By Dr Krishna R S
April 24, 2015: It finds an important place in almost every cuisine on the earth. Indians use it to give flavour to gravies and curries. Europeans add it to salad dressings and sauces. Asians add with stir-fries. And Americans spread its paste on bread. Yes, you guessed it right. Garlic!
Garlic is the oldest known medicinal plant and has been credited for zapping bacteria, keeping your heart healthy, warding off coughs and colds, fighting heart disease and lowering blood pressure. Garlic is one of the most powerful and safest natural remedies. It can also bolster your immune system.
Garlic (Allium Sativum) belongs to the Liliaceae family. The plant has leaves, which are long, narrow and flat like grass. In ayurveda, garlic is referred in different names, which describes its qualities?rasona (as it is devoid of amla rasa or sour taste), or ugraghandhi (as it has strong pungent smell). Garlic has more sulphur con- tent and hence, more medicinal value. It has snigdha (sticky), teekshna (penetrating), pichhila (slimy), guru (heavy) and sara (quickly spreading) qualities. It has all the tastes except sour. Garlic reduces kapha and vata but pittas should use it with precautions.
Benefits of garlic
Garlic has been used medicinally for at least 3,000 years, but until recently its benefits were considered little more than folklore. Today, there is worldwide scientific evidence to support the many health benefits that can be derived from the daily consumption of garlic.
Many marvelous effects and healing powers have been ascribed to garlic. It is popularly known as ?nature?s antibiotic?. As an antiseptic, its use has long been recognised. It is very effective against fungus, yeast and viral infections. It also prevents anthrax in cattle.
Garlic reduces increased kapha. Garlic syrup is an excellent medicine for asthma, hoarseness of voice, coughs, difficulty in breathing and other disorders pertaining to the lungs. As garlic promotes expectoration, it is very useful in chronic bronchitis. Garlic is a good remedy for whooping cough.
The therapeutic roles of garlic have been described in more than 1,000 scientific studies. It lowers cholesterol and fatty substances inside blood vessels and refreshes cells and blood.
Garlic stabilises blood pressure as it stimulates the brain nerves and controls the functioning of the heart. It eases the spasm of small arteries and reduces the pressure on them.
Cuts digestive disorders
Digestive disorders are a common cause of discomfort. Garlic stimulates peristaltic action and the secretion of the digestive juices. It eliminates body toxins. This herb has an antimicrobial effect and is an excellent remedy for intestinal infections.
Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties and hence used for curing arthritis, migraine and other inflammatory conditions.
Cures skin disorders
Regular consumption of garlic purifies blood, and reduces minor skin infections.
Studies show that eating garlic regularly reduces the risk of esophageal, stomach, and colon cancer. This is due to garlic?s ability to reduce the formation of carcinogenic compounds.
Garlic is said to be a tonic for impotence. It also treats sexual debility caused by over indulgence in sex and nervous exhaustion.
Garlic in pregnancy
New research shows that consuming garlic during pregnancy can reduce the risk of blood pressure. Studies have also shown that garlic may help boost the birth-weight of babies.
Garlic also improves memory ?modulates voice ?enhances complexion improves eye sight ?strengthens bones and joints improves digestion ?regularises bowel movement effective as mosquito repellent
Include garlic in your diet
Garlic comes in many different forms including fresh herb or clove, liquid, oil, powder and capsules. If you find that the pungent odour of garlic is a bit more than you expected, then you can go for odourless garlic supplements that are available in the market. But it is best if you add garlic in your regular food, as it could be more easily absorbed into your system.
Some may experience heartburn and flatulence when they consume garlic. Individuals who are consuming anti-coagulant drugs should consult their dietician before consuming garlic products as garlic has anti-coagulant property. It should be used cautiously by individuals, who have bleeding disorders. Garlic should never be consumed during migraine headache. Avoid rubbing garlic on skin as it causes burns and peeling of skin. Raw garlic is very strong, so eating too much could produce problems like irritation of or even damage to the digestive tract.
Home remedies with garlic
- Used in cookery, garlic helps in digestion and keeps the mucosal coats of the stomach healthy.
- A clove or two of garlic, pounded with honey and taken two or three nights successively is effective rheumatism (any painful con- dition of the joints or muscles that is not caused by infection or injury)
- Grind few cloves of garlic and add one-fourth cup of boiled water with it. Add this to sugar syrup. This is an excellent cough expectorant for children and elderly people.
- When sniffed, it greatly helps in relieving hysteria.
- Garlic juice taken with hot water twice a daily relieves asthma attacks.
- Three cloves of garlic boiled with milk taken every day at night cures productive cough and bronchitis.
- 10 drops of garlic juice with 2 teaspoon of honey reduces the acuteness of asthmatic symptoms. It can also be administered at the time of attack.
- Garlic juice with fresh water taken regularly reduces high blood pressure.
- Half a clove of raw garlic consumed every day can increase body activity to dissolve blood clots, thereby preventing heart attacks and strokes.
Dr Krishna RS is a senior ayurvedic practitioner in Mysore
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