Family: Liliaceae; other members include lily, tulip, onion and chive

Genus and species: Allium sativum

Also known as: Stunking rose, heal-all and rustic’s or poor mans treacle

Parts used: bulb

Therapeutic uses:

Infections – during WWI, it was used in treating infected wounds and amoebic dysentery shows that it has potent antibacterial and anti-protozoan properties, validating thousands of years of healing tradition. Alliin by itself has no medicinal value, but when garlic is chewed, chopped, ,bruised or crushed, the allicin comes in contact with the enzyme allinase.  This transforms alliin into allicin a chmical that’s a powerful antibiotic.

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Chinese researchers report success in using garlic to treat 21 cases of cryptococcal meningitis.  Several studies have shown that the herb to be effective in treating the fungi that causes athletes foot and vaginal yeast infections.

Ulcers – Most ulcers are caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and garlic can significantly inhibit the germ’s growth.  Researchers estimate that two cloves of garlic a day may provide significant protection against H. Pylori infection.

Heart attack and stroke – Garlic has the ability to reduce cholesterol which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Cancer – in addition to being an antibiotic, the allicin in garlic is a potent antioxidant.  It helps prevent the cell damage that can set the stage for cancer.  Many studies have shown that it can help protect against various cancers, especially those of the digestive tract. Eating fruits and vegetables helps protect against caner, cut in this study of all the plant foods analyzed, garlic yielded the greatest preventive benefits.

Diabetes – garlic reduces blood sugar levels in both laboratory animals and humans.  Diabetes is a serious condition that requires professional treatment, but if you do have it, there is no harm in increasing your garlic consumption in combination with your standard therapy.

Lead poisoning – garlic can help eliminate lead and other toxic heave metals from the body.  It interferes with thinking and causes other serious medical problems.  Adding liberal amounts of garlic to spaghetti sauces and other foods that kids enjoy can help.

Leprosy – ancient ayurvedic healers were onto something when they used garlic to treat leprosy, now called Hansen’s disease.

AIDS – studies for using garlic as a treatment are preliminary but exciting.  In one study, seven patients with AIDS took a clove of garlic a day for 3 months experienced significant increases in the immune functions normally destroyed by the disease.

Rx Recommendations

For minor skin infections, garlic juice applied externally may prove sufficient. Do not rely exclusively on garlic to treat infectious diseases. No antibiotic, including garlic, kills all disease-causing microorganisms. Research shows that 1 medium garlic clove packs the antibacterial punch of about 100,000 units of penicillin.  Depending on the infection, penicillin doses typically range from 600,000 to 1.2 million units.  That is equivalent in garlic to be about 6 to 12 cloves.  It’s best to chew 3 cloves at a time- two to four times a day.

To help reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and the likelihood of blood clots, experts recommend eating 3 to 10 fresh cloves of garlic a day.  It must be chewed, chopped, bruised or crushed to transform it medicinally.  It can retain some of the healing benefits when it is LIGHTLY cooked.

To prepare an infusion, put six chopped cloves in 1 cup of cool water and steep for 6 hours.  For a tincture, soak 1 cup of crushed cloves in 1 quart of brandy.  Shake the mixture daily for 2 weeks then take up to 3 tablespoons a day.  You may give garlic cautiously to children under age 1.

Safety Factor

If you have a clotting disorder, please use medicinally levels with caution.  If you have this type of a disorder or you take any blood thinning medication or supplement (vitamin E) consult with a physician first. Allergic reactions are possible.  If you get a rash do not eat it. It can enter the milk of nursing mothers and may cause colic in infants.

Growing Information

It grows easily from seeds or cloves.  It’s easier to start with cloves.  Plant them 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart in early spring for harvesting in the fall.  It is cold-tolerant and can be planted up to 6 weeks before the final frost date.  It thrives best in rich, deeply cultivated, well drained soil.  DO NOT OVERWATER!  Full sun produces the largest bulbs, but garlic tolerates some shade.  During summer, cut back the flower stalks so the plant devotes all its energy to producing far, aromatic bulbs.  Harvest in late summer and store them in a cool, dark place.  Take care not to bruise the bulbs as this invites mold and insects.  You can braid the leaves into a wreath or rope and splay it in your kitchen, removing bulbs as needed.