Health And Anti-Aging Benefits of Garlic
There are many natural foods and herbs used for generations to treat illnesses and keep the body healthy. Ancient peoples relied on what they found in their surroundings and learned which plants worked when someone fell ill with particular symptoms. Today, many of those early medicinal properties have been validated by modern medicine. One of the herbs that have been used for a wide range of conditions is garlic. It is used not only as a popular food flavoring but as a healthy way to help prevent and treat many health conditions and slow the effects of aging.
Garlic is a perennial plant harvested for its bulbs. The bulbs, which are made of several cloves, are known for their highly pungent flavor and smell. The plant grows in many parts of the world, so many people have relied on it for its taste and medicinal properties. Fresh cloves are usually ground or sliced.
In ancient times, garlic was believed to hold magical powers to ward off vampires and other evil beings. It was also used to treat a variety of disorders to keep the heart, skin and other organs and systems healthy. For generations, indigenous and other peoples have relied on garlic to both prevent and treat many ailments.
Western medicine has studied garlic more than many other herbs and natural remedies. Scientists have confirmed the efficacy of garlic in treating some health issues and list garlic as possibly effective in treating many more. Studies are still under way and more is being discovered about this ancient medicinal plant every year. The U.S. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database compiles research results as they come in and lists findings for garlic and many other natural remedies.
Many scientists have studied the effect of garlic on blood pressure, most looking at garlic powder. Some have found that garlic can lower blood pressure by 7 to 8 percent in both people with high pressure and those with normal pressure. Researchers have also been looking at whether garlic can help prevent pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, called pre-eclampsia. So far, this has not been proven conclusively, but research continues.
Studies show garlic is possibly effective in preventing hardening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis is a natural process of aging in which arteries becomes less flexible. Garlic’s anti-aging properties help slow this process.
Some researchers have found results suggesting that eating fresh garlic cuts the chance of developing cancers of the stomach, rectum and colon. Scientists have not found this result with garlic supplements. Western scientists are also looking into garlic and its effect on prostate cancer. In China, men who make garlic part of their everyday diet reportedly cut their risk of prostate cancer in half.
Fungal Skin Infections
Scientists have found that a gel containing garlic is effective in treatment fungal rashes including ringworm, athlete’s foot and jock itch. The concentration of garlic is important. Studies show gel with 1 percent of a garlic chemical called aioene treats athlete’s foot as well as Lamisil, a traditional topical medicine.
The common cold is one of the most frequent and annoying illnesses – annoying not only to the patient, but to the scientist trying to find a way to prevent it. Researchers have looked into whether garlic can help. There have been some initial studies that indicate garlic might cut the number of colds someone gets. More studies are needed.
Initial studies suggest that a garlic extract that is fat soluble removes warts on the hand after being applied to them for a week or two. An extract that is water soluble is not nearly as effective, taking up to 40 days.
How To Buy It
Garlic can be purchased in whole heads, in cloves or sliced or ground in liquid. It is also available as a powder. Garlic supplements are available as tablets, oils and extracts.
What Makes it Work
The important medicinal ingredient in garlic is a chemical called allicin. This chemical is what gives off the distinctive garlic aroma and it also produces the medicinal effects.
As with all supplemental medicine, if you are taking garlic regularly, let your doctor know. Garlic in large quantities can interact with certain traditional medications you might be taking for other conditions, making them less effective or causing unwanted side effects. In some people, eating lots of garlic can irritate the stomach or increase bleeding; this seems to be worst with fresh garlic.
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