when a garlic clove is chopped, crushed or chewed. The most notable compounds are allicin, diallyl disulfide and s-allyl cysteine. Garlic is low in calories and high in other important nutrients including manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Selenium and Fiber. In addition to its well-documented antibacterial properties, garlic has also been found to be antifungal, antiprotozoal, and insecticidal.
Not only does garlic add real flavor to your plate, several studies have shown garlic to be effective in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Garlic supplementation at larger doses has been shown to have powerful antioxidant effects which, combined with its ability to lower blood pressure and cholesterol can reduce disease causing, oxidative stress. Need one more benefit? Garlic’s sulfuric compounds may help detoxify heavy metals in the body which also helps with weight loss.
Here are two simple recipes to help you get more of the healing power of garlic on your plate!
Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing
1 tbsp salt
2 medium to large lemons
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp black pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Squeeze fresh lemons to obtain 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice. Mix lemon juice and olive oil and set aside. Crush garlic cloves and mix with salt. Combine both mixtures together. Add pepper to taste. Enjoy!
Garlic-Infused Olive Oil
Fresh Garlic Cloves
1-2 cups of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Clean Mason Jars
Peel and mince 1 cup of garlic. Place in a mason jar and cover with warm, extra virgin olive oil and place on a table or window sill. Turn the jar several times per day for 7 days then strain the oil into the second clean mason jar, setting the garlic aside. Store the garlic oil in a cool place. Use the minced garlic as you wish on bread, salads or on vegetables. Use the garlic oil for dressings on salads, steamed vegetables or orally, 1-2 teaspoons 3-4 times per day.
Want more tips, tools and strategies for living longer and living better?