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Tuesday, July 22, 2014
THE BENEFITS OF EATING GARLIC
Garlic (Allium sativum), an herb used widely as a
flavoring in cooking, has also been used as a medicine throughout
ancient and modern history to prevent and treat a wide range of
conditions and diseases.
Garlic belongs to the onion genus Allium, and is closely
related to the onion, rakkyo, chive, leek, and shallot. It has been used
by humans for thousands of years and was used in Ancient Egypt for both
culinary purposes and its therapeutic benefits.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It provides a brief history of garlic being used in food and medicine and also highlights its potential therapeutic properties.
Garlic for food and medicine -
a brief history
Garlic has been used all over the world for thousands of years.
Records indicate that garlic was in use when the Giza pyramids were
built, about five thousand years ago.
Richard S. Rivlin wrote in the Journal of Nutriotionthat the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (circa. 460-370 BC), known
today as "the father of Western medicine", prescribed garlic for a wide
range of conditions and illnesses. Hippocrates promoted the use of
garlic for treating respiratory problems, parasites, poor digestion and fatigue.
Garlic (Allium sativum),
an herb used widely as a flavoring in cooking, has also been used as a
medicine throughout ancient and modern history to prevent and treat a
wide range of conditions and diseases.
The original Olympic athletes in Ancient Greece were given garlic -
possibly the earliest example of "performance enhancing" agents used in
From Ancient Egypt garlic spread to the advanced ancient
civilizations of the Indus Valley (Pakistan and western India today).
From there it made its way to China.
According to experts at Kew Gardens,
England's royal botanical center of excellence, the people of ancient
India valued the therapeutic properties of garlic and also thought it to
be an aphrodisiac. The upper classes avoided garlic because they
despised its strong odor, while monks, "...widows, adolescents and those
who had taken up a vow or were fasting could not eat garlic because of
its stimulant quality".
Throughout history in the Middle East, East Asia and Nepal, garlic
has been used to treat BRONCHITIS, HYPERTENSION (High blood pressure) TB
(tuberculosis), LIVER DISORDERS, DYSENTERY, FLATULENCE, COLIC,
INTESTINAL WORMS, RHEUMATISM, DIABETES and FEVERS.
The French, Spanish and Portuguese introduced garlic to the New World.
Rivlin found it interesting that several cultures in history that
were never in contact with one another had similar conclusions regarding
the therapeutic benefits of garlic.
Garlic is used widely today for
its therapeutic properties
According to the National Library of Medicine, part of the NIH
(National Institutes of Health), USA, garlic is widely
used for several conditions linked to the blood system and heart,
including ATHEROSCLEROSIS (hardening of the arteries), high HIGH
CHOLESTEROL, HEART ATTACK, CORONARY HEART DISEASE and HYPERTENSION.
Garlic is also used today by some people for the PREVENTION of LUNG
CANCER, PROSTATE CANCER, BREAST CANCER, STOMAH CANCER, rectal cancer and
The NIH adds "Some of these uses are supported by science."
A study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology
warned that short-term heating reduces the anti-inflammatory effects of
fresh raw garlic extracts. This may be a problem for some people who do
not like or cannot tolerate the taste and/or odor of fresh garlic. Ask
your pharmacist for garlic supplements or oil which have not been
exposed to too much heat.