My nutrition professor once said that if he were forced to give someone an answer to the question, “what is the best/healthiest food to eat”, it would be garlic.
Although garlic (allium sativum) is botanically a vegetable, it is widely used and understood as an herb or spice. A perennial plant from the amaryllis family, it is grown for its bulbs full in flavor. And although we are generally familiar with its uses in food and cooking, its powerful role in herbalism and the many medicinal properties it provides is often lesser known.
In herbalism, garlic can be made into a liquid extract from a fresh whole bulb; it generally works as an antiseptic (antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal), metabolic stimulant, expectorant, and blood thinner. It is often described as the “herbal antibiotic” for its ability to help fight infections, parasites, and build up the immune system overall. It is an herbal medicine with a multitude of research, explaining its aid in digestion, respiratory issues, high cholesterol/blood pressure, reducing atherosclerosis, and general inflammation.
Something to note about the specific compounds in garlic that help create these amazing medicinal properties, is the form in which it is cooked with or consumed. In cooking, it is important to press, crush, or finely mince garlic in order to help release its active sulfur compound, allicin; this compound is necessary for garlic’s strong antibiotic properties. If used in an herbal form, the liquid extract will also contain allicin, as well as many other phytonutrients. Garlic further contains diallyl disulfide, an anti-inflammatory compound that slows down pro- inflammatory and damaging cytokines in the body. It also contains high levels of N-acetyl cysteine and selenium, which further provide anti-inflammatory properties and protection to the body’s cells.
Garlic truly is magical in its medicinal properties, aroma, and taste. If tolerated well in the body, it is recommended to consume at least one clove of garlic each day to reap these health benefits, or include it in your herbal routine in a liquid dropper form or capsule.
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