Garlic is one of the most effective and versatile therapeutic plants in the world with a broad range of health benefits. Indeed, it not only is a food, but also a proven medicinal herb, and supports powerful health via many modes of action. It has a long history of health-enhancing and culinary uses, making it an ideal example of a food that can be used for therapeutic purposes.
We include the use of garlic (in addition to medicinal mushrooms, echinacea, astragalus, and olive leaf extract) as a part of building powerful immunity in the HPDI Rejuvenation Program because of its effectiveness in providing the body with a highly diverse range of health benefits. For example, it acts as a powerful broad-spectrum antibiotic. It also exhibits antiviral, antifungal, and antiparasitic properties. In this regard, it has been proven to rid the body internally and externally of nearly any antigen or pathogen.
Garlic has also been found to be an Nrf2 activator and as such is able to stimulate the body’s endogenous production of key protective antioxidant enzymes (such as superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase). Natural compounds normally provided by fresh garlic cloves include: alliin, allicin, thiosulfinates, gamma-glutamylcysteines, and sulfur. In addition, garlic is a rich source of organic selenium. Selenium is an important antioxidant and key component of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase.
THE LONG HISTORY OF THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF GARLIC
Garlic has been used as both food and medicine in many cultures for thousands of years, dating at least as far back as when the Giza pyramids were built about 5,000 year ago. Its use in China dates back to 2000 BCE where it formed part of the daily diet, particularly when consumed together with raw meat. In Chinese medicine garlic was prescribed to aid respiration and digestion, most importantly diarrhea and worm infestation.
During Greek and Roman times, Hippocrates, Galen, Pliny the Elder, and Dioscorides all mention the health benefits of garlic for many conditions, including parasites, respiratory problems, poor digestion, and low energy. A leading physician during the latter part of the 12th century, the Abbess of Rupertsberg, St. Hildegard von Bingen, gave garlic a prominent role in her medical writing. Garlic’s antiseptic properties were verified by Louis Pasteur in 1858. The British used garlic in World War I when they ran out of sulfa drugs and during both World Wars I and II, soldiers were given garlic to prevent gangrene.
RESULTS OF GARLIC RESEARCH STUDIES
In the last 50 years garlic has been the subject of over 1,000 research studies. These studies have investigated garlic’s: 1) antibiotic effect, 2) cardiovascular effects (including cholesterol lowering), 3) anticancer effect, 4) effect on blood sugar, 5) effectiveness as a heavy metal antidote, 6) potential alleviation of intestinal problems, and 7) other biological and chemical effects.
These research studies have shown that:
1) garlic lowers serum cholesterol and triglycerides while raising HDL-cholesterol,
2) garlic reduces the “stickiness” of platelets, making blood circulation more efficient,
3) garlic causes a mild reduction in blood pressure,
4) garlic is antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiparasitic, and exerts action against organisms causing yeast infection,
5) regular consumption of garlic is associated with lowered risk of stomach, lung, brain, and colon cancer as well as many other types of cancer.
6) garlic is a powerful immune booster that stimulates the multiplication of infection-fighting white cells, boosts natural killer cell activity, and increases the efficiency of antibody production.
ADDITIONAL BENEFITS OF GARLIC
Some additional not-so-well known benefits of garlic include, 1) effectively treats hair loss, 2) clears acne, 3) prevents and treats colds, 4) soothes psoriasis, 5) helps control weight, 6) functions effectively as an aphrodisiac, 7) helps remove splinters, 8) treats athlete’s foot, 9) treats ear infections, 10) helps keep mosquitoes away, 11) treats cold sores, 12) helps fix hairline cracks in glass, 13) de-ices sidewalks, 14) can be used as a natural pesticide in the garden, and 15) can be used as fish bait.
USING GARLIC THERAPEUTICALLY
We recommend that you consume three (or more) large cloves of fresh, organic, raw garlic every day. Garlic can be eaten raw, swallowed whole, chopped up and mixed with food, or juiced with other vegetables. The best garlic is the hottest, and, of course, organic. Raw garlic is the most therapeutic, but cooked garlic will still provide certain benefits. Garlic supplements can be used whenever fresh garlic is not available or desirable, or as adjuncts to fresh garlic. Enterically coated garlic supplements provide the highest potency and the greatest total allicin potential.
Allicin is the component of garlic responsible for most of its health benefits. Allicin is formed when the garlic enzyme alliinase comes into contact with alliin (the principal active phytochemical/component in garlic). This occurs when garlic is chopped or crushed, as occurs when chewing. The more garlic is crushed, chopped, or chewed before it’s eaten, the greater the amount of allicin is formed. In addition to chewing it well, this means it may be beneficial to use a garlic press, food processor, or other kitchen gadget to crush, mince, or finely chop the garlic before you eat it.
If (or when) you cannot consume fresh, raw garlic, then supplements can ensure you get your daily dose. In this regard, it is important to note that stomach acids destroy alliinase. This means that garlic powders (in capsules) subjected to stomach acid are ineffective. Enteric coatings that break down in the small intestine at higher pH (but not under the acidic conditions of the stomach) are required to gain maximum benefit from a garlic supplement.
If you decide to take supplements, then look for a high-quality, enteric coated garlic supplement. There are several very potent products that are convenient, easy to use, and odorless. For example, try to find a 500 mg tablet providing 6,000 mcg (minimum total allicin potential) equivalent to 1,500 mg of fresh garlic.
There are many ways to use garlic as a food. We often use garlic cloves along with other therapeutic herbs such as ginger and parsley when making liver cleanse juices and other vegetable juices in our juicers.
Here is one of my favorite recipes for a therapeutic pesto sauce using garlic, ginger, and parsley:
DR. HANK’S REJUVENATION PESTO SAUCE
Our pesto recipe meets the challenge of achieving zest and flavor for salads and whole grains, and provides outstanding nutrition. Ginger and garlic are excellent foods with high sulfur and vitamin/mineral content, but they can be difficult to consume in therapeutic quantity because of their strong flavors. Parsley is often used as a garnish, but also has high nutritive value and tastes good. Marinating minced ginger, garlic, and parsley in a high-quality oil softens the bite of garlic and ginger. This pesto offers high nutrition, good color and texture, and it tastes great!
- 1/2 lb. organic ginger root
- 2-3 oz. organic garlic
- 1 bunch organic parsley
- 2 cups organic sesame oil
- 1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)
Directions: Prepare the ginger root by peeling the outside skin and cutting out brown spots. Peel the garlic and wash the parsley. Put the ginger, garlic, and parsley in a food processor and finely mince. Place the minced ingredients into a bowl and add the sesame oil and sea salt. Stir until well mixed and allow to marinate for 15 minutes. Serve over salad, rice, noodles, pasta or any of your other favorite grains. Do not consume too much at once because it may upset your stomach.
Other oils such as flax, safflower, sunflower, pumpkin, walnut, and olive may be used as substitutes. Additional spices (such as curry and cayenne) may be added to change the flavor. Be creative!
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